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WEG Nominees Give Strong Performances at First CEI*** Observation Trial

AUBURN, Ca. – Jennifer Niehaus of Cloverdale, California, edged out a field of 36 riders to win the CEI*** 100-mile endurance event held in Oreana, Idaho, on Saturday, May 20. Riding her nominated horse Cheyenne XII, Niehaus finished in a ride time of 9:49:39, averaging 16.31 kph (10.14 mph) over the course.

Crossing the finish line with Niehaus was Suzanne Hedgecock aboard AA Montego, who posted a ride time one second slower than Niehaus’s. Hedgecock also hopes to earn a place on the U.S. Endurance Team to compete at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, in August.

Finishing third was Joyce Sousa aboard LV Integrity, who matched Niehaus’s pace throughout the ride, finishing in 9:53:15. The Best Condition Award went to fifth-place horse SHA Ebony Rose, ridden by Dennis Summers.

Twenty-six riders completed the event, including 17 nominated riders who occupied the top 13 placings, three foreign entries and six riders competing in the AERC-sanctioned division only.

Ride Manager Steph Teeter said she was very impressed with the nominees. “They were smart, cool and focused,” she said. “The top nine finished within about 20 minutes of each other, and there was no racing to the finish. Everybody had a plan, had a goal, and stayed focused all day.”

Teeter added, “In general, the nominees seemed very energized and excited about the [selection] process. [Chef d’ Equipe] Tom Johnson is doing a fantastic job with the riders.”

“The observation trial went as well as I could have hoped for,” said Johnson. “The riders were prepared, focused and, in-general, did an excellent job of executing their ride strategies. Pending the outcome of the next two observation rides, I believe we will have the strongest and most prepared pool of nominees to select from that we have ever had.”

The pace was slower than it has been in previous years at this venue.

“It was a different course than in years past,” said Teeter. “I added sections of pavement, about five miles, and included a fair amount of hard-packed gravel road, trying to have a course that would simulate conditions in Aachen.”

“Steph did a great job of transplanting Germany to the desert of Idaho,” said Johnson.

The second observation trial will be held Saturday, May 27, in Grand Island Michigan, in which a new group of nominated riders will compete, primarily those living on the East Coast and from the Midwest. The third and final observation ride will be held June 11 in Ashland, Montana.

The team of riders selected to represent the United States in the endurance competition at the World Equestrian Games will be named by mid-July and will depart for Aachen, Germany, the first week of August. The 100-mile world endurance championship will be held August 21.

The United States Equestrian Federation is the Governing Body of U.S. endurance competition at the international level. The American Endurance Ride Conference is the National Affiliate of endurance in the U.S. and governs the sport at the national level. For more information about the U.S. Endurance Team and the 2006 selection process, contact USEF Director of Endurance Programs Mary Lutz at mlutz@usef.org, phone (908) 326-1155.

For complete coverage of the CEI*** in Oreana, Idaho, including results, log onto http://www.endurance.net.

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) was founded in 1972 as the national governing body for endurance riding in the United States. AERC sanctions more than 800 events annually, is the leader in education related to the use of equines in long-distance riding and encourages the use, protection and development of equestrian trails in North America. AERC’s mission is to serve its more than 6,500 members and to promote endurance riding as a sport in which horsemanship and equine welfare are paramount. For more information about endurance riding and AERC, visit http://www.aerc.org. Gulf Coast 4 Star is the official trailer of AERC and is a sponsor of the 2006 AERC National Championship.


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