Devon, PA – September 27, 2023 – The magic of Dressage at Devon shined in all of its glory tonight. Under the light of the full, or nearly full moon, everyone in attendance could feel the camaraderie that was present amidst a group of riders who laughed and celebrated with and for one another as each award was presented. One of the most frequent visitor’s to the Winner’s Circle this week, Quinnten Alston, was welcomed back again this evening, though this time he entered the Dixon Oval limping just a bit. His husband, Johnathan Clark, and long time friends Hannah Heritage and Chris Talley, came to Alston’s rescue putting in a group effort to carry him to the Winner’s Circle, all with beaming smiles on their faces. At the end of a long horse show day, to see the connection the four shared through a long time friendship was a good reminder as to just how fortunate we all are to get to do what we love, with those we love, and just how close knit and supportive our friends, who become like family, are in this incredible community of ours. That community, as Alston later pointed out while being interviewed, is one of the many things that makes coming to Dressage at Devon such a magical experience.
Generously, and eagerly agreeing to interview, all four (Alston, Clark, Heritage, and Talley) stayed long after everyone else was gone, each sharing what it means to not only win their respective accolades at DaD, but also to do it in the company of one another, and with horses near and dear to their hearts.
This year’s Foal Championship was awarded to Fidelis QC, a 2023 Hannoverian Filly By Feinrich × Scolari, owned by Kathryn Sepka and bred by Quinnten Alston and his husband Johnathan Clark. Alston shared, “Fidelis QC is out of our breeding program,. This is the mare, Scantolina’s, second Foal Champion at Dressage at Devon, she also produced the Foal Champion, Foo Fighter QC, in 2021 as well. We are very excited to bring Scantalina back, and we just sold Fidelis QC this summer to a wonderful amateur client of ours who is going to raise her to be her next performance horse, so we are looking forward to that as well.”
As Alston stood with his long time friends Hannah Heritage, Chris Tally, and his husband Johnathan Clark under the lights of the Dixon Oval, when asked what his favorite part of coming to Dressage at Devon was, without hesitation, Alston said, “The people – we love the people here, it’s the volunteers, it’s our friends that we see, it’s the horses, it’s seeing how much people love to come here and show their horses, they are very devoted to it, very committed to it, and it is great to see that. It is a lot of fun to be here, rain or shine, it is always really great to be here.”
Alston has had a good week thus far, frequently visiting the Winner’s Circle to was seen in the Winner’s Circle frequently so far this week, yet, there two accolades that had extra special meaning this year, “For myself, my husband, Johnathan Clark, and our program what was most meaningful was the Foal Championship that we bred and have developed ourselves and also the Grand Champion that we had here tonight for Iron Spring Farm, the mare Love Dance, she is by Vitalis out of a Furst Romancier mare. She is a super fun horse to show, super trot, she is in the Iron Spring Farm breeding program producing good foals so we look forward to the future with her. She was at our Florida farm until the beginning of this year, so she has only been with us in Pennsylvania for a few months, she came up here, we have a certain type of program that we like to do with the horses to get ready for Devon, lots of practicing in hand, getting them used to showing off their best gaits, and so she’s been doing that and doing great.”
Speaking highly of his good friend Alston, in line with the magic and connection that happens here at Dressage at Devon, Tally, Heritage, and Clark were as excited for Alston about his Grand Championship win as Alston himself! Tally said, “Quinnten definitely knows how to perform in the ring and he does a beautiful job at it. He has a signature smile, if you watch him all week, he always has a smile on his face, he is one of the best handlers in the US, and his success is so well deserved.”
Alston has been handling for fourteen years, and this year’s Dressage at Devon Grand Championship is his fifth, yes, fifth, Grand Championship at DaD. Alston was Grand Champion here in 2011, 2015, 2016, 2022, 2023.
The Foal Championship went to Hannah Heritage and Famira ZA, when asked about her favorite thing about Famira ZA, Heritage said, “She is by my foundation stallion, Faramund. Famira went from field life to show life in just a few weeks, today was a big day for her!” Chris Talley, who runs Zaragoza Acres, LLC with Heritage, added “I will add to that, and just say that Hannah fought for Faramund’s life, she imported him and developed him through his young horse career, and she helped him fight for his life through a bout of EPM. With the help of Quinnten (Alston) and Johnathan (Clark) we were able to collect him and get his foals on the ground, and through that, Famira became one of them.”
Commenting on the amazing and long standing friendship between the four of them, Talley said, “We have all been incredible friends for a long time. Today was very special for a number of reasons, the four of us here, (Talley, Alston, Clark, and Heritage) have known each other for a very long time.” Heritage reflected on the significance of her win with Farima ZA coming from both the sire and the mare, sharing “Nancy Holowesko of Crosiadore Farm, who is a very influential breeder here as well, leased me the mare. Nancy called me and asked me if I would be interested in leasing her, and I put her to Faramund, we got Famira, and here we are.”
When asked about how far their friendship went back, “I met Johnathan when I was 15 or 16, and I actually worked at Iron Springs, and then I met Hannah, she and I run Zaragoza Acres, she owns it, we met 8 years ago,” Talley said, and joked, “and Quentin…well he’s a tag along,” as everyone erupted in laughter, Talley concluded, “Quentin knew Hannah before I did, but it is just coincidental that Johnathan and I used to know each other and Hannah and I met…” Alston touched on the importance of friendship as well, saying, “Honestly it is a community, there are all these webs that connect all of us, it is like a second family.” From there, Clark turns to Alston and says, “You know, I would say if it weren’t for this horse show, I probably would not have married you.” When asked to elaborate on that, Clark continued on to say, “It was 2014, and Quinnten was the stallion handler for Hilltop Farm, and our company does the reproductive services for the stallions there.” Alston adds, “he (Clark) works for Select Breeder Services.” Clark continues, “I had come up here to watch the Freestyle with a friend of mine and just happened to run into Quentin. It wasn’t until he came up to watch the show and we started talking and I got to see a completely different side of him, and the rest is history, so it is a very special place for us! And then these guys (motions to Heritage and Talley) came in, and that just adds to the specialness.”
“Every year, it is one of those weeks that you just get to hang out with everyone that is so close to you in one of the most special places,” Talley said, “Devon is iconic, from the Hunter/Jumper show to the Dressage show and everything that Devon does and all the supporters of the event it is just amazing.”
Following a beautiful fall day full of top level competition across the Breed Division at Dressage at Devon, Iron Spring Farm Inc.’s Love Dance and Quinnten Alston were awarded the pinnacle DaD Grand Championship award, brought to you by the Best In Breed Conservation Group. For nearly 50 years, Dressage at Devon has made countless valuable contributions to the sport of dressage – from breeding to performance and all the many levels in between, DaD has been, and will continue to be there to support and promote the evolution of the sport, and the love of the horse. This year, DaD is proud to welcome the Best in Breed Conservation Group for their inaugural sponsorship year.
Founded by Melanie Pai, the Best In Breed Conservation Group is comprised of ten breeders committed not only to the conservation of breeding for dressage, but also to the continued evolution of the sport through quality breeding. The Best in Breed Conservation Group is comprised of ten breeders that have come together to offer funds exclusively to help preserve and expand the historic event that is the Breed Division at Dressage at Devon. DaD would like to thank the 2023 group’s founding members: Melanie Pai, Jim Welsh, Anne Sparks, Lauren Dearlove, Melanie Peterson Ramey, Terry Smith, Janet Rae, Stacy Brass, Klaus Schengber, and Judy Yancey.
Avid Dressage at Devon competitors, the founding breeders of the group have come to compete at DaD for many years, for most, they have been in attendance for decades. Dressage at Devon gave them a place to take their elite breeding stock and helped to place each of the prominent breeding programs on the map. The Best in Breed Conservation Group plans to perpetually give back to the show that has given the greater dressage breeding community in North America so much for so many years.
Best in Breed Conservation Group founder Melanie Pai, shared how the syndicate got started, its purpose, and its goals for the future: Speaking into how it all began, “I had this idea of forming syndicate. I consider myself a small breeder, and I thought ‘how can we help small breeders?’ I put together the idea of putting ten people together, each would contribute $1,000, for a total of $10,000 to go towards Dressage at Devon. I found ten committed people and together, we formed this breeder’s syndicate, the Best in Breed Conservation Group, to support Dressage at Devon. I am hoping that the syndicate will continue to grow, and that next year we will have another 5-10 additional breeders that want to participate in supporting DaD. In addition to benefiting DaD, participation in the syndicate also benefits small breeders as it gives them a voice and people would start to recognize the names – my hope is that it will help participating breeder’s really increase their business as well. The USA small breeders desperately need help because everyone tends to go to Europe these days. There are some exceptional breeder’s here in the USA, but nobody really knows where they are. We are trying to find a way for Americans in this big country, to find the amazing small breeders that are here on US soil. The Best in Breed Syndicate is our first effort in achieving that mission.”
Learn more about the Best in Breed Conservation Group here.
2023 DRESSAGE AT DEVON GRAND CHAMPIONSHIP
Presented By: Best in Breed Conservation Group
2023 DaD Grand Champion, Mature Horse Champion, & Mare Champion
2017 Oldenburg mare.Vitalis x Fürst Romancier
Owned by Iron Spring Farm, Inc. Bred by Jürgen Fetzer
FOUR YEAR OLD PROSPECT CHAMPIONSHIP
The Monte SV Memorial Perpetual Trophy
Winner: Ophelia BSH & Bridget Hay
The 2023 Four Year Old Prospect Championship honors went to the winner of the Four Year Old Sport Horse Prospect Mares (born 2019) class, Ophelia BSH owned and handled by Bridget Hay of Flemington, NJ. The 2019 Dutch Warmblood mare by Uthopia x Sir Sinclair was born and bred in the USA by Jill Blasland. Ophelia BSH’s sire, Uthopia dominated the Young Horse Classes in Britain with Carl Hester in the irons throughout 2006. By 2010, Uthopia had won his Grand Prix debut, and a year later, made his British Team debut with Hester in the European Championships where they won the Grand Prix to give Team Great Britian the best possible start. Hester and Uthopia set the bar high that year, and the rest of the British Team followed suit with strong peformances in both team and individual competition. Their combined efforts led to a historic Team Gold for Britain and Hester won his first ever individual medal, coming home with Silver for both the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.Their impressive performance at the Europeans was followed by another team gold medal for Britain, this time at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Uthopia and Hester finished in the top five of the three tests to play a vital role in the historic medal. Uthopia possesses that which is essential in a modern top level dressage horse – traits he inherited from his sire, Ferro -natural activity in the hind leg with a great canter and ride ability. His movement is totally natural and has an exceptional extended trot which has earned tens at Championship level. As a stallion, Uthopia’s character and outstanding ability makes him an obvious sire – he is licensed Hanoverian, AES, KWPN, and Oldenburg. Uthopia stands at Meadow Stud in Gloucestershire, UK.
Young Horse Championship – Sponsored By Mersant International, Ltd.
The Simply Charlotte Perpetual Trophy
Winner: Famira ZA & Hannah Heritage
2021 Westfalen Filly by Faramund × Licotus, Owned, Bred, & Handled by Hannah Heritage
FOAL, FILLY, COLT/GELDING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sponsored By Hilltop Farm
Dressage at Devon presented by Kingsview Partners would like to thank Hilltop Farm for their generosity in sponsoring all three of these championships for the 2023 edition of DaD. Nestled in the hills of northern Maryland, Hilltop Farm offers a tranquil setting with beautiful pastures, riding trails, and a world-renowned training center. The property’s history is unique with the oldest buildings on the farm dating to the late 1700’s/early 1800’s and its roots were agricultural based. Jane MacElree puchased the 400+ acre facility in 1989, and by September 1991, broodmares, breeding stallions, and training horses had been moved onto the farm, and the Hilltop Farm doors were officially open. Select Breeders Services moved their headquarters to Hilltop Farm in 1993 which coincided perfectly with the expansion of the breeding services and stallion offerings through Hilltop. In the years that followed, the acquisitions of Riverman and Contucci firmly established Hilltop Farm’s position as one of the most prominent stallion stations in North America.
More than thirty years after its inception, ’s enthusiasm and commitment to Hilltop Farm remains as strong as ever. MacElree has always focused not only on the horses, but also on the people connected with them and it has been that team approach that has formed the foundation of Hilltop Farm’s position as a leader in the US sport horse industry. The team at Hilltop extends beyond staff and includes horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, and other professionals, who are all an equally important part of the success, health, and happiness of the horses at Hilltop Farm. The team at Hilltop is grateful to have established these remarkable long-term partnerships and feel that such partnerships are an integral part of their success.
To this day, Hilltop continues its mission to continue to provide the very best in their programs and customer experiences.Known as “the complete sporthorse center,” Hilltop Farm offers over thirty stallions on their breeding roster. To name just one top stallion would be impossible as Hilltop’s collection is vast and impressive. Fürst Gribaldi, is one example of the type of quality Hilltop Farm offers. The 2015 Hannoverian stallion by Fürstenball x Gribaldi is a charming young stallion whose sport career quickly progressed up to the FEI ring. Bred in the US by Avalon Farm, Fürst Gribaldi was exported back to Germany as a young prospect to complete his 50-day test in Germany. At the testing, he earned highlight scores of 9 for character and 8.5 for his willingness to work. Now back in the US, Fürst’s show career started strongly under Jannike Gray. In 2022, he placed 6th at Fourth Level in the USDF Region 8 Championships, made his Prix St. Georges debut, and captured the Stallion Championship for the USDF Breeders Championship Series in New England with a score over 80%.
Fürst Gribaldi’s sire, Fürstenball, is well-known for the excellent type and outstanding walk that he gives his offspring. Fürstenball’s influence as a sire is felt strongly and he has more than 90 approved sons and is currently ranked 12th on the WBFSH Dressage Sire rankings. Grandsire Gribaldi was a Grand Prix competitor who has also proven himself as a sire of top International competitors, including the legendary Totilas. From Fürst Gribaldi’s first small foalcrop we already have seen Premium Foals and a USDF Breeders Championship Series Reserve Champion.
To learn more about the many quality stallions and services Hilltop Farm provides, please visit the Hilltop Farm Website.
Sponsored By: Hilltop Farm
The Sally Martin Memorial Perpetual Trophy
Winner: Fidelis QC & Quinnten Alston
Fidelis QC, a 2023 Hannoverian Filly By Feinrich × Scolari, owned by Kathryn Sepka and bred by Quinnten Alston claimed the championship title earlier this morning in the Foal Championship Sponsored By Hilltop Bio after taking first-place honors in her Fillies of Current Year with or w/o dam class. This is the second Dressage at Devon Foal Champion that the dam, Scantolina has produced. Scantolina was bred in Germany and is a Hanoverian Premium daughter of top S-line progenitor Scolari who brings in the qualities of Hanoverian Stallion of the Year Weltmeyer and the legendary Rubinstein I through the bottom side of her pedigree. Successful through 3rd level, Scantolina exhibits good power and mechanics of movement with a top level of sensitivity to the rider. Scantolina offspring are noted as having good expression and correct gaits while showcasing the modern type to sporthorse breeding. In 2021, her first foal Foo Fighter QC by Fabregas followed in his dam’s footsteps and was named Dressage at Devon Foal Champion with a big score of “9” for his trot in hand. This year, Fidelis QC received an 8.5 score for her trot, following in the footsteps of foals before her.
Sponsored By Hilltop Farm
The Leslie Ducharme Memorial Perpetual Trophy
Winner: Famira ZA & Hannah Heritage
The overall Filly Championship, sponsored by Hilltop Farm, was awarded to Famira ZA & Hannah Heritage – the pair won this year’s Two-Year-Old Fillies (born 2021) class on their way to collecting the Filly Championship honors. The 2021 Westfalen filly by Faramund × Licotus, Famira ZA handled by Hannah Heritage scored a 84.125% in the Two-Year-Old Fillies, to capture the win in that class, which qualified them for the Filly Championship, which they also won, and lastly, to finish off a grand slam day, the pair’s Filly Championship then put them in contention for the Young Horse Prospect Championship – going three for three today, they captured that too.
These days, it is not often that the owner, breeder, and handler are all one in the same person, in Hannah Heritage’s case with Famira ZA, the case of the ultimate trifecta is exactly that. Heritage is the owner, breeder, and handler of Famira ZA. The suffix ZA is representative of Zarazoga Acres, LLC in Jefferstonton, VA, where Famira ZA was bred, and where her sire Faramund, still stands at stud. A 2010 Hanoverian Stallion, Approved Westfalen NA, by Fidertanz x Donnerschlag, Faramund’s quality is highlighted by dual success in both the Dressage and Eventing worlds, offering a strong pedigree featuring some of the most sought-after Westphalian, Hanoverian, and Oldenburg bloodlines for sport.
Faramund’s sire, Fidertanz (Fidermark I – Ravallo) was proclaimed Champion of 2004 Westphalian licensing, won his 30-Day Stallion Test, and was Vice Bundeschampion of the Three-Year-Old Riding Stallions in 2005. Successful through Grand Prix Dressage, Fidertanz has gone on to even further acclaim as a sire: over 30 licensed stallion sons, Elite Mare Show champions, Bundeschampions, auction price highlights, and several offspring at the FEI levels of Dressage including the Grand Prix stallions Franziskus and Foundation. Fidertanz himself is a son of the Bundeschampion and Grand Prix stallion Fidermark I and is out of a daughter of Ravallo, a stallion noted as the producer of offspring successful both in Dressage and Jumping.
Faramund’s damsire Donnerschlag, a direct son of the influential Donnerhall, was licensed in Oldenburg in 1989 and would become the foundation stallion at Gestüt St. Ludwig. Finishing within the top of his stallion testing, Donnerschlag enjoyed a career as both a successful sire and Dressage horse, competing through the Grand Prix level. Donnerschlag’s dam was a full sister to the noted stallions Pik Bube I and II and also produced the approved stallion Ragazzo. Faramund’s dam Donna Gloria also produced the States Premium mare Signorina (Sir Donnerhall I), herself the dam of Faithful Rose (Fidertanz), sold to Canada through the 2017 Klosterhof Medingen Fall Auction. Through his motherline, Faramund boasts a blood connection to influential Anglo-Arabian, Selle Francais, and Trakehner lines through the stallions Inschallah, Furioso II, and Schoener Abend. Faramund himself has also been a winner here at Dressage at Devon, capturing the Champion Stallion and Reserve Champion Mature Horse honors in 2014.
Sponsored By Hilltop Farm
The Sally Martin Memorial Perpetual Trophy
Winner: Fidelis QC & Quinnten Alston
Capturing the tri-color honors for the overall Colt/Gelding Championship was the 2021 KWPN Gelding by Gaudi × Cizandro, owned and handled by Stacy Brass of Wilmore, KY, and was born and bred here in the USA by Joseph Schwartz. Brass and Red One scored an 81.850% in the Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding class to finish second. Upon completion of the Colt/Gelding classes, the top two places from each Colt/Gelding section were brought back to the Dixon Oval, where the overall Colt/Gelding Champion would then be decided. Red One scored an impressive 8.7 for his Trot, an 8.5 for General Impression, and an 8.0 for his Walk. These high scores coupled with the remainder of his scores being in the high 7’s combined to give Red One an overall score of 81.850%.
Red One’s sire Gaudi is the first and only Totilas offspring standing in the USA. Imported in January 2018 by Shooting Star Farm, his dam is the elite preferent prestation mare Annabel, by De Niro. Bred by the Jansen family at Stable Joppe in The Netherlands, Gaudi has an exceptional pedigree. His dam also produced the KWPN licensed stallions Bretton Woods and Chagall D&R, and from these same dam line comes the licensed stallion Four Legends KS. Annabel leads the KWPN index for dressage mares, and has produced top sport and keuring horses.
BORN IN THE USA AWARDS
Born in the USA is the only awards program of its kind in the country. It was developed to recognize and reward the achievements of sport horse breeders in the United States, and is presented to the high scoring horses who were conceived and born in the USA showing in the following categories: Fillies of 2023, Colts of 2023, Yearling fillies, Yearling Colts/Geldings, 2 year old Fillies, 2 year old Colts/Geldings, 3 year old Fillies, 3 year old Colts/Geldings, Mares, Stallions, 3 year old Filly Materiale, Three year old Colt/Gelding Materiale, 4 year old Mare Materiale, 5 year old Mare Materiale, 4 year old Stallion/Gelding Materiale, 5 year old Stallion/Gelding Materiale. The overwhelming generosity of the sponsors has made it possible to award over $80,000 in prize money since the program began in 2003. Sport Horse breed shows on the East Coast have joined in and in 2010 Born in the USA Breeders Awards were presented at shows from New York to Kentucky.
The first Born In The USA Award of the day was awarded to the winner of the Foal Championship, sponsored by Hilltop Farm. Fidelis QC “Flower” (Feinrich x Scolari x Weltmeyer) bred by Quinnten Alston of Quantico Sporthorses was also crowned the Dressage at Devon Foal Champion sponsored by Hilltop Farm after winning the Fillies of Current Year with or w/o dam class earlier this morning.
For a full list of Born in the USA results, stay tuned for the Born In The USA article coming out Thursday, September 28th.
NOVICE HANDLER AWARD
With a focus on the further development of the nation’s up and coming handlers, Melanie Pai, a generous and avid supporter of Dressage at Devon created the Novice Handler Award. Creating a path forward for novice handler’s to learn from the industry’s best, Paid said “The idea we came up with was to help the young up and coming handlers that are so important to dressage. King (Santacruz) is an exceptional handler, and he was graciously willing to help me with this idea. The winner of the Novice Handler Award gets the opportunity to come to my farm in Middleburg, VA, where they will receive a week’s worth of instruction from King Santacruz. Nelly, King’s soon to be wife, manages my farm and is an integral part of team as well. The winner will have the chance to learn from the entire team.”
Sharing his thoughts and excitement regarding the Novice Handler Award, Santacruz said, “I was really excited to see the group here today – I see a lot of potential in the group that is coming up that is coming up through the ranks. The winner who comes to learn with me – I think we can do a great job together – in the future we can have another handler. The group today was really good, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with them.”