Rucci and I Spy A Rainbow flawless at NAL Pony Jumper Championships
By: Betsy Batish
Friday, October 18th – A high school freshman, Emilie Rucci showed the composure and discipline of a seasoned equestrian as she handily piloted her 9-year old pony, I Spy A Rainbow, to the only double clear round of the night to bring home the prestigious 2013 NAL Pony Jumper Championship at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg.
[dropcap2]D[/dropcap2]espite the intense environment with twelve of the nation’s top pony jumper riders facing off inside the famed Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center arena, Rucci and her Holsteiner-Welsh pony cross demonstrated their signature quiet style with easy speed and near perfect distances, which earned them the Pony Jumper Championship as well as the Style Award at Dover earlier in the season. Jumping second to last in the first round, Rucci was flawless with a time of 69.431, to earn a prized spot in the evening’s jump off.
Rucci’s round was followed by another clear run by season points leader Elizabeth Monaco on her playful Appaloosa pony EZ To Spot. Despite a few kick outs after the more aggressive fences, Monaco used a great deal of vocal coaching to push EZ to Spot on for the final clear run of the first round with a time of 60.10
Despite some hard rubs on the Johnson Horse Transport combination, as well as the second to the last fence, luck was on the side of Emma Ellis who came up with the first clear round of the evening on board Tangled Up In Blue, with a time of 62.377.
Ellis’ first clear round was followed quickly by another with Merrill Harvey racing to the fastest time of the evening, 57.19, aboard her black-and-white Thoroughbred Paint pony, Pandamonium. Harvey demonstrated great prowess in not only navigating through the 6a and b combo to the right of center, setting up perfectly for the turn into 7, but in handling her horse’s exuberance, which culminated in a gleeful bucking spree after the clear round was turned in.
17-year old Julia Davis and her self-trained 7-year old Quarter Horse/Arabian cross mare, Fly Me to the Moon, were on track for a flawless performance until an unfortunate rail on the last fence of the course, a monster red oxer. The crowd gasped as Davis looked back to watch the rail fall in heartbreak as she crossed the finish line. The 4-fault round with a time of 66.421 earned Davis 7th place overall on the night.
At the tender age of 13, Grace Allen demonstrated enough talent over the course of the season to earn not just one, but two spots in the NAL Pony Jumper Finals. First in the ring with Little Town Flirt, and despite an impressive effort over the in-and-out combination in the middle of the ring, the duo took two rails for eight faults and a time of 65.547, finishing 8th. Returning later in the round on her second mount, the aptly named Hershey Kiss, Allen set a fast pace over the first two fences before taking a hard refusal at fence three, an oxer set on a bending line. Circling back, Allen rode aggressively to the fence for a second time, only to take a fall as her mount stopped hard, dumping the rider into the panels. Allen gingerly limped out of the arena, her pony in tow by the ring steward.
Another disappointment for the evening was a late scratch by Taylor Cox, whose mount Midnight Heart appeared to refuse to enter the arena.
The jump off featured the top four riders with clean rounds riding over a shortened course of fences 1-2-11-4-5-6a-6b-7.
Ellis and Tangled Up In Blue rode first showcasing early speed and handling the first four fences easily. Fence 5 proved a bit tricky as Blue brought down a rail, followed by hard rubs at 6a and b. Blue didn’t have enough left in the tank to finish, with yet another rail down at 7, starting the round off with 8 faults and a time of 36.451.
Fences 5 and 7 continued to prove tricky for Harvey and Pandamonium, but their signature speed and a tight rollback to fence 2 earned them the fastest time of the evening at 29.522. Unfortunately, the rails at 5 and 7 cost Harvey and Pandamonium 8 faults.
Rucci and I Spy A Rainbow rode third in the jump off, taking a slower pace than the first two riders, but riding aggressive lines to fences 2 and 4 and making a smart move with a tight rollback after the big red oxer, saving precious seconds. I Spy A Rainbow held up his end of the bargain, turning in a faultless round and a time of 34.107.
Rucci waited anxiously to see if her lead would hold as Monaco and EZ To Spot charged into the arena for the final ride of the jump off. Monaco picked the same tight striding to fence 2, but the round soon fell apart and despite her enthusiastic vocal encouragement, EZ To Spot brought down three rails for a total of 12 faults with a time of 35.714, earning 4th place in the finals.
Emilie and Rainbow’s first round:
Jump-off winning round:
Final results for the 2013 NAL Pony Jumper Finals were as follows:
|1||945||Emilie RucciI SPY A RAINBOW||0.00||69.431||0.00||34.107|
|2||1037||Merrill Harvey PANDAMONIUM||0.00||57.192||8.00||29.522|
|3||996||Emma Ellis TANGLED UP IN BLUE||0.00||62.377||8.00||36.451|
|4||1016||Elizabeth Monaco EZ TO SPOT||0.00||60.010||12.00||35.714|
|5||955||Micaela Smith BLUE ME AWAY||4.00||62.187|
|7||1045||Julia Davis FLY ME TO THE MOON||4.00||66.421|
|8||825||Grace Allen LITTLE TOWN FLIRT||8.00||65.547|
|9||1128||Cassandra VolikasBROADWAY’S PUZZLE PIECE||12.00||61.106|
|T10||1015||Marisa FerranteSKYS THE LIMIT||ELIM.|
|T10||826||Grace Allen HERSHEY KISS||ELIM.|
Photo of Emilie Rucci aboard I Spy A Rainbow at the Devon Horse Show, by The Book LLC.
Videos courtesy of USEF Network.
For more footage of the Pennsylvania National and other equestrian events visit www.usefnetwork.com