Wayne, Ill. - The U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions came to a close on Sunday with the remaining divisions crowning their champions. Anna Buffini earned the National Champion and Reserve National Champion titles in the USEF Young Adult 'Brentina Cup' Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today with Sundayboy and Wilton II, respectively.
Buffini (Escondido, Calif.) clinched the top two places in the USEF Young Adult 'Brentina Cup' Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today out of the small but mighty seven-horse field. In Sunday's FEI Intermediate II Test, Buffini finished one-two with her own Sundayboy and Wilton II, respectively. She and Sundayboy, a 1999 Dutch Warmblood gelding, had a beautiful test that showed great harmony as well as quality piaffe and passage movements. They earned a score of 70.974% for the test, putting them at the top of the championship leaderboard with an overall score of 71.115%.
"He was really with me today. Like I said before, we are just best friends. Friday I was definitely a little bit nervous; I have never been kind of expected to do well before. I was the underdog at my last Festival [in 2014] but this time we were expected to do well, so I put a lot of pressure on myself," Buffini explained. "Today, I just really wanted to come out, enjoy it, and really have a lot of harmony with the horses. Regardless of the ribbons, I think if you have a connection with your horse and have harmony out there that is more important than anything, so I was really, really happy with him today."
Buffini was especially thankful of the support the program, which has the purpose of assisting and encouraging U.S. Young Riders in making the transition to the senior Grand Prix ranks, has received from the late Parry Thomas, saying, "A huge thank you to Mr. Thomas who helped create this amazing program, because it would not be possible without him. Otherwise we would be out there struggling against Steffen [Peters] and Laura [Graves]."
Buffini earned the Reserve Champion title with Wilton II by delivering another solid test. She and the 2003 Dutch Warmblood gelding had nice trot work and good canter pirouettes but had minor bobbles in the tempi changes. They finished Sunday's test with a score of 70.474% and an overall championship score of 68.981%.
"With Wilton, I'm just so proud of him. He can be such a bugger sometimes, but it was the hardest he has ever tried for me; he was just with me. Even though there were mistakes, he never stopped trying, never gave up. He was really, really content in there and stayed with me the whole time," Buffini said.
Kerrigan Gluch (Wellington, Fla.) had better relaxation with Hampton Green Farm's HGF Brio to have a respectable test that received a score of 65.553%. The improved cadence in the trot work of the 2005 Andalusian stallion helped them finish third in the championship with an overall score of 64.893%.
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members.