Gladstone, NJ- While the Dick and Jane Brown Arena at the USET Foundation Headquarters belonged to the Grand Prix riders Saturday morning, the afternoon session was all about the up-and-coming stars of the sport at the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. In the National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship, Caroline Roffman and Pie maintained their strangle-hold on the lead. While, Young Adult "Brentina Cup" competitors got their first taste of competition in Gladstone with Brian Hafner jumping out to an early lead.
National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship
Day one leader Roffman rode like a woman on a mission Saturday afternoon and extended her lead in the National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship. Fourteen competitors contested the FEI Intermediaire I Test in the Dick and Jane Brown Arena but none would be able to catch Roffman and Pie.
Roffman (Wellington, FL) was the first rider of the final rotation Saturday and bested her score from Thursday by nearly two points to score 75.395%. The 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding again demonstrated a fluid trot tour and powerful canter.
"He was so good [Thursday], I was a little afraid he couldn't do it again. He was good again, you know he was a little different; a little nervous but he behaved," Said Roffman. "Honestly, I couldn't be happier, I'm very lucky to have him."
Roffman is making a splash at the senior level after an extremely successful Young Rider career. The 23-year-old was also the winner of the 2011 USEF National Young Adult "Brentina Cup" Dressage Championship. Additionally, she has collected numerous Champion and Reserve Champion honors in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships.
She believes her experience with all these programs and watching the Grand Prix riders over the years has helped her gain success in the senior ranks.
"I tried to raise my own bar and raise my own standard and riding. I watched these guys. I always aimed to be like them one day. And I think that made the transition better."
Placing second in the FEI Intermediare Test was David Blake and Royal Prinz after scoring 72.947% on the strength of a ground covering extended trot. The Encinitas, CA based pair had a greatly improved effort today from the fourth place performance on Thursday.
"I am thrilled with him, he's a little green for it. [Thursday] we were both a little scared in there and today was really good," said Blake. "That's about the best he can do, so I was pretty happy with him."
Blake and Teresa Simmons' 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion now stand second in the National Championship.
Placing third in Saturday's test and moving into third in the championship standings was Heather Mason (Lebanon, NJ) and her own Warsteiner. The 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding scored 71.158% on Saturday.
The National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship concludes Sunday with the Freestyle, which will count for the remaining 15% of the overall score.
National Young Adult "Brentina Cup" Dressage Championship
Ten competitors lined up in Young Adult "Brentina Cup" competition on Saturday afternoon to perform the USEF Brentina Cup Test. The 2012 National Young Adult "Brentina Cup" Dressage Championship is showcasing a new level of achievement as Saturday's scores were among the highest awarded in the division this year.
The Young Adult "Brentina Cup" program is intended to assist and encourage U.S. Young Riders making the transition to the Grand Prix level. All the competitors are gaining valuable experience this weekend getting the chance to ride at the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions and performing the movements required at the senior level.
Brian Hafner riding his own and Rebecca Hafner's Lombardo LHF claimed the top spot in the USEF Brentina Cup Test and the early lead in the championship. The 23-year-old from Penngrove, CA finished with a score 70.667% to hold a half a percentage point lead.
"I was super happy with my ride. Just within the last few months he's come into his own a bit," said Hafner. "We had a couple small mistakes but overall I was pretty happy with my ride."
Hafner has been riding the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding for nine years and the pair is learning the ropes of the Grand Prix ranks together.
"The piaffe is our weak point and those transitions are so hard and he's the first horse I've ridden Grand Prix so we are just learning together; that makes it fun but challenging."
Saturday's second-place finisher, Heather Ann Beachem, was third in last year's championship and is poised for an even stronger result this year. She rode her own 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Windsong, to a score of 70.077% to finish just behind Hafner.
Beachem (Alpharetta, GA) was thrilled with her result and pleased to be back in Gladstone after putting Windsong on the market last year.
"Today was the like ride of my life. I put my horse on the market after competing here last year and no one has bought him so I thought I might as well come back." Said Beachem. "I've never gotten a 70% before and I feel so blessed. He was amazing."
Laura Noyes (Falmouth, ME) stands third with the 17-year-old Trakehner gelding Syncro LLC's Syncro after scoring 69.308%.
Young Adult "Brentina Cup" competition continues Sunday, with riders performing the FEI Young Rider Grand Prix Test which will count for the remaining 50% of the overall average.
All of the performances are available on demand at www.usefnetwork.com presented by SmartPak.
Follow the U.S. Dressage team at www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2012Dressage/