September 22, 2014 -- After two days of tests, Sydney Hutchins found herself leading the victory gallop of the 2014 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals West at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Savannah Dukes finished in second, with Mitchell Endicott in third and Michael Williamson in fourth.
After a demanding Flat Phase where USEF Talent Search Final judges Ronnie Beard and DiAnn Langer worked the riders in groups, Ransome Rombauer and Alexis Graves' Lalonde took the lead with a strong score of 88. On her heels were Genevieve Meyer and Coral Reef Lord G with a score of 86, and Sarah Jane Haskins and Cincinetti in third with 85.
Saturday night the riders tackled the Gymnastics Phase, where their scores counted one-and-a-half toward their overall ranking and determine the order for the Jumping Phase in the Indoor Arena. Heading into Phase II, 29 competitors had their work cut out for them with a challenging course designed by the judges.
Hutchins and her own Sorcerer took first place after the second phase, earning 83 points for a total of 165. Meyer held on to second place with 78 points in Phase II and a total of 164 points. Savannah Dukes and Chincharro Z took over third place after earning 81 points in the second phase for a total of 162.5 points.
"Eleven riders came into the Gymnastics Phase with scores in the 80s," said judge Ronnie Beard. "The Gymnastics course was set to test a rider's ability to lengthen and shorten strides and to ride through tight turns. We rewarded riders who were able to execute the course effectively according to their horse ability. We are pleased with the turn out in California."
Competition concluded Sunday afternoon with Phases III and IV in the Grand Prix Field. The Show Jumping Phase counted for double the score, where the Gymnastics Phase counted 1.5 and the Flat Phase was a multiplier of one.
After Phase III, Hutchins maintained first place, earning 82 points for the test and a total of 319 points. Dukes jumped a spot to second place after spring 83 points in the jumping phase for a total of 328.5. Michael Williamson and his own Long Island Ice Tea garnered 81 points in the phase for a total of 323. Mitchel Endicott and Pegasus Show Stable Inc.'s Avion were in fourth with 79 points in Phase III and a total of 305, to earn the last spot in the jump-off.
In the final phase, Hutchins, Dukes, Williamson, and Endicott entered a ride-off, where the riders negotiated a shorter course on their own horse, and then again on each of the other top four horses. Hutchins won the jump-off with 307 points. Dukes finished in second with 305, Endicott earned 272 points for third place, and Williamson finished in fourth with 262 points.
For more about the 2014 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, visit: https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsdisciplines/discipline/alljumping/sjTalentSearch.aspx.