Harrisburg, PA - Tiger Lilly II and Nikon's Prima Donna, both mares recently imported from Europe, triumphed over the competition to clinch year-end North American League (NAL) titles on the final day of the 65th Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS).
Lydia Ulrich and Tiger Lilly II captured the title in the $5,000 North American League Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Finals after a four-horse jump-off. With no one going clean in the jump-off, it came down to who had the fastest four-fault trip, and with a time of 35.404 seconds Ulrich and Tiger Lilly II took the victory. Over three seconds behind their time were Chloe Reid and King of Hearts in 38.768 seconds.
Tiger Lilly II, an 8-year-old bay, was imported from Europe about a year ago and has been with Ulrich ever since. "She's been going really well. We moved up through the levels over the summer and our goal is to do the highs in Florida this winter. This was my first time competing here and my first time competing with her [Tiger Lilly II] indoors. It was a good thinking course. Being indoors, I had to think really fast."
Ulrich, 16, is a full-time student in Rochester, NY who usually focuses on jumpers, but has recently become focused on equitation as well. This paid off last Sunday when she competed in her first Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Final at the PNHS and finished in the top 25.
Kenzie Donovan and Nikon's Prima Donna captured the title in the $10,000 North American League Adult Jumper Finals. Following a difficult first round, with an especially difficult bending line to a liverpool that knocked a lot of people out of contention, six made it to the jump-off.
Going fourth in the jump-off Donovan and Nikon's Prima Donna produced the only clean round in a time of 32.286 seconds. Teri Kessler and All That were right behind them with a time of 32.648 seconds, plus they caught a rail, and had to settle for second place.
"We brought her [Nikon's Prima Donna] over from Europe about a year ago," said Donovan. "There was an adjustment period for us, but we've really clicked these past few months, and today she's been great. She's a mare and she can get springy and hoppy, she's dodgy in the warm-up ring, but she's all business in the show ring. She's very adjustable and naturally fast. I can kick her right up to a fence, she never gets too deep; the faster she's going, the higher she jumps."
Donovan, a senior at Georgetown University, is originally from River Hills, WI, and trains with Cody and Emily Williams. This was her third trip to Harrisburg, but her first time in the winner's circle.
The NAL offers a year-long series in six divisions - Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter presented by Cavalor, Children's Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The series includes classes held at hundreds of horse show across the United States and Canada.
Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, most riders join in hopes of earning a trip to Harrisburg. The 2010-2011 NAL qualifying period began on September 1, 2010 and runs through August 31, 2011.
Historically, the NAL has only offered one Final in Harrisburg. The addition of the West Coast Finals, taking place in November 2011 during the Las Vegas National Horse Show at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will help make the NAL a truly national series.
Amateur Owner Hunter Champions Crowned
Competition in the Amateur Owner Hunter divisions wrapped up today and Brad Wolf's Rio Renoir won the Amateur Owner Grand Hunter Championship sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Ernest M. Oare. The pair also captured the Amatur Owner Hunter, Riders over 35 Years of Age Championship sponsored by Sara and Geraldine Nesbitt and Reserve Champion was Stacey Arani's Bolero.
In the Amateur Owner Hunter, Riders 18-35 Years of Age division sponsored by Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates, the Championship went to Take Away with owner-rider Alise V. Oken. The Reserve Champion was Fun & Games with Lindsey Roberts.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS) continues through tonight with the grand finale, the $75,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, set to begin at 7:25 p.m.
In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the PNHS offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia.
General admission for today, Saturday, October 23, is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. As always, children under 6 are admitted free in general admission seating. Convenient parking is also free.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proud of its tradition of supporting equine and youth programs. The show benefits the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Details are available at the horse show's website at www.panational.org or by calling the horse show office at 717-770-0222.
Photos: Lydia Ulrich and Tiger Lilly II won the $5,000 North American League Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Finals. (Al Cook Photo)
Kenzie Donovan and Nikon's Prima Donna won the $10,000 North American League Adult Jumper Finals. (Mollie Bailey/Chronicle of the Horse)