Elisabeth Austin and Olivier Win Inaugural Brentina Cup at Gladstone
Elisabeth Austin, 22, of Williston, Vermont, is the first winner of the Brentina Cup, an award launched this year at the USET Foundation Dressage Festival of Champions presented by Paul Miller, Inc. Austin topped a class of six entries aboard Olivier, a 10-year-old brown Dutch warmblood stallion (Idocus x Rowillie), earning a score of 70.390% in the FEI Intermediaire II. Olivier was bred and is currently owned by the winner’s mother, Madeleine Dammers Austin.
Bethany Peslar, 24, of Wellington, Florida, riding More Magic (Maraschino x Radetta) owned by Everglades Dressage, LLC, claimed second with a score of 69.171%. Lauren Sprieser, 21, of Oak Brook, Illinois, riding her own Bellinger placed third, earning 64.927%.
Debbie McDonald, who rode Brentina to a 2004 Olympic Team Bronze Medal, 2003 World Cup Championship, and 2002 Team Silver Medal at the World Equestrian Games, made the award presentation to Austin.
The purpose of the USEF Brentina Cup Championship Program is to assist and encourage U.S. Young Riders aged 18-26 in making the transition to Senior Grand Prix competitor. The eight horse/rider combinations with the highest overall average scores according to USEF rankings from qualifying competitions held nationally January through June 2006 were invited to Gladstone to compete.
“I’m so excited, I’m so proud to be a part of it,” Austin said of the program. “Brentina and Debbie have done so much for this sport in this country and certainly around the world. They make it fun, so I think to be part of that and to represent that is really, really important.”
Austin noted that for her, one of the most important parts of the program is that the riders did not have to qualify through CDIs. “For me, that made it financially possible,” Austin explained, who qualified through local shows. Austin also pointed out that for horses that are 9,10, and 11 years old, “it’s the perfect stepping stone” to Grand Prix.
Austin has literally known her winning mount all his life. “I was there when he was born and I remember when he came out my mom said ‘oh, look he has expensive markings!’ He has four white feet,” she explained. Olivier, known as “Fizzy,” has only competed at nine horse shows, and the Brentina Cup is only his third recognized FEI competition. Because she has been exhibiting another stallion, Austin explained that financially she couldn’t show both simultaneously. “I didn’t feel we needed to campaign him a lot. He’s very happy in his job. He loves to show, but for me I don’t think it’s important to show a lot. I really like training,” Austin said, and added that her horses like that schedule as well. “They love it – they’re excited to be away from home.”
Prior to the Brentina Cup qualifiers, the talented stallion’s show records included competing at Third and Fourth Level, and one Prix St. Georges at Lendon Gray’s Youth Dressage Festival (unrecognized competition). Austin and her mother have done all the training, and one season he accompanied 2003 Pan American Team member Pierre St. Jacques to Florida. Olivier is also a breeding stallion. “I’m so proud of him. He’s just a wonderful horse,” Austin enthused, acknowledging that the stallion earns his way through his breeding fees. In today’s ride, Austin described Olivier’s piaffe and passage as “amazing,” especially coming down the centerline where he got “better and hotter in a really nice way. He loves to show and he loves to show off. It’s so easy.”
Austin, a student at the University of Vermont, took time off to compete in Florida this year and to work as an assistant trainer for Lendon Gray at Gleneden Dressage in Bedford, New York. She plans to return to college in the fall.
Bethany Peslar and More Magic Make US Debut at the Inaugural Brentina Cup at Gladstone
Bethany Peslar, who placed second, is also enthusiastic about the USEF Brentina Cup Championship Program. “As soon as I heard about the program I was really excited about the opportunity to do it,” she said. “It’s a great stepping stone for young riders moving up into Grand Prix against people in their own age group at that level before jumping into professional Grand Prix.”
Peslar is based in Pennsylvania for the summer and is in training with Robert Dover at his New Jersey stable. She is a professional rider concentrating on her show career and training her own horses. More Magic is a 14-year-old bay Westphalian gelding imported from Germany that Peslar has owned since April 2006. Christine Traurig previously showed him in Europe in the Grand Prix.
“I’m still getting to know him but I feel like we are becoming a combination now,” Peslar said, and acknowledged that she believes the horse could make a U.S. team. “Our next step is to do the Grand Prix and try to qualify for Devon and see where we go,” Peslar said.
Inaugural Brentina Cup at Gladstone
Lauren Spreiser and Bellinger Move Up From Young Rider Ranks
Lauren Sprieser, the third placed rider, was also enthusiastic about the USEF Brentina Cup Championship Program. “The goal of program was obviously to take Young Riders out of Young Riders and gear them up for the Grand Prix program,” she pointed out. “It’s pretty exciting to be getting in on the ground floor and the first generation to go through it.”
Sprieser is a professional rider who graduated from Sarah Lawrence University this year with a degree in public policy and urban planning. She is based in Wauconda, Illinois, and trains with Ken McGrath. Her mount, Bellinger, a 14-year-old bay Trakehner gelding is known as “Billy” and is a special horse for Sprieser who bought him at a sales barn in Germany in January 2003. They are in their fourth season together. “He came to me about 300 pounds underweight and terrified of everything,” Sprieser said, “but when the going gets tough, he listens to me. I will never sell him. He’s a little difficult and has been passed around a lot. He doesn’t trust people right away but has the most tremendous heart. He would do anything for me and it would be wildly unfair for me not to give everything to him.” The challenge for Sprieser is to adjust to her horse every ride, as she explained, “He’s a funny horse because no matter what horse I have in the warm-up, he’s going to be completely different when I come down centerline. So it’s just a matter of riding the horse I have in the ring.”
PMG Info Press release by Mary Hilton