By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WAYNE, Illinois, Aug. 21–The U.S.-bred Pikko del Cerro HU ridden by the globe-trotting Mikala Gundersen of Denmark won the Markel/USEF National Dressage Championships six-year-old preliminary test Friday.
The Hanoverian stallion by Pik L and a Rhodiamant mare owned by Horses Unlimited of Albuquerque, New Mexico, scored 82.000 per cent while the Sandro Hit stallion Sandomere by a Ramiro’s Match mare and ridden by Merrie Velden of Fresno, California placed second with 78.400 per cent. The Dutch Warmblood gelding Warsteiner by Riverman out of a Roemer mare and ridden by Heather Mason of Lebanon, New Jersey was third with 78.000 per cent.
Gundersen who is based in Wellington, Florida, has ridden Pikko del Cerro since he was four years old. The pair finished fourth in the 2008 five-year-old championships.
The combination won as both four and five year olds at Dressage at Devon, which will be the next competition this year in the Philadelphia suburb.
Mikala, 40, spent most of the summer competing in Europe with the Horses Unlimited stallion Leonberg.
“I hadn’t sat on him since June,” she said.
Lisa Wilcox, now based in Wellington, rode the horse while Mikala was in Europe.
“She has done a great job,” Mikala said. “I could pick up right where I left off.”
The horse received nine for the walk, and a joking aside by “O” judge Linda Zang that Mikala was probably the most traveled rider on the show grounds.
This championship is bitter-sweet for Mikala and Pikko del Cerro.
As a Danish citizen she cannot move to the next U.S. national championship level, Developing Horses aged seven to nine years. Developing Horse championships are reserved for U.S. horses and riders, while the young horse classes are open to American horses but riders of any nationality.
“I will be very sad not to be able to show him in the Developing Horse class because I love these championships,” she said.