TABITHA OKITSU AND SPOOT DE LA JOURLAIS SWEEP THREE ROUNDS TO EARN INDIVIDUAL 2017 U.S. NATIONAL PONY JUMPER CHAMPIONSHIP
Tabitha Okitsu and Spoot De La Jourlais completed four perfect rounds to win the 2017 USEF National Pony Jumper Championship on Saturday. The championship, part of the USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, saw 12 combinations advance to the final round.
Zone 10’s Okitsu (South Pasadena, Calif.) and her own 11-year-old Connemara/Arabian mare entered the Alltech Arena on Saturday as the only combination with zero faults. Four combinations brought a four-fault total making for an exciting final round. Zone 10’s Avery Kim (South Pasadena, Calif.) and Joel, her own 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding, applied pressure on Okitsu, going clear through 10 combinations and ending on four faults. Zone 4’s Isabella Durnell (Suwanee, Ga.) and Carlton Diva, Durnell’s 13-year-old Connemara mare, followed and incurred one rail to end on eight faults. As the last combination to go, Okitsu and Spoot De La Jourlais impressed the crowd with their clear round to earn the title.
“I feel shocked,” said Okitsu on her win. “It felt so good [in the ring]. It was like we were flying. The course was pretty hard. We hit a lot of tough spots, but she just carried me through.”
Kim earned the silver medal while a jump-off between the United States Pony Club’s Genevieve Munson (Rogers, Ark.) and Bluebelle, Munson’s 17-year-old pony mare, and Durnell and Carlton Diva, who were tied on eight faults, decided the bronze medal. Durnell completed a perfect round at 44.335 seconds to round out the podium finishes.
Earlier in the day, three combinations went clear to win the Farewell class. They were Zone 2’s Devon Owen (Franklin Lakes, N.J,) and EZ To Spot, Ponies Unlimited, LLC’s 16-year-old Pony of the Americas gelding; Zone 5’s Natalie Hinz (Crystal Lake, Ill.) and her own Rumor Has It, an 11-year-old Quarter Horse mare; and Zone 2’s Alice Nolen-Walston (Landenberg, Pa.) and Wishlea Star Dasher, Bridgid McMurtrie’s 12-year-old Welsh Pony gelding.
The US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm will conclude Sunday with the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals. USEF Network will live stream the division to US Equestrian members only beginning at 7:00 am EST.
Find out more information about the USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm at www.ponyfinals.org.
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Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography