By US Equestrian Communications Department
San Juan Capistrano, Calif. – After four phases of challenging competition at the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping 2022 Talent Search Finals – West, Ella Dyson (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) took first place riding Cetello.
Dyson started her partnership with Cetello, a 2007 Holsteiner gelding owned by Constance and Elisa Broz, ahead of the 2021 Finals, where she finished as Reserve Champion. This year, the pair earned good scores in the first three phases—flatwork, gymnastics, and jumping—to earn a spot in the top four for the final round.
In the fourth round, the top four swap horses and ride a shortened jumping course on each of the final four horses to determine the final placings.
“The course was set up really well because there was a big emphasis on time allowed,” said Dyson of the jumping course in Phase III of this year’s Final. “I think it really highlighted being efficient around the course. The most challenging part for me was definitely switching horses and getting used to them in such a short amount of time. But it was a lot of fun and I’m very grateful for the experience.”
Dyson’s tactful riding on four different horses helped secure her top spot, according to judges Beezie Madden and Patricia Griffith.
“Seeing the way all four horses went for Ella was impressive,” said Madden. “She looked like she was able to click with them right away and they even looked a little bit happier with her.”
“These four impressed us a lot, especially in the ride-off,” said Griffith. “Nobody had any major mishaps and all were able to roll with the horse change rather well.”
Dyson finished on a final score of 345.0. Jake Endicott earned the Reserve Champion title with a 330.0. Nicole McMillion took third place with a 324.0, and Lauren Kolbe rounded out the top four with a 315.0.
U.S. Jumping Youth Chef d’Equipe DiAnn Langer and U.S. Jumping Chef d’Equipe and Technical Advisor Robert Ridland were on site at the competition, which is considered an important part of the pathway for young jumping athletes who aspire to compete at the elite level in the future.
“I’m always excited to see the top four and what they can accomplish,” said Langer. “I think all of our riders here are riders to keep an eye on for the future.”
“What makes Talent Search so special is that it’s not just another equitation class,” said Ridland. “It’s a jumper class where the riders are judged. The time allowed and the open water, those are real issues when you get to the next level. My advice to these riders is we’ve got a judge here who was the best of all time getting the time allowed and the water jumps and everything else in between—find some video and emulate Beezie. It’s a huge honor to have her and Patricia here. I think we’re in good stead with our future, and this was really exciting to watch.”
The Hollow Brook Wealth Management Sportsmanship Award is given to the Talent Search Finals competitor who is nominated by their peers and selected for their integrity, kindness, and sportsmanship throughout the competition. Jessie Rechs received the honor this year.
The Best Horse award is given to the best performing of the horses in the final four. Ella Dyson’s mount, Cetello, was recognized as this year’s Best Horse.