SHOWN, from left to right, 5th place finalist Hannah D’Aguilar and Last Call, Kimberly Johnson, trainer (CEC), rider Ella Saidi, Erika Adderley, trainer (Mariposa Stables), 12th place finalist Isabella Coello and Schokolade Sea.
#EQUESTRIAN athletes Hannah D’Aguilar, Isabella Coello and Ella Saidi may ride at different barns at home in Nassau, but they were a united and formidable presence this past weekend at the 2022 Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.
#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.
#Hannah D’Aguilar, who rides at Camperdown Equestrian Centre, and Isabella Coello and Ella Saidi, who ride at Mariposa Stables, travelled with their trainers Kimberly Johnson and Erika Adderley respectively, to compete in the event.
#The result was a triumph for the Bahamian contingent, with two riders finishing in the ribbons for the first time ever. Equestrian Bahamas president Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre praised the riders and trainers for their 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-grader at Queen’s College here in Nassau, rode Valley Crest Stables’ Last Call to 8th place out of a field of 70 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 (again on 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 3rd 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 Ella Saidi, riding Megan Gore’s Normandy. Saidi distinguished herself earlier this year at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Hunt Seat Finals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
#But this time it was not to be. Her score in the low 70s essentially placed her out of the running.
#Finally came 15-year old Isabella Coello, an 11th-grader at Windsor School, riding 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 5th while Coello and Schokolade Sea finished 12th.
#Trainer Kimberly Johnson summed up their performance with a single sentence and a big smile: “They were awesome.”