Endel Ots of Wellington, Florida, rode Max Ots’ 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding Lucky Strike (Lord Laurie–Heidi, His Highness) to the blue ribbon in the Prix St. Georges for the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship with a score of 72.794 percent.
Bred in Germany by Monika Hartwich, Lucky Strike has had a successful career so far, representing the U.S. at the Longines FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships in the Netherlands and clinching the 6-Year-Old Dressage National Championship in 2016. In 2017, the pair received the reserve championship in the Developing Prix St. Georges division and their goal is to earn the top tricolor this year at the Lamplight Equestrian Center.
Also from Wellington, Florida, Christopher Hickey placed second in the class aboard Straight Horse Zackonik, an 8-year-old Danish Warmblood mare bred in Denmark by Straight Horse. Owned by Cecelia Stewart, Straight Horse Zackonik (Blue Hors Zack–Romanik, Blue Hors Romanov) received a score of 71.863 percent.
Rounding out the top three was Heather McCarthy of Prairie Grove, Illinois, and Sandi Chohany’s Au Revoir (Ampere–Lara, Liberty M), a 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding. The gelding, bred in Germany by Harm Oncken, earned a score of 69.167 percent.
Heather McCarthy and Au Revoir
At 3:05 p.m., the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges National Championship will compete in their final test before the championship is crowned.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Endel Ots – Prix St. Georges winner
On His Ride:
“I was very happy with my ride today. I think that the highlight was the trot work. Last year, I was traveling around a lot so it was a little difficult to focus on my riding and my horse. This year, I didn’t have any of that so I was really able to focus on my rides and improve everything. I was really happy with my horse. He had some good energy. It was super.”
On His Preparation:
“My trot work is really solid with Lucky so in the warm-up I try to focus a little bit more on the canter transitions and get him a little more connected in the snaffle rein. He has a lot of power and lot of go but sometimes he needs to wait a little bit more for me, so I try to do a lot of transitions to get control of that power. He’s so big. At home, I videotape my rides and send them to Christine [Traurig]. Robert [Dover] has come in to help me a little bit. I really try to get as much information from people as possible.”
On the Championship:
“I think it’s really cool to have all of the divisions together. It’s fun for kids to come and watch the bigger divisions. It’s fun to compare everything and be around all of your peers and friends. This is a great facility to have it at as well.”
Christopher Hickey – Prix St. Georges second place
On His Test:
“I am very pleased with my horse. This is the first time that she has traveled long distance for a championship. She hasn’t been ready in the past even though I bought her when she was 4. I didn’t feel like she was ready to go to the national championship then. I’m really pleased with how she went today. She is a type of horse that is strong in the collected work but is weak in her extended trot. Today, she had a mistake in the threes, but she recovered well. She’s a horse that tries very hard. She is a wonderful mare. Every day she comes out and works very hard and gives it her all. She has a strong walk. For a young horse, she has super pirouettes. For me, she is a lot of fun to ride because I can sit there and equitate on her a little bit. She always helps improve my riding so I’m very appreciative to her.”
Christopher Hickey and Straight Horse Zackonik
On the Young Horse Development Program:
“I’ve been involved in the young horse program for many, many years. As a trainer and a competitor, it’s been fun to watch the quality of the horses and riders improve. Scott Hassler has put so many years of development into this program. It wouldn’t be where it is today without Scott. It’s really wonderful that Markel has stood in and supported this, when even in the early years there weren’t always enough horses. The scores have really improved overall. One of Robert Dover’s phrases all the time is, ‘Throw a party and people will come to it,’ and I think that is true in the divisions here. They are so much better than they used to be. It’s wonderful that this is the first year that all of the [Festival of Champions] championships and young horse championships are at one show. I think the concept of having all of this in one place for our sport as a whole is wonderful. We’re lucky to have Lamplight for being so central and it is run in such a high-quality way. It’s a great place for the spectators, sponsors and owners as well as horses and competitors. Thank you to Nina [Moore] and the whole team at Lamplight for doing it so well.”
Heather McCarthy – Prix St. Georges third place
On Her Ride with Au Revoir:
“I was very happy with my ride this morning. I was first to go, which is never a fun place to draw. My horse can get a little bit hot in the ring so my goal for today was to put in a clean test, which he did. He did not make one mistake. He is 7 and this is his first year doing this class. My goal for him was to be top 10 so he exceeded my expectations today. He was really with me and let me ride him. He has a lot of power and sometimes he can get a little ahead of himself in the collected trot. I think that some of our trot work got a little quick at times, but he let me ride him. I could not ask for anything more. He is such a character with a lot of personality and a lot of fire. I’m so excited for the future with him.”
On competing at Markel/USEF Developing Horse Dressage National Championships:
“This is my favorite week of the year. I don’t bring a lot of clients here so, for me, this week is all about focusing on me and my students who have qualified. I think it’s such a positive program. I love this show. I think that it’s the most educational show we have.”
Results: Prix St. Georges for the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Endel Ots / Lucky Strike / Max Ots / 72.794
2. Christopher Hickey / Straight Horse Zackonik / Cecelia Stewart / 71.863
3. Heather McCarthy / Au Revoir / Sandi Chohany / 69.167
4. Jill Hardt / Fein Tanzer / Jill Hardt / 69.147
5. Michael Bragdell / Sternlicht Hilltop / Hilltop Farm, Inc. / 68.922
6. Melissa Jackson / Domani / Melissa Jackson / 68.725