Gladstone, NJ – After a four day battle, the rain finally won at the 2009 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions, and collectively the Ground Jury and the management decided that, in the best interest of the horses, the competition was suspended after the Young Riders rode first thing Sunday morning. Feelings were definitely divided on this decision as riders, owners, vendors, spectators, and those who paid high prices for tables were all affected. Ironically once the decision had been made, and the judges and officials were off to catch earlier flights home, the rain stopped and the sun came out for the fist time in four days.
Ground Jury President Janet Foy knew the decision wouldn’t be easy. “It was a unanimous decision by the Ground Jury,” said Foy. “It’s not bad footing – I don’t know of any footing that could withstand this kind of rain. Our first priority is the safety and welfare of the horses. The (Young Riders) did a great job, but it was deep and slippery and there were still a lot of puddles.”
Leslie Morse and Tip Top 962 - 2009 USEF Grand Prix National Champions
This meant that Leslie Morse was crowned USEF National Grand Prix Champion for the fifth time. Morse and her beloved 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood stallion Tip Top 962 put on a dominating performance in the Grand Prix on Friday on a score of 72.00% to win the first leg. The pair tried out a new Freestyle on Saturday and scored 74.250% for second place. The Grand Prix Championship was scheduled to be decided today with the Grand Prix Special, but Mother Nature had other plans.
“It feels great to be National Champion,” said Morse who traveled from Beverly Hills, CA to compete in Gladstone. “Tip Top did a fabulous job. I’m very excited. I leave here and go to England to train with Kyra (Kirkland) we have a great tour planned and the timing is excellent to help us move forward.”
The final ranking was determined after the two legs of the competition, as only two of the three legs were completed. Morse was the only rider to score over 70% in both tests. “I was a bit disappointed,” said Morse about not riding the third test. “I was looking forward to the Special and to doing better today than yesterday. But the decision was extremely wise.”
Pierre St Jacques and Lucky Tiger were second on the strength of their Grand Prix score of 68.596%, and were named Reserve Champions. St. Jacques has taken his time producing the 14-year-old Danish gelding at the Grand Prix level, and his patience was vindicated this weekend.
“I don’t have a sponsor,” said St Jacques. “This is a one man show, so I’m not going to Europe. My goal is Devon, it has been all year. I am going to work on getting Tiger stronger – there is a lot more horse in there, so that’s my goal. Europe isn’t a big part of my plan right now.”
St Jacques was disappointed to not ride the final leg of the competition but felt that the Ground Jury had a tough choice to make. “I’m a competitor,” said St Jacques. “I go out there to compete, it’s not my decision – but I think it was a wise decision.”
Catherine Bateson-Chandler and Dea II - 2009 USEF Intermediaire National Champion
The Intermediaire I Championship was also decided by two classes instead of three as originally scheduled. This exciting group of up-and-coming horses put on a great effort in Friday’s Prix St. Georges and Saturday’s Intermediaire I test. They didn’t get a chance to perform their Freestyle today but Katherine Bateson-Chandler made it pretty clear that she wasn’t going to easily relinquish her top spot with Dea II.
phelpsphoto: Katherine Bateson Chandler rewards Dea II with her favorite treat, Gumbits.
“I would have liked to have done it,” Bateson-Chandler said. “I was really excited and I love my music. So I’m disappointed but I trust the management. I believe she would have been good.” Her winning scores of 73.105% in the Prix St. Georges and 74.579% in the Intermediaire I meant that Bateson-Chandler claimed her first National Championship. She was also third with Rutherford. Both exciting small tour horses are owned by Jane Forbes Clark.
Bateson-Chandler had Jan Brons hot on her heels with Teutobod. The pair of Wellington-based riders are great friends and their rivalry was fierce. “I was all geared up to do it,” said Brons. “It was that close.” “Jan was in fighting form,” said Bateson-Chandler.