Festival of Champions Kicks Off With Victories for Chase Hickok, Kerrigan Gluch and Mickayla Frederick
Written by Lamplight Equestrian Center and Phelps Media Group - In Dressage - Saturday, August 22, 2015
Lamplight Equestrian Center is hosting the youth divisions of the 2015 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp., and all competitors but those in the Pony division took their first trips down centerline Friday. Chase Hickok, Kerrigan Gluch and Mickayla Frederick picked up blue ribbons to begin their championship bids on a positive note.
Hickok and Sagacious HF earned the top score of 67.186 percent in the FEI Young Rider Grand Prix 16-25 test, part of the USEF Young Adult "Brentina Cup" Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today. The pair traveled to Europe over the summer to train and compete, and Hickok returned to the U.S. with renewed determination after witnessing such high levels of talent and professionalism abroad. "They are deadly serious, and that's something I really took to heart," she said. "It was definitely eye opening and very motivating."
Hickok leases Sagacious HF from Al Guden of Hyperion Farm. Sagacious was the 2007 Pan American Games team gold and individual silver medalist with Lauren Sammis. In 2013, Caroline Roffman rode him to second place finishes in the Under 25 Grand Prix and Freestyle at the CDIO Aachen, and Hickok began leasing him in spring 2014. Sierra Keasler, who finished second in Friday's class with 66.465 percent, leases her partner Lux Stensvang from Roffman.
"I think we both owe Caroline Roffman a big thank you," Hickok said. "[Sierra and I] are very intertwined." Keasler is in her first year at Grand Prix and picked up the ride on Lux Stensvang while Roffman was competing in Europe during summer 2014.
"Having the opportunity to ride such an amazing horse is out of this world," Keasler said. "I am so thankful and lucky. I have been a working student, so I haven't competed that much - this was a very big jump for me."
AGCO/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
Kerrigan Gluch, like Keasler, is a working student whose labors are leading to success at the Festival of Champions. Gluch's longtime working relationship with Hampton Green Farm brought her together with Vaquero HGF, and she is now making a run for the AGCO/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship with the PRE stallion. She won Friday's FEI Young Rider Team test with a 69.298 percent. "I thought my test felt the best it has ever felt in the show ring," Gluch said. "I thought about everything we talked about yesterday and in the warm-up this morning, and I went in the ring and did what I was supposed to do."
The U.S.-bred Vaquero HGF was brought along in Spain, where he competed successfully in young horse classes. Gluch traveled to Spain to work with him for several weeks before he returned to the U.S. in fall 2014. "It was a smooth process getting to know him, and he was trained beautifully," Gluch said. "He is very correct, and he has a good temperament." She added, "Lamplight is a beautiful facility, and the horses seem to love it here."
AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship
Junior rider Mickayla Frederick first competed at Lamplight in 2011, when she placed sixth in the 13 & under division of the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals. After earning that result, she became driven to learn more and improve her riding, and it paid off when she won the 14-18 division of the 2013 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals in Estes Park, Colorado.
Now, Frederick is making her return to Lamplight and taking aim at the AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship. She began the division with a score of 70.315 to take the win in Thursday morning's FEI Junior Team test on Wrainier Q, her partner of three years whom she co-owns with her grandfather.
"I absolutely love the facility here; it is so beautiful and well-kept," Frederick said. "I would like to give a huge thank you to [U.S. Dressage Youth Coach] George Williams for giving his time. He's helped a lot throughout the show. He is so available for all the youth riders here, and it is a great opportunity. I'm extremely grateful to have someone like him be willing to help us all."
Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse National Championships
WakeUp has risen to the occasion year after year at the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse National Championships since making his debut as a 4-year-old, earning multiple championships and reserves. While an injury that sidelined him for months put his attendance at the 2015 Championships in question, he showed he is not only back, but ready to win with a blue ribbon performance in the first test of his division.
WakeUp and owner/rider Emily Miles scored 72.149 percent in the FEI Intermediaire II, one of two tests in the Developing Horse Grand Prix division. The 10-year-old American Warmblood stallion (Wagnis-Made in Montreal, Macho) fractured his coffin bone in January, and the injury was not correctly diagnosed until May. After carefully rehabbing him, Miles is thrilled to have him back in action.
"I'm just so, so thankful to be here," Miles said. "This is his last graduating year, and that's an amazing thing. Four months ago I didn't even know where he was going to be, so I feel so incredibly thankful to have him and to be here. Then to have an awesome ride - it's a little overwhelming."
Miles also took second place in Friday morning's 6-year-old preliminary test with Floretienne, scoring 7.98 with the Oldenburg gelding owned by Leslie Waterman.
"He was a rock star today," Miles said of Floretienne. "I have to thank WakeUp for giving me the opportunity to meet someone like Leslie, who now owns four horses I have in training. She's a sympathetic, amazing owner who wants the best."
The 6-year-old Preliminary Test
Lisa Wilcox is a big fan of Gallant Reflection HU, and the Zweibrucker stallion bred and owned by Horses Unlimited LLC is showing that her confidence is well placed. He rolled to a score of 8.04 to take the blue ribbon in the 6-year-old preliminary test.
"He's proving to me that he is the awesome horse I think he is," Wilcox said. "When he does get into that show arena it's so nice to see how well he can concentrate despite internal anxieties. He trusted, he went in, he did his job. That's a good athlete."
USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals
Joining the Festival of Champions and Young and Developing Horse Championships at Lamplight this weekend will be the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals, and competitors in the 13 & under division had their warm-up class Friday afternoon. Julia Lee Barton took first place in the warm-up with Madison Lacy in second. Tillie Jones, who also took second in the Junior Team test, finished third. Riders in the 14-18 division have their warm-up class Saturday, and the Medal Finals will take place Sunday.
The USEF Network will feature live streams of Saturday's competition at Lamplight Equestrian Center. On Saturday, Young and Developing Horse Championships begin at8 a.m. CDT and the Festival of Champions begins at 10 a.m. CDT.