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Augusta Iwasaki Claims Second Annual USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic - West

Del Mar, Calif. - Topping a field of 40 entries, 13-year-old Augusta Iwasaki and Ashland Farms' Vanderpump led the victory gallop in the second annual USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic - West, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, which was held on July 24 at Del Mar Horse Park.

With a total of 258.5 points (an average of 86.1), the young talent from Calabasas, California, and trained by John French, Keri Kampsen, Tasha Visocay and Makoto Farms, sat fifth after the first round but earned the highest score in both the second and third rounds to secure the title. Vanderpump was also deemed the Best Equitation Horse by the judges upon the conclusion of the class.

Augusta Iwasaki was awarded the Hunterdon Cup Championship title riding Ashland Farms' Vanderpump. Photo credit: Captured Moment Photography

Not flustered by the pressure of a prestigious competition, Iwasaki enjoyed the ride. "I really liked the courses because I like to gallop and just flow around the ring."

The USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic has been a staple on the East Coast since 2005, but this year marked its second time on the West Coast. Developed as a unique class that combines the precision of equitation and the handiness of hunters, it was appropriately named after George Morris's farm, Hunterdon. The class entails a classic style hunter course as round one, a handy hunter style track in round two for the top 20 scorers, and a work-off designed by the judges for the top four to 10 riders, who switch horses to complete the final tests.

The 2017 judges for the West Coast class were Chance Arakelian of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Kim Dorfman of Aiken, South Carolina. They liked the fluidity of the first round course, which was designed by Scott Starnes of Bend, Oregon, describing how it enabled them to learn more about each rider.

"It really let everybody gallop a lot. There weren't a lot of numbers so it really, to me, tested the kids more on their eye and their natural feel rather than just working off numbers," Arakelian said.

The judges brought back six riders to swap horses and determined who would top the leader board based on each one's performance. The work-off course included cantering a solid wall of hay bales directly from the lineup, an inside turn to an oxer followed by a rollback to a trot fence, and a final oxer that landed riders heading directly back into the lineup.

"The work-off showed us who could be the most efficient, relate the jumps, and be handy," Arakelian explained. "The inside turns came into play; we wanted to see them land the lead and stay inside after the trot fence. A lot of bonus points were put on that."

Augusta Iwasaki rode Brooke Morin's Boss to the win in the work-off.
Photo credit: Captured Moment Photography

Iwasaki rode second place finisher Brooke Morin's mount Boss in the work-off. She described watching Morin show Boss in the equitation and attempting to mimic their successful ways while still defining her own approach.

"I ride a bunch of ponies for other people, so I just tried to put that experience into my work off," Iwasaki said. "Brooke's horse is so much fun to ride."

Fourteen-year-old Morin of Laguna Beach, Calif., and trained by John Bragg of Bridgeport Farms, earned the second highest work-off score; her 85 aboard Vanderpump was well-deserved, despite some initial nerves.

"When I first get on new horses I'm usually a bit nervous because I don't want to mess up, but I used the warm-up jumps to get to know him," she explained.

Third and fourth place finishers, 16-year-old Abigail Grace Kelley of Denver, Colorado, trained by Cindy Cruciotti of Serentiy Farm, and 17-year-old Katherine Dash of Seattle, Washington, trained by Archie Cox of Brookway Stables, entered the work-off sitting fifth and fourth, respectively. Kelley described "going back to the basics" so familiarizing herself with her new mount would remain as simple as possible. She rode Kate Abajian's Lambada, and her loyalty to fundamentals resulted in a solid work-off score of 83.

Similarly focusing on basics, Dash's approach to new horses is about the essentials.

"I test their adjustability ----- I send them forward and move them back to see how easily they can do that," she said. With a rail coming down, she earned a 72 in the work-off aboard Emma Crosbie's entry Quadro d'Ag, but she finished fourth overall with a 240 point three-round total (an average of 80).

With the top 10 finishers awarded their ribbons in reverse order, the anticipation built as the work-off riders' positions were revealed. Iwasaki's barn mates and friends created an energetic atmosphere complete with rowdy cheering and heartfelt hugs.

Multiple top finishers were recognized with prizes from the class's extraordinary sponsors. As the champion, Iwasaki walked away with an Essex Classics riding shirt, a Charles Owen helmet, sets of Professional's Choice VenTECH Leather Open Front Jumping Boots and VenTECH Leather Ankle Boots, a CWD leather halter, a cooler, and a keeper trophy donated by Diane Carney and Lynn Jayne.

As reserve champion, Morin earned an Essex Classics riding shirt, a Charles Owen helmet, and a set of Professional's Choice VenTECH Leather Open Front Jumping Boots. The third through fifth place finishers also receive Essex Classics riding shirts. All top ten riders sported colorful sashes.

USHJA congratulates all the competitors on a safe and successful event. Special thanks to Stephanie Wheeler, Melissa Brandes, Alexandra Reinheimer, and the entire Blenheim EquiSports team.

Thank you to all our sponsors: Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, Essex Classics, Charles Owen, Inc., CWD, Standlee Hay Company, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and Pharmacy, and Professional's Choice.

Media Contact:
Megan Lacy
(859) 225-6723



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