Sarah Milliren Wins 2011 USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Cup

August 3, 2011

In her first USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Cup appearance, 16 year-old Sarah Milliren of Sapulpa, Okla., bested 51 of the nation’s top junior equitation riders to claim the victory. Her first reaction: "I was surprised!"

Now in its sixth year, the USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Cup is a unique equitation event that encompasses both the meticulousness of equitation and the handy skills of the hunters. Held at the East Coast Junior Hunter Finals, the event is open to active USHJA junior members who have won a USEF Medal, ASPCA Maclay, USEF Show Jumping Talent Search or WIHS Classic during the qualifying period. The competition consists of three rounds over fences: the hunter phase, the handy ride, and the work-off round, in which returning riders change horses and repeat all or part of previous courses. Designer Jerry Dougherty of
Bokeelia, Fl., had the task of creating distinctive 3’6" layouts that tested the competitor’s horsemanship skills. By the end of the second round, judges Russell Frey and Hap Hansen had chosen six riders for the work-off round: Sarah Milliren, Samantha Schaefer, Lillie Keenan, Victoria Colvin, Meg O’Mara and Allison Toffolon.

Coming into the work-off round, Sarah had been nipping at the heels of class leader Schaefer, of Westminster, Md., who held a 180 score over Sarah’s
combined total of 175. "It was really fun. I’ve never done anything like that before, and I got paired with a really awesome horse," Sarah commented. She partnered with VIP Z, the mount of Victoria, while her own horse, War Eagle, owned by trainer Donald Stewart, was paired with Victoria.

Sarah's show schedule has been mainly in her home area until a connection was made at this Spring’s Devon event, where she met trainer Donald Stewart of Ocala, Fl. After Pennsylvania Sarah never looked back and has spent the summer competing with Don Stewart Stables throughout the eastern US. “Joey [Brumbaugh - Sarah's trainer in Okla.] sent her with us for the summer to come back East and ride some of these Equitation horses. Sarah's quite a talent and easy to work with and has a wonderful attitude.” Stewart said. His high praise of the young rider was rewarded with a nearly flawless Work Off ride, earning a score of 89 and an overall total of 264 to secure the win.

Title sponsor, Essex Classics, provided each of the 51 exhibitors with a gift certificate for a custom riding shirt of their choice. Awards sponsor Grand Prix presented the top two finishers with hunt coats. Sarah won a bevy of goodies including a pair of Pikeur riding breeches, embroidered saddle pad, custom cooler, the Grand Champion ribbon and special embossed Medal. Sarah's name will also be added to the USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Class perpetual trophy, and a special keeper trophy was presented to her as well. While she isn’t eligible to compete again, Sarah is invited to return in 2012 to present awards to the new winner. “I’ve never won anything like this before, so this is awesome!” Sarah concluded.

Official Top Ten Results for the 2011 USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Cup:

Champion - Sarah Milliren -Trainer Donald Stewart with overall score of 264

Reserve Champion - Lillie Keenan - Trainer Andre Dignelli with overall score of 261

3rd – Victoria Colvin - Trainer Scott Stewart with overall score of 260.500

4th – Meg O’Mara - Trainer Donald Stewart with overall score of 258

5th -Allison Toffolon - Trainer Andre Dignelli with overall score of 255

6th - Samantha Schaefer - Trainer Andre Dignelli with overall score of 254

7th – Schaefer Raposa - Trainer Andre Dignelli with overall score of 168

8th - Emma Kennedy - Trainers Donald Stewart and Bibby Hill with overall score of 165

9th – Brittany Hurst - Trainer Emil Spadone with overall score of 162.250

10th – Julia Fowler - Trainer Andre Dignelli with overall score of 156

For additional information on the USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Cup Finals please visit the USHJA website.

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