For the fourth consecutive year, John Zopatti won the leading trainer award at the Gold Coast Dressage Association’s (GCDA) yearend awards banquet. Zopatti was named the association’s Trainer of the Year in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2005, the GCDA changed the criteria and the name of the award to the Trainer Recognition Award, but one name remained unchanged, the 2005 winner was again John Zopatti.
Year after year, Zopatti’s students consistently dominate the GCDA shows held in Wellington, Florida and go on to capture more than their share of the associations yearend championships. When asked what his secret is, Zopatti says, “I require that my students work hard. We set goals together and then do the work to make these goals a reality for each horse and rider team”. He then adds humbly, “I have a great group of students”. But most trainers feel that they have great students, and most require them to work hard, but none have been recognized as Top Trainer for four consecutive years in marketplace as competitive in dressage as Wellington, Florida.
But Zopatti insists he doesn’t have a secret formula. He does admit that not everyone fits into his program. “Some riders are looking for shortcuts or think buying a push button horse will get them to their goals faster’, says Zopatti, “They don’t like training with me and doing the work, basics first. So they move on to other trainers”. And Zopatti wishes them well when they go; after all there is often a waiting list to get into Zopatti’s training program. And for good reason.
In 2005, along with garnering many GCDA championships, Zopatti students dominated the ranks at Dressage at Devon and the USDF Region 3 Championships. At Devon, Zopatti escorted his young rider, Amanda Stearns to the podium to receive the Team Gold Medal in the American Young Rider Championships. Stearns also won big at the USDF Region 3 Champions in Jacksonville this fall. Under Zopatti’s guidance, Stearns captured the Championship in the FEI Junior Team Test with a score of 66.538% and went on to win the 4th Level Junior Young Rider Championship, as well. In the adult amateur division, Zopatti student, Johnny Robb won the 4th Level Championship with a score of 67.609%. Zopatti student, Kristy Lund, was Res. Champion in the 4th level Musical Freestyle but only because Zopatti himself won the Championship aboard his Dutch gelding, Mitchell. Zopatti also won the Regional Championship in the Prix St Georges open division and Res. Champion in the Intermediare open division.
So who will top this champion trainer, whose winning streak has extended so far for so long? Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain, should a new trainer take Zopatti’s title in a future year, he or she will be met by Zopatti with a congratulatory handshake. For the only thing more reliable than Zopatti’s winning ways, is his consistent display of good sportsmanship!