Equestrian riders bring home ribbons

Equestrian athletes Hannah D’Aguilar, Isabella Coello and Ella Saidi may ride at different barns at home in New Providence, but they were a united and formidable presence at the 2022 Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals this past weekend. D’Aguilar and Coello won ribbons – a first for The Bahamas at that event.

More than 500 North American riders gathered at the world-class facility in Saugerties, New York, to compete at all levels and showcase the rising talent in the hunter, jumper and equitation rings.

D’Aguilar rides at Camperdown Equestrian Centre, and Coello and Saidi ride at Mariposa Stables. They traveled with their trainers Kimberly Johnson (Camperdown) and Erika Adderley (Mariposa) to compete in the event. The result was a triumph for the Bahamian contingent.

Equestrian Bahamas President Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre praised the riders and their trainers for a notable accomplishment.

“We have had riders qualify for, and place in, the Marshall & Sterling Finals before,” she noted, “but we have never had two finalists finish in the ribbons in the same year. It is a phenomenal testament to the abilities of our coaches and riders.”

The weekend began propitiously when 16-year-old Hannah D’Aguilar, a 12th grade student at Queen’s College here in New Providence, rode Valley Crest Stables’ Last Call to eighth place out of a field of 70 riders in the Hudson Children’s Equitation Classic. However, the class was merely preparation for the main event of the weekend – the Marshall & Sterling Children’s medal final, in which riders compete by invitation only. D’Aguilar, Coello and Saidi were among the 74 riders who had worked for the past year just to qualify to ride in the event, and now gathered at the Grand Prix Stadium to test their equitation skills.

D’Aguilar, who rode Last Call, was the first of the Bahamian riders to enter the ring. She laid down a nearly perfect trip which was reflected in a score of 82.5 out of 100. The high score not only put her in third place but was good enough to fend off dozens of the riders who followed, all vying to be one of the top 12 finishers who would qualify for the final testing.

Next to go was Saidi, riding Megan Gore’s Normandy. Saidi distinguished herself earlier this year at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s Hunt Seat Finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This time, it was not to be. Her score in the low 70’s essentially placed her out of the running. Isabella Coello, 15, an 11th grader at Windsor School, rode Schokolade Sea, owned by Greystone Stables. Coello rode a smooth and competent round, scoring over 80 which was good enough to make the final 12.

Having finished in the top 12, D’Aguilar and Coello were invited back into the ring with 10 other riders to perform a technically demanding test over jumps set by the judges. Final placings shifted as the test score was added to the score from the original round. The eventual winner of the class was Grace Monobianca riding Carboni 3. Ultimately, D’Aguilar and Last Call placed fifth while Coello and Schokolade Sea finished 12th. Johnson summed up their performance as awesome.

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