NAL Children’s Jumper, Adult Jumper, and Low Jr/AO Jumper Finals Completed at Pennsylvania National Horse Show
Bailey Doloff, Sykesville, MD, who just turned 18, and his little dynamo Wishlea Star Dasher, took the win in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Children’s Jumper Final at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show presented by the Lindsey Maxwell Charitable Fund. In the NAL Adult Jumper Finals, Dean Dignelli, 27, of Katonah, NY, riding Redefin won. Emily Smith from Valparaiso, IN, and Morning De Reve were the only ones post double clear rounds to take first place in the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur Owner Final.
Each year riders compete across the country to win a coveted spot in the NAL Finals, held at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. This year 29 riders and their mounts came to the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg to vie for top honors in the $10,000 NAL Children’s Jumper Final.
The first round tested the mettle of these young riders with 11 numbered elements and 14 jumping efforts. Fence 6, a triple combination of an oxer, one stride to a vertical, two strides to another vertical kept many of the riders from achieving their goal of a fault free round. Twelve horse and rider combinations made it around the first course penalty free to advance to the jump-off. Of the twelve who returned to contest the shortened course, seven managed to turn in double clear rounds which left it up to the clock to decide the outcome. The clock did decide, with the top four placings being separated by only 1 second.
Wishlea Star Dasher lived up to his name as the 11 year-old, 14.1 ½ hand, Thoroughbred-Welsh pony cross navigated the course under the guidance of Bailey Doloff, in a time of 30.331 seconds to take the top award. “He is a freak, I don’t know how else to describe him,” explained rider Bailey Doloff. “When we first got him he wasn’t like this. It took him a while and finally this year he has come into his own and he puts everything he has into it in every class we have gone in. This is my third year with him, we got him in April 2014. We got him to do pony racing. We realized that he could jump so we put him into a real program. Riding is something I want to do for the rest of my life. It is my favorite thing!”
In only his third year of riding, Dean Dignelli, 27, Katonah, NY, took the win in the NAL Adult Jumper Finals, presented by Smartpak, on Redefin, owned by Heritage Farm. Phoenix Cooke, Chardon, OH, and Skys Burnin Blue were second and Joy Slater, Unionville, PA, was third on Oilean Uno, owned by Fat Chance Farm.
The top 30 in the nation qualified for the Finals; with eleven going in the jump-off and six going double clear on the Bernardo Cabral-designed course. Samantha Karp blazed the trail on David, owned by Coker Farm, going clear in 32.824 seconds. Courtney Logan and Prince Royal, owned by Patty Foster and Whitney Lind and Wanant, owned by Whish, LLC, went clear, but not fast enough. Slater and Oilean Uno jumped to the top of the leaderboard, going clear in 32.180 seconds, but it was short lived. Dignelli went next and shaved off two seconds, stopping the clock in 30.045 seconds. Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue tried to catch Dignelli, but crossed the timers in 30.156 for second place.
“It meant the world to me to win. I just won a national championship! I went from a lunge line to competing here now in just three years,” said Dignelli. “This was a huge achievement for me and I am just very blessed to have a great family and great support behind me. I owe it all to my horse and the whole staff at Heritage Farm. My strategy was to go as fast as I could and really believe in everything that my coach and brother, Andre Dignelli, told me. He said to believe in myself, stay focused, execute the plan and not to do anything fancy. My brother is unbelievable and I listen to anything he says,” said Dignelli. “I just had faith in my horse and put it in his hands. I just tried to stay tall and stay out of my horse’s way.”
Dignelli had good reason to believe in his horse. Redefin once belonged to Olympic legend Ian Millar. “He was Ian’s grand prix horse and he’s been an absolute saint across the board, from grand prix to now teaching and developing me in the adults. That horse doesn’t owe me anything. He is very special to me.”
“Winning here was a huge achievement for me and I am just very blessed to have a wonderful family and tremendous support behind me. The horse industry has great people and great horses. I was able to start a horse transportation company, Iron Horse Transport, and I take great pride in that and my riding. I think if you work hard and stay focused, good things will happen. The sky is the limit.”
Emily Smith from Valparaiso, IN, and Morning De Reve were the only ones out of a field of 24 to post double clear rounds to take first place in the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur Owner Final.
Four horse and rider combinations managed to navigate the first round of competition without penalty to return for the jump-off against the clock. Luftzauber and rider Kelly Tropin, New Canaan, CT, were the first to return to try their luck. Things were going well until they knocked down the NAL plank fence mid-way through the course. They finished with a total of four faults in a time of 40.170 seconds. Next to test their skill were Madelyn Porter, Saint Louis, MO, and Dragonfly’s Esmeralda. They came away with two dropped rails, one at the combination and the other at the liverpool, and a score of eight faults in 37.043. The third on the good list was Callie Seaman, Bernardsville, NJ, and Heroy Von De Hei. They also ran into trouble at the liverpool and finished with four faults in 43.993.
The final rider on course had only to go clear in order to win. Emily Smith, Valparaiso, IN, and Morning De Reve could do just that if they kept their cool, and they were cool, in fact they were as chill as the weather outside as they completed the course fault free in 41.283 seconds. “She has been amazing,” said Smith of her partner. “I got Molly November 19th so I’ve had her just under a year. She is my only horse and she is so special. She is pretty strong and Kind of sensitive to ride, you can’t have too much leg, but once she is on her game she is unstoppable. When we get to the jump-off she knows it’s time to shine. It was more pressure for me when I found out I could win if I could go clean. It has always been a goal of mine to go to indoors and I’ve watched the NAL classes. Winning one is a dream come true. I’ll be 17 in three days so this is kind of a birthday present.”