The second day of Devon Junior Weekend brought top junior riders together for another chance to claim winning prizes and carve their names into Devon history. This year, it was 15-year-old Elli Yeager who secured first place honors in Section C of the ASPCA Maclay and was awarded the prestigious R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship High Point Award trophy for earning the highest score of 23 points.
The large number of entries for the ASPCA Maclay was split up into three sections of about 40 riders each, with Coco Fath and Hillside Farm LLC’s Class Action taking the win in Section A, Tanner Korotkin earning the title in Section B aboard Missy Clark’s Zapfier, and Section C honors being awarded to Elli Yeager riding her own Copperfield 39.
Course designer Allen Rheinheimer utilized natural hunter fences to build a technical course featuring tight turns, a broken line and a double combination going towards the Wheeler Ring. While parts of the course proved difficult for some riders, Yeager executed a flawless trip in the ASPCA Maclay on her seasoned equitation partner.
The 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding navigated the track with ease, and the solid partnership between horse and rider was obvious. Yeager has been riding Copperfield 39 since she was 11 years old and knows him well, but this year marked only her second time competing at Devon. In addition to her win in the ASPCA Maclay, she also topped her section of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search.
Judges Timmy Kees and Brian Lenehan awarded Yeager with a second place prize in her respective section of the Washington Equitation Jumper phase and a third place ribbon in her section of the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. These top placings put 23 points to Yeager’s name, which earned her the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship High Point Award trophy. Originally, the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship was a championship class with the best riders riding for the title, but this year the format changed to a high-point award instead.
Trained under the tutelage of Stacia Madden since last season in Florida, the pair just came off a high note competing at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows prior to the start of Devon. In addition to Copperfield 39, Yeager owns another equitation horse named Alant, as well as a Medium Junior Jumper and a High Junior Jumper.
“I came off of Old Salem very confident with him, but I didn’t want to get too excited,” shared Yeager. “After having a good week like that I saw the possibility [of doing well at Devon], but I knew I couldn’t get excited because I would have lost my line.”
Yeager is no stranger to making sacrifices for her riding after moving from her hometown of Westlake Village, California to New York with her father. This allows her to be closer to her horses and train more frequently at Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, New Jersey.
Madden opted to switch Yeager’s show schedule around after their success at Old Salem to help prepare her for what was to come. “When she had a very good week the first week of Old Salem I changed her schedule again to only use Copperfield for one class at Old Salem and use her young horse in preparation for the Maclay this week. I think we did a good job managing Copper to have her confidence on him, winning a championship the first week and then saving him, so he was fresh enough to do three classes in one day and have enough left in the tanks for the next day.”
The well-spoken young rider also balances a demanding school schedule with her riding endeavors. She is currently a student at Laurel Springs online school.
In Section A of the ASPCA Maclay, Yeager’s barn mate Coco Fath was able to celebrate her final year at Devon after nailing the course and riding to a win with well-known equitation horse, Class Action. She will switch gears to the jumper ring next as she heads to Langley, British Columbia to compete in the Thunderbird Nation’s Cup competition. After a break this summer, Class Action will return to show at the Hampton Classic Horse Show with Fath in August.
“I couldn’t imagine myself riding any other horse,” Fath boasted. “He is just incredible and I’m so lucky to have him to do this. He loves to show and loves to do his job well. It is really special to be here. It was my last equitation round at Devon and it may be his last, too. To go out with a bang is amazing.”
Tanner Korotkin pulled off a stellar course in Section C and advanced to the flat phase to earn his spot in the winner’s circle aboard Zapfier to make trainers Missy Clark and John Brennan and the rest of the team at North Run proud.