*Nothing too spoiler-y, since this ranking was trying to predict who would do well, not who actually did well in the 2006 finals*
Info & Rankings..
Maggie McAlary rode to the #5 ranking, a 9-spot jump from last year’s #14 rank. Like Jayne, this indicates that McAlary will be a major contender for finals wins. She has the talent and experience to continue to succeed in the equitation divisions. Her experience is demonstrated in her rise in the Index ranking over the last three years. She debuted in 2003 at #22. In 2004, she held steady at #21, before climbing to #14 in 2005 and now #5 in 2006. It is an exceptional accomplishment to both make the Index for four years in a row, and to be ranked so highly. Not much separates the top riders, but Maggie has clearly improved each year in this talented group. In earning her spot, McAlary won three classes and pinned in 12 in Wellington.
Nikko Ritter jumped to #6 in 2006, up from #10 in 2005. Ritter has shown flashes of finals brilliance, placing 8th in the 2005 USET East and 9th in the 2004 WIHS. In 2006, he’s been on a roll and look for him to have a breakout year at the finals. He was one of the most consistent riders in Wellington, pinning 12 times over the course of the circuit and winning three classes.
P.S. Nikko rode two of the horses seen in Horse Power during the 2006 season, Double O Seven and Clover Count. I guess Rocket Z might have been sold on ??
Rounding out the top ten is perennial winner #10 Maria Schaub. Schaub is another elite rider making her fourth appearance on the index. She has both talent and experience working for her in 2006, and hopefully some good horses to ride. Schaub has been well known as one of the country’s best catch riders. In 2006, she rode four horses, Sammy, Leo Z, Orion, Nelson, and her own horse Whimsey. She won a class on three of five of them and finished strong, winning the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship on Nelson. Schaub already has a smattering of medal finals ribbons (8th 2003 USEF, 8th 2004 Maclay, 2nd 2005 USET East, 4th 2005 USEF) but if the RMEC is any indication, then clearly Schaub is ready to step up and be the big winner at the finals in 2006.
P.S. - Don't forget to keep checking in on Maria's blog at EquiSearch.com! She'll be attending a clinic taught by George Morris this month.
At #19 is familiar face Sloane Coles. Coles is making an incredible 5th appearance on the Bigeq.com Equitation Index. As we’ve come to expect from Coles, she was good for some winning performances at Wellington, and won two classes. It appears her strong partnership with Cino has come to an end, with Jessica Springsteen taking him on. Fortunately Coles is talented on whatever she rides, and hopefully she will have a super partner for finals time. She’s a rider that's way overdue for a finals win, after playing second fiddle for a few years. 2006 could be her time.
--> interesting fact in here! *
#24 Chelsea Moss is an interesting entrant into the 2006 Index. Moss came on strong towards the end of 2005, and looked to be a promising young equitation rider and we noted so in our 2005 Fall Equitation Preview article. So far she is holding true to her potential, after winning a class in Wellington, placing in 9 overall, and finishing 6th in the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship. As we always noted in the past when Grappa was the “it” eq horse, we now have to note that the current “it” eq horse, Brianne Goutal’s winning mount Logan, is now being ridden by Moss. Having such a talented mount can only mean good things for Moss’ quest for finals victories come fall.
Chelsea is now riding Brianne's horse from Horse Power - Logan! I thought that was interesting. It's unknown whether Logan was bought or whether he is on loan to Chelsea.
I left off Brianne (who they ranked 12th, even though she's not really competing in equitation anymore). Incase you were interested, the girl they ranked #1 was Addison Phillips, who I believe was one of the girls who was cut from Horse Power. They sort of showed her in the promo shots, but then didn't include her. She's a Heritage Farm rider.