DRESSAGE DAILY

Heather Blitz Tops Field to Win Prix St. Georges Test for USEF I-I Dressage National Championship

Thursday, August 23, 2018
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Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

The first day of competition for the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions began bright and early at the Lamplight Equestrian Center on Wednesday morning, seeing an excited crowd of spectators settle in to watch the action for the remainder of the week. The day kicked off with the FEI Prix St. Georges Test for the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship at 8 a.m. with a full field of 15 competitors.

Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero, her 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, topped the class with a 72.853 percent with a mistake-free test. The gelding made his small tour CDI debut in the spring of 2017 with an impressive sweep at the Tryon Spring CDI3* in North Carolina and the pair have continued to earn blue ribbon placings throughout the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida earlier this year.

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

Following close on Blitz’s heels with a 71.735 percent was Jennifer Baumert aboard Betsy Juliano LLC’s Handsome, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding. When Handsome became sick in the spring and had two months off work, Baumert did not have high hopes that she would be heading down the national championships centerline. However, after she trained with her coach Debbie McDonald two weeks ago, she felt confident Handsome was up for the task.

Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF, Andrea Whitcomb’s 10-year-old Hanoverian mare, rounded out the top three of the class with a 69.971 percent. Batchelder and Faro SQF claimed the US Dressage Finals Prix St. Georges Open Championship in 2017 and have continued to progress in their training by schooling Grand Prix movements.

Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

The combinations in the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship will compete in their second test, the FEI Intermediate I on Thursday, Aug. 23 at 2:45 p.m. and their final test, the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 12:40 p.m. Final championship placings will be determined by overall average of the Prix St. Georges (40 percent), the Intermediate I (45 percent) and the Intermediate I Freestyle (15 percent).

For results and starting times, visit Foxvillage.

Live streaming is available on the USEF Network

For more information about the Lamplight Equestrian Center, click here.

FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

Heather Blitz – Prix St. Georges Winner

On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions at Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“This is my fifth or sixth time at Lamplight and I’d hate to miss it because it is such a nice place to show. It’s always run so well and it has great footing. As a competitor, it’s always a great experience. It’s an honor to be invited as one of the top 15 in the country. This is something that I can’t miss and I do whatever I can to be here. I’m really happy about the nice weather today too! It’s great practice too for my horses for the upcoming season in Florida. It was great to get back in the ring today and have it go as well as it did.”
Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero

On her preparation:
“I didn’t make the decision to come until pretty late in the summer because I had been preparing my horse for the Grand Prix. The last time I showed this horse was in March, which was quite a while ago. Since then I’ve been doing a lot of work in preparation for the Grand Prix but then this invite came out so I made the decision to come. I was a little concerned that he was going to overthink in the ring because it’s been since March since he has shown. There were some unknowns, but he listened to me really explicitly. I was super pleased that he could prepare for levels higher and come into the ring and give a solid take on the Prix St. George. He felt really relaxed and really on, but not stressed. I could really ride with a lot of precision, that in hindsight now, came from all of the preparation on harder work. It was nice to come in relaxed and do the test.”

On her first test today:

“I had a mistake-free test. Tomorrow I want to improve on more engagement, more power, more uphill work. All of the things we always need more of. Tomorrow is a more difficult test so I just have to make sure that he listens to me for the tempis and doesn’t go for the ones or the twos — that could possibly happen tomorrow.”

Jennifer Baumert – Prix St. Georges Second Place

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions at Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“It is definitely an honor and thrill to get the invite to this very special competition. This venue is really special and it’s actually the first venue that I ever showed Handsome at so it’s neat to see how far he has come. It’s really great to be here amongst so many super riders and horses and know that you belong.”

On Handsome’s preparation:
“I probably had the most unusual preparation. Handsome got sick at the end of the season and was pretty unrideable for about two months. He’s been under saddle for about five weeks maybe, and even that has been really rough because he didn’t feel like himself. It was really hard to work him hard because we have a championship coming up. I didn’t want to rush him but at what point is the lethargy real or do I have to push him to wake up and work. Debbie came to help us about two weeks ago and we made the decision to come. Even at that point, he didn’t really feel like the horse that I had in Florida, but about two days before we came here I thought ‘My horse is back!’. It wasn’t the ideal way to prepare for this but I watched a lot of video of Aachen to get in the right headspace because I couldn’t really do it on my own horse. I couldn’t happier with him today, he was all there today.”

On her performance with Handsome:
“I was thrilled with my horse today. Handsome was totally on and with me. We had an ideal warm up so tomorrow I am definitely aiming to do the same thing. It’s a harder test tomorrow with a couple more challenges but I think he is going to be ready.”

Nora Batchelder – Prix St. Georges Third Place

Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF (Photo: Annan Hepner/PS Dressage)

On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions at Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“This is a beautiful venue and getting the invite is just the best feeling. Showing up here and just even watching horses in the warm-up and thinking that I get to be here among all of these great horses and riders is awesome. It’s so great to be here.”
Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF

On her preparation:
“I had been working on the Grand Prix quite a bit this summer with my horses so a week ago I switched gears. We’ve been working on having more self-carriage and more seat and all of that. I think that really paid off today and he was really on his game. He hasn’t been in the ring since March either so it worked out well. He was happy to have cool weather too!”

On Faro SQF:
“I was really happy with Faro today. He didn’t have many mistakes, but our walk was a little tentative. He was maybe not with me enough. Tomorrow I need to keep him more relaxed in the walk and go for more power in the trot and the canter.”

Results: FEI Prix St. Georges Test
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Heather Blitz / Praestemarkens Quatero / Heather Blitz / 72.853
2. Jennifer Baumert / Handsome / Betsy Juliano LLC / 71.735
3. Nora Batchelder / Faro SQF / Andrea Whitcomb / 69.971
4. Melissa Taylor / Ansgar / Nicole Polaski / 69.941
5. Nora Batchelder / Fifi MLW / Nora Batchelder / 69.294
6. Jodie Kelly-Baxley / Caymus / Beth Godwin / 69.147