Grace Debney Caps Successful 2020 Adequan/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East with USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic Victory

The 2020 Adequan/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast reached its conclusion Tuesday, August 25 at Flintfields Horse Park, the host site of Traverse City Horse Shows, but not before 67 equitation contenders took their turn in the limelight during the USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic – East, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory and Henry. A three-round class that combines the precision of equitation and handiness of hunters over a course set at the 3’6″ height, the contest featured some of the country’s most decorated equitation riders, with each vying for a chance to earn a coveted spot in the final work-off. Impressively leading the day from start to finish, Grace Debney demonstrated her equitation expertise following three standout rides that consistently pulled in top marks from the judges to emerge as the 2020 East Coast victor, adding another accolade to her growing list over the course of three days of riding.

Grace Debney on Quimby. Photo by Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Sports.

The East Coast event was open to any Junior rider that had qualified in applicable equitation classes at a competition with a start date between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020. The competition began with a classic round, then the field was whittled down to the top 20 to return in reverse order of the standings for the handy phase. Finally, a work-off, during which the top riders swapped horses, served to finalize the scoring of the elite contenders.

Course designer Andy Christiansen offered competitors a chance to shine in the classic round over 15 creative fences that simulated riding over hunt country. Collectively, riders rose to the occasion with 23 individuals earning a first-round score of 80 or higher from the judges panel that consisted of Mark Jungherr and Sissy Wickes. At the midway break, Grace Debney held the lead with a score of 90 points thanks to an exemplary trip aboard Temple Equestrian LLC’s Quimby, the mount on which she earned the Overall Grand 3’6” Reserve Championship and the Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under tricolors just one day prior. As the round progressed, talented horse-and-rider pairs chased her down, but Debney remained the frontrunner headed into the handy phase. Gwyneth Babington was hot on her trail with 89 points on Wildfire, and Dominic Gibbs rounded out the top three with a score of 88 aboard Clover.

Grace Debney on Quimby in their presentation ceremony. Photo by Elaine Wessel/Phelps Sports.

Twenty combinations were invited to return for the second portion of the class, with the cut-off score sitting at a lofty 81.50 points. The handy pattern challenged participants to successfully trot a fence, hand gallop and complete a bounce, in addition to a number of changes of direction and rollbacks. Sixth-to-last in the order to take another turn around the ring, Austin Krawitt piloted Vendredi Riverland to the first 90-point score of the handy round, which pushed him to the top of the scorecard with a total of 176.75 points. Three trips later, Gibbs and Clover usurped the frontrunners with an effortless performance that earned them a total score of 179. Not willing to be outdone, Debney and Quimby once again led the way, maneuvering the handy track to the tune of 89.50 points to settle on a top score of 179.50 overall.

Austin Krawitt on Vendredi Riverland. Photo by Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Sports.

To finalize the results at the top of the leaderboard, the judges called back the top-scoring four riders for testing that included the trot fence, bounce and rollbacks, all done on different horses. For the final testing, riders were not allowed any assistance from their trainers, putting emphasis on their horsemanship. Ellie Ferrigno, Krawitt, Gibbs and Debney each rode one final abridged track on a borrowed horse in order to determine the order of the final four finishers. The first two to ride, Ferrigno jockeyed Kim Farlinger Equestrian’s Vendredi Riverland and Krawitt’s trade was Olivia Robertson’s Astro De Ravel. Gibbs went next on Quimby, and Debney closed out the day with the reins on Sail Horse Investment’s Clover.

Back on their original horses, the top four were rewarded for their efforts. Debney rode with experience beyond her years and was honored with the distinction of the 2020 USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic champion, while Krawitt jumped to the reserve championship. Ferrigno rounded out the podium spots and Gibbs closed out the top-four rankings.

As the trainer of the victor, Samantha Schaefer and Kate Conover were awarded with a prize of $5,000, and Haleigh Landrigan was rewarded with $500 as the groom of Quimby, the winning mount. Suzanne Mancheski’s HH Moonshine, ridden by Tessa Downey, was distinguished with the Best Equitation Horse Award.

Tessa Downey on HH Moonshine, winner of the Best Equitation Horse Award. Photo by Elaine Wessel/Phelps Sports.

Tuesday marked the conclusion of the junior championships in Traverse City, but the Traverse City Fall Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, will begin Wednesday. Hunter, jumper and equitation exhibitors will have a chance to compete before the start of the 50th American Gold Cup, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

Full Results – USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory and Henry:

Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Score

1. Quimby / Grace Debney / Temple Equestrian LLC / 179.50
2. Vendredi Riverland / Austin Krawitt / Kim Farlinger Equestrian / 176.75
3. Astro De Ravel / Ellie Ferrigno / Olivia Robertson / 172.50
4. Clover / Dominic Gibbs / Sail Horse Investments / 179
5. For Asgard / Alexander Alston / North Run/Missy Clark / 169.50
6. Any Given Sunday / Alexia Rule / Donald Stewart / 168
7. E.V. Commander / Hannah Hoch / Hannah Hoch LLC / 167.50
8. Imaginator / Hensley Humphries / Hensley Humphries / 165.50
9. Kenan / Skyler Fields / Skyler Fields / 165
10. Love Sun / Mary-Grace Segars / Cheryl Sims / 164