Gladstone, N.J. – Oct. 7, 2018 – Leading young riders from across the country were challenged with a technical and demanding course on the final day of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East, followed by a ride-off where the top four competitors returned with a clean slate and switched horses over a new track. Longtime friends Daisy Farish and Madison Goetzmann were neck and neck for the duration of the two-day competition, but ultimately 18-year-old Farish earned the prestigious title aboard JMTT Girard LLC’s Arsouille Des Etangs, while Goetzmann took home reserve honors riding Anna Blumenfeld’s Faemes Van T Poelzelhof.
Farish is a veteran competitor at this equitation final, with 2018 marking her fifth appearance. Though she has consistently ranked near the top in the past, the 2018 event was finally her year to capture the championship honors. With her win, Farish can now check another box off of her list of growing achievements, and will have her name carved into the French Leave Memorial Perpetual Trophy alongside previous Talent Search Finals winners including her trainer, Andre Dignelli, who she has been training with at his Heritage Farm since the age of seven. Dignelli won the prestigious final in 1985 as a junior and has since coached numerous riders to the coveted title, along with many other top spots in the other elite equitation finals across the country.
Conveniently located at the iconic United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey, the historic final plays a key role in the Show Jumping Talent Search Program, which dates back to the 1950s. The program provides an opportunity for athletes under 21 years old to showcase their abilities as potential international representatives of American show jumping at the highest level. With a strong focus on the principle that “form follows function,” riders are expected to navigate their horse over a jumper-style course while maintaining the forward style of riding, demonstrating both correct equitation as well as speed and precision.
Sunday’s Phase III: Jumping course left little room for error. Designed by judges Ralph Caristo and Chris Kappler, the course asked riders to demonstrate swift thinking and precision as well as their horses’ adjustability over the 15-effort track, which included a water jump headed towards the in-gate bending to a skinny vertical. The Talent Search Finals is unique in that it is the only junior equitation championship that requires the inclusion of a water jump, which caused some riders to be penalized for having a foot in the water. Others had a downed rail or two throughout the course, while some were just a hair over the time-allowed of 80 seconds.
As the class progressed, spectators watched as those riders who had placed in the upper ranks during Saturday’s initial two phases entered the ring, and therefore issues on course diminished, but even the slightest miscalculation had the potential to drastically affect the standings to determine the four riders who would qualify for the final work-off.
The standings following Phase III were led by Goetzmann who earned a 94, followed by Farish with a 91. Cooper Dean sat in third going into the final phase after he was awarded an 86.5 with Bryan Baldwin’s Braavos, while Lili Kaissar rounded out the top four finalists with an 83 aboard Two Aces Equestrian LLC’s Salt Lake.
For the fourth phase of competition, the remaining young riders would each be challenged to ride their mount over an abridged track, followed by a trip on each of the other competitors’ three horses. With just two minutes of schooling allowed on each horse supervised by their respective trainers, riders headed into the ring and tried to quickly acclimate to their new mount.
Over the course of sixteen trips, scores from Caristo and Kappler ranged from the low score of 65 to Goetzmann’s high score of 90 aboard Faemes Van T Poelzelhof, the only pair to score in the nineties. That high score initially propelled Goetzmann to the head of the leaderboard after her solid trip, but an unfortunate few cross-canter strides would push her down the standings later.
Farish answered all the questions on course not only with Arsouille Des Etangs but also aboard each of her three competitors’ horses, proving that she was up to the task and deserving of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East title. Arsouille Des Etangs was spotted by Dignelli at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club Horse Show in June while he was competing in a grand prix, and Dignelli liked the horse so much that he inquired about leasing him from his then-owner, McLain Ward. Once the 8-year-old Selle Francais arrived at Heritage Farm, he was purchased by one of Dignelli’s clients, Jordan Girard. Farish leased the gelding for the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East title, and it surely paid off.
In the end, Farish clinched the top honors with a cumulative score of 349 in the fourth phase, followed by Goetzmann in the reserve spot with a total of 348, just one point shy of the leading marks. Dean secured the third place ribbon with 311 points to his name and Kaissar rounded out the top four with her composite score of 309. Kaissar’s partner, Salt Lake, owned by Two Aces Equestrian LLC, was awarded the “Grappa” Best Horse Trophy, deemed by the judges to have been the best horse of the competition over the course of the two days. The 16-year-old Warmblood gelding consistently proved himself very adjustable, responsive and reliable with every rider, jump and course. The Leading Trainer Award was presented to Farish’s trainer, Dignelli.
Sunday’s competition concludes the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East. Over the course of the next year, a new collection of young riders across the country will partake in the Talent Search Program, ultimately aiming to earn a spot at the 2019 East or West finale event in the fall. The Talent Search Program seeks to challenge and educate the young and junior riders of today with the hopes that they may become the next generation of show jumping professionals, thus laying the foundation for future international success.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Daisy Farish – 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East champion
On her win:
“I definitely knew Maddy [Goetzmann] and I were neck and neck in the last round. She had gotten ahead of me in each round and she was fantastic in the ride-off, and I knew it was going to be close but I wasn’t sure which way it would go. I was very happy how it ended. I’m so happy for Maddy.”
On the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals:
“I think the really great part of this final is [looking at] the people who won it in the past and where they’ve gone in their riding careers. It gives us so much hope for what we can possibly accomplish. This is personally my favorite final to compete in, and the facility brings so much importance. The whole thing just feels so special and I love the phases, as well. Each phase, what they ask of you and the horse is fantastic, and my trainer Andre Dignelli won this final and I think I’m his 10th rider to win, so that means a lot to me, as well.”
Madison Goetzmann – 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East reserve champion
On her outcome:
“I felt the same way as Daisy. I think we were neck and neck the whole time. I knew that I had a slight bobble when it was just us two in the final and when Daisy won, I was very proud. We’ve been dreaming about this for a while and she’s been one of my best friends for a long time. She cried when I won at [2017 ASPCA Maclay] Finals, so I have to cry when she won!”
Ralph Caristo – Judge
On the final being less equitation-based:
“I’m going to disagree with that because the flatwork is really there. That’s why we begin with the flatwork. Certainly that is a tell-tale sign for what we’re going to see over the fences, and all [of the top four], their flatwork was quite good. That’s why they’re in the final four. Equitation does count a lot.”
Chris Kappler – Judge
On the importance of equitation:
“The next step beyond that is how their fundamentals are working. At this point their basics are solid, but now it is how those basics roll into the fundamentals. We wanted to see in a serpentine how their legs, their hands and their seat all work together; their eyes, using all their aids. The style is a part of it, but functionally how they’re working with the horse through their aids and through their fundamentals to get the outcome we’re trying to achieve [is the most important].”
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner
1. Daisy Farish / Arsouille Des Etangs / JMTT Girard LLC
2. Madison Goetzmann / Faemes Van T Poelzelhof / Anna Blumenfeld
3. Cooper Dean / Braavos / Bryan Baldwin
4. Lili Kaissar / Salt Lake / Two Aces Equestrian LLC
5. Tess Lenihan / Cool De Reve / Tess Lenihan
6. Ava Ellis / Remmits Delphi / Clear Ride LLC
7. Coco Fath / Cantoblanco / Raleigh Hiler
8. Tanner Korotkin / Canny Windsor Z / Peacock Ridge LLC
9. Ava Stearns / Cassidy 25 / Clear Ride LLC
10. Isabelle Song / Casper Vant Gestelhof / Patricia Garrett
For more information on the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, please click here.