Wilmington, OH – The first major championship title of the 2020 Capital Challenge Horse Show went to Jordan Allen on Friday, September 25, at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, OH. Riding Coltrane, Allen, of West Bloomfield, MI, topped the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championship to kick off Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com.
From a field of 20 entries, a score of 86.66 over the Joseph Carnicom-designed first round course put Allen into third place, but a second-round score of 89.66 would shoot her to the top of the leaderboard with a winning, overall score of 176.32.
Second place with scores of 87.66 and 83.66 for a 171.32 total went to Ashton Alexander of Ocala, FL, riding Travis Scott, owned by Brookside Pine Farms, LLC. Grady Lyman of San Diego, CA, and Bellisima Z, owned by Ashland Farms, rounded out the top three with an overall score of 169.50.
“It’s really exciting!” said Allen, 19, of her win. “I feel really lucky to be able to do this, especially in these unprecedented times, with everything going on. We’re so lucky to show, and I would say that Capital Challenge is the most exciting show to go to. They make it feel so special – the prizes, the ribbons, the presentation ceremonies. Everything is special.”
Allen was a successful competitor at the Capital Challenge Horse Show throughout her junior career, and this year, she picked up the ride on Coltrane, owned by Kevan Husky, to return to the equitation ring as an adult rider.
“I was actually just saying to Ken [Smith] that I hadn’t done an eq class since Maclay Finals [in November 2019],” said Allen, who trains with Ken and Emily Smith of Ashland Farms. “Coltrane is a new horse for Ashland Farms; we got him in the barn about a week ago, and I rode him for the first time yesterday.”
“I feel really lucky to ride him,” continued Allen of the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood. “He’s so easy. He just flatted in the morning, and he was amazing this morning and in this class. I’m really excited and so happy with him.”
In addition to claiming victory in the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championship, Allen and Coltrane were named champions in the Adult Equitation Section B.
Reese Merna Leads EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East
The opening day of competition at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, held this year at the World Equestrian Center, also featured the flat and gymnastics phases of the fourth-annual EMO Insurance Agency/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East.
Following the first two phases, Reese Merna, 14, of Mendham, NJ, leads the 120-rider field.
Merna and her own Utrillo du Soleil finished fifth in the gymnastics phase with a score of 88.50 and within the top 25 of the flat phase with a score of 83.20. With all gymnastics phase scores multiplied by a coefficient of 1.5 before being added to each riders’ flat phase score, Merna sits atop the leaderboard with a 215.95 overall score.
“It’s crazy; this is my first year coming to all these finals so I would have never expected that I could place let alone be on top!” said Merna, who trains with Lindsey Mohr of WinMohr Show Stables. “I was really just excited to be here, and I wanted to be happy with my rounds and maybe place.”
Merna has been partnered with Utrillo du Soleil or “Fluffy” for the past year, and she prepared for Capital Challenge by focusing on no stirrup work, bending lines, and tight rollbacks with the 12-year-old warmblood gelding.
“Fluffy’s amazing; he’s like my best friend,” said Merna, who is competing at Capital Challenge for the second time. “He’s a bit strong sometimes, but he’s very confident and knows his job. He’s just a great horse to have in the ring.”
Sitting very close behind Merna in the overall standings with a score of 215.875 is Samantha Takacs, 15, of Oldwick, NJ. Takacs and her own Cooper bested the flat phase with a score of 88 and finished 14th in the gymnastics phase.
“It feels so amazing. I really wasn’t coming into it expecting to win or anything because my horse Cooper and I are both very new to the equitation,” said Takacs, who trains with New Hope LLC. “I was just coming and hoping to have a good experience.
“It’s so amazing here at World Equestrian Center, and I’m so thankful to the Roberts for hosting this amazing show. The facilities are beautiful,” continued Takacs.
The win in the gymnastics phase with a score of 91 went to Rylee Shufelt of Albuquerque, NM, riding her own Celsius 20.
“I am so grateful to be here,” said Shufelt, who currently sits in fifth place overall. “My horse actually just had colic surgery five months ago, so just to have him back in the ring again is so incredible, and I’m so happy. He’s my baby. For us to share this together is a joy.”
Competition at the Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Saturday beginning at 7:30 a.m. with the age group equitation divisions and culminating for the day with the USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final.