Angela Jackson Battles It Out to be Crowned New Intermediate I Open Champion at 2019 US Dressage Finals

Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 8, 2019 – Competition continued at the US Dressage Finals on Friday, seeing more horse-and-rider pairs from around the country take to the ring in hopes of adding a new championship title under their belt. In one of the largest and most competitive divisions of the week, the Intermediate I Open Championship, it was Angela Jackson of Henderson, Kentucky, who topped the diverse field of 26 competitors and took home the top prize.

Angela Jackson and Figaro H
Angela Jackson and Figaro H

Early in the order of go, Mike Suchanek of Blaine, Minnesota, rode Louise Leatherdale’s Hero L (His Highness—Waterlily L, Wolkenstein II) to the top of the leaderboard, where he remained for much of the class. Suchanek has a close relationship with Hero L, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, who was homebred at Leatherdale Farms’ Minnesota facility. As the first horse at Leatherdale Farms that he started as a youngster and trained up the levels, he expressed how rewarding it is to now secure a top placing at a national championship together. It’s not the first time Suchanek and Hero L participated in the national championship’s award ceremony. In 2016, they won the US Dressage Final Intermediate 1 Open Championship and earned the reserve championship in the US Dressage Finals Prix St. Georges Open Championship.  Returning to the finals three years later, the pair earned a total score of 71.52%, the top score until Jackson and Figaro H entered the arena.

Mike Suchanek and Hero L

Jackson and her own 9-year-old Zweibrucker gelding Figaro H (Fantasmic—Romania H, River H) took to the ring determined to ride a steady test and impress the judges. As a homebred mount, Jackson explained her special bond to Figaro H and how much it means to have the horses that she is so passionate about developing and bring up the levels succeed in the show ring. She was thrilled that the gelding was especially focused on Friday afternoon and allowed her to ride each movement exactly how she wanted to, completely in harmony. Agreeing with how Jackson felt her ride went, the judges awarded the pair a total score of 72.157%, enough to push them up into first place. No other combinations were able to challenge Jackson and Figaro H’s score, and they remained in the top position.

Angela Jackson and Figaro H

Rounding out the top three in the championship was Heather McCarthy of Prairie Grove, Illinois, and Sandi Chohany’s Au Revoir (Ampere—Lara, Liberty M), an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, with a total score of 71.176%.

Heather McCarthy and Au Revoir
Heather McCarthy and Au Revoir

Once again, dressage enthusiasts around the world can follow the action from the US Dressage Finals via live-streaming on the USEF Network at, with coverage continuing Saturday, November 9 in the Alltech Arena. See the entire live streaming schedule HERE.

US Dressage Finals Intermediate I Open Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score 
1. Angela Jackson / Figaro H / 72.157
2. Mike Suchanek / Hero L / 71.52
3. Heather McCarthy / Au Revoir / 71.176
4. Michael Bragdell / Sternlicht Hilltop / 70.539
5. Angela Jackson / Gaston TF / 69.657
6. Katelyn Kok / Disco Divo / 69.412


Angela Jackson – Intermediate I Open champion

On Figaro H:
“He’s definitely special. He is the fifth generation in the family bred for us. I’ve ridden his mother, his grandmother and all the way back. They were all chestnuts so I know what to expect. I love them. He’s family, he is never going to go anywhere. He did the 5-Year-Olds, 6-Year-Olds and Developing Prix St. Georges [at the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse National Championships]. This is his second year at Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I. Hopefully next year we will do Intermediate II and Grand Prix. That’s the goal!”

Angela Jackson and Figaro H

On her ride:
“I think he was very focused. He is finally growing up to where he is focused and I can ride movement to movement and really have a beginning and end to each movement. Before I didn’t have that type of control. Today, right from the get go, he felt completely with me. If I want to pick on anything, my second pirouette I wasn’t happy with, but that was my fault.”

Mike Suchanek – Intermediate I Open reserve champion

On Hero L:
“Hero L is also homebred by His Highness. He has a special place in our hearts at the farm. I started him as a youngster and he was the first one I ever started working [at Leatherdale Farms]. It feels really great to be back here with Hero. After my accident with a youngster last year, it is exciting to finally be back here on him — it feels like I’m being brought back to the sport again. Hero was really gangly to start and didn’t quite know how to go forward from the leg at first, but once he started growing and becoming stronger in his body, we started progressing really quickly.”

Mike Suchanek and Hero L

On his ride:
“I went in there and we had really nice harmony. We had a good connection throughout the whole ride. It felt really special with the ride he gave me. I think I’m getting better control over our harmony together with my seat and my half halts. I want to thank Louise [Leatherdale] and my coach Alison Sader-Larson, plus all the sponsors here at the finals and my whole team back home.”

Friday Champions at 2019 US Dressage Finals

Training Level Open Championship
1. Martin Kuhn / Jameson SW / 74.483
2. Angela Jackson / Royal Heiress / 73.678

Second Level Adult Amateur Championship
1. Christine Malparti / Freudentanzer / 71.508
2. Jennifer Van de Lo / Duke of Dawn / 69.563

Third Level Freestyle Open Championship
1. Jennifer Roth / Serengeti / 73.711
2. Kathryn Fleming-K / Washburn SW / 73.356

Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship
1. Jocelyn Towne / Bandini / 70.833
2. Elisabeth Ritz / Fairmount / 70.185

Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship
1. Amy Gimbel / Eye Candy / 72.794
2. Bonnie Canter / Fifinella GCF / 71.52

Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship
1. Alice Tarjan / Candescent / 70.797
2. Kristin Herzing / Gentleman / 64.022

Grand Prix Open Championship 
1. Jim Koford / Adiah HP / 69.058
2. Michael Bragdell / Qredit Hilltop / 68.37


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