Gray Skies Can't Dampen Competitors' Spirits on First Day of the GAIG/USDF Region 2 Dressage Championships

Sunday, October 12, 2014
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Rachel Hicks and Don Cartier. Photo courtesy of Bob Tarr
Rachel Hicks and Don Cartier. Photo courtesy of Bob Tarr

The region's best dressage horses and riders didn't let gray skies rain on their parades or affect their pursuit of top scores as championship classes got underway Friday at the GAIG/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 2 Dressage Championships, hosted by the Kentucky Dressage Association (KDA) and held in conjunction with the KDA Fall Classic in Lexington, Ky., October 9 - 12, 2014.  Huge classes kept six championship rings busy all day as exhibitors not only competed for a chance to lead the victory gallop, but also for an invitation to return to the Kentucky Horse Park next month for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan, to be held November 6 - 9, 2014. 

Competitors in the Region 2 FEI Junior Team Test Championship led off the day in the Rolex Stadium, where Helen Claire McNulty of Holland, Mich. rode her lovely Dutch gelding Checkmate to a narrow victory with a score of 66.892%.  Next on the schedule were Adult Amateurs contesting their Third Level Championship, and Rachael Hicks (Prospect, Ky.) proved to be much the best as she earned a decisive five-point victory aboard her impressive seven-year-old Rheinlander stallion Don Cartier (73.718%).  Despite the imposing atmosphere of the stadium, Hicks was pleased with how her partner stayed focused on producing a winning performance.  "I was really happy with him today," said Hicks.  "He's grown up a lot in the last year, and he stayed with me for the whole ride."  Meanwhile in the neighboring ring, Lexington, Ky. Grand Prix rider James Koford partnered with Maryanna Haymon's handsome black Hanoverian stallion Doctor Wendell MF to top the Third Level Open division on a score of 72.115%.

Meanwhile in the Kentucky Horse Park's Dressage Complex, Susan Posner of Lexington, Ky. and her homebred Trakehner gelding Tympani had a great ride dancing to a Simon and Garfunkel medley despite soggy surroundings on their way to earn a score of 74.333% and win the First Level Freestyle Championship.  "I'm very pleased, and the conditions didn't faze him at all.  Even with the overnight rain, the footing is very sound and safe underneath, so we had no problem giving a good performance even if we have to do a little more mud clean-up afterwards," Posner laughed.  Patricia Becker also got her weekend off to a winning start as she piloted Joan Pecora's five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Edward to win the Open Training Level Championship.  With the top six placings in this class earning 71% or higher, Becker's top score of 76.600% awarded by judges Hilda Gurney and Dolly Hannon was ultimately good enough to take the championship bragging rights home to Wadsworth, Ill.

Forty-one competitors cantered down centerline in the Rolex Stadium to vie for the Region 2 Open Prix St. Georges Championship.  Fourth to go early in the morning, Christina Vinios of Wellington, Fla. and her Oldenburg gelding Folkestone set the bar high for the rest of the field with 72.566%, a score which would remain atop the leaderboard all day and hang on for a narrow victory despite a strong challenge by the very last rider.  "There were a few anxious moments because I knew there were a lot of great horses coming after me," said Vinios.  "People I'm with were checking the online results every five minutes and saying, 'you've still got it'!  But I felt confident about our ride, our connection felt great today, so it all ended up being worth the wait."  Entering the ring early in the order also proved to be no disadvantage for Alyssa Eidbo of Cumming, Georgia.  Eidbo rode Melody Jackson's Oldenburg gelding Fortune and Fame to earn 68.618% from judges Jeanne McDonald and Joan Macartney as the very first competitor of the Adult Amateur Prix St. Georges class, and these marks would ultimately prevail as the winning score.

In the Open Intermediate B Championship class, Heather McCarthy (Crystal Lake, Ill.) teamed up with Sandi Chohany's 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding Sandro Paix to top the competitive field on a score of 69.167%.  Hometown girl Jacqueline Beasley of Lexington, Ky. and her longtime partner Winston proved to be the best in the Adult Amateur division at this level, earning the unanimous win from judges Charlotte Trentelman and Sandra Hotz with an overall score of 65.774%.  "We've come all the way up the levels together, and I can't describe how gratifying it is to have found a horse like him that's so generous and willing," an appreciative Beasley said of her Hanoverian gelding, which she purchased in Germany as a three-year-old.  "He's just a super guy and he's taken me every step of the way."

Despite persistent showers, an enthusiastic crowd gathered Friday evening to browse the expansive Vendor Row and enjoy a special wine and cheese party with a live Bluegrass band in the competitor's hospitality tent overlooking the Rolex Stadium.  Meanwhile, Second Level Freestyle Championship competitors closed out the night with Linda Strine of Versailles, Ky. and Vickie Short's Friesian mare Xenia Fan Willow View taking top honors for their Carmen-themed freestyle on a score of 76.600%.  "This is definitely Friesian weather," laughed Strine, who is now planning to return to the Kentucky Horse Park for the US Dressage Finals less than a month from now.  "I hate it when it's chilly and wet but obviously she loved it!"

Complete daily results from the GAIG/USDF Region 2 Championships and KDA Fall Classic are available and updated throughout the day at this direct link  Additional competition information including daily schedules are available on http://www.showsecretary.com.