Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 10, 2019 – On the final day of the US Dressage Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park, riders convened in the Alltech arena for one of the most competitive divisions of the day, the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Championship. Amy Gimbel of Oldwick, New Jersey, added another national title to her resume when her own Eye Candy came out on top of the class with a total score of 71.373%.
Riding early this morning, Gimbel and Eye Candy (UB-40—Wednesday, Weltmeyer), a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, laid down a consistent test, helping them stand out to the judging panel and establish an early lead in the division.
Gimbel is no stranger to the US Dressage Finals, as she first came to the championships five years ago with Eye Candy and took home the Training Level Adult Amateur Championship. The following year, they returned and won both the Second Level Adult Amateur Reserve Championship and the Second Level Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship. The combination was unable to return in 2016 and 2017 as Eye Candy battled an injury in her hoof that kept her out of the arena.
Despite the setbacks they have encountered, the pair developed in their training working up the levels to return to the US Dressage Finals in 2018 to claim the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Reserve Championship and the Fourth Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship. With the support of Heather Mason, a fellow competitor who has had her fair share of wins at the finals, Gimbel was able to qualify in Region 8 to return to the finals this fall. Just two days ago, Gimbel and Eye Candy claimed the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship with a total score of 72.794%.
Other horse-and-rider pairs were unable to challenge Gimbel’s score until Ruth Shirkey of Livermore, California, entered the arena with her own Wyleigh Princess (Weltmeyer—Heiress B, His Highness), a 9-year-old Hanoverian mare. Shirkey and Wyleigh Princess have also had a successful week at the finals, earning the Intermediate I Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship with a 73.9% and third place in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship. In Sunday’s Prix St. Georges class, the pair earned a score of 70.843% to take home the reserve championship.
Rounding out the top three was Lyn Davis of Columbiana, Alabama, and Dahlia Ace (Don Principe—Berglicht Bo), her own 10-year-old Hanoverian mare.
Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Amy Gimbel / Eye Candy / Amy Gimbel / 71.373
2. Ruth Shirkey / Wyleigh Princess / Ruth Shirkey / 70.843
3. Lyn Davis / Dahlia Ace / Lyn Davis / 70.588
4. Bonnie Canter / Fifinella GCF / Bonnie Carter / 70.294
5. Kelly Grand / Easton / Kelly Grand / 68.824
6. Julie McCrady / Remanessa / Julie McCrady / 68.529
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Amy Gimbel – Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur champion
On her ride:
“Today was a little bit better than yesterday when I had the freestyle. I had her more up and in front of me — she was right with me. The mistakes that I made were completely my own. She has been super all weekend. She is very much a chestnut mare, you never really know what you’re going to get until you’re ready to go, but she’s been fabulous. This year has been one of our best years and I feel lucky to be here. We’ve had a very bumpy few years and even this year she has abscessed a couple times and we’ve lost some time. I think ‘Are we strong enough, are we going to be ready?’ My farrier was incredible, changing shoes and making sure where she has abscessed has enough support and protection. It’s the way of horses but today was definitely special. What an incredible group of horses out there competing. It was very exciting.”
On Eye Candy:
“I ride with Heather Mason. She bought her off a video as a foal and didn’t really have time to be competing her so I said I will ride her. Her plan at that point was for her to campaign for a season and then be for sale. I campaigned her as a 5-year-old, and we came here and did Training Level. She certainly has a unique personality and I started thinking ‘What if someone else doesn’t get her or understand her?’ At the end of the day I couldn’t let her go so I bought her and we had a few really great years. She got hurt after regionals in 2016 and we lost about two years. We’ve been appreciative for every day we get from her and I feel lucky every time I get on her. She’s a blast to ride. I just really love that horse, she captures a part of your heart.”
On riding as an Adult Amateur:
“I’m really fortunate because I live basically a house away from Heather and my mom, where some of my horses are. I have my retired horse and another horse that I take care of before work. I work for Markel on the reinsurance side for Markel Global Reinsurance. I do the horses, go to work, come home, do the horses, eat a quick bite and go ride. Heather has always been really supportive of coming out early in the morning or coming out late at night. I’m so lucky in that way. I think for everyone who is an adult amateur and has family or some other draw, you aren’t really sure how it works but you find time somewhere. Generally where it comes from is sleep I guess. I’m also really fortunate that work is very supportive and really encouraging. I know some people don’t have that and I happen to be extremely fortunate to have all those factors helping me out to be able to put in the time and have the support system at home and in the barn. If you’re fortunate enough to have those pieces, it’s still hard but where there is a will there is a way. You just keep going until it doesn’t work anymore.”
Ruth Shirkey – Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur reserve champion
On her partner with Wyleigh:
“Wyleigh is a very special girl. She has a super temperament and a lovely mare. She wants to be the boss but we’ve worked that out and she lets me be the boss now. I try not to ask her too much but just the right amount so she works a little harder every day. She likes a challenge.
“I bought her in utero 10 years ago this month. I bought her purely on her bloodlines with Weltmeyer and His Highness. Her mom was a maiden mare and they were having trouble getting her in foal. They tried a couple different stallions and it wasn’t happening so they tried Weltmeyer. She’s been [friendly and calm] since she was born. I went to see her when she was three months old at her inspection and she had such a calm disposition even then.”
On her ride:
“There was a major pilot error today on my part. I messed up the sequence of the extended walk a bit but I tried to make it the best walk we could make it. One of the judges even gave us an 8.5 for it — she has a spectacular walk. But other than that, this ride we really carried each other. We took turns taking care of each other. She held her end of the deal with the canter pirouettes, they were awesome, while I had to help her out more in the single changes with her balance. She was definitely working with me. We’ve been trying to push our performance a bit and she was really on board today.”
Balance her career as an accountant with riding as an amateur:
“I’m out of the house by 4:15am to drive to my job in San Jose, California. I work from 5am to around 1:30pm and then try to avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic and drive to the barn. I try to get out of there by 5pm, go home, repack my riding things for the next day, check email and then I’m going to bed around 7pm. It’s quite the cycle.”
On competing at the US Dressage Finals:
“This is our first time competing at the finals. We’ve been really lucky during our trip here. My husband Eric was able to get extra time off work and he drove the entire way here, while I’m on my laptop in the passenger seat working all the way here, so we can make things work. I’m here for the competition. I’ve always wanted to try to see what it’s like to compete against the other regional horses. The only thing that I would say is missing at this point would be having the opportunity for other regions to host the finals. Other than that, having this national championship is a great idea. It helps open up the eyes of everyone and inspires us to push to become even better.”