Devon, Pa. – July 13, 2021 – The penultimate day of competition at the 2021 Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast, hosted by Brandywine Horse Shows, kicked off the morning of Tuesday, July 13, bringing junior athletes and their top hunter mounts back to the Dixon Oval of the Devon Horse Show Grounds for the second day of competitive sport. Culminating in the crowning of the Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion, a total of 132 entries were seen throughout the Small Junior 3’6” Hunter 15 & Under, Small Junior 3’6” Hunter 16-17, Large Junior 3’6” Hunter 15 & Under and Large Junior 3’6” Hunter 16-17 divisions, but rising above all was Kat Fuqua and Grand Remo who led the victory gallop for the overall title.
Competing in the Large Junior 3’6” Hunter 15+U division, Fuqua and Grand Remo impressed the judges from the very beginning. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding jumped with style and grace to a first-place finish in Monday’s Classic round. Fuqua and Grand Remo continued their winning ways Tuesday, strutting their way to first in the under saddle and demonstrating their adjustability and handiness in the second round of competition, earning them second place in the handy round.
Close competitor Alexa Elle Lignelli and High Society, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by The Lignelli Family, received the reserve overall Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion title after capturing the blue ribbon in the handy round Tuesday and placing second right behind Fuqua and Grand Remo in the Classic round Monday.
Earlier in the day, Ariana Marnell and Ocean Road took home the championship in the Small Junior 3’6” Hunter 15 & Under division, and Fuqua and her own 9-year-old Westphalian gelding, Consent, were named reserve champions. Marnell and the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Keri Kampsen and Lexy Reed won the Classic round on a score of 260 from the judges, and placed fifth in the Handy over fences to ultimately secure the championship. Ocean Road was imported in 2019, making a successful debut in the hunter ring with Kampsen and soon claiming a number of wins in USHJA National Hunter Derbies at various shows. Marnell took over the reins in December of 2020, immediately jumping to top ribbons in the Small Junior 3’6” Hunter divisions at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
In the Small Junior 3’6” Hunter 16-17 division, it was Augusta Iwasaki who rode the Isabella Griffin owned entry Heaven’s Dream to the top prize and the championship tricolor, while Grace Debney and Sweet Caroline, a 10-year-old Warmblood mare owned by Sterling Malnik that also received the Best Mare Award, finished in the reserved champion position. Heaven’s Dream, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding, jumped to second place during Monday’s over fences class and started Tuesday strong with a first place in the under saddle. The pair concluded the division on a high, winning the Handy round on a score of 258 to garner the Small Junior 3’6” Hunter 16-17 championship.
In the final Junior 3’6” Hunter division of the day, Alexander Alston and Cash received the championship for the Large Junior 3’6” Hunter 16-17 division, with Hensley Humphries and Capitalized coming in a close second for the reserve championship title. During day one of competition Monday, Alston and Cash, a 13-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Alston Alliance LLC, impressed the judges during the classic round with their beautiful form and ample pace, highlighting the true nature of a hunter, earning them the blue ribbon. This longtime pair continued to dominate the field of competitors, winning the under saddle and taking home a top 12 placing in the handy round, securing them the division champion title. Humphries and Capitalized maintained consistency throughout the two days of competition, earning second in the classic round Monday and securing the blue ribbon in the handy Tuesday, earning them the reserve champion division title.
The 2021 Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast will come to a close Wednesday afternoon with the crowning of the Grand Junior 3’3” Hunter.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kat Fuqua – Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion
On Grand Remo:
“Remo is my Large Junior Hunter that we got about two years ago. He has been so amazing. He is just the best mover and I have had so much fun riding him. He is really sweet and he has been very successful in the 3’6” divisions in 2020 and 2021.”
On the handy:
“I was actually very nervous going into the handy because I had won the hack and the classic, so it was a lot of pressure! I wanted to be champion so I was really focused on the trot jump because I always mess up the trot jump or chip the trot jump, so that was our main focus and Remo was perfect!”
On being Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion:
“It is really exciting! Last year I did [the Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast] and was going in first place and I messed up in the handy, so I really redeemed myself this year!”
On competing at Brandywine Horse Shows:
“I am so happy to be here. I love this horse show. It is all of my horse’s first time here in the Junior Hunters so it is really special!”
Jimmy Torano – Trainer of Kat Fuqua
On training a student for the Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast:
“We had a plan going into this. The horses came here last week to really gear up for this championship. You can only call on these horses a certain amount of times, so this was really our goal here. Both horses [Grand Remo and Consent] really stepped right up. Everytime you call on these horses, they give you their all. Consent just missed being champion in the [Small Junior 3’6” Hunter 15 & Under] division but these horses continue to go out and try to win every time.”
On the handy:
“We practiced a little bit with the trot jump to make sure we had it down pat. The biggest thing was to really have Kat relax. The horse doesn’t need a lot of jumps, he is real solid and not spooky. I have to say, Alexa Lignelli went in there and really laid it down and nailed it, and when they threw out those high scores with the 90s, I have to give it to Kat because she really came through and gave it her all. She kept her focus and went in and laid it down. We were just below her with 89s but I have to say, that was what was most impressive to me, to have such a pressure ride and to be able to deliver like she did.”
On training the Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion:
“[Kat Fuqua] is a real talent. This didn’t happen by accident. She has won Pony Finals multiple times, she won the Pony Medal Finals, Horse of The Year last year in both divisions and was champion at the National Horse Show in both divisions, so this isn’t an accident or a fluke. She is a real talent with great horses and her parents back her. I think we have a good group behind us with the grooms and I know these horses like the back of my hand. I know exactly when to push the button, so I think it is a whole team event that came to a head today.”
Alexa Lignelli – Reserve Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion
On High Society:
“He is such a special horse. I have only had him since August of last year and we started off with a bang by winning the [USHJA] National Derby at [the Kentucky Summer Classic]. He is an amazing horse and we clicked immediately. He is also so special because of his jump and his style around the ring. He really feels the atmosphere and thrivesoff of it. So today, with the beautiful jumps and the crowd, he really shined.”
On being Reserve Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion:
“It means so much to me and our whole team worked so hard! I love the handy and the occasion was so fun. My horse was amazing and he deserves all of the credit. Being Reserve Grand [Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion] at a show like this is amazing.”