Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 20, 2018 – Grace Debney, 14, Hampden, MA and Byolga, owned by Emily Reder, capped an already successful year with a win in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Children’s Jumper Final, presented by EquiFit, at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Saturday afternoon. The pair has dominated the division in 2018. They finished on top of the year-long regular season standings and then won at Capital Challenge, an impressive accomplishment since this is Debney’s first year riding jumpers and first time participating in the NAL program.
“It feels great,” said Debney. “I tried not to have any expectations. We had a really good Capital Challenge, so I just wanted to come in with no pressure, but this was really the goal for the year.”
The top 30 in the nation who qualified for the Final rode in reverse order of ranking; with 14 moving forward to the tie-breaking round. Six horse-and-rider combinations negotiated double clear rounds over the Michel Vaillancourt-designed course. Eliza Kimball, New York, NY on Available Ohio, owned by Carly Hoft, held the target time of 33.344 seconds until Debney, who went fault-free and faster, in 32.536. Since Debney was the top qualifier, she was the last to go, which she felt was an advantage.
“I actually like being last in the jumpers because I can see what everyone else did and make changes to my plan if someone else was successful on the course,” said Debney. “My plan was just to go smooth. My horse is naturally pretty fast so if you get her riled up she gets crazy because she wants to win, so we just wanted to go as smooth as possible.
“She is so sassy, but that’s what makes her so amazing. She just wants to win all the time. I think that’s what makes the difference, because she just has a good attitude about it as well.”