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USET Champions Crowned at Bayer/USET Festival of Champions Presented by State Line Tack

Gladstone, NJ—June 25, 2003— The United States Equestrian Team (USET) hosted the 13th annual Bayer/USET Festival of Champions, Presented by State Line Tack, June 19-22 at the USET Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, NJ. The weekend featured top-level equestrian competition in four disciplines – dressage, show jumping, reining, and endurance, as well as exhibitions in vaulting.


Kristina Harrison-Naness of Burbank, CA, aboard Kantor, posted an overall score of 69.843% to win the highlighted event of the weekend, the USET Intermediaire I Championship which served as the Cosequin USET Selection Trials for the 2003 Pan American Games, which will be held this summer in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic The pair earned a 68.950% to top a field of thirteen horse-and-rider combinations. Along with Championship honors, Harrison-Naness received the Maria Caleel Memorial Scholarship. The Maria Caleel Memorial fund was established by the family of Maria Caleel and is awarded annually to the winner of the USET Intermediaire Championship to help pay for training expenses.

Other top finishers in the Cosequin Selection Trials who qualified for the Pan Am squad along with Harrison-Naness were Reserve Champion Carol Lavell of Loxahatchee, FL, and Much Ado; Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, CA, with two horses, Feleciano and Liberte; and Pierre St. Jacques of Boscawen, NH and Lucky Tiger. Susan Dutta of Wellington, FL with West Side Lady DC was named as alternate.

Leslie Morse of Beverly Hills, CA, aboard her stallion, Kingston, topped a field of twelve horse-and-rider combinations to win the USET Grand Prix Championship. Earning the blue ribbon in the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle and taking second place honors in the Grand Prix Special, Morse finished the weekend with an overall score of 68.711%. “He’s going really well. I’m really excited. It’s only his fourth year in dressage,” she said of her stallion.

Finishing behind Morse and earning Reserve Champion honors was Jan Brons, aboard Fernando. Brons and Fernando finished the weekend with an overall score of 66.472%. Susan Dutta of Wellington, FL, earned third place honors aboard Gumshoes DC.

The dressage ring also hosted the National Disability Sports Alliance (NDSA) Championship for Riders with a Disability, which served as the Selection Trials for the team to represent the United States at the 2003 World Dressage Championships for Riders with a Disability in Belgium in September. In his first trip to the Festival, 20-year-old Keith Newerla swept the Championship by winning all three blue ribbons. “It’s my first year here. I’m the rookie,” said Newerla who is by-passing the Championships as he will be in college in September. “Somehow I ended up doing well. I guess it’s beginners luck.”

While Newerla will not be traveling to Belgium to compete, the following riders were named to the squad: Lynn Seidemann of Coppell, TX, Barbara Grassmyer of Placerville, NC, Rebecca Hart of Erie, PA, Robin Brueckmann of Summerfield, NC, Cynthia Ruiz of Houston, TX, and Kathryn Groves of Winter Garden, FL.

Mary Haskins Gray aboard Fregat took top honors in the highlighted event for Young Riders in the dressage ring by winning three blue ribbons throughout the weekend to take Championship honors in the Young Rider division.


Mark Leone of Franklin Lakes, NJ, and Pinkata de Longpre won the highlighted event of the weekend in the show jumping ring, the $50,000 Rolex USET Show Jumping Championship. Leone was one of only two riders to complete the first round fault-free. Jimmy Torano of Fort Lauderdale, FL, aboard Aguila was the other rider to jump clear in the first round to qualify for the jump-off. In the end, it was Leone who prevailed as the only rider able to turn in two clear rounds.

Evan Coluccio of Middleburg, VA, aboard Rio won the featured event for junior and amateur-owner riders, the USET Talent Derby Presented by BET On Jazz, part of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series. Stella Manship aboard Elan Coriana finished in second place behind Coluccio. Both riders turned in clear rounds in the jump-off, but Coluccio stopped the timers at 42.58 seconds, while Manship toured the course in 45.5 seconds to put her into second place.


By just a fraction of a point, Tom McCutcheon of Pilot Point, TX, aboard Smartest Chic Olena, captured the win in the featured event in the reining ring, the $75,000 USET Reining Championship, Presented by Bayer. McCutcheon finished the weekend with a combined score of 442.5. Finishing in second place with an overall score of 442.0 to take second place was Dell Hendricks of Scottsdale, AZ, aboard Starlights Wrangler.

Mandy McCutcheon, also of Pilot Point, TX, piloted Arc Sparkle Surprise to victory in the $25,000 USET Futures Reining Championship Presented by Bayer with a score of 434 points. Sally Broten of River Falls, WI, aboard Rio Dun Good earned second place with a score of 433 points.

Sarah Johnson of Gainesville, TX, aboard Chic Tommy won the USET Young Rider Reining Medal Finals with a composite score of 427.5 points. Finishing in second place with 422.5 points was Matthew Palmer of Elverson, PA, aboard Malbrook Kid Jesse.


Also part of the weekend was the 75-Mile USET Endurance Championship Ride; however, because of arduous weather conditions, the ride was shortened to a 65-Mile ride. Christina Rieksen of Holland aboard Samblet topped the field of fifteen to cross through the timers in a time of 9:38:13. Rieksen initially came to the United States to visit top endurance rider, Valerie Kanavy, but ended up staying longer than expected and crewed for Kanavy and cared for her horse.

Finishing in second place behind Rieksen and winning the USET Championship as the top U.S. finisher was Pamela Weidel aboard Mount Adams. This pair crossed through the timers in 9:40:31.


Along with recognized competition in four disciplines, the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions, Presented by State Line Tack, also featured vaulting exhibitions by the Sunshine Vaulting Team. Vaulting has been recognized by the USET since 2001.

Spectators also enjoyed days of family fun and entertainment in Gladstone. A wide range of gourmet dining options as well as a country fair featuring the New Jersey Equine Expo hosted by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture complemented the equestrian activities taking place in three rings. The fair featured equine demonstrations, falconry and blacksmith demonstrations, the Jersey Fresh Horse Expo, as well as vendors offering top-quality jewelry, souvenirs, and products for the home as well as the stable.

During the Festival, the USET hosted a successful fundraising gala. The event was held on the grounds of the USET and was attended by Honorary Chairman Ann Romney, who was escorted to the event by her husband, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Full results of the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions Presented by State Line Tack are available on the USET website at

The United States Equestrian Team is a non-profit organization that selects, trains, equips and finances equestrians of the highest possible standard to represent our country in major international competition, including the Olympic Games and the World Championships. To accomplish this, the USET seeks out and nurtures the development of talented athletes - riders, drivers and horses - and provides the support and guidance they need to help them attain their fullest potential. For more information on the USET, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at


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