Pestana Tops Field in USEF National Junior Championship

Sunday, August 15, 2010
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Gladstone, NJ – The USEF National Junior Dressage Championship was the second Championship to be completed during the two weekends of the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions and the top three places remained unchanged from the first leg of the championship. That meant that Jamie Pestana (Livermore, CA) and Winzalot defended their lead and swept both tests to score another convincing victory.

This pair has won across the country, including picking up Individual Gold medals at the 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North and now scoring the 2010 national title for Juniors. Their mark of 70.263% in the Individual test was the only one over 70% in the class.

“It’s such an honor to make it here, to be in the top 12,” said the 17-year-old. “The top horses in the country are here, makes you feel pretty special.”

It hasn’t been the easiest road to a national title for Pestana. She injured her shoulder in a fall running track (in the hurdles) and reinjured it earlier in the week. She heads home tomorrow where she expects to have surgery.

The test was accurate and stylish and the pair looked very confident in the big atmosphere at the Dick and Jane Brown Arena at the USET Headquarters. Only six years old, Winzalot is far, far less experienced than many of his peers as Junior horses tend to be veterans of the sport. He doesn’t seem to mind the pressure, and Pestana has produced him since she got him from Catherine Haddad when he was just 30 days under saddle as a three-year-old.

“He has a really great mind,” said Pestana about the horse who has lived up to his name. “He loves to learn and he is up for the challenge. I didn’t know he’d be ready this fast. “

Pestana felt like Winzalot was a little backed off in the first test so she made a point to get him really going forward before she entered the ring. Her plan paid off and Winzalot stayed on her aids and delivered a clean test. Their winning two day percentage was 69.429%

“I was happy overall with how well he was listening,” said Pestana. “It’s so nice to have a young horse that can listen so well. I didn’t expect a six year old horse to be so consistent.”

Catherine Chamberlain (Chandler, AZ) made one mistake which kept her from improving on her second runner-up finish in a row. Their score of 69.895% left them comfortably in second place with a two day total of 69.191%, and Verdicci, who is only an eight-year-old, delivered for his 17-year-old rider.

“I made one mistake, but I was really happy with my ride,” said Chamberlain. “My horse tried really hard. He broke in the trot extension.”

This group of Junior riders has been incredibly consistent and third place finisher Genay Vaughn (Elk Grove, CA) repeated her overall placing, not only from yesterday but from 2009. Vaughn, 16, put in a solid effort for her mark of 66.789% (for a two day total of 67.638%) on Waranja – a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare.

“My horse tried her hardest,” said Vaughn. “She was really good.”

All three riders hope to return to the Festival, and the historic significance of the venue at Gladstone is not lost on riders who were not even born when the facility was in full operation.

“It’s great,” said Vaughn. “It’s such an historical place. It’s cool to get to say you got to come here.”