Holger Bechtloff came away with a win after his Intermediare II, which is the first test for the Developing Grand Prix Division, on Peggy Mill's 9-year-old KWPN gelding Clapton JP (UB40-Liana, Ramiro Z). The duo earned a score of 65.351 percent.
"He definitely went nicely forward, especially in the extensions. All week, I've had the one tempis down, like in my sleep, and of course that was the movement we lost completely," Bechtloff laughed. "I will spend more concentration on that on Sunday [for the final], but I'm not going to push, and I'll work with what I have."
Bechtloff resides in Wellington, Florida, year round, and Clapton JP has had success throughout his career in the young horse pipeline. For the past six years he has competed at a national championship every year, including here at the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse National Championships and the US Dressage Finals.
"[The young horse program] is very insightful," Bechtloff explained. "With all my young horses, even the ones I don't compete here, I like to keep them in their year in their development, and how you prepare their training."
Jane Karol placed second with a score of 64.167 percent on her 9-year-old Oldenburg mare Sunshine Tour. She purchased the chestnut mare as a 4-year-old, and the pair was the reserve national champion in the 6-year-old division three years ago. Karol thought the highlights of her test was their passage and trot halfpass, which she attributes to her lessons with Scott Hassler over the past few days.
"Sunshine is a very sensitive horse, but I felt like she was right with me," Karol said. "I had a canter out of the piaffe that was my fault because I put my leg back too far. She was waiting and listening, but my aids were not quite exact enough. I want to improve the transition going into my extended work. Because she is so sensitive she gets a little tight and I created too much tension, I'd like to work on keeping that more supple and fluid, but powerful."
After earning a score of 63.684 percent, Noel Williams and Melissa Mulchahey's 10-year-old Westphalian gelding Sir Velo placed third. Williams had not competed at these championships for 10 years, but Sir Velo had competed as a 4- and 5-year-old with her father, George Williams.
"He's a super horse!" Williams said. "I was really happy with the trot work. The piaffe could have been more active but it's one of the areas where he is green and needs more guidance in the ring. I was happy with how it stayed fairly consistent."
1. Holger Bechtloff/Clapton JP/65.351
2. Jane Karol/Sunshine Tour/64.167
3. Noel Williams/Sir Velo/63.684
4. Petra Warlimont/Highschool MCF/62.061
5. Debbie Hill/Showdown/61.272
6. Abraham Pugh/Elfenperfekt/59.535
7. Jim Koford/Doctor Wendell MF/58.789
8. Pam Aide/Don De Niro/54.737