Tampa, Fla. – September 1, 2017 – In its inaugural year in its new location, the Southeast Medal Finals brought a multitude of qualified horses and riders to the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center in Tampa, Florida for their chance to earn a year-end finals title. With two prize money classes offered in addition to a series of divisions in all three rings, the first day of competition presented plenty of opportunities for entrants to showcase their skills and get experience in the ring prior to Saturday’s first round of the finals. Caydee Dickensheets and Upcountry Cleverboy, as well as Shira Hadar in the irons aboard Rio De Rosa, were the biggest winners during day one, each claiming the top spot on the leaderboard in the $3,000 3’ Hunter Spectacular and $1,000 2’6” Hunter Spectacular, respectively.
Friday’s premier event, the $3,000 3’ Hunter Spectacular offered the largest prize money for competitors, attracting a sizeable field of competitors to the covered ring for their chance to take home the lion’s share of the pot. After the classic round of competition, Lauren Schweppe and Classic, owned by Sheila Slack, had pulled ahead of the pack with their score of 87.00, which would ultimately stand as the highest single score of the night. A mere 2 points behind her sat Dickensheets and Jaime Stryker’s “Clever,” especially impressive considering Southeast Medal Finals is the pair’s first horse show together.
In the handy round, Dickensheets took advantage of her horse’s easy way of going and showcased him beautifully, staying consistent with another respectable score of 80.00 for a composite score of 165.00 at the conclusion of two rounds of competition. Schweppe and Classic laid down another nice round as the last to go, but were not able to surpass Dickensheets and Clever’s total marks. Thanks to their high first round score, Schweppe and Classic held on to the second place spot, with Rachel Griffin and Kevin Eufemia’s Jasmin De Bornival 2 earning the third place finish to round out the top three.
Yet another large field of entries took to the ring for the $1,000 2’6” Hunter Spectacular, with Hadar and Rio De Rosa, owned by Hannah Bentz, ultimately earning the blue ribbon. Hadar and the chestnut mare rode to the early lead in the class with their score of 85.00, setting the bar high for subsequent competitors. None were able to surpass her in the classic round, giving Hadar the advantage of riding last in the final handy phase of the class.
Entering the ring for the final time, Hadar needed a score of 70.00 to overtake the current class leaders, Rachel Ross and Solomon, who garnered cumulative marks of 155.00 from the judges panel. Hadar and Rio De Rosa did not disappoint, laying down yet another strong performance to the tune of 80 points, propelling her a full 10 points ahead of the next-closest competitor to earn the lead spot in the victory gallop. Hadar finished on a total 165.00 score, coincidently the same score as Dickensheets. Ross and Solomon, owned by Bridget Imparato, rode to the reserve spot behind Hadar, followed by Texie Loyd and her own Jumpin’ Jack Flash in third position.
Down the path in the Lyke’s Indoor Arena, competitors took their turns in the Children’s Equitation, Adult Equitation and 15 – 17 Equitation divisions. The first 3’ champion to be crowned, Kaylin Nevad and her own Casual Water swept two of the three Children’s Equitation classes, earning first prize in the hack and one of the over fences classes to accumulate enough points to claim the championship. In similar fashion, Rachel Griffin navigated Jasmin De Bornival 2, owned by Kevin Eufemia, to two blue ribbon finishes in the Adult Equitation division, mirroring Nevad’s wins in the under saddle phase and one of the over fences phases. In the 15 – 17 Equitation, Dominique Gonzalez and Euro D’Hyrencourt, owned by Wadsworth Equestrian, impressively racked up three first place finishes to easily win the division title.
Earlier in the day the professional divisions took over the Lyke’s Indoor Arena, with multiple championships up for grabs. Shannon Dickinson and trainer Eufemia ultimately stole the show with wins in two divisions. In the Green Hunter division, Dickinson and owner-trainer Eufemia’s My Way took top honors ahead of the competition with multiple strong showings, and Dickinson and Eufemia added another accolade to their collection by the end of the day. Dickinson rode the Eufemia-trained Pappy Van Winkle, owned by Emily Mitzel, to the win in the Performance Hunters, as well.
The Southeast Medal Finals will continue throughout the weekend, with more hunter, jumper and equitation competition taking place in three separate rings through Sunday, September 3. Saturday will feature the first round competition in a multitude of finals, followed by the second and final round of riding Sunday to determine the Southeast Medal Finals champions. The $500 Pony Handy Hunter Classic offers prize money Saturday, and jumper riders will vie for the top spot in the $1,000 Mini Prix and $1,500 Mini Prix Sunday, as well.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Caydee Dickensheets – $3,000 3’ Hunter Spectacular champion
On her reaction to winning:
“I feel fantastic. It was all him, honestly. He is such a true hunter that if you just hunt down the jumps he takes care of the rest. He jumps well. He’s an athlete at heart. I think the more I get out of his way the better he does.”
On her experience with Clever:
“Clever is my favorite horse in the barn and this is my first show with him. I’ve been hacking him at home all summer and jumping him and he is such a classic hunter. Win or not, it is such fun riding him. He’s just so classic. I love him. I hacked this morning and did a little 2’9” warm-up but that was it. Clever is a sharp horse. He needs zero prep. He will just go right in and do his job. He’s a good boy.”
On her feelings of the handy round:
“It was a lot of fun. The horse is young so I was kind of nervous about how he would hold his left lead down to the oxer as jump one, but, again, he is just such a smart horse. I don’t really have to worry on him.”
Shira Hadar – $1,000 2’6” Hunter Spectacular champion
On her reaction to winning:
“It’s been a very long journey – trying to get down the lines, do the numbers, not refusing and not swapping. It’s just amazing.”
On her feelings of the handy round:
“I kinda felt a little bit better because there weren’t a lot of lines. It was mainly singles, which we are better at, so I was nervous but felt good. I think by having consistent pace and getting the distances, that helped us.”
On her experience with Rio De Rosa:
“She was my cousin’s horse. I started riding her maybe two or three years ago. She can be kinda mare-ish. She’s sweet when she wants to be. How far she has come [is my favorite part about her]. She started from down here and is up here now.”
2’ Novice Equitation – Demsi Cason and Just Because
Pony Equitation – Madeline Murch and Dashing Star
Children’s Equitation – Kaylin Nevad and Casual Water
Adult Equitation – Rachel Griffin and Jasmin De Bornival 2
11 & Under Equitation – Rachel Ross and Solomon
12 – 14 Equitation – Paige Moose and Masterpiece
15 – 17 Equitation – Dominique Gonzalez and Euro D’Hyrencourt
Green Hunter – Shannon Dickinson and My Way
Performance Hunter 3’3” – Shannon Dickinson and Pappy Van Winkle
For more information on the Southeast Medal Finals, please click here.