They were all in contention until the future professional pulled out all the stops.
Competition for the U.S. Equestrian Federation Show Jumping Talent Search Finals-East was as hotly contested as ever.
The field of 82 was the largest in years, and by the time it was whittled down to the final four, the riders were neck-and-neck. In fact, in the second round of that phase, all four were tied with 176 points and those on the sidelines were discussing whether a tiebreaker would be necessary.
The Connecticut driver improves his record to three-for-three at a Gladstone that has changed over the past 25 years.
The Gladstone Driving Event, once the most prestigious competition of its kind in the United States, marked its 25th anniversary Sept. 20-23 with a no-frills show and a printed program that harkened back to its glory days.
"This is different than the other finals," U.S. show jumping coach George Morris explained after judging the U.S. Equestrian Federation Show Jumping Talent Search Finals-East. "This," he emphasized, "is jumper preparation."
And while a major equitation final win eluded Charlie Jayne in his junior years, he made up for it with victory in the USEF Talent Search Finals-East, held at the historic U.S. Equestrian Team headquarters in Gladstone, N.J., on Oct. 7-8.
A hard, steady rain threw a wrench into the first day's competition at the U.S. Equestrian Federation's Show Jumping Talent Search Finals East, Oct. 8-9 at the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation's famed Gladstone, N.J., training center.
Though the footing held up, horses were splashing around the sand arena behind the landmark red-roofed stable, and the downpour sometimes made it difficult to see, as well as making things very uncomfortable for the 56 soaked riders, who were performing flatwork individually before segueing into a gymnastics test.
Still riding the wave of her sweeping success at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) three weeks earlier, Laura Chapot completely dominated the final day of the Beacon Hill Equestrian Grand Prix in Colts Neck, N.J. She started out by taking the $10,000 NAL Open Speed Derby, then crafted another victory in the featured $40,000 Beacon Hill Classic.
It just happened to be Father's Day, and her dad, retired U.S. show jumping chef d'equipe, Frank Chapot, was understandably beaming about the results.
Sally Cousins had several good reasons to celebrate her win at the Jersey Fresh CCI**, May 13-16, on Trout Walk Farm's The Mistress II. In addition to sealing Cousins' third two-star victory--she has also won at Essex (N.J.) and Bromont (Canada)--she answered a major question regarding the 13-year-old mare.
If the competitors in the BET/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals-East were unsure of what the competition was about, they got an extra dose of inspiration from a special video and commentary on the Athens Games.
After their combined flat and gymnastics phase, the riders saw videotapes of the Olympics shot by Stacia Madden in Greece, where her husband, Frank Madden, helped coach his sister-in-law, Beezie Madden, who anchored the silver-medal U.S. team.
Suzy Stafford dominated the most competitive advanced division at the Gladstone Driving Event, winning the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Single Pony Combined Driving Championship over 10 entries.
She remained in first place from start to finish at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, N.J., Sept. 23-26, winning the dressage and marathon phases.