Reynolds tops Endurance TrialBy Paula Parisi April 3, 2012
Jeremy Reynolds and A Kutt Above took the win in a flat-out race to the finish at the Endurance Ranking Trial CEI 160km in Mt. Pleasant, TX. The race served as the USEF Selection Trial for the 2012 FEI World Endurance Championship taking place in August.
Forty-five of the nation’s top endurance riders took to the trail at Priefert Ranch, March 31, over a “cloverleaf” course designed to replicate the Championship environment. Nineteen crossed the finish line and were named to the United States Equestrian Federation’s “long list” of contenders for the FEI Championship, Aug. 25 in Euston Park, Thetford, England, where only six U.S. riders will compete.
Reynolds narrowly beat Wendy MacCoubrey and Reach for the Gold, at 8:16:03 versus her 8:16:05. Becky Hart was a close third riding No Repeat (8:16:09), Heather Reynolds was fourth on Riverwatch.
The top finishers were strong all day and recovered well in the vet gates. Reynolds (San Jose, CA) and A Kutt Above also earned the coveted Best Conditioned Award/ Along with the other 18 finishers the pair was named to the USEF “Long List” of championship contenders (the horse with both Reynolds as riders).
Although Reach for the Gold was ridden by proxy jock MacCoubrey, the horse made the Long List with owner Valerie Kanavy of Fort Valley, VA. Both Kanavy and Hart (San Juan Bautista, CA) will seek a chance to earn another FEI World Endurance Championship title. Kanavy currently has two titles to her name and Hart will seek a fourth, this time with her own No Repeat.
Endurance chef d’quipe Emmett Ross said he is “extremely pleased” with the horses that made the long list and also with the fact that three young riders completed the race, calling it “encouraging for the future.” Junior and young riders in the sport of endurance are any riders between 14 and 21 years of age. While Ross acknowledged “a few disappointing absences” on the list – notably Lindsay Graham and Monk, who failed to finish, and Kelsey Russell, who chose to skip the event – overall he characterized it as “a fantastic group of horses and riders who all have potential to be extremely competitive.”
Race day was hot and humid in Texas, but with the exception of one boggy area that had to be repeated several times, the triple-loop course rode well and the times were good. Ross said he was “very pleased with all the officials, staff and volunteers [at] Priefert Ranch,” which he called “phenomenal and very supportive with both materials and staff.”
In addition to the 19 finishers, Ross has three discretionary horse/athlete combinations he can add from among those who did not compete or complete in Texas. Two of those slots have been taken: he named John Crandell III and Heraldic even though Crandell elected to withdraw Heraldic after the gate 2 vet check, which the horse passed but Crandell had concerns about deficiencies in his mount’s metabolics.
Ross also named to the long list Deborah Reich who was unable to compete in the selection trial due to injury. Her horse, DJB Juniper, finished seventh.
Sometime in July the top 19 plus Ross’ wildcards will go on to complete a short course (40-60km) that will serve as an evaluation for soundness, and 12 horse and rider pairs will be named to a “short list” from which the final six competitors will be named (plus alternates) no later than one week prior to the FEI Championship, which takes place a week after the Olympics and about 35 miles away.
USEF director of endurance and reining Vonita Bowers said the U.S. has a talented field of athletes and horses from which to choose, and is looking forward to once again standing on the international podium for endurance, from which the country has absented itself since Valerie Kanavy’s individual Gold Medal in 1998.
“We’ve won medals at the Pan Ams, but not since ’98 at the World Championship level,” Bowers said, noting, “Prior to ’98 we won on a regular basis, then the rest of the world caught up. They started figuring out how to compete. Also, she noted, the sport has changed. “The U.S. version of endurance had always been on a very difficult course – closer to the Tevis Cup. The international rides are much flatter, faster courses. So the sport has changed a lot, and now we’re the ones catching up.”
The USEF is verifying the complete long list. It will be posted here as soon as it is made available.
To find out more about the FEI World Event Championship, visit http://www.eustonparkendurance.co.uk/
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