Lexington, KY - July 25, 2012 - The sweat beaded off the competitors' brow today at the Kentucky Horse Park. It was the final day of the USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals, and the final determinant would be the handy round. Today's second round course determined both Champion and Reserve Champion for each division, as well as overall High Point Mare, Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion. It was Victoria Colvin and Inclusive who took the prestigious Grand Championship, adding their names to the perpetual trophy.
Today's course was designed by Bobby Murphy and involved tight inside turns, bending lines, rollback combinations, an in-and-out, and a strong hand gallop over the final oxer. The course proved difficult for many, testing both horse and rider alike with natural fences, hedges and brush.
The Small 15 & Under Junior Hunters were first in the order of go, and it was 14-year-old Victoria Colvin aboard Ovation, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, who posted a clear comeback from yesterday's Classic Round to receive scores 92, 90 and 88 for a total of 270 points and the blue ribbon in the Handy Round.
"My plan going in today was to get around," Colvin laughed reflecting on yesterday's round. "There are days when he enters the ring and you just know that he is going to be spectacular. Yesterday wasn't one of those days, probably due to the poor weather. Today was beautiful, and from the moment we left the in gate, I knew he was going to do great-I couldn't have asked for more."
The duo posted the high score of the competition, and climbed back into the top rankings. It was Vivian Yowan and Whatever who earned the championship for their consistent efforts. They earned a handy score of 258 points, and an overall total of 643 points. Kate Ross and Friday Night, were awarded the Reserve Championship with their score of 630 points. Brett Burlington guided Quigley to the third place finish in the division with the final average of 554.50. "It's really amazing to be here and to have done so well; it is only my first time competing in the Junior Finals," Yowan expalined. "He was a little quiet today, but he always tries his hardest and always jumps so well. I just focus, and really help him have a smooth round."
Yowan continued, "We saw a few people go and they didn't do well on the inside turn. My plan was to play it safe for the handy, and make it smooth by going around the inside turn. Not risking that tight turn to give us a little more room and I think it gave us an ultimate edge."
Next to go was the Small 16-17 Junior Hunters where Shawn Casady, aboard Elm Rock LLC's Glass Castle, took advantage of yesterday's combined scores, and secured the Division Championship with confidence. They successfully caught the attention of the judges with a strong hand gallop and smooth course, riding to the Handy Round score of 262 points. Hasbrouck Donovan and Confidential made a run for it with good scores of 86, 83 and 85 across the board, totaling 254 points. In the end, they proved good enough for the Reserve Championship. Rounding out the top three for the division was Anna Cardelfe and Nadia with 606.5 points.
"I just wanted to jump around and use the course to my advantage," Champion Casady explained. "There was an inside turn to a couple of jumps and a few open strides, but everything was pretty trivial. I thought our hand gallop was really good to the final oxer."
"She is a sweet mare-big stride and likes to go really slow," Casady continued. "She is brave and likes to gallop. I knew she was right there with me when I pushed her to move forward for the last fence, she is very dependent like that."
The Large 15 & Under Junior Hunters were one of the more wide-open divisions of the finals. Fourteen-year-old Victoria Colvin and 15-year-old Lillie Keenan went head-to-head to battle to the top of the leader board. Both riders posted beautiful rounds in yesterday's division, with Colvin picking up the first in the Classic and the second in the under saddle, and Keenan taking the second in the Classic and the blue ribbon in the under saddle. Today proved vital for both girls when determining the rankings. It was Colvin aboard Inclusive, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, who took the first place award for the handy with scores of 86, 90 and 92 for a total of 268 points. Colvin and Inclusive were awarded the Division's Championship. Although Keenan posted the high scores of 88, 88 and 91 aboard C Coast Z, she fell just shy of the title and picked up the Reserve with a score of 630.5 points. Spencer Smith and Spotlight, owned by Weslands Farm, earned the third spot with 611.50 points.
"I knew what to do, and he felt great in the schooling ring and even better than yesterday. I knew that I wanted to take it easy and have a smooth round. I don't really get nervous, and I just went in there and didn't over think it, it worked for me," Colvin stated.
Finishing out the competition was the Large 16-17 Junior Hunters where Meg O'Mara and Walk the Line picked up the Championship. Although the pair sat second in the rankings after yesterday's under saddle, they took a leap of faith today and went full out in the handy, earning a score of 261 points and an overall total of 639.50. Lexi Selldorff and Soulja Boy garnered the Reserve Championship with a score of 633. Alexandra Crown and Garfield took home the third place award in the division with a total of 622.50 points.
"It feels so good to have earned this division championship," O'Mara remarked. "He is amazing, his canter is so nice. I usually mess up with the hand gallop, but he was right there with me. He was so smooth and the distance was there. I am so proud of how far he has come."
"I have done the Junior Hunter Finals for several years, and although I haven't been as successful the others years as this one, my advice to a younger rider would be not to give up, and definitely don't let your nerves get in your way. I think I got so worked up the other years, but this year we went for it and I had the confidence that we could win."
Following the competition, the High Point Mare, Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion of the 2012 USEF Junior Hunter Finals were named.
2012 Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under Champion, Inclusive, was named overall Grand Champion with rider Victoria Colvin. Coming in for Reserve Grand Championship was 2012 Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under Reserve Champion Vivian Yowan and Whatever. Shawn Casady rode Glass Castle to the center of the Walnut Ring to claim the High Point Mare award.
Grand Champion Victoria Colvin smiled and said, "It is such an honor to get such a prestigious award, I have competed in the Junior Hunter Finals for the last three years, but this year made me nostalgic. I remember when I won for Pony Finals when I was younger, and today it brought back all of those feelings. I couldn't have asked for more."
The 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals has come to an end, but the Kentucky Summer Horse Show has only just begun. The show will run through Sunday, July 29, 2012. Tomorrow the professional hunter divisions will come to a close, and championships will be awarded in the Stonelea Arena.
For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
To access results for the 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals please visit www.equestrianlive.com.
Photo Credit: Victoria Colvin and Inclusive won the 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals Grand Championship. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.