Lexington, KY – For the sixth consecutive year, horses and riders from across the country have come to the Kentucky Horse Park to compete for the 2007 Markel/United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) National Young Horse Dressage Championship presented by Collecting Gaits Farm along with the inaugural USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship sponsored by the Dutta Corporation and Performance Sales International.
With the Young Horse Dressage program, the focus is to promote the importance of selective breeding and correct training of horses throughout the country while encouraging riders, trainers and breeders of young horses in dressage competition. The purpose of this program is to identify and recognize horses that have the potential to compete at international competitions (FEI level).
The first day was a qualifying day for the Young Horse championship which included the five and six-year-old preliminary test. Christopher Hickey and Cabana Boy led the five-year-olds in the Young Horse preliminary test with a score of 8.36. Owned by Hilltop Farm, Inc., Cabana Boy is a bay Hanoverian gelding (Contucci x Britania by Bordeaux; bred in the U.S. by Doug and Shannon Langer). "This was a superb presentation." said Hilda Gurney in the comments for the judging panel, which is a unique aspect to the Young Horse Championships. "This horse showed what we are looking for in these Young Horse classes - that he can be an FEI horse for the future.
Jason Canton and Grandioso had the top score of 8.32 in the six-year-old Young Horse preliminary test. Grandioso is a dark bay Westfalen gelding (Grosso Z x Popocatepetel by Palisandergrund bred in Germany by Willi Hillebrecht) and is owned by his rider Canton.
"You are a lucky man to have this wonderful horse." stated Gurney after Canton's ride. Canton who has been in Europe training and competing for the last few years, has made a triumphant return to resume his work as trainer for Collecting Gaits Farm in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Kicking off the day with the four-year-old optional warm-up class, Willy Arts and Waterloo SE* had the top score of 8.14. Waterloo SE* is a black Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Sigi Belz-Fry and DG Bar Ranch (OO Seven x Showbiz by Jazz; bred in the U.S. by Sigi Blez-Fry).
New this year is the Markel/USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship. This new addition was inspired by a popular German championship to recognize up and coming dressage horses and riders. This championship helps to provide a step between the Young Horse ranks and the High Performance at the Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire I level.
Saturday’s schedule includes the crowning of the four-year-old championship along with the five and six-year-old consolation class and a qualifying test for the Developing Horse championship. The show will continue through Sunday, September 16.