Endel Ots and Lucky Strike Seal the Deal in the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship
Sunday, August 25, 2019
Endel Ots (Wellington, Fla.) and Lucky Strike added to their successful week with a great Freestyle performance to earn the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. He and the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Max Ots earned a Freestyle score of 74.810 percent for an overall score of 74.255 percent.
Photo - Endel Ots and Lucky Strike (SusanJStickle.com)
“This is a great way to end a year. It means a lot. My dad lives nearby, and to have him be here and see it, it has been a wonderful journey. To come here for [the young horses] and the development [classes], it has been wonderful and a dream come true,” said Ots, who won the 2018 Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges National Championship.
Rebecca Rigdon and La Fariah, the 10-year-old Rhinelander mare she owns with David Blake, earned the reserve national championship with an overall score of 71.476 percent. Sara Hassler (Chesapeake City, Md.) and Harmony’s Boitano, Leslie Maline’s 13-year-old KWPN gelding, placed third with an overall score of 71.476.
Ots was presented with the United States Equestrian Team Foundation (USET) Intermediaire I Trophy donated by Ivan Bezufloff, Jr.
From the Press Conference:
On earning the reserve championship:
Rigdon: “It’s absolutely fantastic coming here as a wild card [returning] from an injury after the first qualifier for the Pan [American Games] team. [It] was really hard, and I felt [we] were done for the year, so to be able to have the opportunity, I’m grateful to USEF. It’s pretty spectacular. I could not be happier with her. She has grown up considerably over the past couple of years, and she’s ready to move on from small tour.”
On placing in the top three:
Hassler:“It’s such an honor. He’s only a year and a half back from an injury, so just his victory in getting here is huge, and it’s such an honor to have a horse like that to learn from, and ride, and to allow me to be riding around such incredible people is very inspiring every day. It’s just inspiring to get here. I honestly did not expect to come here and have this happen. I’m so grateful to his owner for giving me this opportunity. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for me.”
On today’s freestyle:
Hassler: “I made the freestyle choreography and music. I had never ridden it before. I did some last minute tweaks on it on the way here, so I’m really glad it went okay. It was a really cool experience as it was only the third freestyle I have ever ridden. It was really fun and challenging … there were a few areas I could have done better, but I’m extremely happy that it went the way it did.”
Ots: “It was a good ride; I was trying to do everything nice, clean, and easy … I was very happy with him through the ride, since he had two weeks off, just slowly bringing him back with basic movements, so I was very happy with his performance today.”
Rigdon: “It was a bit last minute. I had never ridden that freestyle before because [I have] been focusing on the Prix St. Georges and the I-1 that the freestyle is such a bonus. I wanted something very easy, and I wanted to do that on purpose. She hasn’t shown since last February, so I wanted to make it an easy experience for her and try to get her as relaxed as possible.”
Keep up with the 2019 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions on USA Dressage Facebook where you can find winning rides and daily photo galleries, USEF Network Twitter, and USEF Network Instagramfeaturing Instagram Stories. Use #USADressage and #FestivalofChampions.