CULPEPER, VA (September 29)-Erika Christie, 15, of Warwick, New York, riding No Doubt won the $5,000 Marshall & Sterling Pony Jumper Final at Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Virginia, today. The class was held in the Grand Prix Field at the Cosequin® U.S. Grand Prix League Invitational Finals Horse Show. Christie was the fastest of eight double-clear rounds and beat a field of 26 entries. No Doubt is a 14-hand, nine-year-old Haflinger-Welsh pony that Christie has been riding for three years. As owner/rider, Christie earned $1,500 for her win. Christie has been riding since she was three years old and currently trains with Linda Mancini. "I went to all of the HITS Catskills shows and a few others to qualify. Making it to the Finals was my goal," said Christie. "I qualified last year for the Pony Jumper Finals here and placed third. This year we won so we're all excited." Dave Ballard of Ontario, Canada, designed the course.
For Round One, Ballard built an 11-jump track that included a double combination at Fence No. 4 and another double at No.7. Time Allowed was set at 69 seconds. Three riders were eliminated on course. Nine riders had clear rounds and qualified for the Jump-Off. "I was nervous. It overwhelms you with the audience," said Ms. Christie about the Round One track. "The jumps were all scary looking. It was a hard course. It was technical, but not more than usual. They weren't big jumps but the jumps backed you off a little bit. After I walked the course, I knew it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. My horse is brave so I trust him. He's very good."
Ballard's six-fence Jump-Off course repeated the double at Fence No. 4 and added one new obstacle, No. 13, as the last jump. Time Allowed was set at 32 seconds. All but one of the riders in the Jump-Off posted clear rounds, and the lead changed hands three times based on speed.
Deb Kaufman of Easton, Connecticut, on Guess Who was first to go in the Jump-Off and set the pace with her clear round in 25.043, and held the lead for the next five riders, but in the final standings, she placed fourth. Kate Marcotte of Harwinton, Connecticut, on Indigo, went third in the order and posted the fastest time in the Jump-Off with her lightning quick round in 23.036, but she had the third fence down for four faults which put her in ninth place. Seventh to go in the Jump-Off was Billy Worthington of Averill Park, New York, riding Byrnadette who snatched the lead from Kaufman with his clear in 23.480, but he ended up in second place. Next to challenge was Christie on No Doubt who took the lead from Worthington with her clear in 23.241, which proved to be unbeatable. The last rider on course was Ainsley Lothrop of Darien, Connecticut, on Heads or Tails who produced the eighth double-clear of the class, but her time of 24.209 was only good enough for third place.
"I didn't think I would come out first," said Christie. "After I jumped clear I was glad. I had no idea I took over the lead. It's a great feeling." Christie's trainer Linda Mancini was unable to make the trip to Culpeper, so Betsy Worthington, Billy's mother, brought her to the Finals and was her coach. Billy and Erika gave each other a high-five on horseback after the victory gallop. "Billy and I are very good friends," said Christie. "We always get stalls next to each other." Christie says she plans to attend a college that offers an equine program of studies and that she would like to be a Grand Prix rider.
To be eligible for the Finals, riders and their mounts must be members of the Marshall & Sterling League and they must compete in qualifying classes offered at Marshall & Sterling League member shows during the competition season. Riders qualify for the Finals based on points accumulated by the horse/rider combination.
The Children's & Adult Hunter & Jumper Finals for the Marshall & Sterling League presented by Corona Lexol for Regions I, II, and III will be held October 2-4 at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The Marshall & Sterling Finals for Region IV will be held at the Indio Desert Circuit in Indio, California, February 6-10. The Marshall & Sterling League was developed by HITS in 1991 to boost the competition level of children and adult amateur hunter and jumper riders. More than 300 USA Equestrian (formerly AHSA) A-rated shows offer Marshall & Sterling classes nationwide and over 2,000 member riders compete to qualify for the Finals. $5,000 Marshall & Sterling Pony Jumper Final,
September 29, 2001 HITS Culpeper VI,
Cosequin® USGPL Finals, Culpeper, Virginia
Course Designer: Dave Ballard
Pl#/Horse/Rider/ Prize Money/Rd 1 Faults/J-O Faults-Time
1/No Doubt/Erika Christa/$1,500/0/0-23.241
3/Heads or Tails/Ainsley Lothrop/$750/0/0-24.209
4/Guess Who/Deb Kaufman/$500/0/0-25.0432
6/Ce'Est La Vie/Sammy Horowitz/$300/0/0-27.722
7/Allwyn Court Blueberry/Katherine Newman/$250/0/0-28.008 8/Sunkist/Courtney Cary/$200/0/0-31.788
Number of horses who competed in this class: 26
Class Prize Money: $5,000