Gray, Choate and Harper Claim 2010 USEF National Youth Reining Championship Titles

Sunday, June 27, 2010
Posted by Joanie Morris, USEF

Oklahoma City, OK - It was a busy day in the Adequan Arena at the 2010 NRHA Derby as United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) National Youth Reining champions were crowned in very competitive fashion. Chloe Gray was happy just to be able to compete after her horse injured a suspensory ligament the day before the competition. Luckily her trainer, Shannon Rafascz stepped in with a horse for her to ride and Repeat Fine Footwork delivered big time.
Gray, a 21-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina, rode confidently despite having sat on Repeat Fine Footwork for the first time the previous evening. She won the 19-21 year old division on a convincing score of 144.5 over Lydsey Jordan on Sailin CD and Breanne Bertrand on Stoned Chik, who tied for the reserve  spot on 142.5.

"Today went very, very well," said Gray, whose hometown is Citra, FL. "Shannon was kind enough to lend him to me and it worked out phenomenally. It couldn't have gone better. I had a blast."

Gray has seen the horse compete before and Rafascz always had a great time showing him, so her nerves went away when she went in the ring. "She's always had a blast on him, and even though I had never ridden him until last night - he was great, said Gray.

In the middle age group, Layla Choate was named USEF National Youth Reining Champion in the 14-18 year old age group after a great performance on Plus One Chex. Choate won by a narrow margin over Devin Spencer. Choate's score of 144.5 was a half point better for the win in her first USEF National Championship.

"It was awesome," said Choate (Murray, KY). "It's my first time in the USEF division but it was a major goal for me this year." Choate's commitment to getting qualified and getting to the USEF National Championship paid off and Plus One Chex put in a stellar ride. Choate was really pleased that Plus One Chex seemed to thrive on the big stage.  "Her stops are always amazing," said Choate. "She's always loved to do them been good at them but it means more to get it done at a big show."

Choate, a 17-year-old senior in high school, rides at Torpey Performance Horses. She isn't sure what her immediate goal will be after achieving such success on her first try at the USEF National Championships, but she will be back in 2011 to defend her title.

Kyndall Harper is in her last year of the 13 and under division and made the most of it, winning stylishly and convincingly aboard Please Me Whiz. From St. Augustine, FL - Harper finally picked up the Championship title after two years of being reserve champion.

"It's really exciting," said Harper. "The third time is the charm because I was reserve the last two times. It's my last year but my horse was really good. He likes the spins the best - he really locks in and goes fast."

Harper's score of 141 put her well clear of the 2010 Reserve Champion for this Championship. That title went to Stephen Timberlake, who, on a score of 136.5, was second on Whiz Bang Boom.

In the CRI-Y which ran concurrently, eight riders had their eyes on the 2010 Smart Pak North American Young Rider Reining Championships at the Adequan FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North.

Breanne Bertrand and Stone Chik led the way:  their score of 142.5 gave them top honors in the FEI division over Will Letner and A Genuine Diamond and Caroline Blackshear and Kidsgotitall. This group of riders will represent the United States July 28-Aug 1, 2010 in Lexington, KY.

For more information and complete results, please visit: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsDisciplines/discipline/allreining/youthReiningChampionship.aspx
For Club Equestrian coverage (blogs and photos) please visit:http://www.clubequestrian.com/coverage/2010youthreining.aspx

For more information, please contact Joanie Morris at jmorris@usef.org.