Lexington, KY - Twenty-seven of the United States' best show jumping riders will take over the International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center March 21-24 to vie for the 2012 USEF National Show Jumping Championship. The championship runs concurrently with the USEF Selection Trials for the US Show Jumping Team for the 2012 Olympic Games, meaning there is plenty on the line at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival.
The USEF National Show Jumping Championship has been on hiatus since 2008 but the 2012 return features four classes over three days of jumping.
"It is wonderful," said U.S. Chef d'Equipe George Morris. "In most other countries this is a very big deal, this national championship. We definitely needed to incorporate it into the trials because my concern is that horses are always asked to do more."
Four athlete/horse combinations have already been named to the USEF Long List (Laura Kraut and Cedric, Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo and McLain Ward with both Sapphire and Antares F) but Madden and Kraut will ride other horses in the Trials. Ward is sidelined with an injury sustained in January but is expected to be back in action in April.
Read more about that here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/news/8186/2012/3/16/laura_kraut_and_cedric_beezie_madd.aspx and here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/news/8136/2012/3/5/mclain_ward_named_to_the_usef_show.aspx
The field is an incredible mixture of seasoned professionals and exciting up-and-coming talent. It includes three members of the 2008 Olympic Gold medal-winning show jumping team (the fourth is Ward). Kraut, Madden and Will Simpson will all have a crack at the title. 2011 Pan Am Gold medal teammates Christine McCrea (who also won Individual Gold) and Kent Farrington are in contention too.
Former Adequan FEI North American Junior/Young Rider medalists Lucy Davis, Saer Coulter, Jessica Springsteen, Karl Cook, Nick Dello Joio, Brianne Goutal, Katie Dinan, Charlie Jayne and Reed Kessler are part of an exciting under-30 group jumping up into the top leagues of the sport.
As far as selecting the Olympic Team for the 2012 Olympic Games, Morris said that a lot will unfold in the next week.
"That's why we have these trials," he said. "To see who comes to the top. The National Championship makes it more enticing and it was refreshing to see young faces here this circuit doing well. It is still unknown, some years we could field three Olympic teams we have so much depth. Its not always like that but it is always exciting."
Watch it unfold live! Tickets are available at www.equestriansport.com but all four classes will be available LIVE on the USEF Network presented by SmartPak: