Temecula, Calif. – May 21, 2021 – Teamwork was the name of the game Friday evening as professional and amateur riders took to the Grand Prix Arena at Nilforushan Equisport Event’s Temecula Valley National I, presented by Interactive Mortgage. 11 teams consisting of three riders, one professional and two amateur or junior riders, lined up for the inaugural event in hopes of securing a steady foothold heading into the first class of the two-day competition. Without the opportunity to drop the lowest score from each team, riders were hard-pressed to showcase their unique style, textbook technique, and unwavering accuracy. Of the 35 rounds the judges saw, it was ultimately Skylar Wireman, Jenny Karazissi, and Shiloh Roseboom who stole the show with their combined skills, finesse, and fancy footwork, securing a solid lead heading into Saturday’s second and final round of competition.
Adding an inventive twist to standard equestrian competition, riders kicked off Round 1 over Guilherme Jorge’s advanced hunter-type 3’3” equitation course. Though the competitors were not facing off head to head, riders were further incentivized to fight for every point in order to snag one of 12 coveted spots in the Individual portion of the competition. The best of the best would be invited back for a third-round held on Saturday following the conclusion of team competition.
Jorge’s 13-effort course, made up entirely of jumper fences, prompted the riders to take a strong, forward pace, though some areas of the course required restraint and a collection of stride in order to showcase the rider’s ability to control their horse’s elasticity. The beginning of the course featured wide, sweeping, hunter-like turns, but quickly changed to a technical gymnastic exercise as competitors were asked to ride through an in-and-out off of a turn to a bending line. As one of the trickiest tests on course, numerous riders took a hit to their score.
Junior rider, Skylar Wireman, took an early lead in the class, becoming the first rider to score within the 80s. Winner of the 2020 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West and Haven Farms’ highly experienced 23-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood, Hot Pants, had a plan in place to dazzle the judges with their precision and textbook style. The California native’s plan paid off as she turned in an impressive score of 86.00 aboard her long-time partner.
Wireman held onto the lead for several rounds as fellow competitors were unable to outshine her near-flawless round. Madison Sanders of Team 6 took the challenge to dethrone Wireman head-on. Riding her own 11-year-old Zangersheide, Calvandani Z, the junior rider utilized her experience at the National Horse Show 3’3” Medal Finals where she placed fourth, laying down a score of 84.00. Sander’s effortless riding style and consistent rhythm on course wowed the judges as she settled in right behind Wireman.
Right when it appeared that no competitor would be able to touch Stella Wasserman’s lead score of 88.00, Taylor Loew burst onto the scene with her very own 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Cassini Jr. The duo showcased their impeccable form and fluidity throughout the course. The unique pair, who compete in all three rings, laid down a near-perfect round. The judges awarded the junior rider with a tremendous score of 90.00.
Loew’s lead proved strong enough to take the highest score of the day and together with her teammates, Allison Kroff aboard Congham Club and Megan Buscema aboard Elco, the team secured a second place finish heading into Saturday’s final. Wireman’s score of 86.00 was good enough to place her fourth in the individual standings and with her teammates, Jenny Karazissis riding Picnic and Shiloh Roseboom aboard Venice, their combined total score was high enough to bump Team 5 to second place as Team 1 claimed the leading position in Round 1. Sanders’ 84.00 proved strong enough to fend off competitors as her teammates, Savannah Jenkins and Nostalgic as well as Lauren Kolbe and Fritske put in consistent rounds to round out the top three.
Round 2 of the $20,000 Professional/Amateur Equitation Challenge Cup continues Saturday, May 22, in the Grand Prix Arena where the championship team and overall individual winner will be crowned. Immediately following the equitation excitement, showjumpers take center stage for the $40,000 Hygain National Grand Prix.
ROUND 1 STANDINGS
Place / Horse / Rider
1. Cassini Jr. / Taylor Loew
2. Rolo / Stella Wasserman
3. Cafe’s Deluxe / Jake Endicott
4. Attendu De Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki
5. Hot Pants / Skylar Wireman