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Exciting Finishes at the Wellpride AEC
Wayne, IL, USA
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Corinne Ashton and Dobbin
Nothing was easy to predict in the show jumping phase of the Advanced division at the Wellpride American Eventing Championships at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois today. Only Canadian Young Rider Kelly List and Minstral were able to put in a double clear round.

Dressage leader Allison Springer, who was in fifth place going into the final phase aboard Arthur, had eight time faults to finish on 40.7.  She was followed by fourth-placed Corinne Ashton on Dobbin with one rail down for a score 36.5.  Darren Chiacchia on Timothy Holekamp's Windfall II followed, dropping two rails to finish on 38.4. Second-placed John Williams and Sloopy were ranked second going into the final phase, but three rails down plus a time fault dropped them to a final sixth place (42.6) finish. Last to go for the day, overnight leaders Becky Holder and Courageous Comet, had even more trouble with the course, dropping four rails and adding four time faults to their score, for a final position in eighth place-sending Ashton and Dobbin to the winner's circle.

It has been a successful year for Ashton, who won Adequan USEA Gold Cup events at Southern Pines, finished second at the Cosequin Stuart Horse Trials, and just last month won an Advanced division at Millbrook Horse Trials, also part of the Gold Cup Series.   An employee of Dover Saddlery and mother of two daughters, Ashton has commented that she feels now is the time for her to really "go for it" with Dobbin. She and the 13-year-old gelding have already competed at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* and look poised to do so again.

Intermediate

Nate Chambers was overcome with emotion after winning the Intermediate championship on his 11-year old Hessen gelding Rolling Stone II, finishing on their dressage score of 33.4. Chambers, 19, of Middleburg, Virginia, won the Preliminary championship at the inaugural AEC in 2004, also with Rolling Stone II. The pair moved up to intermediate level last year and had a few growing pains, but started training with Mara Dean and Phillip Dutton last winter which Chambers said has improved his riding tremendously. The proof is in his results: last month he earned an individual silver medal at the North American Junior Young Riders' Championships in Lexington, Virginia. After this weekend's win, he said that his horse has earned a rest and will have some time off until December when he'll start work again in preparation for going to Aiken to train and compete starting in January.

Chambers rose to the occasion and put in a double clear round following dressage leader John Williams and Sweepea Dean, who added time faults to cross-country to tie Chambers' score going into show jumping. Williams and his gelding had two rails down to finish as reserve champions on a score of 41.4.

"I always love the AEC," Chambers said. "It's a lot of fun and I love the big show atmosphere-it feels like a big deal."

Chambers also finished 33rd in the Preliminary Junior/Young Rider division aboard George Grayson's Truman IX, a horse that he said is still quite green at this level.

Preliminary

Jennie Brannigan of Temecula, California had a stellar weekend, winning the Preliminary Junior/young Rider division with Cooper, her six-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding that she bought last year from Kelli Temple. Later in the day Brannigan claimed the Training Junior/Young Rider division aboard Mona Munos' Plain Jane (27.9).

"She's a super kid," commented Brannigan's coach and employer, Mike Winter. "She's going to be good – she's a very talented rider."

Tiffany Lunnie and My Tuition took top honors in the Preliminary Amateur Championship after Lisa Barry withdrew and overnight leader Duncan MacRae crossed his tracks on course and was eliminated.

Lauren Kieffer and David O'Connor's Walk on the Moon started out in eighth (29.2), moved up to third after cross-country and finished on their dressage score to win the Preliminary Horse division-and had the special honor of being presented with the Eastern Debroke trophy by USEA legend, Jack Fritz. Mike Winter and Jim Walker's Unsteelable moved up from 11th after dressage to finish second (30.4), adding nothing to their dressage score, followed by Justine Dutton who was in the lead with Samson VIII going into the arena, but dropped to third place after having a rail down.

Training

Mona Munos' Plain Jane and Jennie Brannigan moved into first in the Training Junior/Young Rider division after overnight leader Nina Ligon on Chai Thai dropped a rail in show jumping to finish on 29.8 for second place. Munos bought the mare at a sport horse auction and Brannigan has been riding her since March. This was only the mare's third competition at training level.

Ashley DeBoer, 24, of Haslett, Michigan won the Training Amateur division aboard  Safari (30.5), a six-year-old Hanoverian mare that she imported from Germany from Alex Gerding. The pair started in fourth after dressage, moved up to third after cross-country, and then won the division by finishing on their dressage score. DeBore lives and trains at the Foote family's Shoeman Road Family Farm, home of today's Novice Junior/Young Rider division winner, Taylor Foote. The Foote family has four daughters, all riders.

"I went once to the AEC at Training level," said DeBoer. "I finished on my dressage score, but didn't place. My horse was just perfect this week. We were well prepared and she was awesome."

Mary Jordan and Paxton Abbey moved up from ninth place after dressage to claim the reserve championship. Jordan, who drove all the way from Maine for the Championship, also claimed the reserve in the Open Novice division at last year's Wellpride AEC. Jordan has Multiple Sclerosis and rides for Team Copaxone, a pharmaceutical company that sponsors athletes with MS in various sports. Jordan said that her mother passed away in June and that riding has helped her stay happy and focused. "I was at the GMHA adult camp and the instructors there were an inspiration," she said. "To win here, it's just amazing to have lightning strike twice. I just moved up to training level this year and both times I have been less than a point from the winner. It's just incredible."

Leslie Law and All the Buzz, a horse he brought over from his native England, won the Training Horse Championship on their dressage score of 23.7, after just days before placing second in the USEA/Spalding Labs Young Event Horse Series Five-Year-Old Championships. Law said that the young horse is still quite green but he thinks that he is the most talented horse he has ridden since his successful international horse and Olympic partner, Shear L'Eau.

Novice

Rebecca Goad and Happy Daze had a rail down, bumping Christina Lawton and R'Romeo up to win the Novice Amateur division (29.0). Rondi Bystrom and Blue were close behind (30) with Jim Koctavy and For Play moving up from ninth after dressage to finish third (30.5).

Emily Beshear and Phinneus led from start to win (22.6) the Novice Horse division, besting a field of 52 entries that included top riders Allison Springer, Boyd Martin, and Mike Huber.

"Phinneus was very green but honest on cross-country yesterday," Beshear said. "Today he was good; he was a little stressed out in the warm-up, but he went in and did his job." Beshear also placed sixth overall in Intermediate (50.2) riding her husband Jeff's big grey gelding Blue Devil.

The Novice Junior/Young Rider champion title went to 11-year-old Taylor Foote of Michigan riding her beautiful grey Andalusian/Paint gelding Lazerbeam, owned by her mother Theresa Foote. Taylor also competes in jumpers, which she said helps her in the show jumping phase at events. She plans to move up to training level in Florida over the winter.

Beginner Novice

In the Beginner Novice division Laura Chumley on Neil Sorum's adorable Fjord pony SNF Maarta finished on their dressage score to take home the blue. Tawn Edwards and Luna had a rail down and dropped from second to fifth place, while Rene Smith and Pancho Villa went clear to finish in second place.

Chumley lives in Kentucky and trains with Cathy Wieschhoff, who also competed this weekend. Chumley also rode Rung Rim's Grainne, owned by Pat Reichle in the Beginner Novice division and tied for seventh place (29.0).

The fourth annual Wellpride AEC proved to be a huge success. A record number of competitors from 42 states made their way from every corner of the country to Lamplight Equestrian Center to enjoy four days of competition, seminars, socializing and shopping in the extensive trade fair. New friends were made, old friends reunited, and competitive goals were achieved. The event will return to Lamplight for the next two years, and is sure to get better each year. See you in September 2008!


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