Traverse City, Mich. – The 2022 edition of the Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East came to its exciting conclusion today as the entries completed their handy rounds under blue skies at Flintfields Horse Park. Grand Champion titles went to Dom Perignon and Alexa Leong (Sacramento, Calif.) in the 3’3” and Arabesque and Clara Propp (New York, N.Y.) in the 3’6”.
Junior Hunter 3’3” Grand Champion – Dom Perignon and Alexa Leong
Leong came to Traverse City all the way the West Coast, and her successful catch ride on Samantha O’Brien’s Dom Perignon, a 2013 Warmblood gelding, gave her a tricolor souvenir to take home. The pair came into the final round with a first-place standing, and were able to navigate the handy course to come in second for the final phase and maintain their top position in the Large Junior Hunter 3’3” 16-17 section and overall for the height.
“I knew going in that I was leading, and I really wanted to play it safe, but also be handy in some places,” said Leong. “I went in not knowing my horse very well; I just started riding him last week. My trainer was really helpful in giving me some tips on how to ride the course.
“He’s gorgeous. He’s definitely my type,” Leong said of Dom Perignon. “He’s big and big-strided. He’s very rhythmic and huntery which I really love. He’s definitely the flowy, hunter type for sure.”
In addition to riding a new horse, Leong was also making her debut at Junior Hunter Finals. She said she came for the experience in her final junior year, and is primarily focused on the jumper ring, having only competed in junior hunters for the past couple of seasons.
“I totally didn’t expect how well today would go, and I’m very happy,” said Leong. “It was such a good experience.”
Junior Hunter 3’6” Grand Champion – Arabesque and Clara Propp
Propp and Aquitaine Equine’s Arabesque stood at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final phase of competition. The pair expertly tackled Kevin Holowack’s challenging handy course to win the class and secure an undeniable victory in the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under section as well as the overall 3’6” Grand Championship title. The course included tight turns, trot and hand-gallop fences, and a two-stride line over hunter-style jumps constructed out of brush and haybales that the competitors had to tackle in both directions.
“I was a little nervous for the hay bales,” said Propp. “It looks scary, but she didn’t think so! She just went right over them.”
Propp and “Annie” are veterans of the Junior Hunter Finals winner’s circle. In 2021, they were Grand Champions in the 3’3” division.
“Last year was actually my first Junior Hunter Finals,” said Propp. “I did the 3’3” and we were champion and grand champion last year, so this is just really special. I could tell she loves this show. And two years in a row—it was just really cool.”
Propp trains with Brianne Goutal and Krista Goossens, who have helped her and Annie become the formidable pair that they are today. But Propp says at home, her fierce equine competitor is a friendly companion.
“She’s a little fussy in the barn, and she doesn’t love other horses, but she really loves people,” said Propp. “She has a good personality and she’s always super sweet. I got her when she was eight and she was still green, but she’s proved herself time and time again. She was one of the horses that, when I first got on her, I knew immediately [she was going to be special.] She was forward. She had a really nice feeling; really soft. She was sweet to me. I just loved her immediately.”
2022 Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – East Final Results
3’3” Overall Results
Grand Champion: Dom Perignon Rider: Alexa Leong Owner: Samantha O’Brien Trainer: Pamela Polk
Reserve Grand Champion: Desiigner Rider: Sydney Rainey Owner: Flavia Callari Trainer: Chance Arakelian
3’6” Overall Results
Grand Champion: Arabesque Rider: Clara Propp Owner: Aquitaine Equine Trainer: Brianne Goutal-Marteau
Reserve Grand Champion: Babylon Rider: Ariana Marnell Owner: Marnell Sport Horses Trainer: Devin Vega
3’3” Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under
1. Desiigner and Sydney Raidy 259.80
2. Quoted and Lauren Gee 255.80
3. Captain Jack and Madeline Brooks 250.36
3’3” Small Junior Hunter 16-17
1. Nightcap and Abigail Roberts 253.50
2. Cosa Nostra Aaliya Khanna 252.98
3. Aredelle and Anna Pemble 241.34
3’3” Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under
1. Caracalla and Mary Rose Canterbury 257.26
2. Apanage and Hannah Serfass 255.30
3. Memorable and Adriana Forte 254.30
3’3” Large Junior Hunter 16-17
1. Dom Perignon and Alexa Leong
2. Fedor and Caroline Maude Hedges
3. Liberty Road and Alexandra Smith
3’6” Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under
1. Babylon and Ariana Marnell 262.60
2. Sincerely and Raina Swani 248.85
3. Meaningful and Emma Vanderhouten 248.30
3’6” Small Junior Hunter 16-17
1. Graphite and Stella Wasserman 260.70
2. Small Kingdom and Augusta Iwasaki 255.80
3. Record Year and Avery Glynn 252.80
3’6” Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under
1. Arabesque and Clara Propp 265.00
2. Casino Cash and Kate Hagerty 259.10
3. In Writing and Sterling Malnik 249.60
3’6” Large Junior Hunter 16-17
1. Paisley Park and Lauren Little 254.90
2. Skyhawk and Stella Wasserman 249.80
3. Gelato and Caroline Mirts 246.20