September 8, 2012 -- The Merial Advanced division at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Bit of Britain wrapped up today with the show jumping phase at Chattahoochee Hills. Mark Donovan"s tough course had riders incurring numerous jump and time penalties with just five double clear rounds in the division. Becky Holder (Palmetto, Ga.) and Courageous Comet had one rail down but held onto their lead to win the Merial Advanced division held in conjunction with the USEF National Advanced Horse Trials Championship with a score of 27.7. Holder had a stellar weekend with her and husband Tom Holder"s 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, taking top honors at this year"s Championship as they did in 2010 Land Rover USEA American Eventing Championships.
It was a fitting way to end Courageous Comet"s illustrious career as Holder confirmed this was his last upper-level competition. The crowd went wild as Holder and "Comet" crossed the finish line roulette winning the Championship and bringing a very special partnership to a close.
"He (Comet) deserves this. I believe now and have believed for a long time he is the best in his sport," Holder said. "I appreciate the grooms, vets, trainers, selectors, USEF High Performance Committee, and everyone who has been part of shaping his career. Thanks to all the fans and to those at the Kentucky Horse Park, many of our most memorable moments were on that course and in that stadium."
Finishing in second place were Laine Ashker (Richmond, Va.) and Anthony Patch, her 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. The pair was able to finish on their dressage score of 32.4, the only pair to do so in the division, after having one of the few double clear stadium rounds of the day.
Hannah Sue Burnett (The Plains, Va.) rode her 2011 Pan American Games mount Harbour Pilot to a third place finish. She had a great weekend with Jacqueline Mars" nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding moving up from seventh after cross country with a double clear stadium round to take third place honors with their final score of 38.8.
View the results here.