Ava Stearns and Bocelli Crowned Overall Grand Champion 3’6” of USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – West Coast

Ava Stearns and Bocelli (Captured Moment Photo)

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Del Mar, Calif. – Ava Stearns and Bocelli conquered the 2018 USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – West Coast, earning the title of Overall Grand Champion in the 3’6” section with a final score of 257.6. Alexis Sokolov and Harvard Grad’s maiden trip to Junior Hunter Championship was successful as they were crowned Overall Grand Champion in the 3’3″ section with a final score of 248.8.

Ava Stearns (Chilmark, Mass.) and Bocelli, Laura Wasserman’s nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding, established themselves as the competitive pair to beat under the watchful eyes of judges Robert Crandall, Steve Wall, and Chris Wynne, who awarded scores of 85, 87, and 86 in the Classic phase to win the class. The new partnership shined in the Under Saddle phase where they earned an 87.5, 84.5, and 83. Stearns’ final ride sealed the deal with a score of 86, 85, and 86.5 in the Handy to win the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division, where they were awarded the Magic Word Perpetual Trophy donated by Karen Kay. Their consistent rides ultimately earned them the Overall Grand Champion tri colors in the 3’6” section and the Monarch International Perpetual Trophy donated by Show Circuit Magazine.

The New England native, who trains with Missy Clark on the East coast and with Archie Cox on the West coast, discussed her new partnership with Bocelli. “This is my first time riding him, he’s fabulous and willing to do anything you ask,” said Stearns. “He tries so hard every time you go into the ring, he’s a great partner to have.”

The course, designed by Thomas Hern of Plymouth, Mass., featured full, colorful floral fillers with sweeping turns and approaches that showcased the duo’s adjustability.

“The [Handy] course was very fun and I loved riding in this [Grand Prix] field. When I walked it, it had a lot of challenging questions. The most challenging obstacle was the trot jump after the last oxer, which was quite big,” said Stearns.

No stranger to the spotlight, Kaitlyn Lovingfoss (Santa Clarita, Calif.) was named Overall Reserve Grand Champion in the 3’6” section aboard Castle, Cameron Glassman’s seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding. The dynamic duo were also section champions in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 section. Winning the Classic with scores of 85, 86, and 87, the pair went on to score the only 90 in their under saddle class followed by an 89 and 85. Their last performance in the Handy confirmed their top placing in the section with scores of 83, 84 and 85 to bring home the River Edge Farm Perpetual Trophy donated by River Edge Farm with a final score of 256.8.

Lovingfoss was also victorious in the USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic – West Coast on Monday, July 23, with Caracas 89, Elvenstar Farm’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding.

Alexis Sokolov (Santa Fe, N.M.) and Harvard Grad Dynamic Sporthorses LLC’s seven-year-old Oldenburg mare, was Overall Grand Champion in the 3’3″ section with a final score of 248.8. Sokolov piloted “Elle” to an 82, 84, and 79 in the Classic round, then to an 86, 85, and 80 under saddle, and finally to a 73.5, 80, and 82 in the Handy round. The combination also claimed the top spot in the Small Junior Hunter 17 and Under 3’3” section.

Alexis Sokolov and Harvard Grad (Captured Moment Photo)

“Elle is only seven and is hard on right lead, which was my biggest concern as the [Handy] course called for many right lead turns,” said Sokolov. “The most thrilling was the gallop and the oxer to the trot jump in the Handy. It was tricky, but I liked it.”

As for the best part about competing in the Junior Hunter Championship, Sokolov remarked that her favorite part of the finals is getting closer to the people she normally shows and competes with.

The Overall Reserve Grand Champion in the 3’3” section was awarded to Katalina Ricard (Flintridge, Calif.) and Balletomane, Micaela Kennedy’s eight-year-old Holsteiner gelding, who ended the competition on a final score of 246.6. Consistency was key with this partnership, scoring an 82, 83, and 83 in the Classic, then an 80, 85, and 78 under saddle. Their final round of the competition in the Handy produced an 81, 81, and 85.

Additional Champions Crowned at the 2018 USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – West Coast

Brooke Morin (Calabasas, Calif.) and Fine Design, Laura Wasserman’s 13-year-old Warmblood gelding, were crowned Champion in the Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under section, finishing with a total of 255 points and earning The Huntover Farm Perpetual Trophy, donated by Huntover Farm. Morin and Fine Design placed first in the Classic round with an 88, 87, and 87. The combination earned scores of 87, 81, and 77 in the under saddle phase and finished second in the Handy round with scores of 83.5, 84.5, and 85.

Augusta Iwasaki and Small Affair (Captured Moment Photo)

Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) and Small Affair, Lyn Pedersen’s 15-year-old Selle Francais gelding, returned to the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under 3’6” section to claim Grand Champion on a final score of 255.6. The combination scored an 83, 85, and 86 in the Classic, an 85, 82 and 77 under saddle, and an 87, 88 and 88 in the Handy. The win earned the pair The Escort Me In perpetual trophy, donated by Shalano Farms.

Emily Williams (Newhall, Calif.) and Carlo, her 12-year-old Warmblood gelding, were Champion in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 3’3” section with 244.4 points. The combination earned a 78, 79, and 79 in the Classic, a 79, 85, and 80 under saddle, and an 86, 84, and 83 in the Handy.

Zoe Brown (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Catina, Sofia Baiker’s 13-year-old Holsteiner mare, bested the field of 21 in the Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under 3’3″ section with a final score of 241. Brown earned scores of 80, 75, and 86 in the Classic,. a 77, 81, and 77 under saddle, and an 81.5, 81, and 81.75 in the Handy.

Small Occasion with Liz Reilly and Augusta Iwasaki presenting
(Captured Moment Photo)

Small Occasion, Elizabeth Reilly, Chris M Iwasaki, and Augusta Iwasaki’s nine-year-old Holsteiner mare, was named Best Mare and awarded of the Small Collection Perpetual Trophy as the overall top placing mare on the West coast. With Jordan Allen in the irons, Small Occasion earned Reserve Champion in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 3’6” section on a final score of 251.3.

For additional information or questions regarding the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships, please contact Kelsey Shanley, Director, National Affiliates, by phone at (859) 225-6960 or via email at kshanley@usef.org.

Find out more about the hunter discipline and all of US Equestrian’s 29 recognized breeds and disciplines in this Learning Center video. Stay up to date throughout the competition by following the USEF Junior Hunter National Championship on Facebook and follow US Equestrian on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use #JoinTheJoy.