The win in Sunday’s Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal Finals went to Eleanor Rudnicki, 13, of The Woodlands, TX.
The top 40 THIS National Children’s Medal competitors, qualifying from across the country, were invited to compete in the final at Capital Challenge, and the top 10 from Sunday’s first round then qualified to come back for the second round.
Rudnicki sat in first place with a score of 89.83 following the first round, and she only further cemented her lead with a score of 88.16 in the second round for a winning 177.99 total.
Finishing in second place with scores of 86 and 88 for a 174 total was Amira Kettaneh of Hollis, NH, aboard Automatic, owned by Leigh Kettaneh. Third place was awarded to Isabel Rudaz of Westport, CT, who earned scores of 87.16 and 83.46 for a 170.62 total with Ullrich, owned by Donald Stewart.
“To win the Taylor Harris Medal means a lot because my trainer and I have been working all year just to get here,” said Rudnicki, who trains with Berry Porter at Brookside Pine Farms in Conroe, TX. “This is my first year being at Capital Challenge, so it means a lot. This is my favorite horse show that I’ve been to so far. It’s just such a cool environment. It’s really fun.”
As the third-ranked rider in the THIS National Children’s Medal national standings, Rudnicki knew she wanted to contest the final, but she was uncertain what horse she would compete on at Capital Challenge – until her best friend, Sophia Cady, made a kind offer.
“I was unfortunately hospitalized and unable to make it to ride this week,” said Cady, who intended to compete during BIGEQ.com Equitation Weekend as well. “So, we thought that we would like Eleanor to ride Cosmic for us, and we’re eternally grateful that she did!”
While Cady did not get to show herself, she was released from the hospital and able to be there on Sunday to watch her best friend win aboard her eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding CF Cosmic. For Cady, Rudnicki and CF Cosmic’s victory was an exciting silver-lining in an otherwise negative situation, and for Rudnicki, it made the win a little extra special.
While Sunday marked the conclusion of BIGEQ.com Equitation Weekend, competition at the 2019 Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Monday, September 30, with the professional hunter divisions beginning at 7:30 a.m.