The Race to Le Lion: Gina Set to Receive 2023 Holekamp/Turner Grant

Chris Talley and Gina. Photo courtesy of USEA/Meagan DeLisle.

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that Gina, owned by Corwin Sport Horses, LLC, is the likely recipient of the 2023 Holekamp/Turner Grant and The Dutta Corp. prize. Gina (Gentleman x Ballerina) is a 7-year-old Hanoverian mare ridden by Chris Talley and was bred by Hartwig Von Holten in Germany. The pair aims to represent the U.S. at the 2023 FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship. The Championship will take place at La Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France, from Oct. 19-22, 2023.

The intention of the Holekamp/Turner Grant is to further develop an upward pathway for U.S. team horses in the sport of eventing. The grant recipients who are North American-bred are awarded the full cash grant of $17,500. If the winner is an imported horse, he/she will be awarded $8,000. Since Gina was imported, her team will be awarded $8,000USD. The team will also receive The Dutta Corp. prize which is one round-trip flight to Europe. The grant will be officially awarded after Gina passes the first horse inspection at the Championship in France.

Chris Talley runs his business in partnership with Hannah Salazar, owner of Zarazoga Acres. He describes the partnership as having a great team synergy who balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. “It takes a village,” Talley said of the operation, and noted that Talley found Gina in partnership with Salazar, and one of Salazar’s loyal supporters and owners, Joan Allen.

“I have an unhealthy obsession of searching for horses online,” Talley admitted. “I go through sales ads night and day, and I stumbled upon Gina. She was at a barn in Germany, and we all [Salazar, Allen and Talley] watched her video of her at the walk, trot and canter, and then as soon as we saw her free jump down one line, it was enough to make us call and setup a vetting. This was during COVID at the end of 2020, so getting to Europe was hard to go try her in person, so we actually purchased her off the video.”

Allen owns Corwin Sport Horses, LLC, and Talley said the team feels like a family. “Joan Allen is incredible, and the most supportive owner that you could have. I absolutely adore her. We make all decisions with the best interest of the horse in mind, and she is always supportive of Hannah and I trying new things with the horses, whether it be shipping off to a dressage show, or trying something different. It can be long days, but it’s incredibly rewarding.”

The horse that has the highest score from the 2021 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) 5-year-old Championships that is also qualified to compete in the 7-year-old Championship receives the Holekamp/Turner Grant. This is the first year in the history of the grant that the overall Champion from the YEH Championships will be the recipient of the grant. Gina won the Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast Championships on an impressive 95.2, topping all scores from both the East and West Coast Championships.

If the highest-scoring YEH horse from the 2021 YEH Championships does not qualify or is unable to attend, the grant is then awarded to the next highest scorer who is qualified and able to go. For Talley, he has three fully qualified horses for La Mondial du Lion, and plans to bring two of them. Gina will compete under the Holekamp/Turner Grant after acceptance at the first horse inspection, and Talley also plans to compete his own Loughtown Cici ZA (CC Captain Clover x Castlelawn Diamond Clover), who placed in the top 20 nationwide at the 2021 USEA YEH Championships. As a backup, Talley has Lynn Berry’s Rappahannock (Rosenthal x Sunny Dey) prepared, who placed in the top 15 nationwide in 2021 and is also fully qualified for the 7-year-old Championship in France.

“I’ve heard [La Mondial du Lion] has a big atmosphere, but I think for these two horses I’m bringing, especially Gina, they like the atmosphere,” explained Talley. “[Gina] went with Hannah to Dressage at Devon [Devon, Pennsylvania], and rose to the occasion, and then won the 5-year-old YEH Championship at the Maryland 5 Star. I put a lot of pressure behind it, and with the addition of the atmosphere at Maryland, she shined under that pressure. I just need to keep my own nerves under wrap in France.

“We’ve been working all three of these horses since they were 4 years old with the goal of getting to this point,” he added. “You set out on these journeys to achieve something, and sometimes it doesn’t happen, but to have three in the grass ready to go, it’s just surreal,” stated Talley.

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