Lexington, Ky.—Sept. 2
This is the first year that the U.S. Eventing Association American Eventing Championships have offered a modified division, and 36 competitors took advantage of the new offering. The USEA created the modified level—which has jumps at 3’5″— in 2017 to help build a bridge between training level and preliminary level.
Modified division dressage leaders Julie Wolfert and Namibia added no cross-country penalties to maintain their lead on their dressage score of 25.2.
Wolfert’s had the gelding for two years.
“I am very fortunate that he’s not one of those Thoroughbreds that gets very anxious. He’s spooky, but he’s not anxious. He’s always very relaxed in the trot—he’s almost a kick ride,” she said.
Wolfert, Bucyrus, Kansas, said dressage is the 5-year-old off-track Thoroughbred gelding’s (Tizway—Kitty Tracks) best phase, but he was confident on cross-country today. Modified started about 20 minutes late because of a delay due to sun glare early in the morning.
“He was stellar. Honestly foot-perfect; probably his best round ever, even with a few jumps early on that you couldn’t see until about two strides out because of the sun,” she said. “I was a little worried he wouldn’t read it, but he was all game. It was such a cool feeling at the end. This is why we do the sport.”
Wolfert is a bit nervous heading into show jumping tomorrow, but whatever happens, she knows the gelding will have had a great learning experience.
“It’s his worst [phase], I’m not going to lie!” she said. “I probably won’t get any sleep tonight. He’s not the most careful jumper, but hopefully tomorrow will be our day. He’s definitely capable, and we’ll try our best, but I’m not holding my breath either. I’m realistic! He’s only 5, so hopefully we’ll be in this position again.”
Wolfert, a professional who has ridden to the advanced level, appreciates having the modified level as an option for her young horses.
“I just love the level because I feel like there’s a huge gap between training and preliminary,” she said. “This is just a nice little step up where I don’t feel like you’re over-facing the horses too much, but they still get a lot of technical questions that are offered.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp led the Bates USEA Preliminary Horse division on Shanroe Cooley, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dallas VDL—Shanroe Sapphire) owned by Ocala Horse Properties, LLC, from start to finish.
“It’s great for any young horse to get in this arena,” she said after her clear show jumping round. “That’s such an invaluable experience. He’s a pretty cool dude under pressure like that. He doesn’t really care about atmosphere. He’s kind of a unique 6-year-old like that. He does get very high sometimes, and he was going very high. That’s probably just showing some of his greenness. He tried so hard, and he’s so careful. I couldn’t ask for more from him. He’s a really special one for the future.”
With Sarah Wildasin’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Boherdeal Clover—Birdhill Lady) Southern Sun, Arden Wildasin climbed from third to take the Bates USEA Preliminary Amateur Championship.
Wildasin was the one to be beat in this division at the 2019 AEC, where she claimed first with Watch Out and second on Southern Sun.
“He did very well when we were here two years ago but the difference in him from then to now is amazing,” said Wildasin. “He is worth his weight in gold for what he did out there [on cross-country].”
He showed how he has developed in the show jumping as well, she said.
“With him being a spooky horse, I was quite worried about the liverpool, and that was the last fence,” she said. “I rode him forward, and he was fantastic. He was there with me, and it’s an incredible feeling to have that as the years have gone on.”
Vienna Allport of Rockwall, Texas, led the Bates USEA Preliminary Junior/Young Rider Championship all week with Darren Allport’s DHI Zatopek B, finishing on her dressage score of 28.3.
At 17, “Zatopek” is a veteran campaigner, having competed through advanced with Jon Holling. His experience was a major asset for the budding partnership, but his exuberance nearly changed the outcome of their cross-country day.
“We started off a little late leaving the start box,” said Allport. “Sometimes he gets really excited, so he was a little bit crazy in the start box. I was a few seconds behind, so towards the end, I had to really make sure to go forward to make the time.”
“I was so happy, especially [on dressage day.] We got our best score we’ve ever gotten,” the 15-year-old said. “Dressage has never been our strongest phase, but I was so happy with our score. And then even happier [on cross-country day]. He’s usually always an amazing cross-country horse, so I just had to get out there and do what we normally do and kind of forget about the leaderboard. He was incredible.”
The Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lando—Scaramouche B) kept all the rails up today to take the win.
“It felt pretty good,” said Allport. “It was such a big atmosphere. He was a little bit backed off and spooky, so I had to make sure to get him in front of my leg throughout the whole course. It was a forward course. He was jumping amazing. It’s incredible. It’s all I’ve dreamed of winning. I’ve gone here the last four years. I’m so, so happy.”
Sophie Miller rode Laurie Cameron’s Quarlotta C to the win in the Bates USEA Preliminary Rider championship.
“I was really happy with it,” she said of her show jumping round. “She came in the ring and was a little bit lit up with the clapping in the stadium because we haven’t been in any sort of atmosphere like this before, but she focused right in and listened very well, and I’m very proud of her. It’s really exciting. It’s just nice to be in a division with so many top horses and riders, so it’s really good competition and the venue is excellent. It’s really fun.”
Miller, Aiken, South Carolina, is a professional who operates Denali Equestrian. “Carly” is a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare (Quite Capitol—Merging, Dixieland Heat) that Cameron bred.