Wayne, Illinios – Horses Unlimited's Pikko del Cerro was crowned the 2009 Six-Year-Old Champion during the final day of competition at the 2009 USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships held at Lamplight Equestrian Center. The reserve championship went to Faberge, a Westfalen gelding owned by Elizabeth Guarisco of Middleburg, Virginia and ridden by Jessica Jo Tate. Rounding out the top three in third place was the KWPN stallion Winsor, a dark bay Dutch Warmblood stallion (San Remo – Para Lady by Julio Mariner, bred in the Netherlands by P.P.W. Janssen) and owned and ridden by Nicole Bellah from Lee's Summit, Missouri. They were in 10th place after the first day of competition but took first in Sunday's Six-Year-Old Championships test to finish in the third-place spot. Winsor was last year’s National Champions in the Five-Year-Old division. “I have Chris Hickey to thank for this,” said Bella. “He helped us this weekend and got us in gear.”
Gundersen, who was separated from Pikko del Cerro for two months while away training in Europe, was thrilled with her win. “We had a great warm-up, but he was a little disrupted by the applause for the horse finishing their round before us,” said Gundersen. “He took a little while to settle in the test but I loved our canter work and he has a great walk. He’s such a talented horse. It all comes easy for him.”
Next stop for Gundersen is home and she was excited to be heading back after three months away, first being in Europe and then competing, first in New York and then at the Young Horse Championships. She was on the road home to Florida soon after her win.
"It was really cool to finish in first, but now I'm heading home. We have a long way to go, but it always feels shorter after a successful win," she said. But she was quick to say that she really enjoyed her time at Lamplight and not just because she won. “This is a wonderful facility, the footing held up, and everyone here has been so helpful and such a pleasure to work with.” said Gundersen. Lisa Wilcox kept Pikko del Cerro going while Gundersen was in Europe. This was the third trip to the championships for Gundersen and Pikko del Cerro. They competed last year in the five-year-old division and the year before in the four-year-old championships.
Pikko del Cerro is a Hanoverian stallion sired by Pik L and owned by Horses Unlimited. He was bred by Horses Unlimited, which is owned by Anne Sparks Whitten. And it won't be long before he's back in the show ring. Gundersen said he's headed for Devon next month.
Tate was thrilled with her reserve championship finish. "Oh my God, I feel great about it. I'm so proud of him and thrilled to pieces. He just really went out there today and gave me his all. His energy and balance were great. It felt like everything just came together and flowed through test. He was right there with me," she said. Tate has only been riding the horse since the spring when Guarisco purchased him from Canadian young rider Brittan Fraser. Fraser is in her last year of young riders and needed a horse with more experience. Hence, she sold Faberge to finance a new horse. Tate's skillful riding was praised by the judges with Linda Zang at the spokeperson today.
"He was bought for Elizabeth to ride," Tate said. "We didn't get him to compete in the Young Horse Championships so this was such a surprise. I couldn't believe it. We were happy just to be in the top five, we never had the intention of being the winner." Tate said that Guarisco was madly in love with Faberge, who was imported from Germany as a three-year-old, even before he became a national champion. "He's the perfect horse for her. He is so rideable and trainable and has such positive energy. We really lucked out."