First American in Young Rider World Cup “A” Final Perform “Like a Champ”

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Meagan Davis and Bentley in Young Rider World Cup Final
Meagan Davis and Bentley in Young Rider World Cup Final

FRANKFURT, Germany, Dec. 18–As the first American ever to make the Young Rider World Cup Final, Meagan Davis said that her 17-year-old Bentley “performed like a champ” in the freestyle before a packed indoor stadium Saturday night.

The 21-year-old rider from Stone Ridge, New York, on the Danish warmblood gelding scored 63.60 per cent and seventh place. Three of the five judges placed her sixth.

Meagan was one of 14 riders from 13 countries–five outside Europe–in the only global championship for young dressage riders and the first American to make the “A” Final since the series was launched in 2005.

The final was won by European Young Rider champion Fabienne Lütkemeier and D’Agostino with German team mate Sanneke Rothenberger and Deveraux OLD reserve champion.

“Our trot work and half passes were much improved over our last tests,” said Meagan who was coached at these championships by U.S. Olympian Lendon Gray.

“It was a packed house and although Bentley did stop to look at everyone, he performed like a champ! I am honored to have competed against the best Young Riders in the World and I know I am leaving with more than just a 7th place ribbon, but new friends as well.”

Bentley will have a little time off, Meagan told dressage-news.com, before going back to training hard with Hubertus Schmidt in Paderborn, Germany, helped by a grant of $4,500 from The Dressage Foundation of Lincoln, Nebraska.

In the individual competition Friday, Meagan and Bentley scored 66 per cent and their sixth placing qualified them for the Saturday night final, the first Americans ever to achieve that.

And throughout the competition, the 2010 Collecting Gaits/ USEF National Young Rider champion was the only rider to wear a safety helmet that won praise from Swedish judge Gustav Stalling.

The championships were made more exciting by wild winter weather including wind-driven snow. Meagan and her parents, Karen and Bill Davis, and brother, Brad, were excited about the experience, though.

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

The warm up arena was small and 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 as well as jumpers, and was much colder than the competition arena that is typically shirt-sleeves warm.

In Lendon’s words: “It’s a bit like going from cold New York to hot, muggy Florida in three seconds.”

And Lendon described the behind-the-scenes activity as typical of European indoor shows (some outdoor competitions, too, where space is at a premium).

Meagan and Bentley warmed up well, she said, and the beginning of their ride was so much better than the two previous days when they were getting used to the arena–the excitement, closeness of everything and the “crazy/gorgeous decorations.”

However, coming to the corner for her canter pirouette, Bentley stopped dead.

“Meagan was very cool,” Lendon said. She picked up the canter then did a quarter pirouette. There were other issues such as with changes and an attempt at another pirouette.

“I assure everyone in America that we were very well represented,” Lendon said.

“Despite being quite sick, Meagan was always positive, did her best, smiled, rode well and turned out to be a leader amongst the riders.”