Riders battle it out in the children’s and adult finals in New York.
The Marshall & Sterling Finals, Sept. 13-16 in Saugerties, N.Y., was only Christina Fried’s third horse show with Lady Grey, but that didn’t stop her from winning the adult amateur jumper classic. After winning two out of three classes at the Hampton Classic (N.Y.), Fried went on to win the Marshall & Sterling wild card that allowed her to qualify for the Finals.
Lady Grey, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood, almost didn’t have the chance to win for Fried. A year earlier, the mare came to Fried’s trainer, Eamonn Hughes, to be tried. She tore a ligament the day before the pre-purchase exam and returned to her owners. “I sort of forgot about her because it was such a serious injury, although nothing else I tried jumped out at me,” Fried said.
However, the time off and extensive rehab helped the mare return to the show ring. She won the wild card class over Fried’s other horse,
Felix des Vents, who placed second.
“I give her all the credit in the world; she really loves her job. The first time I tried her I was instructed to let her add down a line, and I just couldn’t do it!” said Fried.
Fried, who is based in New York City, commutes to Goshen, N.Y., two or three times a week to ride. The mare will have time off before she heads to Ocala, Fla., in January. Fried said with a laugh, “I’m still waiting for somebody to pinch me and wake up to realize I haven’t even started to show her yet!”
While Fried may have made it into the Finals at the last minute, Kelsey Amedeo was making her fourth appearance at the event. She can finally put her second-placed streak to rest after winning the adult medal finals aboard Holly Rebello’s London Fog.
Amedeo placed second at the finals in 2004 and 2006, along with second at the State Line Tack Finals and the New England Medal Finals. “The second place finishes have been a running joke in my barn,” she said with a laugh.
She trains with Armand and Martha Chenille out of Hebron, Conn., and borrowed London Fog, who won the Ariat Adult Medal Finals last year, for the class.
Her catch-riding skills and persistent focus helped her tackle the course at Saugerties. “I’ve never owned a horse before, and I’m not even sure which horse I’ll be using next,” she said.
Amedeo won the Rhode Island Finals and will be competing again at the New England Finals, Oct. 25-28.
A Break From The Woods
Danielle Reny didn’t let the start of high school get in the way of her children’s pony hunter stakes win. She and her classmates began school with a two-week camping trip in New Hampshire; however, Danielle’s mother, Audrey Reny, was able to pull her away to attend the finals. “From Marshall & Sterling finals I went to the Massachusetts Finals, where I won the open equitation class, and then I went back to the camping trip,” she said.
Focusing on staying straight and keeping an even pace helped her win. “She always laid down the best round in the classic and is quietly confident. She was so excited to qualify and then win,” Audrey said.
Danielle has leased the pony, Copy Cat, a 14.1-hand roan mare, for the past year and is currently looking for a horse. She commutes from Boston every day to ride at Stoneymeade Farm in Concord, Mass., with trainers Joyce Mersereau, Tricia Moss and Sarah Tyndall.
Alison Cooney, of Chappaqua, N.Y., swept the two rounds of the children’s pony medal, scoring an 81 in the first round and an 85 in the second, to claim the blue over 41 competitors.
Cooney trains with Ruth Nicodemus and Alaina Soriano at Fox Hill Farms, based in Irvington, N.Y.
She rode her medium pony, Hi Foolutin’, to the win and placed third in the children’s pony hunters on her new mount, Paint It Black. The pony was purchased for Cooney last July, and she set the goal to qualify him for the finals.
“I definitely am still getting used to the new pony; he’s pretty hard because he gets overwhelmed and likes to take off!” she said.
As for Hi Foolutin’, or “Honey” around the barn, Cooney focused on making her stride “loose and long.”
While Cooney had much to celebrate with her win in the medal finals and being named the best junior rider on a pony, her favorite part of the show was the victory gallop in the grand prix ring. “It was such a big ring; it felt awesome,” she said.
In The Nick Of Time
Britta Carlson faced problems before the finals, but she didn’t let them stop her from taking the win in the children’s medal. Carlson rode her horse, Sayo, to the title over 63 competitors, scoring an 88 in the first round and a 78 in the second to secure the win.
Three weeks before the finals Sayo injured his eye, leaving Carlson to wonder if he would be able to compete. She also was busy with her high school volleyball team, only making it to the barn to ride once a week. Sayo’s eye healed in time, allowing Carlson to compete in Saugerties.
Carlson set out to qualify for the Show Circuit Medal this past season and used the Marshall & Sterling class as a warm-up. “I wanted to qualify for as many three-foot finals as possible,” she said. “It just happened that I did well in both.”
She rides with Wendy Banks-Pola at Ridgefield Equestrian Center, in Ridgefield, Conn. She spent the summer doing the jumpers at the Vermont Summer Festival, which helped her with the course at the finals.
“My horse has a big stride, and doing the jumpers this summer helped me with inside turns. I was able to take all the inside turns at the finals,” she said.
Carlson will finish out the 3′ finals and move up to the 3’6″. “I’m actually doing my first Maclay next weekend,” she said.
Sayo won not only the children’s medal with Carlson but was also piloted by Nina Pola for the junior medal win. After a first round score of 81, Pola was in the third position, but an 85.5 in the second round moved her up to first.
“I entered the Marshall & Sterling Junior Medal Finals as preparation for the upcoming equitation finals that I qualified for,” Pola said. “Even though this was an outdoor final and the others are held indoors, it’s always good mileage to ride a more challenging course in a more intense atmosphere with extra pressure.”
Pola trains under her mother, Wendy Banks-Pola, at Ridgefield Equestrian Center. She borrowed the warmblood gelding from the Carlsons, who bought him two years ago from Scott Stewart as Carlson’s first junior hunter.
“His impressive maneuverability came in handy because it was quite a technical course. It was all about the track you chose to ride,” said Pola. “The immensity of the ring made the course especially fun to ride also.”