Lexington, KY -There were four Team medal competitions today at the 2013 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC). In the Jumping, Zone 2 won both the the Young Rider and Junior Golds. USA took Gold in the Junior division of Reining, while the Young Riders from Canada were best. The NAJYRC continues through Sunday, July 21, with team and individual competitions for the FEI sports of Dressage, Jumping, Eventing, Reining, and Endurance.
A challenging course by Steve Stephens set the tone for today’s Young Rider jumping Team competition. With only two clear rides in the two rounds of jumping, the faults added up for teams. However, it was still a strong performance from Zone 2 that took home Gold medals for the four Young Riders. They finished on a total of 36 faults.
Lillie Keenan (16, New York City, NY) led the way on Londinium, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Lord Pezi, with two four-fault rounds. Mattias Tromp and Casey added four and eight faults, while Michael Hughes on Luxina had eight faults in both rounds. Gabrielle Bausano and Ubico H had some trouble as they were eliminated in the second round and had 20 faults in the first round.
Keenan related, “The course no doubt was challenging. For my horse, he could have jumped clear and I didn’t give him the best ride. He rose to the occasion though.”
Keenan said she didn’t know and wasn’t thinking about the difference between team faults as the last rider on course, although she had three rails in hand. “(The team day is) extra special compared to the individual round. I was thinking about not having any rails, but we still pulled out the Gold. Once I had the one (rail down), I thought, “Oh God, I better not have any more!'” she recalled.
Hughes (17, Allendale, NJ) agreed on the difficulty of the course, “It rode harder than it walked. Everything was bigger and wider and a lot more technical.”
Bausano (18, New York City, NY) said it was a “little bit of a struggle” for her horse today. She continued, “We tried our best and maybe next time we’ll do better. It was nice that we had a great team. As a team, we’re close and we’re friends, and it’s special to win a championship and better when you’re close with your team.”
Mattias Tromp (18, North Salem, NY) agreed that the course was challenging, but that everybody gave their best ride. Tromp was the only returning team member of last year’s Zone 2 Gold medal group. “It’s a great feeling to come back with a new team and do it again,” he said.
Between the Young Rider and Junior teams, there were many echoes of the same sentiment on their leader and Chef d’Equipe, Ralph Caristo, and his wife Holly. Keenan remarked, “The two of them make us feel like we could do anything.”
Bausano said, “When I was younger, I knew of the team’s history and Ralph’s legacy as Chef. Being a part of it, I know there is pressure to perform well and impress Ralph.”
Hughes competed previously at NAJYRC, but it was on the Zone 4 team. “I knew Zone 2 was always a very, very good team. It’s so great to be on such a great team. Ralph is great to work with. He’s so motivating and makes you want to do really well, for him and the whole team.”
The combined team from Zones 8 and 10 took the Silver medal with a total of 47 faults. The all-important clear round and one of only two for the day came from Hannah von Heidegger on Geledimar, a 10-year-old Zangersheide mare by Grosso Z. They also only had five faults from round one. Taylor Alexander (19, Castle Rock CO) and Everest de Muze were the pathfinders for the team and scored 12 and four faults. Haley Schwab (18, San Francisco, CA) and Wakyra had 17 and 25, while Robert Jornayvaz (20, Denver, CO) and Williams had 17 and nine.
Von Heidegger (16, Chatsworth, CA) has been riding Geledimar for just over a year and after a “rough start,” they have clicked and placed in grand prix classes this year. “She’s a little bit quirky, but that’s why I love her,” she said.
Von Heidegger mentioned that the course design, along with last night’s late class (due to weather) and today’s weather delay, affected some riders and horses. However, she said, it’s what helps them learn and grow at an event like NAJYRC.
“This is championship, so it should be challenging,” she stated.
The Bronze medals went to Zones 3/5, who had strong, consistent performances with only three team members. Kate Morrison and Windoctro were solid with two four-fault rounds. Catherine Tyree (19, Chicago, IL) and Wetter had eight faults in each round. Chloe Reid (16, Washington, D.C.) and Victor E posted scores of 16 and 9. They finished on a team total of 49 faults.
Morrison (19, Dublin, OH) has been riding Windoctro, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Indoctro, since September, and they have started to make their way into the grand prix ring. “He’s a really good confidence builder because he’ll jump from everywhere. He’s kind of sassy with attitude, and I have to kick him up to go and then he’s really good,” she described.
She said that today’s course was “one of the hardest I’ve ever done.” She said of Windoctro, “I relied a lot on him. It was not the easiest, but I was really happy with how he did.”
While today’s two rounds counted for the team championship, they also accounted for scores that would contribute to a rider’s individual standing. Wednesday’s speed round was converted using a coefficient multiplier.
Riding as an individual, Charlotte Jacobs (Zone 2) are at the top of the standings after she and Kachina, a 15-year-old Selle Francais mare by Voltaire, finished with just four faults in round one and a clear in round two. With their 3.58 score from yesterday, they lead with a score of 7.58. Close behind is Keenan and Londinium, who have a score of 8.00. Kate Morrison and Windoctro sit in third place with 13.70.
Zone 2 Brings Home another Junior Gold Medal
Jumping Junior Team Gold medalists from Zone 2: Kira Kerkorian, Katherine Strauss, Chef d’Equipe Ralph Caristo, Victoria Press, and Allison Toffolon (Sportfot)
Zone 2 clinched yet another Team Gold medal in the Junior division after a solid showing. The Zone 2 Team was led by Allison Toffolon and Kadans Webster as well as Katherine Strauss on Chellando Z, who were both double clear. Victoria Press and Cayenne 140 were clear in the first round and had eight faults in round two. With unfortunate refusals, Kira Kerkorian and Leopold 221 were eliminated in both rounds. The team finished on zero faults in round one and with just eight total faults.
Strauss (14, New York City, NY) thought the course, designed by Steve Stephens, was “a great test.” She explained, “I just came from Spruce Meadows, and I was nervous coming here because the courses at Spruce are in a big field, and you go in an open gallop, and there are a lot of unrelated lines. There, if you mess up a line, you can usually continue the rest of the course better. Here, if you mess up one line, you might mess up a few to come. I was happy in my first round. My teammates all did great. After the first round, I felt pretty confident.”
Strauss is one of the leaders in the individual standings with three clear rounds, and she feels like the NAJYRC is the perfect experience for her in her goals to represent the United States in senior competition. “For us to aspire to be on bigger teams in the future, this is such a great experience,” she noted. “(There are) so many up-and-coming riders, like Reed Kessler, Katie Dinan, and Brianne Goutal being on (Senior) teams. For the past few years, we kind of thought you could never be on a real team until you’re in your 30s or 40s, and now they made it seem like an achievable and real goal.”
Today was a great advance for Toffolon (17, Bronxville, NY) with her horse Kadans Webster, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Hos La Loi II. Although she has owned him for two years, an early injury set them back for a year. They have three clear rounds in the individual standings and are tied for the lead.
“It’s been a journey to bring him back to the horse he was when I bought him,” she said. “Getting those great clear rounds has been so fulfilling. I have to thank (my trainer) Andre (Dignelli) for finding him. I’ve come such a long way with him. It has been a really exciting experience here. I never thought that would happen. Now I’m really hoping for the best out of Saturday.”
All of the riders noted that it was an advantage to have venerable Zone 2 Chef d’Equipe Ralph Caristo and his wife Holly leading them here. “Ralph has been Zone 2 Chef since before we were born, so he knows the ropes,” Strauss said with a smile, “and you feel comfortable coming here because you know he knows the rules. He made it possible for all of us.”
Kerkorian (15, East Hampton, NY) added, “Ralph is great. Even if you have a bad round, he’s telling you to get back on the horse.”
Victoria Press (15, New York City, NY) remarked, “It was a big deal being here, but great practice if we want to do (the) Young Rider (Team) and Nations Cup Teams. Ralph was great and we were so excited we have him as our Chef. He’s always there to tell you you can do it. He helps you understand how to fix it and makes sure it doesn’t get to you.”
It was an exciting jump-off for the Silver and Bronze medals between Mexico and Zone 4 after both teams finished on 16 faults after two rounds.
With three clear rounds in the jump-off, Mexico clinched the Silver. The team consisted of four riders who were competing for the first time at NAJYRC. They were led by Eugenio Garza, who was double clear on Bariano. Andres Berganza (17) with Catello 3 and Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez (15) on Puertas Catena were clear in the second round after they both also had eight faults in round one. Adrian Berganza (17) and Corlando van Koekshof had twelve and four faults in the regular rounds, but it was his clear in the jump-off that led to their Silver medal.
Garza (16), who has had three clear rounds and is tied for the lead in the individual standings, has had his horse Bariano for a little over a year. “The last few weeks he has been jumping amazing,” he said. “I couldn’t ask more from him. It was definitely really surprising to do this well, and I hope to continue to do this well. This has been a great experience and we have benefited a lot from it.”
Zone 4 received the Bronze medal. In the jump-off, Haley Waters and No Doubt had four faults and Jenna Friedman on Zidoctro had 10 faults. After Mexico had three clears, Zone 4 could not beat them for the Silver.
The team had consistent rounds leading up to the jump-off from Waters (4, 4 faults), Friedman (eliminated, but improved to 20 in round two), Sophie Simpson on Why Not (0, 4), and Kaely Tomeu with Belle Bleu S (4, 0).
Tomeu has just four total faults in the individual standings. The 17-year-old from West Palm Beach, FL, was the anchor rider and was the only one on her team who had been to NAJYRC before. “I went last on the team and went clear, then we realized we were tied and had to jump-off,” she recalled. “I think I do better under pressure, and they were depending on me if I went clear (to make a jump-off). My horse was great. In the second round, she knew what to do.”
There were five double clear rounds today: Garza, Strauss, and Toffolon, as well as Dana Scott (Zone 1) on Whatever RV and Lucas Porter (Zone 7/10) with Phineas. The top 25 riders will return for the final day of Individual competition on Saturday, while the remaining riders are invited to compete in the Farewell class on Friday.