Articles: Press Release
2006 North American League Finals Cap an Exciting Year
Lisa Patterson (508) 698-6810,
Annville, PA-November 28, 2006-Equestrian sport's best hunters and jumpers
converged at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, to
compete for top honors in the 2006 North American League (NAL) Finals,
October 12-21. The finalists qualified based on performances over the
previous 12 months in NAL classes.
The NAL runs season-long series in six hunter-jumper divisions - Adult
Hunter, presented by Practical Horseman, Children's Hunter, Open Jumper
Speed, Adult Jumper, Children's Jumper and Pony Jumper. Each division's
series culminates with a championship final in Harrisburg in October. All
horses competing in the NAL Finals earn U.S. Equestrian Federation
NAL Adult Hunter Final, presented by Practical Horseman
Lara McPherson of McLean, VA, and Tenerife capped off a dream year to win
the $10,000 NAL Adult Hunter Final, presented by Practical Horseman.
McPherson and "Henry," as he is called around the barn, arrived in
Harrisburg as the top qualifiers in the Adult Hunter division. They
continued their winning ways in the first round, receiving the highest score
out of 31 competitors.
"It was a relief," said McPherson, who scored 87 points in the first round.
"It's always nice to have a good first round. I knew after the first jump
that we were going to have a good day."
The pair scored an 83 in the second round, bringing their combined tally to
170 points and keeping McPherson and Tenerife at the top of the leader
"He was perfect," said McPherson of her seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood. "He
couldn't have done anything more."
This was the fourth appearance in the NAL Finals for McPherson. Her
previous record included two seventh place finishes and a fifth in last
"The NAL is great," said McPherson. "Harrisburg is one of my favorite horse
shows and the NAL program gives us a chance to get there."
Lissa Bachner of Baltimore, MD, came close to unseating the champions.
Bachner and her mount, Maddox, were the judge's favorite in the second
round, and they received 84 points, but their first round score of 83 left
the pair with a combined score of 167 points and second place.
NAL Children's Hunter Final
Catherine Tyree rode Peppercorn to the win in the $10,000 NAL Children's
Hunter Final. The 12-year-old resident of Chicago, IL, was ranked third
following the first round with a score of 85 points, but she managed to snag
the top score of 87 in the second round to finish with a combined score of
"He came back a little more relaxed in the second round," said Tyree of her
eight-year-old Warmblood. "I was a little worried at first because he was
still a little spooky, but once I took the first fence I knew it was okay.
I'm so happy!"
Tyree may have been happy with her win in her first year competing in the
NAL series, but her mother was ecstatic. "I am so proud of her," said Mary
Tyree. "The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is such a special show, and the
NAL is such a great program."
NAL Children's Jumper Final
Nicole Bellissimo, 12, of Wellington, FL, was "bellissima" aboard Coach to
win the $10,000 NAL Children's Jumper Final. Bellissimo had one of four
clean rounds in the jump-off, and her time of 32.885 seconds was the fastest
of the four. She gives all the credit to her nine-year-old Warmblood
"He's really good," said Bellissimo. "He is a very careful horse. I just
had to make sure I gave him leg. In the first round, there were no tight
turns and you could really take your time, but in the jump-off, you had to
really keep your leg on him for all of the really tight turns."
The Conrad Homfeld-designed course was somewhat friendly in the first round,
yielding 14 clean trips for the jump-off. Bellissimo made the cut with two
of her three mounts, going first in the jump-off with Curastella and having
a rail down. She hopped right on Coach to come back fifth in the line up,
going clean and fast, forcing the rest to catch her.
"There were a lot of good riders in the class," she said. "I was hoping I
could win, but I didn't know if I could. It was fun."
NAL Pony Jumper Final
Wilhelmina Horzepa of Englishtown, NJ, took top honors in the $5,000 NAL
Pony Jumper Final riding Exhilaration. Out of the four horse-and-rider
combinations that made it to the jump-off, only Horzepa and Exhilaration
were double clear. Their time of 33.963 seconds edged Kasey Cannon of North
Wales, PA, and Cute As A Button, who were second with four faults in a time
of 38.012 seconds. Third went to Meg O'Mara of Rumson, NJ, on Wild Wild
West with four faults in a slower time of 44.432 seconds.
NAL Adult Jumper Final
Sandra Willekes of Sparta, NJ, riding Juvenafee, won the $10,000 NAL Adult
Jumper Final by less than three tenths of a second in a heart-stopping
Willekes was one of only six out of a starting field of 31 who turned in a
clear round over the 12-obstacle first-round course. First to go in the
jump-off was Stephanie Dixon of New Egypt, NJ, with Santa's Rocket. The
pair turned in a clean round over the shortened, six-obstacle course with a
time of 31.340 seconds. Raymond Coutley was up next aboard Ferns Ruby.
Coutley, of Lexington Park, MD, also had a fault-free ride, but his time of
32.130 seconds left him in second place with four more horse-and-rider
combinations to go in the jump-off.
Willekes and Juvenafee flew through the course, keeping all the rails in the
cups. Their time of 30.270 seconds put them in first place and added to the
pressure on the remaining three entries to run fast and clean. Hayley
Carlson of Northport, NY, was next to go. Carlson also went clear, but her
time of 30.551 seconds aboard Gracia left her just behind Willekes in second
Kali Jerman of Wintersville, PA, and Canon had a lightning-fast round,
finishing in 29.101 seconds, but a rail down at the fifth fence spoiled
their chance at top honors. Emily Straw-Colella of Mequon, WI, was last to
go in the jump-off. She piloted Filibuster to a clean round in 31.622
seconds, putting her in fourth place.
NAL Open Jumper Speed Final
Brianne Goutal, 18, of New York, NY, won the $25,000 NAL Open Jumper Speed
Final by two tenths of a second, riding Onira. The result surprised
everyone, including Goutal.
"I really thought McLain (Ward) was going to beat me," said Goutal. He's so
fast, and he rides so well. Then I thought Laura (Chapot) was going to win.
I got a little bit lucky."
Indeed. Goutal went 19th in the line-up and by that time there were already
five clear rounds. Molly Ashe of Wellington, FL, was the fastest of the
five finishing in a time of 57.674 seconds on Lutopia. Ashe had already
shown her penchant for speed earlier in the week winning the Keystone Speed
Challenge. It looked like Goutal was easily going to beat Ashe until the
last fence when she held Onira back, costing her precious time.
"I saw a long spot and a short one," said Goutal. "Earlier I saw someone go
for it and knock it down, so I just pulled. The last fence was the biggest
on the course and it looked a little tricky."
Goutal stopped the clock clean in a time of 57.075 seconds, but yet to go
was Athens Olympic Team Gold Medalist and two-time winner of the NAL Open
Jumper Speed Final, McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, on Goldika 559. Ward and
Goldika had just won the Pennsylvania Big Jump the night before, and it
looked like they were on their way to a second victory until they crossed
the wire in a time of 57.096 seconds.
Still one remained to go, the Series' top qualifier, Laura Chapot of
Neshanic Station, NJ, riding Sprite. Unfortunately, Chapot had some bad
luck early, knocking a rail down on the third fence and giving Goutal a win
in one of her favorite events.
"I love this class," said Goutal. "The NAL gives you a really good chance
to learn to trust your stride and scope. You are challenged, but not
Results from the 2006 North American League Finals appear below:
NAL ADULT HUNTER FINAL
Presented by Practical Horseman
Plc HORSE; Rider
1 TENERIFE; Lara McPherson
2 MADDOX; Lissa Bachner
3 EYE REMEMBER RIO; Victoria Watters Leblond
4 EBONY; Lissa Bachner
5 LORDANTE; Dee McDuffee
6 DUBYA; Elizabeth Sponseller
7 TAPESTRY; Donna Struve
8 RIESLING; Cheryl Rubenstein
9 WALKABOUT; Rosalie Morton
10 MOONSHINE; Cara Walinsky
11 OVERSEAS; Mindy Wurzburg
12 TALISKER; Jessica Ianello
NAL CHILDREN'S HUNTER FINAL
Plc HORSE; Rider
1 PEPPERCORN; Catherine Tyree
2 ALL IN; Allan Palmer
3 BLING BLING; Sarah Ward
4 JUST ONE LOOK; Adele Norton
5 ULTRA GLIDE; Danielle Menker
6 STRA SONG; Ragen McGowen
7 MCIVER; Angel Stein
8 MELANDA; Salli Slack
9 GIZMO; Hannah Gorman
10 BERT; Abigail McArdle
11 DONNERKIND; Ryan Umberger
12 HENNESSEY; Bristol Markward
NAL CHILDREN'S JUMPER FINAL
Plc HORSE; Rider
1 COACH; Nicole Bellissimo
2 MANUELA DEL JUNCAL; Heather Timm
3 KEEPEN POSTED; Mara Kranz
4 QUITO II; Anders Keitz
5 MARKIES; Paulena Johnson
6 IBIZA DE MALIE; Alise V. Oken
7 I LOVE LUCY; Michael Hughes
8 CURASTELLA; Nicole Bellissimo
9 KARONA; Kellie Grush
10 VOTE FOR PEDRO; Alexandra Sonnenberg
11 DOCTRO; Alexandra Weber
12 AK MICKEY; Mackenzie Keck
NAL PONY JUMPER FINAL
Plc HORSE; Rider
1 EXHILARATION; Wilhelmina Horzepa
2 CUTE AS A BUTTON; Kasey Cannon
3 WILD WILD WEST; Meg O'Mara
4 INDIGO; Paige Coles
5 THE WATERBOY; Amber Siegelman
6 GOLDBUG; Haley Binder
7 C'EST LA VIE; Kasey Cannon
8 AMBER; Mary Elizabeth Horzepa
9 MYSTIC RAINBOW; Samantha Schaefer
10 FRENCH MINT; Betsy Beasley
NAL ADULT JUMPER FINAL
Plc HORSE; Rider
1 JUVENTAFEE; Sandra Willekes
2 GRACIA; Hayley Carlson
3 SANTA'S ROCKET; Stephanie Dixon
4 FILIBUSTER; Emily Straw-Colella
5 FERNS RUBY; Raymond Coutley
6 CANON; Kali Jerman
7 IMA GOOD 1-2; Patty Van Housen
8 PRIMEUR; Kelly Adams
9 MAXIMUS; Hannah Stonefield
10 THE BIG EASY; Susan Visser
11 KICK THE CLOUDS; Rebecca Forbes
12 SHAKER; Visse Wedell
NAL OPEN JUMPER SPEED FINAL
Plc HORSE; Rider
1 ONIRA; Brianne Goutal
2 GOLDIKA 559; McLain Ward
3 LUTOPIA; Molly Ashe
4 INTEGRITY; Beezie Madden
5 MARENGO; Norman Dello Joio
6 HOUSTON; Caitlyn Shiels
7 QUIK; Todd Minikus
8 SPRITE; Laura Chapot
9 UP CHIQUI; Kent Farrington
10 HIDDEN CREEK'S CALIPPO 12; Margie Engle
11 MARLO; Jimmy Torano
12 VDL MASERATIE; Chris Kappler
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show has hosted the North American League
Finals since 1995. According to Lloyd Longenecker, Administrator of the NAL
series, the program is bigger and better than ever.
"Membership is up and entries are up," said Longenecker. "The series is
something we can do to give back to the horse community."
McLain Ward, who has won the NAL Open Jumper Speed Final twice, is a huge
fan of the NAL program. "The NAL series is fantastic," said Ward. "It's
been very, very good to me."
The NAL qualifying period runs from September 1 through August 31. Riders
need not be members of the NAL to compete in any qualifying classes, but
only current members earn points toward year-end finals.
For more information on the North American League and a list of qualifying
competitions for the 2006-2007 season, please visit the Ryegate Show
Services website at www.Ryegate.com.