Tampa, Fla. – September 2, 2017 – Horses and riders returned to the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center in Tampa, Florida, for the second day of the Southeast Medal Finals. Saturday marked the first rounds of finals getting underway in all three rings. Outside of finals competition, the day also featured the crowd-favorite Equitation Team Challenge as well as the Pony Handy Hunter Classic. Team All Stars concluded the night victorious in the Equitation Team Challenge with their score of 239, while Madeline Murch and Dashing Star bested the field in the morning’s Pony Handy Hunter Classic.
The highlight event of the evening, the Equitation Team Challenge tasked five teams of young riders to formulate and execute a plan around a course without any outside help from a trainer. The composite score from three team members would constitute the team’s final tally, and with three teams comprised of three members and two teams with four riders, the two larger teams had the opportunity to drop the lowest score. Each individual rider had the option to jump at either the 2’6” or 3’ height, with many electing for the higher fences. Team All Stars, the three-person team made up of Dominique Gonzalez, Isabel Beltran and Kate Neily proved that they did not need the safety net of a drop score, and dominated the class with three praise-worthy performances.
Gonzalez and Wadsworth Equestrian’s Euro D’Hyrencourt led the class as the first to go, scoring an 86 from the judges’ panel, the highest score of the night, and her teammates soon followed, with Beltran and her own Alleala riding to marks of 82. Neily and Lucky Charm, owned by Carly Birnbach, kept the momentum going with their score of 71 to finish on a total team score of 239, more than 40 points ahead of Team Team and Team CDM, the first two squads to finish all their rides. Team JAMS and Team SAGE gave it their best efforts, and though they did surpass Team Team and Team CDM, they were not able to come close to the high score set by the current leaders.
Team All Stars easily claimed victory with their score of 239, a whole 35 points ahead of Team JAMS in reserve with their total tally of 204. Team SAGE just barely missed the runner-up position, but ultimately had to settle for third position with a score of 203, just 1 point off the reserve spot. Team Team ended up in fourth with 197 points, and Team CDM rounded out the fifth position with a cumulative score of 163.
Early on in the day, pony riders and their mounts made their way to the covered ring to compete in the Pony Handy Hunter Classic, judged over only one handy round of competition. Without a classic phase to rely on, each rider needed to put their best foot forward during their only turn around the course. Small, medium and large ponies and their riders all competed in the class, jumping the series of fences set at 2’, 2’6” and 2’9” dependent upon size. The class winner came from the 2’6” height, as Murch and her own Dashing Star outrode the competition to claim the blue ribbon. Murch and “Dash” put in a solid performance, opting for both inside and conservative turns throughout the trip in order to retain a consistent pace. Finishing reserve to Murch was owner-rider Hannah Glanzberg and her small pony Silver Shine, trailed by Skylar Zern and her own QRHF Topaz in third position.
The Grand Prix Ring played host a number of medal classes Saturday, with a few riders ending the day with a new championship title under their belt. In the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, Camryn Halley rode Kelsey King’s I’ll Say JSF to the head of the class, and then immediately repeated her performance in the next class, the ASPCA Maclay, once again earning the highest marks from the judges panel to secure the first prize. The CFHJA Marie Speed Horse Medal class was won by Darby Madden, who piloted her own Patron to the top of the leaderboard.
The Southeast Medal Finals will continue for one more day, concluding Sunday, September 3 with the second and final rounds of riding to determine the Southeast Medal Finals champions. Jumper riders will have two shots at the prize money in the $1,000 Mini Prix and $1,500 Mini Prix, as well.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Isabel Beltran – Equitation Team Challenge Champion
On her team’s plan before riding:
“We all came up with our own ideas and then we combined them to make one idea. We really talked about not rushing and just taking your time and focusing on the jumps and letting the horses see them.”
On her thoughts about their rides:
“[All of our rides] were really nice. I really liked Dominique’s ride. It was really consistent and flowing. I was OK – [Alleala] was a little peeky, and then Kate, our third rider, just had one rough distance but overall it was really good.”
On riding in a team class:
“No, [I have never done a Team Challenge before]. I was actually really excited to do it. I didn’t even know about it until my friend told me, and I was super excited to do it because I got to meet people and show with them. It was good because I got input from Dominique – she is a really good rider, so she helped me too when we were schooling. She told me some things that I could improve on and it was nice. It was cool. I’m glad I did it.”
Kate Neily – Equitation Team Challenge Champion
On riding in a team class:
“I’ve never done a team class like this before. It made me really want to ride my best so that I didn’t let my team down.”
On how her ride went:
“I thought we did really well and pretty much what we planned to do. We got our bending line. We had one rough jump but I think we did well overall.”
On her experience with Lucky Charm:
“I’m just borrowing Lucky for the weekend, so this is my first show with him. I’ve been riding him a little bit at home.”
Madeline Murch – Pony Handy Hunter Classic champion
On her reaction to winning:
“It’s my first time at Southeast Medal Finals, so I’m definitely excited. We have been having a pretty successful year so far so I was really happy with how he did today. He was really good.”
On her plan going into the ring:
“I was planning on trying to take some of the handy turns, but I ended up playing it a little more safe just because I wanted to put in a really good round that was going to be nice and flowing. I was happy with how it turned out.”
On her pony and their show plans for the weekend:
“I’ve owned Dash for a little bit over a year. I bought him and we did 2’ together and then we moved up into the Children’s Ponies. We still have the Children’s Pony Hunter and Children’s Pony Medal this weekend.”
Rider / Horse / Score
*Indicates drop score
Equitation Team Challenge
Team All Stars – 239
Dominique Gonzalez / Euro D’Hyrencourt / 86
Isabel Beltran / Alleala / 82
Kate Neily / Lucky Strike / 71
Team JAMS – 204
Makaylah Jones / Nuff Said / 65
Savannah Andrews / Callipso / 70
*Jenna Gopman / Rock N Roll / 58
Alexandra Martin / Aziza / 69
Team SAGE – 203
Gracie Cammack / All Day Long / 74
*Saylor Ellis / Conel Z / 40
Amanda Benedict / Lionheart / 80
Emily Davis / Signature Of The Divine / 49
Team Team – 197
Lily Beatty / Adlanta / 72
Sophie Baron / Commander In Chief / 50
Amber Hopper / Alias Z / 75
Team CDM – 163
Caydee Dickensheets / The Perfect Fit / 68
McKenzie Kreilich / Global Entry / 35
Delaney McDowell / UB Delightful / 60
For more information on the Southeast Medal Finals, please click here.