Adult Amateurs Stars of Final Day of Inaugural US Dressage Final

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A happy Akiko Yaazaki on Matrix after their ride to victory in the US Dressage Finals Prix St. Georges adult amateur championship. © 2013 SusanJStickle.com
A happy Akiko Yaazaki on Matrix after their ride to victory in the US Dressage Finals Prix St. Georges adult amateur championship. © 2013 SusanJStickle.com

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Nov. 10–Akiko Yamazaki became a star rider when she rode Matrix to win the US Dressage Final Prix St. Georges Championship adult amateur division Sunday, a role she is less well known than being the owner of America’s top dressage horses.

Akiko traveled from Woodside, California that was further than most of the 300 competitors for the inaugural event over four days at the Kentucky Horse Park, where she had watched Steffen Peters ride her Ravel to win two individual bronze medals at the World Equestrian Games in 2010.

Her victory aboard the Danish Warmblood gelding earned a score of 67.895 per cent and the Janine Westmoreland Malone Perpetual Trophy for winning the St. Georges Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 67.895 per cent. Matrix had been out of competition for two years recovering from an injury.

“Here is a horse I thought at one point I might have to retire,” she said. “But he rose to the occasion, and I was really happy with how my ride went today.”  Attending the Finals with her entire family, Akiko was pleased with her experience.  “I think this show exceeded all of my expectations, right from the get-go,” she said.  “All the information was provided in such a timely and organized manner, so I already felt well-taken care of before I even arrived.  And then once I was here, everything ran so smoothly and was just great. Congratulations to the show organizers–I think this has exceeded everyone’s expectations and I’ll be returning home and spreading the word in California that we have to come back en masse.”

Journeying to the Finals from the opposite corner of the country, Krista Nordgren of South Portland, Maine was reserve champion with Schando, her 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding on a score of  66.228 per cent. “I was so proud of my horse. I had tears in my eyes from happiness when cantering down the centerline for my final salute,” said Krista, who also had loved ones in attendance to cheer her on, including her five-year-old son.

“There’s a certain magic to this place. The thrill of competing on this stage was a strong pull for me to come all this way, and it exceeded my wildest dreams. I loved the fact that here, the amateur competitor has been embraced; we’ve never had this sort of stage for us other than our Regional Championships.  We’ve all been treated like true champions just for making it here to the Finals, and because of that there’s a sense of pride and tremendous camaraderie.”

Building on the success she found in Saturday’s Fourth Level Open Championship, Heather McCarthy of Prairie Grove, Illinois claimed another victory on the Oldenburg mare Saphira in Sunday’s Prix St. Georges Open Championship with a score of 69.868 per cent.

“I was concerned that I might not have enough horse left today because I thought she gave me everything yesterday,” Heather said, “but she went right out there and did her job. I’m on cloud nine. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more than I’ve achieved here this weekend.  It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Heather Mason of Tewksbury, New Jersey on the Dutch Warmblood gelding Zar was second with 69.605 per cent to conclude her show record of week top-two finishes in each of the three small tour championship classes they contested.

The largest division was made up of 27 adult amateur riders at Training Level.

Lucy Tidd of Germantown, Maryland emerged as the victor with a score of 73.200 per cent for her second title on her four-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ellert HB.

“It’s surreal,” she said of her success. “I was just hoping to place. Never in a million years did I anticipate doing so well.”

Lisa Seegar Brown of Travelers Rest, South Carolina on DeLovely placed second on 71.333 per cent.

Fie Andersen of Hamilton, Massachusetts took top place with 74.921 per cent in the Second Level Open Championship aboard her Oldenburg stallion Rocazino (Rosentanz x Silvio I).

“I’m a little emotional right now,” she said. “My horse is amazing. He was tired but gave me everything he had. It’s been such an amazing experience to come here and compete head-to-head with riders from around the country, and I think it’s great preparation for bigger and better things for us.”

Debbie Hill of Gurley, Alabama who won the First Level Open Championships with Boccaccio IOF, a U.S.-bred Hanoverian gelding (Bugatti Hilltop x Rubinstein I) moved up a level to capture the reserve championship in the Second Level Open Championshop with 73.968 per cent.

Kristy Truebenbach Lund of Wellington, Florida and Reel Adventure, a Hanoverian gelding (Rotspon x Lanthan) posted 61.447 per cent to capture the Intermediate II Championship adult amateur division.

The win came in the same arena where seven years ago her then five-year-old jumped out of the ring during the National Young Horse Dressage Championships.

“I’m a true believer in bringing them up through the levels yourself,” said Kristy, a vterinarian. “I think it gives you such a true partnership, and I’m very proud that I’ve trained him and we’ve come this far together.”

Alexa Briscoe of Poolesville, Maryland riding her Bavarian gelding Wildfeuer was reserve champion on 61.228 per cent.

Laura Graves of Geneva, Florida and her Dutch Warmblood gelding Verdades took the Intemediate II Open Championship on a score of 71.140 per cent with Heather Mason and Warsteiner second on 69.035 per cent.

Laura said: “We knew we’d have tough competition here, and that’s why we came. We were really looking forward to it and are so glad to finally have a national championship like this to look forward to.”