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WELLINGTON, FL - March 13, 2004 – Brianne Goutal, 15, of New York, NY, won the Winter Equestrian Festival Equitation Championship for the R.W. ‘Ronnie’ Mutch Trophy today at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, FL. Goutal topped a class of 23 junior riders, aged 18 and under, who qualified to compete. “It’s a prestigious class,” said Goutal. “He was a really talented rider. He was an amazing person all around and it’s a really great feeling to win this.”
The annual class is open to the winners of any U.S. Equestrian Federation Medal, ASPCA Maclay, BET/USET Talent Search or WIHS Overall, Hunter Phase and Jumper Phase equitation class from the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival (with the exception of Week 2). Riders competed in three rounds today and Goutal led all the way. Charlie Jayne, 18, of Elgin, IL, was the Reserve.
Officiating were hunter judges Linda Andrisani and Steve Weiss, and jumper judges Scott Williamson and Bill Cooney. Judge Jeff Cook presided over the schooling area, where riders could earn an additional point for performance. Mark Leone designed the courses.
Riders were responsible for the management and schooling of their own horse. Trainers were not allowed to enter the designated schooling, rider seating or holding areas during the competition and riders were not allowed to leave those areas. The course walk and schooling were the sole responsibilities of the rider.
Goutal trains with Frank and Stacia Madden at Beacon Hill in Colts Neck, New Jersey, and called on her schooling sessions with them to help her in the warm-up. “I thought about everything I do with Frank or Stacia or Max Amaya. I tried to think about everything I knew about my horse and what we do with my horse.” Goutal also noted that she gleaned some pointers by watching the other riders go. “Seeing the strong points, the weak points the difficulties, the simple things. I mapped my schooling around how the course was riding. In the first round the first line was really, really long. Then the vertical-oxer was a really difficult line – it’s short two (strides), really long one, and then really short three again. That’s a really good line. That’s tough.” She prepared by jumping verticals with no ground lines and a rampy oxer. “Whatever it took to make him stiff so that when I went to do it in the ring he was easier to ride,” she explained.
Round 1 was judged using an open numerical system. Goutal riding Logan owned by her family’s Cloverleaf Farm earned 88.50, the high score of the round.
The top 10 riders were asked to return for Round II. They rode a course of nine fences that required a simple change of lead and one flying change of lead between fences 4 and 5. Goutal admitted that she was slightly apprehensive going in on top. “When you’re on top there’s only one place to go and that’s down!” she said with a laugh. “So I was a little nervous. But my horse, he’s so nice – I trusted that if I trusted him it would work. It did.” Goutal has been partnered with Logan for three years.
Goutal earned 87.50 for Round II, which gave her a total of 176.00 and again put her at the top of the class. “My first round I was really happy with. My second round I thought I could have done a little better job with my simple change. He’s hard because he’s a little stiff so when you go to correct him he overacts or he’ll run through the bridle,” said Goutal, but added, “Logan is amazing. He’s so fun.”
The judges called for a Round III test in which the top six riders were asked back and switched horses. Goutal switched with Josephine Nash of New York, NY, who was in second place with Oakwood; Tania Hack of Riverdale, NY, was in third aboard Otter, and switched with Kristen Terebesi of Glenmoore, PA, who was in fourth place with Pilot; Charlie Jayne of Elgin, IL, was in fifth place with Manhattan, and switched with Blythe Marano of Denville, NJ, who was in sixth place with Moon Dance.
“I was a little nervous going into the test,” admitted Goutal about switching to Nash’s horse, Oakwood. “I got on the horse and he was so big. He was huge. I thought my horse was big until I got on.” Goutal said Oakwood felt a little stiff in the mouth, though very obedient. “He’s really nice to ride. His jump is so lofty. She has really nice horses. She’s also a really good rider so you never know. He was great horse to test with. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Goutal held onto her top-ranked status and won the Championship with 88.500. Jayne moved up to the Reserve spot with a final score of 87.00. Marano moved up to third with 86. Nash dropped to fourth with 85.50. Hack dropped to fifth with 82.00. Terebesi dropped to sixth, with a final tally of 68.50.
Oakwood owned by Jennifer Nash earned the Best Equitation Award. Chameur owned by Daisey Johnson earned the Best Turned Out Horse Award and groom Alfredo Ferraro took the Groom’s Award.
Goutal, who until recently trained with Peter Lutz in Bedford, NY, is participating in her first season in Florida with the Maddens. “I love riding with Frank. It’s very fun, a lot of laughing,” she said. Indeed, when Goutal picked up her cooler and ribbons in the awards ceremony, a section of the bleachers called out, “”Brianne, you’re my hero!” The Beacon Hill ‘fan club’ has developed into something of a tradition for Brianne and her friends at the barn. “It all started with the hunter night class (World Champion Hunter Rider Spectacular). I was fourth. They yelled ‘You’re my hero’ when they were clapping. Then we’ve done it for Lee Healy who won the (Solaray) Gambler’s Choice, we did it for Beezie (Madden) when she won the Equus Medal, and when she was good in the Nations’ Cup at the end.”
It’s been quite a good week for the troupe from Beacon Hill, and Goutal summed it up, “Amazing.”