Angela Jackson of Henderson, Ky. (Region 2) had her hands full juggling four rides on Saturday morning, but her hard work paid off in spades as she claimed both Champion and Reserve honors in the Third Level Freestyle Open division at the 2017 US Dressage Finals.
As the first pair down centerline, Jackson topped the leaderboard with Jane Lineberry’s seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Femke Zarma TF (Contucci x Allure S by Rousseau, bred in the U.S. by KC Dunn) on the strength of a score of 74.100%, a mark which could not be caught for the duration of the class. Jackson’s own home-bred seven-year-old RPSI gelding Figaro H (Fantasmic x Romina H by River H) finished a close second with 72.211% for reserve honors.
“Both horses had lovely tests and I’m so proud of them. Yesterday Femke was a little distracted outside, but today she really focused and it was the best freestyle we’ve had all year, so it was great to have that kind of ride here at the Finals,” said Jackson, who interestingly also found success at this event in previous years with Femke Zarma TF’s dam, Allure S. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to breeders like KC Dunn who breed amazing horses like this right here in the U.S., as well as everyone who makes this event a reality, including Adequan, whose support helps to make all of this possible. It’s a dream for us to be here.”
In outside rings, Anna Marek (Williston, Fla., Region 3) rode Diane Morrison’s five-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Haiku (Sir Sinclair x Melvira by Gentleman) to win the First Level Open Championship with 72.843%. “I’ve ridden her since she was three and she has endless energy and loves to have all attention on her,” Marek laughed. “She’s young and sometimes it can be a little bit ‘hit or miss’ with her, but we had a great ride today. She does have a little bit of an ego, but I like that about her because she goes in the ring and tries so hard, and I think that will eventually help make her a really good upper-level horse.”
Martin Kuhn of New Berlin, Ill. (Region 4) was also pleased with Elizabeth Cronin’s six-year-old Westfalen gelding Venivici (Vitalis x Sabrina by Sherlock Holmes) as they earned 71.324% for reserve. “Venivici hasn’t had a lot of show experience, but he’s eager and wants to do a good job,” said Kuhn, who earned his second Reserve Championship title of the weekend. “He tries really hard – sometimes too hard – but I was very proud of him and as his confidence grows, I think his good qualities are really going to blossom.”
Despite frigid morning temperatures, Stephanie McNutt of Mechanicsville, Md. (Region 1) rode her five-year-old Westfalen gelding Freestyler HRH (Furst Fugger x Dolce Vita HRH by Don Bosco) straight to the winner’s circle in the First Level Adult Amateur Championship with 72.598%. “A little chilly would be an understatement, but I do have to say that brisk is good – it keeps the horses motivated,” McNutt noted. “I was super happy with him – he’s had a long season and was feeling a little unmotivated, but he really pulled it together for me today and gave me good energy, so I couldn’t ask for more than that. He’s a really good egg. I’m excited to be back for my fourth Finals – this is the pinnacle event for adult amateurs, and to make it here again is really thrilling.”
Bonnie Canter of Hocksley, Texas (Region 9) has had a great week at this year’s Finals, and a “rear-and-spin move” just before entering the arena did not deter Canter from earning reserve with her youngster Shakira 467 (five-year-old Hanoverian mare, Sporcken x Waluga by Weltmeyer) with 71.176%. “She’s definitely a hot red-head,” Canter laughed. “She’s still young so can be a bit unreliable, but once she’s in the ring she’s great and I was pleased that she kept it together today.”
The US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® will conclude today as the last group of eight champions for 2017 are crowned. Follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming on the popular USEF Network. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website.