CULPEPER, VA (August 20,2015): Junior riders took center stage this past weekend at the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Junior Equitation Finals and Devan Graham of Chevy Chase, Maryland, aboard her own Sandro Sky, was the star of the show. Impressing Judge Randy Neumann throughout all three rounds of competition held in the Grand Prix Ring, Graham topped a field of 29 to take home the blue ribbon, a saddle donated by Tad Coffin Performance Saddles, a HITS cooler, and a souvenir jacket courtesy of Mona’s Monograms.
Saturday marked the tenth year HITS Culpeper has hosted the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Junior Equitation Finals. Qualified riders traveled from Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia for the popular final and competed in either a 3’ or 3’6” section with one overall set of results. Round one was an over fences, designed by Marina Azevedo of San Paulo, Brazil, with the top 12 returning on the flat, followed by a final test on the flat of the top six riders.
“This was a great opportunity for these young riders to compete in the Grand Prix ring. It’s a large venue, so they could gallop and perform for the spectators,” said Neumann. “The course was perfect for the level of competition. It asked all the right questions, but it did not decide the winners.”
“After watching the 3’ section go, I thought it would ride one way but it rode a completely different way for the 3’6″ height,” explained Graham. “I was in fourth after the fences and my round was fine, but I’m not exactly known for my flat work either. I had no idea that I would be able to move up in the flat and I was pleasantly surprised with that.”
Graham continued, giving credit to her 18.2 hand mount, “When he walks into any ring, I have no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t do anything but perfectly. He’s really good on the flat and has huge strides, so it’s easy for him.”
“They were matched perfectly,” agreed Neumann referring to Graham and Sandro Sky. “They were all class and Devan is remarkably strong. She held it through all three phases and although it was a jumper-like course and she certainly excelled in hunter seat equitation.”
Carly Hoft and Cashmen, owned by SCCA Ventures, received second place honors, followed by Mary Elizabeth Cordia aboard Fairfield Farms LLC’s Thrift Shop to round out the podium finish. Fourth place went to Cyril va De Mespal Z, owned by Lawrence Rachuba and piloted by Ellie Williams. Ashton Alexander and Culpeper EEZ, owned by Oakland Ventures LLC, placed fifth.
Prior to the class, qualified exhibitors and their guests were invited to a Rider Reception hosted by HITS which included complimentary hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. The USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Junior Equitation Finals would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of this event: Tad Coffin Performance Saddles, Mona’s Monograms, Pinnell Custom Leather, Dover Saddlery, Ginny Edwards, Hidden Hollow Farm, Jonelle Mullen, Tudane Farm, and Hazel River Farm.
(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY Devan Graham and Sandro Sky on their way to victory in the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone 3 Jr. Equitation Finals at HITS Culpeper.
(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY The USHJA Tad Coffin Zone 3 Jr. Equitation Finals top three finishers (from left to right) Carly Hoft, Devan Graham and Mary Elizabeth Cordia.