[#27523 override="Cesar Parra (White House Station, NJ)" title="Cesar Parra (White House Station, NJ)"], who is riding in his first USEF National Championship after representing his native country of Colombia until 2009, set the mark as the third to last in the ring with Olympia. The classy combination put in a fluid and energetic test, Olympia has plenty of flash and Parra was able to finesse a 73.263% score out of the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. The energetic gelding by Jazz (owned by Lori Washton) went one better than their runner-up finish from the first leg of the championship and cruised to the lead with a very polished effort.
"I was very happy because today he was the horse that I like to ride," said Parra. "Yesterday he was a little tense. When I came up the hill and he felt so good. I wanted to get ahead of Kassie, she has a superb horse, I knew I needed to get two points ahead of her and I think I did it. It was probably the best Intermediaire I have had on him. I was very, very pleased."
Parra's new found patriotism was evident after he put in his winning performance and his emotion was unharnessed. "If you believe in something and you work hard, you will get it," said Parra. "To be here for the first year as an American winning the championship is like a dream come true."
Friday's winner and the Young Rider National Champion from both 2008 and 2009 settled for second with Toscano in the Intermediaire I test. Kassandra Barteau (Maple Park, IL) followed Parra into the ring for the second day in a row but she couldn't quite trump his score today. Barteau's test was accurate and determined and Toscano remained consistent to pick up runner-up honors on 71.105%. Owned by Kristin Cooper, the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding shares the same sire as Olympia - but presents a completely different picture in the ring.
This result moves Parra into the overall lead going in to the finale, Sunday's freestyle. The Prix St. Georges counted 45%, the Intermediaire I counts 30% and the Freestyle counts 25%.
Another Barteau cracked the top three in the National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship when Kassandra's Mother, Yvonne guided GP Raymeister to a third place finish. GP Raymeister was Kassandra's mount when she won the National Young Rider Dressage Championship in 2009 and she competed at the FEI Young Rider World Cup Final last winter with him, but she handed the reins over to her mother early this spring, and the switch seems to suit both horse and rider.
"We trade horses back and forth," explained Yvonne. "Right now she's a better rider than a trainer, that's her age. I am super happy to sit here."
Their score of 69.737% from the Ground Jury rewarded a more dynamic effort than in the Prix St. Georges. Owned by Grand Prix Equestrian, GP Raymeister has cruised up through the levels in the Barteaus' program at their Grand Prix Equestrian Center in Illinois. It is a true team and family effort for the Barteaus and everyone seems to be benefitting.
"She was a natural, she had to do it all on her own," said Yvonne about Kassie. "She had to figure it out on her own and it's amazing how much she partners with these horses. Kassie is very good at riding for today. I let myself be too much of a trainer in the ring. When you're a trainer you sometimes ride for the next ride."
The Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championships concludes Sunday afternoon with the Freestyle.
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