Annville, PA-September 5, 2001-With the North American League (NAL) year-end standings being calculated and finalized, those who "made the cut" can now prepare for their exciting season finale at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, in October.
For the NAL Finals, the finalists (horse/rider) were chosen from the qualified entries received by the closing date. With points confirmed through August 31, here's the story.
The NAL Pony Jumper Final will lead off the five-event grand finale in Harrisburg. The top 10 qualifiers from the Eastern and Western leagues will take to the ring on Thursday, October 11. Eastern League points leader Kathleen Scott may return to defend her 2000 NAL Pony Jumper Finals title aboard High Meadows Mambo #5. Scott, 13, and her younger sister Kassandra, 11, have dominated the Eastern League throughout the season with their string of ponies.
Based in Mukwonago, Wis., the Scott family business includes buying and importing talented pony jumpers from Europe. Both High Meadow's Mambo #5 and High Meadow's Mack The Knife, the Eastern League points leaders, are Belgian Warmbloods who began their careers abroad. Under the watchful eye of trainer Thomas Cerra of Our Day Farm, the Scott sisters will be attending the NAL Finals following their impressive first- and third-placed finishes in the inaugural HBO/AHSA Individual Pony Jumper Final, held August 16 in Asheville, N.C.
The NAL Children's Hunters and Jumpers will face off on Tuesday, October 16. Lauren Widner, Jacksonville, Fla., and Take A Chance lead the way in the Eastern League Children's Hunter points standings and will certainly face a challenge from the Western League leader Kristin Governo, Crestwood, Ky., and Back In Black.
In the Children's Jumper Final, the competition will also be tough as Leigh Healy, Mt. Holly, N.J., will be trying to continue her hot streak aboard Ideal. The pair have accrued an amazing 6,080 points this season, eclipsing everyone in their division, including the Western League points leader Roxane Theidel, Hinsdale, Ill., aboard Daytona with 3,096.5 points. Likewise, the NAL Adult Hunters and Jumpers will offer some talented combinations vying for the titles. The NAL Adult Hunters will take center stage on Friday, October 19. While people often expect the victor be a League points leader, anything can happen when a group of talented horses and riders get together. Last year's winner, Kelly Champion, Washington, N.J., bested a field of 26 others aboard Copperfield as the last horse/rider combination to make the cut.
Friday evening features the exciting NAL Open Speed competition where the professional riders pull out the stops over a course of imposing fences. Last year's winner Laura Kraut, Oconomowoc, Wis., duked it out with fellow 2000 Sydney Olympian Margie Engle, Wellington, Fla., in a thrilling competition where Z Max stopped the clock before the more experienced Reggae. This year's top qualifiers include Engle, McLain Ward and Laura Chapot.
The Adult Jumpers conclude the NAL Finals week on Saturday, October 20. Typically a competitive division, last year's jump-off came down to a strategic move that allowed winner Kelly Wampler of Indianapolis, Ind., to post the only clean round aboard Co-Pilot. With this year's talented group of riders qualified, the finale could be another nail-biter. For more information, please see the Ryegate Show Services website at www.Ryegate.com.