Augusta Iwasaki Rides News Flash Like A Not-So-Old Pro To Capture Grand Championship At Pony Finals

Aug 12, 2017 - 4:29 PM

Lexington, Kentucky—August 12

More than 150 ponies contested the regular medium division at USEF Pony Finals, but one of those 150 riders is not like the others. Augusta Iwasaki has been riding (and winning) at Pony Finals for the past five years, and she added another division championship win and a grand overall title to her credit aboard News Flash.

“It’s amazing,” Iwasaki said. She only just got the ride on “Flash” two weeks ago, but catch riding is old hat for this 13-year-old rider. Flash was a little too much pony for his owner, Tessa Downey, so Downey’s trainer Peter Pletcher had Iwasaki step into the irons for the finals.

With the best over fences round, Augusta Iwasaki and News Flash captured the regular medium pony championship and grand pony championship. Photo by Laura Lemon.

“She’s just a little too passive and small right now for him, so in the end we thought, ‘You know what? Maybe we’ll have someone a little stronger ride him,’ ” Pletcher said. “We asked Gussy, and she said, ‘Yeah that would be super fun!’ ”

It’s hard to remember Calabasas, Calif.-based Iwasaki is just 13, as she rattles off answers to media questions like a seasoned pro. She acts and looks the part—no braids, bows and jodhpur straps here. Iwasaki is the picture of calm and collected in her tall boots, hair up, as she dutifully thanks the pony’s owner and thanks Pletcher for training her on him before taking the pony back to the barn.

“She’s one in a million,” said Pletcher of Iwasaki. “She’s unbelievably talented, and she is a hard, hard worker, and it’s just nice to see. She could be so the other end of it being as good as she is, but she actually acts like she’s just the same as every other child.

Augusta Iwasaki and News Flash couldn’t help but be pleasantly weighed down by ribbons. Photo by Laura Lemon.

“She’s excellent to teach, and she listens, and she can do whatever you say,” Pletcher continued. “She’s in a class of her own for sure.”

Downey was on hand to witness her pony’s top notch performance.

“It was exciting,” Downey said. “And nerve wracking!”

News Flash got all the kisses. Photo by Laura Lemon.

Pletcher plans to have Downey take over the ride on Flash for next year unless the pony is sold before then.

“It’s an exciting thing to win, and it’s great to be grand overall,” Pletcher said. “It was just sort of a dream come true for everybody.”

Click here for full results.  

Important Links: COTH’s What You Need To Know  |  All of COTH’s 2017 USEF Pony Finals coverage  |  Live streaming  |  Daily results

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