Tamra Smith and Fleeceworks Cinco defended their YEH Champion Title with a win in the 5-year-old division. Frankie Thieriot Photo.
The eighth annual Spalding Labs USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships took place in Paso Robles, CA on September 20th, showcasing the best up and coming talent on the West Coast. Held alongside the Twin Rivers Fall Horse Trials, future stars made their mark in both the four- and five-year-old Championship divisions.
For the second year in a row, Judith McSwain’s Fleeceworks Cinco came out atop the leader board at the West Coast Championships, this year winning the five-year-old division from start to finish with a final score of 77.6. Fleeceworks Cinco, a 16.3 hand Grey Holsteiner gelding (Cascani x Kawas Joy), bred by October Hill Farm has won every YEH event he has ever entered in both the four and five-year-old divisions with rider Tamra Smith. Smith credited the YEH program, saying “through YEH Cinco has developed and matured without the pressures of competing in a horse trials, ultimately becoming braver and more confident with every outing.”
The Young Event Horse program has proven to be a terrific platform and indicator of up-and-coming horses, with champions going on to multiple horse trials wins. Fleeceworks Cinco, who has finished in the top three at each of his horse trials thus far (at the Training level), is a prime example of this success. Tamra Smith looks forward to seeing the lovely young gelding’s future, saying “I am excited to see this world-class horse continue to develop and move up the levels over time. He is one of the most naturally talented horses I have ever seen, and I feel lucky to be riding him thanks to his owner Judith McSwain.”
Only .4 behind Fleeceworks Cinco in the five-year-old division was another young horse that looks to be noteworthy in the near future. Ballycreen King’s Orbit, owned and ridden by Katherine Mellis had the highest jumping and potential score given by the judges to any of the five-year-olds throughout the day, earning the title of Reserve Champion. David ASP Cosby (IRE) bred Ballycreen King’s Orbit, a 17 hand Irish gelding by King’s Master and out of Ballycreen Anouschka.
Also in the five-year-old division was the winner of the Safe Harbor Award, Max Gerdes’ Connemara/Hanoverian, Redbuds Moonrock (Wildwich Eclipse x Palladia). The Safe Harbor Award is presented to the young horse who consistently exhibits the most graceful and rider friendly performance throughout the competition.
In the four-year old division, the scores remained tight, but it was Jennifer Wooten’s own grey mare Anika who earned the Championship title to edge out runner up Sunsprite Syrius by only .2. The Holsteiner mare (Lintas x High Voltage) received the highest scores of the division for conformation and type as well as dressage to give them a total of 73.3. “This is one of the most talented young horses I have ever ridden,” said Wooten. “Anika has come along quickly so far, and I look forward to seeing where the future takes her.”
Just behind Anika, Sunsprite Syrius owned by Sunsprite Warmbloods and ridden by Gina Miles was awarded the highest marks for jumping and potential in the four-year-old group. The Trakehner gelding, one of many talented youngsters bred by Sunsprite Warmbloods, is by Titulus and out of Slytely Cinnamon.
The list of gifted prospects continues to grow each year and with eight years of the program having taken place, past winners are being seen at the top levels of the sport.
The Baxter family offered a unique opportunity a day prior to Thursday’s competition, holding a qualifying event for horses that were not already qualified to gain eligibility. A handful of horses took part in the opportunity, and were rewarded with a chance to compete for a multitude of prizes in the YEH Championships.
The Spalding Labs USEA Young Event Horse Championships will continue this October with the East Coast Champions set to be crowned in conjunction with the Fair Hill International Event.
For their wins in the Young Event Horse Championships, Fleeceworks Cinco took home a custom Stackhouse saddle, Fleeceworks Saddle Pad Set, and Point Two Gift Certificate while Anika earned a Fleeceworks Saddle Pad Set and Point Two Gift Certificate.
The USEA's Young Event Horse Series is made possible due to its fabulous sponsors: Spalding Labs, Stackhouse Saddles, Fleeceworks, Point Two, and SmartPak. Interested in sponsoring the YEH Series? Contact Leslie Mintz