By Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group
Lexington, KY – September 29, 2015 – In just one month, the nation’s top junior equitation riders will travel to Lexington, Kentucky for the CP National Horse Show and the prestigious ASPCA Maclay Horsmanship Finals.
In order to punch their ticket to the finals, riders first had to qualify through highly competitive Regional Finals held in eight different regions throughout the month of September. Winning their regions this year were Kendra Gierkink, Katherine Bundy, Ashton Alexander, Kelli Cruciotti, Hunter Holloway, Janelle Henningsen, Bailey Smith and Genevieve Meyer.
Region 1 Winner – Kendra Gierkink
The ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship class has been held since 1933, and it is one of the most prestigious competitions for junior riders in the United States. Among previous winners are some of the biggest names in equestrian sport including William Steinkraus (1941), Frank Chapot (1948), George Morris (1952), Leslie Burr Howard (1972) and Nicole Shahinian Simpson (1992). The 2013 ASPCA Maclay Finals winner was Lillie Keenan, while Tori Colvin claimed the coveted title during last year’s 2014 National Horse Show.
For 2015, the highly competitive Region 1 winning title went to Kendra Gierkink of Harpswell, Maine. Gierkink bested 72 other competitors at the Fairfield Hunt Club to take the win, while second place went to Ali Tritschler of Southport, Connecticut. Rounding out the top three was Jordyn Rose Freedman of Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
Region 2 Winner – Katherine Bundy
In the equally hotly contested Region 2, it was Katherine Bundy of Westport, Connecticut who topped the class at Old Salem Farm. Finishing in second was Maya Nayyar, while third place went to T.J. O’Mara.
The Region 3 Maclay Regional Finals were held during the Southeast Medal Finals in Jacksonville, Florida, and there it was Ashton, Alexander of Ocala, Florida who topped the leader board. Taking home the second and third place awards and securing their spots at the ASPCA Maclay Finals were Jordyn Katz and Mary Elizabeth Cordia, respectively.
Region 4 Winner – Kelli Cruciotti
In Region 4, Kelli Cruciotti of Elizabeth, Colorado, Meredith Darst of Lebanon, Ohio and Rhian Murphy of Charlotte, Vermont took the top three spots respectively at their regional final, held at the Kentucky Horse Park on September 20.
Region 5 Winner – Hunter Holloway
Continuing west to Region 5, it was last year’s Maclay Finals second place finisher Hunter Holloway of Topeka, Kansas who earned the win during the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show. Taking second was Martha Ingram of Nashville, Tennessee, and third place went to Olivia Lawton of Burr Ridge, Illinois.
Region 6 Winner – Janelle Henningsen
In Colorado, the Norris Penrose Event Center welcomed competitors for the Region 6 Final where Janelle Henningsen of Greenwood Village, Colorado rode away with the win. Second and third place went to fellow Colorado residents, Allison Zimmerman and Kamryn Steel, respectively.
Region 7 Winner – Bailey Smith
Bailey Smith was the victor in Region 7, where she piloted her mount seamlessly during the Northwest Autumn Classic in Monroe, Washington. The Portland, Oregon based rider finished just ahead of second place winner Krista Taylor and third place finisher Lolly McLellan.
Region 8 Winner – Genevieve Meyer
Also on the West Coast was the Region 8 Regional Final, held during the Blenheim Fall Tournament in San Juan Capistrano, California. There it was Genevieve Meyer of Rancho Santa Fe, California who caught the judges’ eyes for the win. Miela Gross finished in second, and third place went to Alexandra Ladove.
Qualified riders now have their sights set on the CP National Horse Show, where the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Final will now be held over two days. The first round kicks of at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 31, while the final round will be held on Sunday, November 1.
For more information visit www.nhs.org.