2018 USDF Year-End Awards

USDF has just announced the 2018 Year-End Awards winners and it re-emphasized what a successful year it has been for Team Hilltop.  Jessica Fay earned 4th place in the USDF Materiale Colts/Geldings division with our 3-year old Santana Hilltop with a median score of 77.9%.  Santana was bred by VA Tech and is owned by Hilltop Farm.  He is from Sternlicht’s first foalcrop.  Jess also had a good year with the 6-year old Quinzy HTF and ranked 15th for Hanoverians at Third Level and 17th in the country for the FEI Six-Year Olds.  Sternlicht earned a median score of 71.397% with Michael Bragedell and was Champion for Hanoverians and ranked 9th overall in the nation at Prix St. Georges.  Qredit ranked 2nd for Oldenburgs and 12th overall for Intermediate II.  Scott & Carol McPhee’s sensational SenSation HW has been a rockstar all year and finished as Champion in Horse of the Year standings at First Level with a 76.122% as his median score, Reserve Championship for the FEI Five-Year Olds with an 8.23 and ranked 1st for Westfalens at both First Level and FEI Five-Year Olds.  What a year!

2018 USDF Region 1 Championships

news_regionals_verakiThe USDF Region 1 Championships were held October 11-13 at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA. Torrential rain made for a rough start on Thursday, but the footing held up surprisingly well. Many thanks to the show management and the volunteers who made it another wonderful event!

Jess Fay got us off to a great start with Quinzy HTF (Qredit-Cordoba) and Cover Girl (Contucci-Prince O’Pilsen xx) placing 2nd & 6th in their Third 3 Open class with scores of 70% and 67% respectively.  Michelle Robert’s Donarsagan (Donarweiss-Wallstreet Kid) placed 2nd in the Third 1 Open with a 69%. Jess’s own mare Veraki (Riverman-Little Missouri xx) placed 4th in both of her Grand Prix Open tests and earned Jess the last score needed for her gold medal. The three Third Level mares all had good tests in their Championship class as well and Jess’s student Patty Fenwick placed 5th in the huge Third Level Championship class! Michael’s wife, Tiffany, had a super weekend with her Bugatti mare Bellatae (Bugatti-Grusus). They were 8th in the PSG Finals, Reserve Champion at Fourth Level, and won the Fourth Level Freestyle Finals!

news_regionals_qreditMichael Bragdell had a superb weekend with his horses. Scott & Carol McPhee’s SenSation HW (Sunday-Dancier) continues his amazing season by winning his warmup with a 75% and then taking the First Level Championship with a 76%. Qredit Hilltop (Quaterback-Dream of Glory) was 3rd in the Grand Prix Freestyle (can we say again how much we love his music!) and came back less than 10 hours later for a Reserve Championship in the Grand Prix Finals. Sternlicht Hilltop (Soliman de Hus-Rascalino)  finished the weekend strong. He was 5th in the PSG Championships and won both the Intermediate I and the Intermediate Freestyle Championship titles. Wow! 

Dressage at Devon 2018

fiona_dad-2018_web800x800Dressage at Devon 2018 is a wrap and what a fun show it was for Team Hilltop.  At first look no one was quite sure how the new schedule for the Breed Show would work out, but we loved it! The move of the IBC classes to Tuesday and the USDF Finals classes to Thursday, from our perspective, created a less chaotic environment and an easier schedule overall.  We owe a huge thank you to King Santacruz who again came in for Devon Prep & handling for us at Devon. King and Michael make a fantastic team and we are so grateful for his help each year. The highlights for Team Hilltop included:

  • Santana Hilltop (Sternlicht-Anhaltiner) finishing 2nd in 3yr old Colts/Geldings Materiale & 3rd in the USDF East Coast 3yr old Materiale Championships with Jess Fay riding.
  • Olivi’s offspring earning 3rd place in the Get of Sire class. He was represented by Susanne Manz’s Nova MDH (ds. Ferro) & Hilltop’s homebred Omika HTF (ds. Royal Prince).
  • Lily (Colwyn Llewlyn x Russian Sable), owned by Arlette Johnsonwas 2nd in the Pony Broodmares 4 & older. Lily’s two offspring by Woodbury’s Harlequin had an excellent showing. 2-year old Harley’s Davidson was 1st in his Pony age group class and was Reserve Champion Pony Colt/Gelding. The 2018 filly Harley’s Angel also won her age group class and was Reserve Champion Pony Foal.
  • Qindle HTF (Qredit-Royal Prince) was 5th in the Broodmares 4 & older class and her daughter For Fun HTF (For Romance) was 2nd in the Fillies of 2018, 3rd in the Devon Foal Championship, and Reserve Champion for the USDF East Coast Foal Championships.
  • Whimsical HTF (Widmark-Contucci) placed in all her classes including 7th in a very large Hanoverian IBC, 4th in the Fillies of 2018, and 4th in the USDF East Coast Foal Championships.
  • Omika HTF (Olivi-Royal Prince) was 5th in the Fillies of 2018 class (what a super group of fillies it was this year!).
  • Savannah HTF (Sternlicht-Royal Prince) won the 2-year old Fillies with an 82.675%, was 3rd in the Devon Filly Championship, and was Champion for the USDF East Coast Filly Championship.

Moving onto the Performance division, Jess also rode Quinzy HTF (Qredit-Cordoba) to 4th place in both the FEI Six-Year Old tests. Michael wrapped up the weekend with two horses in the CDI small tour division. Sternlicht Hilltop (Soliman de Hus-Rascalino) had a couple of mistakes in the PSG but still scored a 65%+ and moved up to 8th place in the Intermediate I test. Lara & William Mitchelson‘s Faberge Blue (Contango-Democraat) had a fantastic first time out in a CDI. He was 6th in the Prix St. Georges, 7th in the Intermediate I, and tied for 4th in the Freestyle!

USEF Festival of Champions 2018

There were exciting changes this year to the USEF Young/Developing Horse Championships. They’ve been held in conjunction with the Pony/Junior/Young Rider Championships for a couple of years now, but for the first time this year the USEF Intermediate & Grand Prix Championships were also included. It was a fantastic week of sport at the beautiful Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL and we hope this combined format continues in future year.

Michael had qualified four horses for the Championships this year, but we chose to only make the trip with three – Qredit Hilltop (Developing Grand Prix), Sternlicht Hilltop (Developing Prix St. Georges), and SenSation HW (FEI Five-Year Olds). Qredit, bred in the US by Judy Yancey, was 8th in the Intermediate II but then moved up to 5th place in the Developing Grand Prix. This placed him in 6th overall in the final standings and less than a half of a percentage point out of 3rd.  Sternlicht, also bred in the US by Rachel Ehrlich, placed 5th in the Prix St. Georges and 8th in the Developing PSG, to finish in 6th place overall.  Sternlicht was also the highest-placed American-bred for his division. 

It was Scott & Carol McPhee’s five-year old SenSation HW that stole the show however!  The trot was awarded a 10 on both days and his scores of 8.7 and 8.72 earned him the US National Championship for FEI Five-Year Olds.  Michael’s rides were brilliant – so much expression and energy throughout the weekend.  SenSation was bred in Germany by Alfons Bergjohann who was able to watch the competition via the live-stream on the USEF Network!

2018 Foaling Season at Hilltop Farm

Our 2018 Foaling Season here at Hilltop Farm began in mid-March.  With cold weather and snow still on the ground, we wouldn’t have minded a bit longer delay, but seeing those first foals is always so exciting!

March 14th: Catherine Haddad’s lovely Damon Hill daughter SPS Dreamcatcher gave birth to a very good-looking colt by Vitalis. Dreamcatcher has been the ideal broodmare – settles easily, uncomplicated deliveries, and a great maternal instinct.  Definitely a cross to repeat and Dreamcatcher is already back in-foal to Vitalis for next year. 

March 23rd:  Cuteness overload!  Lily, Arlette Johnson’s Welsh x TB cross mare, had her second foal – this time a filly by the Scottish pony jumper Woodbury’s Harlequin.  Harley’s Angel is very outgoing and wants to be completely in the middle of everything that’s going on.

March 24th: Arlette Johnson’s second mare, Olivia K by Popeye K, thought she’d stay on pace with Lily and delivered a beautiful, bay filly by Talisman.  This is the third time we’ve done this combination and “Sissy’s” quality just validates why we keep repeating it.  This filly is sure to be a star in the hunter ring one day.

March 28th: From a hunter mare to a royally-bred jumper mare.  Next in the foaling line-up was Jack Morgan’s special mare Talinka.  In late March she delivered a very large colt by Cornet Obolensky. Nobalinko is all power and athleticism.  Talinka is already back in-foal to Cornet for 2019.

April 14th: And now our filly streak really starts to run.  Hilltop’s Elite Mare Raj Mahal delivered a strong, good sized filly by Negro.  This one was bred with the FEI ring as the goal and we think she’s a very complete package of conformation, movement, character, and athleticism.

April 16th: Just two days later and it’s another bay filly!  Last year we all loved the Sternlicht x Ebella (Ehrentusch) filly Stella Lux, so we repeated the combo.  Breeder Lisa Saabye was rewarded with another special filly.  Starstruck strongly resembles her dam but seems to have her sire’s confidence and confidence that the spotlight should be on her!

April 21st: Breeder Liz Frankel had been saying this would be her last foal, so when “Layla” safely arrived on the 21st everyone agreed Last Hurrah would be a perfect show name.  By Last Man Standing and out of Liz’s competition mare Gina, Layla is a complete charmer that we know will shine in the hunter ring for Liz in the coming years.

May 1st: It’s hard to believe but we’re already entering our third month of foal watch now!  Gavin Parfit & Isabel Barzun’s Elite KWPN Mare Romy (Gribaldi-Casanova) delivered a very special filly by Sternlicht. We’ve liked all of Romy’s foals, but this one has us especially excited with her long legs and fantastic movement.

May 11th: An it’s another filly!  This time a bright chestnut with a lot of chrome by the Grand Prix stallion Widmark and out of Hilltop’s mare Chiquita.  This is Chiquita’s first filly after producing 3 colts and we are very happy to see the next female generation of this wonderful mare line continue.

May 17th: Wait for it….it was two fillies born within minutes of each other, and of course both were bay.  First up was Susanne Manz’s Everdale-Prado filly Evalina.  This tall, strong filly has a ton of personality and was quickly up on her feet and bouncing around.  Hilltop’s mare Raja foaled just minutes later.  Three weeks early, this Olivi filly is smaller but also full of personality and was quickly on her feet.   

May 24th: Finally, another colt and he was well worth the wait!  Congratulations to breeder Catherine Haddad on this Sir Donnerhall foal out of her homebred mare Raureif.  While this mare always produces quality offspring, we think this one may be her fanciest yet.

June 1st: We’re getting close to the end of foaling season and maiden mares can keep us guessing up until the last minute, but Hilltop’s mare Qindle had an easy delivery on June 1st and produced a beautiful, feminine filly by For Romance.  We were very excited about this combination and Fiona is exceeding all our expectations.

June 6th: The last mare wasn’t due until the end of June, but Valkyrie (Ferro-Idocus) very kindly moved her timing up and produced a tall, elegant black filly by Olivi around 5am this morning.  Named Nova by breeder Susanne Manz, we can just picture this beautiful filly in the dressage ring a few years from now. 

It’s a wrap – 3 months of of foalings, lots of long nights, 11 (mostly bay) fillies and only 3 colts!  Congratulations to all the breeders of these wonderful foals and an enormous thank you and job well-done to our Broodmare Manager Diana Frederick and her team!

Sternlicht Withdrawn from 2018 Line-Up

Hilltop Farm has always been committed to not only offering the highest caliber stallions to our breeders, but also to supporting the education, overall development, and integrity of the sport horse breeding industry.  In response to an owner’s request to breed a mare that was a known carrier of Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS), all the Hilltop-owned stallions recently underwent genetic testing.  All the tested stallions were negative except for Sternlicht who tested positive as a carrier of WFFS.

With recessive genetic disorders like Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS), two copies of a recessive gene must be present for the horse to exhibit signs of the recessive defect. Horses with only one copy of the defective gene are considered “carriers” and do not have any symptoms associated with WFFS.  A foal can only be affected with symptoms if the foal inherits the disease from both parents, and in four years of breeding Sternlicht we know of no cases of WFFS affected foals.  Current estimates are that between 6% and 11% of the Warmblood population are carriers of WFFS, but testing is not common and to-date there has been an overall lack of discussion about the disease or testing.  Hilltop Farm will be encouraging all breeders to test their breeding stock to make informed decisions.

Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome is an inherited systemic connective tissue disorder that is found in Warmblood horses. Foals can have extreme skin fragility that lacks tensile strength and is often characterized by tearing or ulceration from normal contact with surroundings. Limb joints are extremely lax, affected foals cannot stand normally, and they must be euthanized soon after birth. 

Sternlicht has many outstanding traits that make him a valuable contributor for sport horse breeding.  With the state of genetic testing in its infancy, the sport horse industry has not yet had an open discussion on recessive traits like WFFS.  Other breeds and registries are far ahead of us in dealing with similar situations related to recessive traits and genetic testing. Time is needed for education about WFFS, discussions on the use of genetic testing and how it will influence our breeding decisions going forward, and the role and position of the warmblood registries in these circumstances.  Consequently, we have chosen to remove Sternlicht from this year’s stallion roster as we investigate the ramifications of this and other similar situations related to recessive traits and genetic testing. 

We hope that by coming forward and openly announcing this discovery, we can be a positive catalyst for how we as an industry move forward.  Questions regarding Sternlicht or Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome should be directed to Natalie DiBerardinis, Hilltop Farm’s Managing Director, at 410-658-9898 or natalie@hilltopfarminc.com.



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