Harrisburg, PA - It was an exciting night of jumper action at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show tonight, as the $15,000 USEF Prix de States Team Championship and Individual Championship Phase II took place in Harrisburg, PA. The team from USEF Zone 2 swept the top spot for the second year in a row with excellent rides by Meg O'Mara of Rumson, NJ, Katie Dinan of New York, NY, Charlotte Jacobs of Buffalo, NY, and last night's Randolph College/USEF $7,500 Individual Championship Phase I winner Reed Kessler of Armonk, NY. Despite an initial tie for second place between Zones 5 and 7, the silver medal was ultimately awarded to Zone 5 thanks to Nora Laue of Wilmette, IL.
Sponsored by Randolph College, the competition featured 32 of the countries top junior jumpers showing over a technical course by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL with compact turns and three different combinations. Riders also had to scale the Pennsylvania National Horse Show signature vertical, which proved to be a problem fence for several riders. Since the competition mixed individual riders as well as riders representing their USEF zones, the crowd was able to witness a variety of jumper talent.
Zone 2 proved to be a dominating force throughout both rounds as the riders entered the arena to defend their winning title. During the first round, Meg O'Mara riding Sinatra IV, owned by Walstib Stables LLC, and Katie Dinan, aboard Grant Road Partners LLC's Belle Dame D, were each able to produce to fault-free rounds for the team. Charlotte Jacobs aboard Karonda V Schlosslifof CH and Reed Kessler with Ligist also put in respectable efforts, lowering the height of just one fence, for a four fault score going into the second round.
The riders from Zone 2 continued their brilliant performance as the final round got underway, with O'Mara, Dinan, and Kessler each completing clear efforts over the course. Jacobs had just a single knockdown for the drop score and they finished the night with an impressive four faults to earn the victory and gold medal prize.
"We are a close knit team," said Kessler. "We were all so excited about today. We all had so much fun. We made posters and banners and hung out together." Added Dinan, "We are so fortunate because all of our teammates are really strong."
Ralph Caristo, the Zone 2 Chef d'Equipe, was ecstatic. "I am so proud of my girls," said Caristo. "This is the second year in a row. I have such a great bunch of talented riders, great horses and great trainers. They all knew what they had to do, and they did it. All I had to do was cheer for them."
The night got off to a promising start, as the second rider on the course, Savannah Talcott of Wildwood, MO, went clear in just 68.444 seconds. Riding Recover of Traced LLC, Talcott represented Zone 7, which initially tied with Zone 5 for second place honors with total scores of 20 faults. A tie-breaking jump-off saw Nora Laue and Peninsula Kheelan bring the silver medal home to Zone 5. The duo, who placed third in last night's junior jumpers, edged-out Zone 7's Wilton Porter of Bartonville, TX for the silver team medal. Riding Phineas of Sleepy P Ranch, Porter had a fantastic first round, going clear in just 67.421 seconds, and helping Zone 7 finish in third place overall.
Laue credits her speedy success to her trainer, Abby Blankenship, as well as her confident mount. "I have an awesome trainer and a really nice horse," remarked Laue of her impressive performance. "My horse and I just really came together as a team tonight. He was fantastic; he definitely knows when it's showtime, and when he sees us approaching the ring he kind of perks up and seems to think, 'We get to show again? Great!' He loves showing. He's got a great personality and it's just so much fun when you're on him."
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show continues tomorrow with the Randolph College/USEF Individual Championship Phase III, the final phase of a three-part junior jumper competition. Tomorrow's show will also feature pony hunter championships in the morning, followed by the presentation of junior hunter awards in the evening. For full results and live scoring please visit www.ryegate.com. For more information about the Pennsyvania National Horse Show, please visit www.panational.org.
For extensive coverage including free LIVE webcasting tonight, Saturday, October 15, and Sunday, October 16, visit USEFNetwork.com's Pennsylvania National Horse Show page at
Photo: Katie Dinan and Belle Dame D. Phelps Media Group.