Burbank, California – Much of the final day of competition at the Cornerstone Event Management's Festival of the Horse CDI*** was devoted to the Markel/USEF young horse competition with qualifying classes being held for four-, five- and six-year-old horses. The top four-year-old horse was Zalona DG. The top five-year-old was Chevalier and the top six-year-old horse was Hit Parade SFS.
Zalona DG is a Dutch Warmblood mare by Olympic Ferro out of Jagermaester and owned by Sandy Harper. With rider Willy Arts, Zalona scored 7.72 to take first place in the four-year-old competition. Second went to Elizabeth McConnell and the Swedish Warmblood mare Chocolatt, by Bellini out of Ambience, with a score of 7.30. Third went to Stephen Adler Birchall and Sunshine, a Dutch Warmblood mare sired by Special D out of Sarah, with a score of 6.88.
Speaking for the panel of judges, Joan Macartney said Zalona DG was "a lovely young horse, a very elegant horse with an uphill tendency, especially in the trot work." Judges were clearly impressed with the mare's training. Of her gaits, judges were particularly impressed with the walk. "We loved the clear rhythm, the ground covering and the activity of the walk," Macartney said. "We're clearly impressed with this horse. There's lots of potential for much higher marks."
Winner of the five-year-old competition was Chevalier, ridden by Susan Halasz with a score of 8.64. Chevalier is a Holsteiner stallion sired by Con Air and owned by the Chevalier Group. Halasz has only been working with the horse since January after being purchased in Germany. He's very beautiful and talented and incredibly good-natured. I'm not surprised that he won today because I think he's really wonderful," Halasz said. "This is really only his second time in the five-year-old class. He's got an incredible work ethic and he's just a really cool guy with a great heart."
Coming in second in the Markel/USEF Five-Year-Old Test was Merrie Velden and the Oldenburg stallion Sandomere, by Sandro Hit out of Romina. Third went to another young horse ridden by Willy Arts – Woodwind. The Dutch Warmblood mare, by Contester out of Muziek and owned by DG Bar Ranch, scored 7.98.