Danielle Urban Shines in Markel/USHJA Platinum Jumper Individual Final with Ellickson L’Amant van de Zeilhoek

To close the final chapter of the Markel/USHJA Platinum Jumper Championships during the Traverse City Spring Series, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & hotel, professional athlete Danielle Urban of Elkhorn, NE, jumped to gold in the Individual Final for 1.30-1.35m/1.40-1.45m riders. 

Out of the original starting field, only four combinations cleared Anderson Lima’s (BRA) first-round track to contend one last time in the Turtle Creek Hotel & Casino International Ring. In an impressive feat, Urban was first to attack the course and left all rails standing in an uncatchable 35.16 seconds to end the weekend with a zero-fault score across multiple rounds of jumping.

Danielle Urban and Ellickson l’Amant van de Zeilhoek. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

At the start of the class, six pairs sat on a score of zero faults accumulated over the prior two phases, but Lima built additional difficulty into each course as the week went on. Urban piloted the Ellickson Equestrian-owned eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Diamant de Semilly) Ellickson l’Amant van de Zeilhoek to another perfect round in order to claim the title, the first of her career. 

“This is my first time doing this championship,” she explained. “We’ve had students at our barn compete in them, but this is my first time competing in one myself. It’s been a really fun experience coming here as a Zone 6 representative and getting to meet other people from Zone 6 that you wouldn’t normally get to see.” 

Rebecca Gutstein and Masoranta. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The partnership that proved the most to her over the course of the week however, was the one she has formed with her winning mount, a horse she has brought up the levels herself over the past year. 

“We’ve brought her up through her seven-year-old year and then this year we have started doing some 1.35m-1.40m grand prix,” Urban explained. “She’s a quick and careful horse, so I thought this would be a great place for her to come and be competitive; to really shine in something.

“She’s so dependable that I knew this would be a great competition for her,” she continued. “I was a bit cautious at the beginning of the jump-off because it started with three vertical fences, but once I felt her get over the first few fences I knew I could let her go a little and she would be right there for me.”

Rebecca Gutstein of Glencoe, IL. donned the runner-up ribbon after clocking in the second-best effort on Masoranta, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by VDL Maserati. They broke the podium-deciding timer in 42.289 seconds for silver. Clocking in at 36.247 seconds with one rail on the floor, Alina Zappone of Winnetka, IL, rounded out the top three in bronze with Jack The Ripper 111, a 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Der Senaat 111.

Part of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Program, the Markel/USHJA Platinum Jumper Championships are open to professionals, juniors and amateurs, offering team and individual competition and an opportunity to qualify for continued education with top national and international industry experts. The championships are held regionally and have called Traverse City Horse Shows home once again this year. 

For full results, click here.

Holly Labry Conquers the Jumper Ring in 1.10m-1.15m Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Individual Championship

The Markel/USHJA Junior/Amateur Zone Jumper Championships continued on Saturday during week three of the Traverse City Spring Series, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. With team medals finalized, athletes now look to compete individually and earn a place atop the podium in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring. 

After winning a silver medal over the 1.10m-1.15m height on Friday with her combined Zone 1,4 and 7 team, Hello Sanctos, Holly Labry of Memphis, TN, and Coco Chanel JVH Z, owned by the Shadow Pond Group, returned for gold. Together they clinched the win in the 1.10m-1.15m individual final. 

Held in the 2a format, riders competed across an initial course, designed by Anderson Lima (BRA). Those who went clear returned for a separate short course that would determine their place on the podium. Returning last for the tie-breaker, Labry and the 13-year-old Warmblood mare laid down a winning time of 34.875 seconds, beating out the first to take on the track, Bailey Beal of Newport, KY, and her own Fabian D. They crossed the timers in 36.075 seconds to take the silver medal. The bronze medal went to Maelyn Taule of Westchester, OH, in the irons of her own Haufom.

Holly Labry and Coco Chanel JVH Z. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Labry doesn’t have much experience in the jumper ring, and this week marks her first-ever championship and the amateur’s first week competing in a team format. “Because this is such an individual sport it’s fun having teammates cheering each other on and helping each other when it doesn’t go our way,” said Labry. “Everyone feels excited to be here this week.”

As last to go in the jump-off, Labry had the pressure on to prove the best was saved for last. “Camille and I walked the jump-off and we had an initial plan,” said Labry. “We watched the first one go and we stuck to our original plan. We know what Coco can do; she’s super fast and careful so we stuck to our plan and rode it the best we could.

Bailey Beal and Fabian D. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“I’ve only done the jumpers for about a year and a half,” detailed Labry. “I did the hunters my entire life so this was a goal that we had started working towards last summer. I’m really excited that this first time was successful.” 

After her long-time trainer, Phoebe Sheets, retired from coaching, Labry wanted to explore a new side of the sport. That’s when she paired with Camille Maynard to start her jumper career. 

“She [Camille Maynard] found me Coco Chanel and the rest is history,” said Labry. “This horse gives me all the confidence in the world. From the first time I ever sat on her back I felt like we had known each other our whole lives. She’s spunky, she’s sassy, she’s so confident and she wants to win as bad as I do.” 

Maelyn Taule and Haufom. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships provide riders with a competitive team experience and an opportunity to earn Zone Horse of the Year points in the 1.10/1.15m Junior and Amateur Jumper and 1.20/1.25m Junior and Amateur Jumper sections. The Championships are held by region and consist of both team and individual competition. 

For full results, click here.