Changes Made to Wellpride AEC Final Results
Leesburg, VA, USA
The after-the-fact discovery that the only double-winner at the USEA's national championships, the 2007 Wellpride American Eventing Championships, unintentionally had entered divisions for which she was technically overqualified has resulted in major changes to the final standings.
Jennie Brannigan, 20, of Temecula, California, whose electrifying performances in winning both the Training Junior/Young Riders division aboard Plain Jane and the Preliminary Junior/Young Riders division with Cooper were the talk of the AEC, later learned that because she had recently ridden through the advanced level, she was unfortunately ineligible to compete in both of those divisions. This was due to the qualification criterion that for all Non-Horse and Amateur divisions, riders may not have competed during the qualifying period at more than one level above the level at which they are entered at the AEC.
In an outstanding display of sportsmanship, upon discovery of the mistake Ms. Brannigan immediately relinquished both of her titles and asked that both of her rides be re-classified as "HC" ("hors concours"), which means that her placings are not counted in the final standings and all of the other finishers move up a place. "Jennie's gesture is in the best tradition of fair play and sportsmanship, and exemplifies what is means to be an eventer," said USEA President and Chairman of the Board Kyra Stuart. "We are all so very proud of Jennie and expect to see this rising star of our sport in the AEC winner's circle again in the near future."
Stuart noted that "By the very nature of the AEC being a national championship, the criteria for entry are more complicated in hopes of creating an equal playing field. These criteria will certainly be revisited prior to the 2008 AEC in an effort to bring more clarity to them." Additionally, while the competitor is always ultimately responsible for ensuring that he or she meets eligibility requirements for divisions entered, in this case the USEA attempted to verify horse and rider qualifications prior to event, and regrets that this discrepancy was not discovered and corrected before the competition. "We all have learned from this very unfortunate situation," said Stuart. "Simply put, it was just an honest mistake, and in no way detracts from the fact that Jennie is a class act. We certainly want to express our sincere regret to her, the owners of her wonderful horses, and of course the other competitors, their family members and all the eventing fans who so avidly followed the Wellpride AEC competition."
"Finding out that I was overqualified for these two divisions came as a complete shock. I had no intention on circumventing the rules when I entered the AEC. As a Young Rider I believed those were the divisions where I belonged," Brannigan explained. "I would like to apologize to the other competitors, and would like to thank Plain Jane's owner, Mona Munos, and to all those who helped get me to this year's AEC, including Jane and Cooper. Both horses were absolutely wonderful at the event, performing beyond my expectations, and I regret that because of my misunderstanding of the qualification criteria, their competition records will never reflect how amazing they were at the competition."
And congratulations are in order for our new Wellpride AEC champions: Nina Ligon and her Chai Thai in the Training Junior/Young Riders division, and Olivia Upham and Robert and Lori Upham's In Any Event in the Preliminary Junior/Young Riders division.
"I'm very excited to find out about winning the Preliminary Junior/Young Riders division at the AECs," said Olivia Upham today. "My horse Mitch was fabulous and tried his hardest. For me the feeling of trust between rider and horse is one of the greatest possible. The AEC was an amazing event and I would like to thank all the sponsors, officials and volunteers for making the experience possible. I would also like to say that Jennie is a lovely rider and I am very disappointed for her. I know that she will be out winning again soon."
Nina Ligon was also delighted to hear that she was named the new Training Junior/Young Riders Champion. "It's very exciting that Chai Thai is champion, especially since it was our first time at the AEC. He did exceptionally well in all three phases. Despite the dropped rail in show jumping, it was one of his best rounds. For being only six, he is so willing and talented and I'm really fortunate to have him. Maybe now, people will know how to pronounce his name. We chose Chai Thai because of my Thai background and its meaning, Thai Victory! Hopefully his name will continue to bring us more good luck! Much of the credit for our success goes to my trainer, Jon La Force, and my mom. This is a great way to finish up the year for Chai before he moves up to Prelim. The AEC was a great learning experience and hopefully you will see us next year. And thank you to all the sponsors for their generosity." We wish Nina and Olivia all the best, and expect to see them at the top of the AEC scoreboard for many years to come.
Here are the revised standings in both of the affected divisions.
Training Junior/Young Riders
1 Nina Ligon/Chai Thai
Preliminary Junior/Young Riders
1 Olivia Uphham/In Any Event (owner: Robert and Lori Upham)
A new set of ribbons and additional prize money, where applicable, will be sent to these competitors reflecting their final standings.
Copyright © 1990-2018 Red Bay Group, LLC