Meagan Davis & Bentley in Historic First for USA to Make Young Rider World Cup Final

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Meagan Davis with Lendon Gray, her coach, at the Young Rider World Cup. Photo courtesy of Karen and Bill Davis
Meagan Davis with Lendon Gray, her coach, at the Young Rider World Cup. Photo courtesy of Karen and Bill Davis

FRANKFURT, Germany, Dec. 17–Meagan Davis on Bentley on Friday became the first Americans ever to qualify for the final of the FEI Young Rider World Cup with a sixth place finish in the individual competition.

The 21-year-old from Stone Ridge, New York, overcame nerves and the excitement of their first time competing in Europe to be the top non-European finisher with 66.00 per cent for sixth place in the individual test and to qualify for the final in the giant colosseum-like arena in downtown Frankfurt Saturday night.

And the 2010 Collecting Gaits/ USEF National Young Rider champion won praise from Gustav Stalling of Sweden, president of the ground jury, as the only rider of the 14 combinations from 13 nations to wear a safety helmet.

Lendon Gray, the U.S. Olympian who is Meagan’s coach, said it was “pretty exciting” for an American to make the final of the Young Rider World Cup for the first time since it began in 2005 as a project underwritten by Germany’s Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff. It is the only annual global dressage competition for young riders, as the World Cup Final is for seniors.

Bentley, a 17-year-old Danish warmblood, had not yet become fully acclimated to the atmosphere, Lendon said, but Meagan and her parents, Karen and Bill Davis, were excited about the whole experience.

Meagan Davis and Bentley in Germany. Photo courtesy of Karen and Bill Davis
Meagan Davis and Bentley in Germany. Photo courtesy of Karen and Bill Davis

A small warm up arena crowded not only with Young Riders but also with seniors preparing their horses for the senior World Cup and other classes such as the Burg Pokal. The warm up ring is also much colder than the main competition arena that is typically shirt-sleeves warm. And Thursday’s preparation class was “tough” with flapping canvas on the walls and ceiling that affected Bentley who reacts to noise and it made him “so wired.”

“The horse can be naughty,” she laughed, “but Meagan handled it well.”

Plus the atmosphere of the crowds, banners and spectacular Christmas decorations in the colosseum-like indoor arena was unlike anything they have experienced before, leading to Bentley to “suck back” and for his extended trot, for example, not to be as spectacular as it is in normal circumstances.

“But it is very good and for an American to beat some of the Europeans on their home ground is pretty exciting,” Lendon said.

“The ride today was definitely better. Bentley put in another good test. We’re proud of him.”