Wayne, Ill. - The Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse National Championships, the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions and the USEF Medal Seat Finals concluded at the Lamplight Equestrian Center on Sunday, capping off the week of competition with the final group of champions.
Kicking off the morning was Endel Ots and the Hanoverian gelding Lucky Strike (Lord Laurie-Heidi, His Highness), who impressed the judges to earn an 8.58. The pair is coming off of a summer competing in Europe at the Longines FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships in the Netherlands. The gelding, who is co-owned by Endel and his father Max Ots, received an 8.64 in Friday's Preliminary test and with his win today, they clinched the Markel/USEF 6-Year-Old National Championship.
"I thought he was a super boy, and I couldn't be happier and prouder of my horse," Ots said. "It was a little bit hotter today and I thought he stayed with me very well, and he was there for the lead changes."
Ots will give him a well-deserved break after their busy summer of traveling, and he hopes to come out in the Developing Prix St. Georges division during the winter season in Wellington, Florida.
"I'm so thankful for [U.S. Dressage Young Horse Coach] Christine Traurig's help and support this summer, and in Europe," Ots concluded. "I couldn't have done it without her. She has been above and beyond."
Coming in second place was Cesar Parra on his Westphalian gelding Don Cesar with an overall score of 8.436. The pair earned an 8.28 in their Preliminary test and an 8.54 in their Final test.
"It was really exciting," Parra said. "I was very happy with him, and I was happy with the score and the comments that the judges had; they were very encouraging."
Michael Bragdell maintained his third place position from his score of 7.98 on Friday on Hilltop Farm Inc's Hanoverian stallion Sternlicht Hilltop. Bragdell made a few tweaks to his ride after the judge's recommendations on the first test, and he earned an 8.06 in their 6-Year-Old Final Test.
"He really stepped up to the plate for me," Bragdell said. "They really loved his canter today and I felt the canter was much better than Friday. The connection flowed better today in the test."