Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 20, 2020 – The first divisions of the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships took to the ring at the Lamplight Equestrian Center Thursday, Aug. 20. Christopher Hickey earned the first win of the day for the opening leg of the Markel/USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship, while Alice Tarjan won the 4-Year-Old Preliminary Test and Pablo Gomez Molina topped the 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test.
Making the trip from South Carolina, Hickey rode Cecelia Stewart’s 8-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding to the win with 72.55%. Bred by May-Briit Chaistensen, Stenagers Wyatt Earp (Wilkens–Stenagers Santana, Sandro Hit) competed as a 6-year-old at the Longines FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships in Ermelo before being purchased by Stewart in October 2018. Though he typically trains with Anne Gribbons, Christine Traurig has been Hickey’s eyes on the ground this week.
“I’m really happy with my test. My goal today was to have a quiet beginning of our week,” Hickey said. “[Stenagers Wyatt Earp] can be a little hot so it’s important that he goes in this kind of venue with the judges’ boxes and bigger environment. I’m happy because I need that hotness later on as a Grand Prix horse but my goal was to have a quiet test today and we accomplished that. He got hot a couple of times but he had no major mistakes. The horse has plenty of quality but it’s really important to have him trust me in this kind of venue. It’s important that he allows me to turn the volume up or to turn it down and that he can settle.”
With the coronavirus running amuck on the horse show schedule, Hickey has been conscientious with his preparation leading up to the national championship.
“I’ve been trying to get my horses out in the woods, trotting over cavalettis in the field and having long-lining days because I want to be cautious. When you are stuck at home it’s easy to overwork the horses,” he explained.
Following closely behind with a 71.814% was Jennifer Wetterau on Hartog, her 8-year-old KWPN gelding (Apache–Bartoga, Scandic). Jennifer Schrader-Williams made up the top three with a 70.147% aboard Sandeman, her 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Donnerhall I–Flora, Florencio).
In a field of 15 horses, adult amateur Tarjan rode to the top of the leaderboard following her performance in the 4-Year-Old Preliminary Test. The Danish Warmblood mare Gjenganger (Grand Galaxy Win–Donna Dee, Blue Hors Don Schufro) received a total score of 8.84. With the scores broken down, the pair received a 9.0 for a correctly cadenced, ground covering trot that “exceeded the standard” of the judges, a 7.7 for the walk, a 9.5 for a “spectacular canter”, an 8.8 for submission and a 9.2 for prospective.
“We competed in one test this year so I came here not expecting much but I’m really happy,” Tarjan said. “The warm-up was a bit of a rodeo, as it usually is with the 4-year-olds but [Gjenganger] went into the ring really relaxed and did her job. This is the most competitive 4-year-old division I think I’ve seen here so I was not expecting this and figured it would be a good experience for her. I’m thrilled. There are probably six horses that could win it on any given day — the depth and quality has improved so much over the years.”
No stranger to the winner’s circle in the championship with many tricolor titles under her belt, Tarjan is known for her knack of selecting quality young horses. With Gjenganger, not only is Tarjan the owner, but she bred the talented youngster as well.
“I had a Don Schufro mare and her movement was fantastic but she was a little long and it was difficult to get her to sit in the collected work and she wasn’t hot enough for me. So I had an Apache/Jazz mare that I adored and her sire was Grand Galaxy Win so I thought I’d breed to him. I think it turned out to be a great combination – this mare is more compact than the dam and definitely hotter and can certainly sit. She’s a good girl and pretty straight forward.”
Marcus Orlob came away with both second and third place finishes in the class. Owned by Jeanette Pinard, the Danish Warmblood gelding named Flambeau (Furstenball–Gjeteruds Zeranda, Blue Hors Zack) placed second with an 8.22. The judges rewarded him for his elastic and uphill gaits with an 8.3 for the trot, an 8.2 for the pure walk, an 8.4 for his expressive canter, a 7.8 for submission and an 8.4 for general impression. On his third place mount, Orlob rode Tarjan’s Glory Day (Grand Galaxy Win–JJ Dolche Gabbana, Deemster) to a total score of 8.14. The Danish Warmblood gelding received eights across the board with an 8.3 for trot, 8.2 for walk, 8.0 for canter, 8.0 for submission and an 8.2 for his elegant impression.
In the 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test, Pablo Gomez Molina took the win with a score of 8.28 on Easy Di Fonteabeti Ymas. Owned by Yeguada De Ymas and Cristina Danguillecourt, Easy Di Fonteabeti Ymas (Grand Galaxy Win–Ritournelle) is a Rhineland gelding bred in Italy. With the judging panel commenting, “Such a fun test to judge and very nicely presented,” the duo received 8.3 for the trot, 8.3 for the walk, 8.5 for the uphill canter, 8.0 for submission and 8.3 for prospective.
“Every day and every week he gets better and stronger. Today he was really good in the test . one of my best tests with him but I still feel that he has more to give me in the arena. I’m really happy with him. The canter is really good and the judge’s scores were all very similar so for me it shows he’s a really complete horse. It’s been a short partnership together so we want to get to know each other better, then compete in Wellington next season. Maybe we will head to Europe next summer since this year was limited due to COVID.”
In second place with an 8.14, Tarjan performed well with her Oldenburg mare Summersby II (Sezuan–Sandro Hit), receiving 8.3 for her ground covering trot, 8.8 for the canter, 8.3 for prospective, 7.6 for walk and 7.7 for submission. Rounding out the top three was the 2019 Markel/USEF 4-Year-Old Dressage National Champion, Sonnenberg’s Kain (El Capone–Girona T). Ridden by Michele Bondy, the pair received a total score of 7.76 with the highlight of 8.3 being for the geldings bounding uphill canter.
Competition resumes Friday, Aug. 21 at 8:00 a.m. with the 6-Year-Old Preliminary Test.
Results: Prix St. Georges for the Developing Prix St. Georges Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Score
1. Christopher Hickey / Stenagers Wyatt Earp / Cecelia Stewart / 72.255
2. Jennifer Wetterau / Hartog / Jennifer Wetterau / 71.814
3. Jennifer Schrader-Williams / Sandeman / Jennifer Schrader-Williams / 70.147
4. Karen Lipp / Infinity / Karen Lipp / 69.951
5. Nora Batchelder / Fashion Week / Nora Batchelder / 69.51
6. Lindsey Holleger / MW Ave Maria / Jennifer Vanover / 69.471
Results: 4-Year-Old Preliminary Test
Rider / Horse / Owner / Score
1. Alice Tarjan / Gjenganger / Alice Tarjan / 8.84
2. Marcus Orlob / Flambeau / Jeanette Pinard / 8.22
3. Marcus Orlob / Glory Day / Alice Tarjan / 8.14
4. Lindsey Holleger / MW Bodacious / Jennifer Vanover / 8.08
5. Ali Potasky / Lalique / Kathy Priest / 8.06
6. David Ziegler / Saladine STC / David Ziegler / 8.04
Results: 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test
Rider / Horse / Owner / Score
1. Pablo Gomez Molina / Easy Di Fonteabeti Ymas / Yeguada De Ymas / 8.28
2. Alice Tarjan / Summersby II / Alice Tarjan / 8.14
3. Michele Bondy / Sonnenberg’s Kain / Sonnenberg Farm, LLC / 7.76
4. Angela Jackson / Dionysus MF / Maryanna Haymon / 7.66
5. Nadine Schwartsman / Furstenbelle / Nadine Schwartsman / 7.66
6. Marne Martin-Tucker / Lovely Leni / Marne Martin-Tucker / 7.52
Learn more about PS Dressage’s Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse National Championship Sponsor, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation: Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is the nation’s leading source of private funding for equine medical research benefiting all breeds of horses. Since 1983, Grayson-Jockey Club has individually provided more than $29.1 million to fund 384 projects at 45 universities in North America and overseas.