Linder and Fodor Out Front after First Day of U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

By Dana Rossmeier, US Equestrian Communications Department

Wayne, IL – Combinations competing for the AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship and USEF Children Dressage National Championship got their first shot in the ring on Friday to open the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. The judges saw a promising group of athletes in both divisions demonstrate their early potential with close scores across the board. Isabel Linder and Elvis have a narrow lead in the junior division with a score of 70.991%. Abby Fodor and Slip and Slide hold the top spot in the children’s division with a score of 67.889%. Today’s tests counted 50% towards their overall scores.

AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship

Fresh off their individual freestyle bronze medal at the 2017 Adequan®/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC), Linder (Kewadin, Mich.) and Elvis looked strong in their debut at Lamplight, following the FEI Junior Team Test, to lead the AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship. She and the 13-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Hai Wei continue to evolve in dressage following his career as a jumper. Watch Linder’s winning ride here.

“I thought my test went really well today. Elvis listened to everything I asked, but we need to work on more collection,” said Linder. “It has been awesome competing against people my age and meeting people, not just my age, but also others who share in the same interest.”

Meredith Talley (Nicholasville, Ky.) saw improvement with her horse Romeo in their second-place performance. She and the 10-year-old

Danish Warmblood gelding are coming off their second year at NAJYRC and got into a smooth rhythm to earn a score of 68.964%, just barely off the lead.

“We had a lot of fun in our test today. He was very comfortable to ride, and I felt comfortable pushing him a little more today. I am so proud of him. The biggest weakness right now is the trot, but overall we have been doing a lot better,” said Talley.

The 2016 Region 3 NAJYRC team gold medalists Juliet Hess and Diano rode a smooth test to place third. She and the 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Julia Stainback earned a score of 68.509% going into Saturday’s FEI Junior Individual Test.

Complete Results

USEF Children Dressage National Championship

Fodor (Bloomsbury, N.J.) exceeded her own expectations winning the FEI Children Team Test. She and Marie Fodor’s Slip and Slide entered the ring last but lept to the top of the pack with outstanding trot and canter work. The 14-year-old Quarter Horse/Haflinger gelding performed on point to guide Fodor to the victory gallop. Watch Fodor’s winning ride here.

“I was happy with today’s ride. The simple changes went well, but I was not expecting to win. I am grateful to be here. It’s really good that they decided to bring this division [to Lamplight],” said an emotional Fodor following her win.

Beatrix Leffingwell (Lake Villa, Ill.) and Luke Skywalker put in a nice test full of great simple changes to place second with a score of 66.389%.

Leffingwell and the 17-year-old Hanoverian mare recovered from an early mistake, but made up for it later in the test with the simple changes and trot work to remain in contention for the title.

“It’s an honor to be here and that they came up with this division because it’s hard competing against young riders and juniors when they are a lot older, said Leffingwell. “It’s special to be able to compete against people my age.”

Ellanor Boehning (Battle Ground, Ind.) and Kabam, Ann and Ellanor Boehning’s 14-year-old German Riding Pony gelding, placed third with a score of 66.056%. The 11 combinations will conclude the division on Saturday with the FEI Children Individual Test.

Complete Results

Find out more information about the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions online.

The U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will continue on Saturday with the first tests of the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship and AGCO/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship as well as the conclusion of the AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship and the USEF Children Dressage National Championship. USEF Network will live stream all competition beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST. The live stream is only available to US Equestrian members; however, a special promotional code for viewing will be available.

Follow us on Facebook (@USADressage and @USEFNetwork), Instagram (@USEFNetwork), and Twitter (@USEFNetwork) for all the latest from the ring and behind the scenes.

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Photos: From top to bottom, Isabel Linder and Elvis, Meredith Talley and Romeo, Abby Fodor and Slip and Slide, and Beatrix Leffingwell and Luke Skywalker.