Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 9, 2018 – The US Dressage Finals’ Grand Prix Open Championship took place Friday, Nov. 9, in the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena with an eager audience ready to cheer on their favorite riders. In the field fourteen competitors, spectators saw mares ride into the top three with Jim Koford and Adiah HP taking home this year’s national championship title with a score of 69.13 percent.
Koford and Sherry Koella’s Adiah HP, an 11-year-old Friesian Cross mare, have seen their fair share of success together in the show ring, just last year claiming the Grand Prix Open Freestyle Championship at the US Dressage Finals with a score of 71.133 percent. Most recently, the pair placed fourth in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Dressage at Devon. On top of the ribbons they have racked up, the pair is a crowd favorite and often receives compliments on their electric energy and harmony in the show ring.
Koford and Adiah HP will return to the ring tomorrow to defend their title in the Grand Prix Freestyle Open Championship, debuting new freestyle music. While their previous western-themed freestyle music was well-loved by the audience, Koford felt it was time for a change to their routine. He expressed his excitement to re-enter the arena with a horse that has improved so rapidly and soaks up every second in the limelight.
Judy Kelly and her own Benise, a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare, took home the reserve championship with a score of 67.862 percent. Kelly has been a strong contender at the US Dressage Finals more than once, last year taking home two reserve championships. This year, she was happy to showcase Benise’s talents.
Kelly acquired Benise as a 3-year-old, and has had the help of her coach Jan Ebeling in developing her skills along the way. After being in training with Ebeling at his home base in California for several years, Benise returned to Kelly and they made their Grand Prix debut last year. The pair will compete in Saturday’s Grand Prix Freestyle Open Championship and take their shot at the national title.
Nora Batchelder riding her own Bahai, a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare, rounded out the top three in the Grand Prix with a score of 66.812 percent.
Competition will resume Saturday, Nov. 10, with the Open Third Level Freestyle Championship kicking off the morning at 8 a.m.
Results: Open Grand Prix Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. James Koford / Adiah HP / Sherry Koella / 69.13
2. Judy Kelly / Benise / Judy Kelly / 67.862
3. Nora Batchelder / Bahai / Nora Batchelder / 66.812
4. Heather Mason / Warsteiner / Heather Mason / 66.63
5. Stacy Parvy-Larsson / Benidetto / Linda Woltz / 65.906
6. Michael Bragdell / Qredit Hilltop / Hilltop Farm Inc. / 64.275
7. Hokan Thorn / Django / Hokan Thorn / 63.659
8. Nicole Harrington / Wizard of Oz / Three Oaks Farm LLC
9. Christine Calao / Rapport / Joseph Calao / 62.21
10. Trisha Kerwin-Bell / Daturo II / Christine Heatherman / 61.703
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jim Koford – Grand Prix Open champion
On his ride:
“I am so pumped. She is getting so mature, going in the ring and being excited but I can channel it. It gives me chills, it’s so fun. She’s so into it. It’s so fun to get on a horse that loves to go into the show ring. She just cracks me up, she’s my buddy. I get to run around and have fun, and it’s no stress or drama — she loves to go and I love to go. It’s fun to be part of it and to have a horse in the game.”
On his history with Adiah HP:
“I saw her in a clinic and I just thought she was the most fun horse I’d ever seen and I just loved her. I saw a picture of her when she was four because I know the breeder and I rode Adiah’s dad. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh I just love that horse.’ Then she showed up at a clinic when she was seven and I had to sit on her. When I got the ride on her, I brought her to the barn and all my employees looked at me and said, ‘what are you going to do with this one?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but isn’t she cool?’ She’s done everything I’ve asked and more. Every time she comes out she is a little more mature and a little more confident in the ring so I can ask for more.”
Judy Kelly – Grand Prix Open reserve champion
On her ride:
“I was working on just being able to guide and direct her. She can do everything, it’s our second year at the Grand Prix. She has everything that she needs, I just want to try to show her off. I got her as a 3-year-old, and Jan Ebeling has been my coach all along. He has helped me get her to the Grand Prix. She was in California for a couple years training with him. I’ve had her back two or three years now.”
On her Saturday freestyle:
“We will do the Grand Prix Freestyle tomorrow. We want to have the same kind of ride, nice and relaxed. Showing her off is what my goal is.”