One thing the 2008 Wellington Classic Spring Challenge had in abudance was quality. And it showed in the many scores that broke the 70 percent mark. "I thought the quality of horses was incredible. It was really something," said Debra Hill who herself consistently scored well over 70 percent.
In two Training Level classes, the top four finishers all scored over 70 percent. In two other Training Level class, the top three scored over 70 percent. The same with two First Level classes. The high score of the show was earned by Lars Petersen and Succes with a 77.917 in Saturday’s Grand Prix competition.
But, even more amazing, in Sunday’s FEI Intermediaire I competition, the top six all scored over 70 percent. The winner was Sue Jaccoma and Wadamur, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding, with a score of 74.75 percent. The other 70-percent breakers were Michelle Gibson and Don Angelo (73.00), Patricia Becker and Sandor (72.50), Jaccoma again with Donatella (72.25), Lori Shoup and Copland (70.25) and Tina Konyot and Calecto V (70.250).
Jaccoma was thrilled with both her horses. "I had a wonderful ride on Wadamur. It was just beautiful. And then, I had a second wonderful ride on Donatella. If the upward climb of scores keeps going, perhaps it won’t be long before scores in the 80s become a common sight. When asked if she thought maybe the judging was a bit easy, Hill responded with a quick "no." There were, she said, "just a lot of really, really good horses there."
Jaccoma agreed and said she believes the high scores seen at the Wellington Classic show are a sign that the quality of riding and training in the U.S. is now catching up with the horses. "We’ve had quality horses, but not always good training. But now, the quality of horses is matching up with the improved quality of riding and training," she said. Jaccoma credits the efforts by the many educational programs supported by the USDF and USEF with the improvement in the education of riders and trainers. "Everything has come up a level and it’s paying off."