Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 21, 2019 – A senior division and two youth divisions of the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions held their first classes on Wednesday at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Riders entered in the Prix St. Georges for the USEF Intermediaire Dressage National Championship opened the week’s competition in the Kay Arena. Endel Ots rode away with the first win of the week on Lucky Strike in the Prix St. Georges while Claire Manhard on Wilfonia topped the Intermediate II for the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship and Kayla Kadlubek won the Young Rider Team Test for the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship.

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike

Beginning with the Prix St. Georges test, which will count towards 40% of the USEF Intermediaire Dressage National Championship, riders will also complete the Intermediate I test to count towards 45% and the Intermediate I Freestyle to count towards 15%. Placings in the championship will be determined by overall averages of each test’s score.

Endel Ots aboard Lucky Strike dominated the field, leading the division with a total score of 74.5%. Ots and Lucky Strike, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Max Ots, were recently set to compete for the U.S. Dressage team at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. However, following a minor injury during transport on their way to the Games, Ots withdrew Lucky Strike from the competition. Now recovered, Lucky Strike arrived at Lamplight Equestrian Center ready to showcase his talents and try for another national championship title. 

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike

Last year, Ots and Lucky Strike clinched the 2018 Markel/USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship, and the pair also won the Markel/USEF 6-Year-Old Young Horse Dressage National Championship in 2016. Continuing to move up the levels, they have improved the overall quality of their work and consistency in their tests to remain at the top of the leaderboard. 

Sara Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano

Coming in second place was Sara Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Leslie Malone. Although the pair has only competed together for about a year, Hassler was a groom for the gelding for years prior and has developed a strong bond with him that was only strengthened once she began riding him. She was excited by Harmony’s Boitano’s confidence in the Kay Arena, and particularly happy with his execution of the extended trot and half-passes in the Prix St. Georges test.

Kristina Harrison and Finley

Kristina Harrison and Finley, a 9-year-old KWPN gelding, rounded out the top three of the day with a total score of 70.324%.

The Intermediate II for the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship followed the Prix St. Georges as the first leg of the U25 Grand Prix division, contributing to 40% of the riders’ overall scores. The athletes ranging in age from 16-25 will also compete in the U25 Grand Prix test worth 45% of the total score, and the U25 Grand Prix Freestyle worth 15% of the total score.

Claire Manhard and Wilfonia

Claire Manhard and Wilfonia led the charge with a score of 68.912% on the opening day of competition to take an early lead. Manhard and Wilfonia, her own 16-year-old KWPN mare, made the journey from Cardiff, California for the championships. Partners for nearly three years now, the pair have been through many transitions together, including a move to the east coast when Manhard attended Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon graduating in December of 2017 Manhard and Wilfonia moved back to San Diego where they began training with three time Olympian Guenter Seidel. Manhard feels that Seidel’s training has had a positive impact on Wilfonia and that despite her increasing age, she is only improving.

Anna Buffini and Wilton II

Also under the training of Seidel was second place finisher Anna Buffini and Wilton 11. The 16-year-old KWPN gelding owned Buffini was claimed to be unrideable in 2017, forcing Buffini to give up her partnership with him. In a miraculous comeback, Wilton 11 and Buffini returned to the show ring a year later, crediting the geldings return to competition to the experiences she has acquired since making the decision to retire him and the help she has received from Seidel. A total score of 68.738% put Buffini and Wilton 11 right behind good friend and barnmate Manhard, a dream come true for the Californian training partners.

Taking third place with a score of 68.706% was Kerrigan Gluch and Hampton Green Farm’s Vaquero HGF, a 12-year-old Andalusian stallion.

The Young Rider Team Test for the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship wrapped up competition for the day in the Kay Arena, with the test contributing 50% of riders’ total scores. The Young Rider Individual Test held on Friday will also contribute 50% of riders’ total scores. Taking the class’ blue ribbon was Kayla Kadlubek and Perfect Step, an 18-year-old Hanoverian gelding. 

Kayla Kadlubek and Perfect Step

Kadlubek and her own Perfect Step topped the final class of the day with a score of 70.196%. Kadlubek is no stranger to the winner’s circle, as she recently earned a bronze medal in the Young Rider Individual Championship and silver medal in the Young Rider Freestyle Championship at the Adequan® FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) at Old Salem Farm in New York. She also helped Region 1 take home the gold medal in the Young Rider Team Championship just a few days prior. 

As a participant in the Discover Dressage™ USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program, Kadlubek traveled to Europe earlier in the summer to train and compete — a once in a lifetime opportunity offered to young riders to develop their skills as athletes and expose them to a different competitive atmosphere. Kadlubeck feels that gaining that experience has helped her step up her game in the arena and set her up for success. 

Quinn Iverson and Black Diamond CL

Coming in second place was Quinn Iverson and Black Diamond CL, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Bille Davidson. Iverson and Black Diamond CL, who only competed in their first CDI test in Wellington earlier this year, were awarded a 69.951% for their harmonious test. A working student of Olympians Debbie McDonald and Adrienne Lyle, Iverson has developed her skill rapidly since beginning her partnership with the gelding she calls ‘Coal’ in the barn. 

Bianca Schmidt and Lou Heart

Bianca Schmidt and Lou Heart, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Eliana Schmidt, came in third place after being awarded a score of 68.676%.


Endel Ots – Prix St. Georges winner 

On being back at Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“I love competing and [Lucky Strike] really likes competing so you know, I love Lamplight. I have been coming here for almost a decade and I have a lot of old memories and friends here. It is a wonderful thing for me to be back here. It is really fun to be here with [Lucky Strike] and to go through the young horse program, then go with Chrissy and Charlie through that and now, working for Charlotte Bredahl in the developing horse program – I love it! It has been wonderful.”

On highlights of his test:
“I think the trot work was a really good highlight and the canter pirouettes were really quite exceptional for him today. It was a nice feeling and I am really happy with my horse.”

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike

On the next test:
“He had a little bit of time off after the Pan Ams so I haven’t been working on anything in full force or getting into the nitty gritty. I just wanted to come and do nice clean rides. I think we will just continue with that same process and plan. He was very good in the warm-up with a lot of energy, maybe a little too much at certain points. He is loving the cooler weather. I just want to have nice, clean, solid rides.”

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike

On strategy preparing after the Pan Ams:
“After the Pan Ams I really wanted to make sure he was healthy enough to do it and my idea with Charlotte was to not drill a bunch of things. He is really fit, he knows his job and he knows how to do these tests so my idea was to keep things softer and more under control. I said, ‘Okay, lets just do a little bit of stuff everyday,’ and alternated three days working and two days off. I gave him three days off before we came up here and I just wanted to feel him out and make sure he was feeling the best he could. He knows how to do everything and there was not much more training I could have done. I wanted to have a feeling and know he was feeling his best going into the ring.”

Sara Hassler – Prix St. Georges second place 

On her test today:
“Honestly, we are a really new pair. We only started doing our first CDIs this year in Florida so this was by far our cleanest test yet and I feel like he was so with me – it was one of the best feelings I have ever had on him. I have never been here before so walking into that stadium was scary for both of us but having confidence and pride going into it made it really, really special. I loved every single second of it!”

Sarah Hassler and Harmony's Boitano
Sara Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano

Sara Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano

On her partnership with Harmony’s Boitano and here preparations for Festival of Champions:
“I was his groom for a long time so we have a really good bond on the ground. I have been riding him for about a year and a half now – I rehabbed him and then brought him back so he is now my ride. We did our first show in Florida and we have been going consistently since then. Honestly, he is so talented and smart that he knows his job so the prep for this was all about our mental states to stay happy, confident and keeping him feeling like the special horse he is. I tell him he is so beautiful and he is like ‘Thank you! I know!’ and he deserves it! I am not the most confident rider so I know my trust in him, our connection and our bond is where our success comes from. He has everything, I just have to channel it. He is technically twelve still but this is his 13th year.”

On Harmony’s Boitano’s best movements:
“He loves his extended trot and he loves half pass. Whether we can put that in the ring is a big question but honestly, I think the sky is the limit for him because if you can tap into him the right way then he will do everything to the best of his ability – he gives 200% every time he goes in the ring so everything of his is my favorite!”

Sarah Hassler and Harmony's Boitano
Sara Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano

Claire Manhard – Intermediate II winner

On her test:
“I think the connection, [Wilfonia’s] self-carriage and her energy was super today. She was collecting in all of the corners — she is usually super strong and powerful so I focused a lot on keeping her together, collecting and making sure she was balanced. This was definitely the best beginning to a test I have had. The piaffe-passage was really good. In today’s test we have a meter to go forward so I let the piaffe move a little bit while keeping her still active and moving really well behind. I think we got really good scores on that. The passage was super animated and lofty so that was great. She got a little hot as the test went on so I touched her and she hopped behind in one change in the twos. In the ones I got ten and then I relaxed then gave a little and she missed one but we will get them tomorrow!”

Claire Manhard and Wilfonia

On her partnership with Wilfonia:
“I have had her since the very end of 2016. I rode her for a few months with Jane Karol in Boston when I was in college at Northeastern University. I learned a lot because I hadn’t really done anything before that as far as Young Riders or Junior Riders. Jane was really helpful in teaching me so much so fast. She then got a small injury so we were out for a little bit. Since then, I have graduated college, moved back to San Diego and have been training with Guenter [Seidel]. She has come a long way. Even though she is getting older she is still improving a lot. Her temperament is the best, she is the sweetest horse. She knows how to speak on command, she knows her left and right hoof, she knows kisses, she knows how to grab a sugar out of your lips, she is hilarious – I love her!”

On her schedule:
“I have a young horse that I ride that is 6-years-old and Wilfonia, so I take care of them from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. then I have a job working from home. I am a consultant for a medical writing team at a biotin company so I edit and do QC writing. I am going to graduate school soon at University of California San Diego. Classes will be 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. so I will have the whole day to ride basically!’

Anna Buffini – Intermediate II second place

On her test:
“I was so pleased with [Wilton II]. Traveling all the way across the country and putting in a basically clean test with no mistakes in the first ride out was tough so I was really, really happy with him – I couldn’t have asked for more from him. Plus Claire Manhard, who is my training partner at home, trains with Guenter as well so we watch each other everyday and push each other. All year long we have told each other we don’t care who is one and who is two, as long as we can try and be one and two we will be happy, so this is a dream come true on top of all of this!””

Anna Buffini and Wilton II

On competing at the Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“I dream about this place all the time! In 2017 he was actually retired because he became too dangerous and unrideable. He was in a field so to ride him at all, let alone be back here and get second at this beautiful venue, is incredible — it is the best comeback story I have ever been apart of. I am really proud of him. This is my last U25 year so it is bittersweet. Next year we are going to move up to the Grand Prix and see how he does there.”

On her performance today versus her 2016 performance:
“In 2016 he competed here in the U25. I know him much better now – I had to get to know him better because he is pretty much unrideable unless you know every single little quirk he has. I even have a better connection with this horse than I do Sunday Boy because in order to get him to do a Grand Prix test you have to know the ins and outs of him. Our connection is the strongest I have ever had with a horse.”

Kayla Kadlubek – Young Rider Team Test winner

On her test:
“We put in a nice, clean test today which I was really happy about. The changes are hit or miss sometimes so I was really happy that I got them today and they were clean, uphill and nice. He was with me but I would have liked to add a little more power and energy to it but hopefully we are saving some for Friday so we can go out with a bang there. I am really happy with his performance today.”

On continuing her success since NAYC:
“I am feeling the pressure a little bit coming off of doing so well but it is a good learning experience. It is nice to know that it is there and that I can achieve those scores. I am going to keep striving for more.”

Kayla Kadlubek and Perfect Step

On the comparison between last year and this year:
“This is my fourth year competing at this national championship and my second year with this horse. I feel more comfortable and confident in myself, and going to Europe was a huge help with that because coming back here feels like we are back on our own territory and it is nice. The work feels more solid, I feel stronger, our partnership is a lot better and we are working more in harmony.”

On competing at Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“I love the grounds, it is so beautiful here. The footing is always really nice and everything looks picture perfect!”

Quinn Iverson – Young Rider Team Test second place

On her test:
“I was so incredibly happy with [Coal]. He came out and he let me ride him, which is a big thing for us. With all of our traveling he came off the trailer and was ready to go. It took us both a second to get our feet underneath ourselves but once we were there, I was very happy with him. I was very happy with the canter tour and we have lots to work on for Friday. Overall, I was very happy with him. Looking toward our next test, I would like to improve the overall flow of the test and start the test with the same quality I ended the test today and being more prepared.”

Quinn Iverson and Black Diamond CL
Quinn Iverson and Black Diamond CL

Quinn Iverson and Black Diamond CL

On competing at Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“Lamplight is absolutely beautiful. This is my second time here because I actually came here as a groom with Adrienne [Lyle] when she brought Betsy Juliano’s mare Horizon. I got to see the whole competition and watch from afar and now two or three year later here I am doing the same thing for myself. It is really cool for me because it has been quite the journey with this horse – he is not the easiest guy but he is definitely worth it.”

Results: Prix St. Georges for the USEF Intermediaire Dressage National Championship

Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Endel Ots / Lucky Strike / Max Ots / 74.5
2. Sara Hassler / Harmony’s Boitano / Leslie Malone / 71.206
3. Kristina Harrison / Finley / Kristina Harrison / 70.324
4. Rebecca Rigdon / La Fariah / Rebecca Rigdon / 70.294
5. Kristina Harrison / Barnaby Wilde GCF / Kristina Harrison / 69.794
6. Anna Marek / Einstein JP / Anna Marek / 69.353

Results: Intermediate II for the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship 
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score 
1. Claire Manhard / Wilfonia / Claire Manhard / 68.912
2. Anna Buffini / Wilton 11 / Anna Buffini / 68.738
3. Kerrigan Gluch / Vaquero HGF / Hampton Green Farm / 68.706
4. Rachel Chowanec Kaney / Parsifal BRH / Rachel Chowanec Kaney / 68
5. Hope Cooper / Hot Chocolate W / Mary Mansfield / 67.824
6. Anna Weniger / Don Derrick / Dawn Weniger / 67.588

Results: Young Rider Team Test for the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship

Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Kayla Kadlubek / Perfect Step / Kayla Kadlubek / 70.196
2. Quinn Iverson / Black Diamond CL / Bille Davidson / 69.951
3. Bianca Schmidt / Lou Heart / Eliana Schmidt / 68.676
4. Katherine Mathews / Soliere / Peridot Equestrian LLC / 68.088
5. Jenna Upchurch / Venivici / Elizabeth Cronin / 66.716
6. Kaylee Christensen / Chateau 28 / Kaylee Christensen / 66.029

For results and starting times, visit Foxvillage.

Live streaming will be available on the USEF Network

Full competition schedule, click https://www.usef.org/forms-pubs/VdqzluWumuE/competition–social-events-schedule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The above press release text is available for publication. These photos may only be used once in relation to this press release.

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