2012 USEF Equestrian of the Year Rich Fellers and Equestrian of Honor Jennifer Alfano
Also 2012 USEF Horses of the Year — Jersey Boy and Flexible
January 22, 2013
Lexington, KY - The USEF has concluded their Annual Meeting and from it the announcement of the 2012 USEF National and International Horses of the Year, plus the Equestrian of the Year awards. The Hunter Jumper community has much to celebrate. The three most coveted honors were bestowed on three of our own – Jersey Boy, Flexible, and Rich Fellers.
You don’t have to be a hunter competitor to know the name Jersey Boy. The 11 year-old Hanoverian superstar has conquered the biggest events in his discipline most of his career and enjoys one of the largest fan bases of any horse in the United States. So it came as no real surprise that the popular chestnut gelding owned by SBS Farms was named the 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year during the Friday evening awards presentations.
Jersey Boy has dominated the USHJA International Hunter Derby series since its inception four years ago. He is the leader on the International Hunter Derby lifetime earnings list with a total of $196,640, has won 20 Hunter Derby classes, and has three Derby series titles to his name. Jersey Boy’s competitors often refer to him as the embodiment of the perfect Hunter Derby horse, a compliment backed by their votes in choosing the chestnut gelding as USEF National Horse of the Year.
2012 was another year full of accolades and accomplishments, but there was the one event title that had eluded both Jersey and professional partner Jennifer Alfano- the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
The 2012 championship, set at the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, saw one of the largest and most talented rosters of competitors assembled. At the conclusion of the Classic Hunter round Jersey and Alfano found themselves in third place. Jersey Boy had to turn in a near flawless performance during the Handy Hunter round in order to stay on his quest for overall victory. He did not disappoint, it was the turning point which secured a 588.25 score and clinched the USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance victory. No doubt this win also aided in his bid for 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year honors.
Even after the Derby Championships Jersey Boy continued to garner more attention with major wins that included the $10,000 International Hunter Derby at the State College Classic, the $15,000 International Hunter Derby at Skidmore College Saratoga Classic, and the Chicago Hunter Derby.
“It’s really exciting!” partner Alfano began of Jersey’s big moment at the USEF Horse of the Year Awards, “He is very deserving of this honor and I couldn’t be happier or prouder to be a part of his success.” Alfano joked the only way the night could have been any better would have been if Jersey himself had trotted up to accept the award, “he would have so loved that!” Alfano herself had reason to celebrate; she received accolades the following evening at the Pegasus Awards dinner where she was honored with the 2012 Emerson Burr Trophy. She was among the six other Equestrians of Honor considered for the coveted Equestrian of the Year title.
Jersey Boy is packing up for a trip to the Jacksonville Winter Series in Green Cove Springs, FL and ready to kick off his 2013 season with another USHJA International Hunter Derby.
In the realm of US show jumping, one dynamic duo ruled the world in 2012. , Rich Fellers of Sherwood, OR paired with the diminutive but immensely talented Flexible, a 17 year-old Irish Sporthorse Stallion, took on and ultimately bested many of the biggest names in international show jumping as well as making history with the first American Rolex/FEI World Cup Finals victory in 25 years. From there the pair went on to land a coveted spot on the USA Olympic Show Jumping team.
When the nominations for the 2012 USEF International Horse of the Year and Equestrian of the Year opened Rich Fellers and Flexible were headliners on the list. Standing a mere 15.3 hands, Flexible may be considered short of stature when compared to the standard of horses competing in the upper echelons, but this handsome chestnut stud is accustomed to overcoming preconceived notions. Throughout his career he’s battled back from severe injuries and skeptical critics and has won the hearts of thousands of fans throughout the world along the way.
“I am so happy for Flexible and his owners, Harry and Mollie Chapman. What an amazing career, so far. I truly believe he has plenty more in him, even at 17 years old.” Fellers said.
Known for an unusual style of jumping, it took pairing with Fellers to show the world what “the little man” could do. Starting in s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands at the Rolex/FEI World Cup Finals, not only did the dyno duo bring glory back to the US as the first Americans in 25 years to win, but they bested eventual Olympic Gold medalists Steve Guerdat and Nino de Buissonnets by a heart-stopping 0.64 seconds difference in an unbelievable jump off.
Upon returning to the U.S., Fellers and Flexible continued to amaze the jumping community by taking top call in the U.S. Olympic Team Observation events at the $50,000 Surfside Grand Prix and the $100,000 Hermes Grand Prix in Del Mar, CA. Follow up victories at Spruce Meadows with the $35,000 Husky Energy Cup and the $200,000 CN Performance Grand Prix assured the pair a trip to the London Olympics. Fellers and Flexible were the highest ranking US pair with an eighth place finish in the Individual Olympic Show Jumping with only five faults.
Fellers is one of the most popular and awarded riders on the West Coast year after year, but following his first Olympic appearance to be honored with the William R. Steinkraus trophy and his mount named USEF International Horse of the Year left Fellers feeling like he’d just won the biggest lottery.
“I was very honored to be voted Rider of the Year, but so disappointed when our flight to Louisville was delayed and eventually abandoned due to a weather related missed connection. Shelley and I can only imagine what a memorable evening it would have been. Hopefully, the success we had this past year will in some small way motivate the up-and-coming U.S. Show Jumping stars.” Fellers shared.
USHJA congratulates Jersey Boy and Jennifer Alfano, along with Flexible and Rich Fellers for their well-deserved honors - 2012 USEF National Horse of the Year, 2012 Equestrian of Honor, 2012 USEF International Horse of the Year, and 2012 USEF Equestrian of the Year and wish continued success to all.
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