After years of debate and development, last fall's inaugural US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® were a resounding success. Since then, enthusiasm has continued to spread across the country for this year's Finals which will return to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, November 6 - 9, 2014, and recent nomination figures as reported by the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) have far exceeded expectations. The nomination phase is the second step of the eligibility process for the Finals. Nominations are submitted by competitors who have attended a GAIG/USDF Regional Championship, received the necessary placing and/or score necessary for qualification, and have expressed an interest in coming to the Finals in Lexington. To date, five of nine USDF regions have held their Regional Championship competitions and the subsequent nomination periods have closed - and the results are astonishing. All five regions (4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) show impressive increases in nominations submitted by competitors, even though these areas represent some of the farthest distances required for travel to Kentucky. Of these, two regions (4 and 6) have well over 100% increase; and perhaps most dramatic of all, Region 7 has a 214% increase in nominations filed.
"To say that I'm delighted with this update would be an understatement," said USDF President George Williams. "I realize that perhaps some people chose to stay home last year to see how things went with the Finals. Then they saw and heard what a spectacular event it was, and now they want to try it for themselves. The organizing committee is already making plans to welcome many more competitors than last year, including adding extra rings. We're so appreciative of all the ongoing support from USDF members in helping make this event such a success!"
One of the new faces who will be attending this year's Finals is Jessica Iorio of Foxboro, Mass., who recently rode Roulette to win both the First and Second Level Adult Amateur Championships at Region 8. A life-long eventer, Iorio purchased her Holsteiner/Hanoverian-cross three years ago as an event horse, but an unfortunate injury forced a sudden alteration in the mare's career. "It was a big change for both of us," said Iorio. "We just started our new dressage career together last year, and this is definitely Roulette's calling! I will always be an eventer at heart, but she has made dressage so much more fun for me than I would have thought. She's been fabulous to bring along and now we're so excited to come to Kentucky."
No stranger to top competition, Iorio has evented to the FEI 3* level and has attended the American Eventing Championships in the past, but until recently the US Dressage Finals weren't really on her radar. After a friend encouraged her to declare and then successfully competing at Region 8, Iorio suddenly found herself qualified to attend a national championship in a brand new discipline. "This is a whole new world for us," laughed Iorio, who is also the full-time mother of three boys. "It will be a 15-hour drive and the distance was certainly a consideration, but my family is so supportive of my attending and who knows when I might get a chance to do something like this again. I've ridden to the top of eventing sport and now my goal is to get to the top of dressage sport. So we're doing this! I'm excited to be able to see and experience it, and I know once we get there it will be great."
Cyndi Jackson of Glendale, Ariz. has an even more impressive trek ahead of her to get to Lexington, but even the 35-hour haul can't dampen her enthusiasm to attend her first Finals. During the GAIG/USDF Region 5 Championships, Jackson rode Ann Damiano's Hanoverian gelding Don Angelo to win the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I Open titles. After missing a chance to attend last year's Finals due to welcoming a new child to her family, Jackson was not going to pass up another opportunity to ride in Kentucky. "I heard how, even though no one was entirely sure what to expect last year, the event had ended up going so well and that everyone loved it," said Jackson. "So Don Angelo's owner and I decided that we definitely wanted to represent the West Coast this year if given the opportunity."
Jackson has competed at the High Peformance level as well as the USEF Festival of Champions in Gladstone, N.J., but believes that the US Dressage Finals present a special opportunity for all riders to come together and compete on a national championship stage. "I always thought that after Regionals it would be nice to see all the champions come together to compete in an event like this at the national level, especially for adult amateurs," Jackson explained, who will be traveling to Lexington with her mother Kay Lorenzen, who will also compete there after winning top honors in the Region 5 Fourth Level Adult Amateur division. "So my whole family will be coming. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I said to everyone, 'let's do it!'"
Competitors in several areas of the country have four final opportunities to qualify and/or nominate for the Finals: the GAIG/USDF Region 1 Championship was held October 2 - 5 and nominations for competitors from that region will close at midnight Eastern Time on Thursday, October 9, 2014. Championships in Regions 2 and 9 will be held this weekend (October 9 - 12), with Region 3 closing out the qualifying calendar on October 16 - 19 in Florida. The closing date for final entries will be October 23, 2014.
To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, declare and nominate for the Finals, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.