Lexington, KY - After dressage in the CCI**, Area III's Devon Brown and Dynamic Image sat atop the leaderboard - and Brown refused to relinquish her lead Saturday at the USEA North American Junior and Young Rider Eventing Championship at the 2011 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North.
Brown piloted Donna Miller's flashy grey Irish Sport Horse gelding through the cross-country course to a fault-free round with a time of 8:31, well within the time allowed. The clean trip around David O'Connor's cross-country course left the pair with a two-day score of 50.5. "The course was challenging," Brown said. "The combinations kept at it. They didn't stop." Brown said she was most concerned about the double corners and the angled huts, but she had no problems navigating the challenges.
Although some riders had challenges with slippery footing in some parts of the course, Brown didn't think it impacted her ride. "The footing was good," she said. "The only time he slipped was in warm up. On course, it was little hard, but if you galloped in arrogated places it was good." Going into show jumping with the lead is something Brown says she'll avoid thinking about until he has to: "I'm neutral. I'm going to keep it behind me until I really need to focus. I'll dwell on it. We'll just see how he feels tomorrow, and I'll ride the horse I have tomorrow."
Sitting just behind Brown in second is Team Canada's Joelle Baskerville, who rode Malibu - a Hungarian Warmblood/Thoroughbred mare - cleanly around the course, accruing just two time faults to bring her two-day score to 54.4. "I thought [the course] was really nice and open with lots of galloping," she said. "There were a few tricky combinations, but I thought the coffin rode better than expected, and the quarry rode well. The corners were quite hard, but it rode really well."
Baskerville's main focus tonight will be getting Malibu ready for the final phase of the competition tomorrow: "I'm hoping we'll get her feeling good tonight. She looks good right now; she's acting like herself. I'm excited to be in the big Rolex ring. I think the atmosphere will hopefully help us put us at the top of our game."
Representing Areas V & IX, Kendyl Tracy and Ever So Lucky - a dark bay Thoroughbred mare owned by A Bit of Tack - started the day tied for fifth place, but moved up to third place with a fast and clear trip over the cross-country course. The pair finished the day just 0.1 point behind Baskerville with a score of 54.5. "I think David [O'Connor] did a great job with the course," Tracy commented. "Everything rode to plan. It was an easy course to get a rhythm on. I was most worried about drop, but she was great."
Tracy admits that show jumping hasn't been her and Ever So Lucky's strong point, but is still hoping for a good ride tomorrow: "Show jumping's been a little struggle, but we've been working hard and going to a few jumper shows. I'm hoping she's good tomorrow."
Sarah Kamensky and Urlanmore Beauty (Area III) took third place after dressage, but collected 4.8 time faults, which left them with a score of 58.4, dropping them to ninth.
Only two horse and rider combinations did not finish the course in the CCI**. Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek from Areas IV, VI, & VII opted to retire on course, while Areas I & II's Benita Strini parted company with Carlingford Merlot and were eliminated.
The team from Areas V & IX took over the Gold-medal position in team standings with a total of 166.2 after none of their riders added any jump or time faults to their dressage scores. The team is made up of Tracy and Ever So Lucky, Jacob Fletcher and Falcon Splash, Emma Kate Fisher and Carlingford's Merlot, and Rowdie Jo Adams and No Money down.
Area III's team slid to second by less than a point after a handful of time faults were added to their riders' scores, bringing the team total 166.8. Brown and Dynamic Image, Kamensky and Urlanmore Beauty, Emily Renfroe and Walk the Line, and Libby Head and Sir Rockstar make up the team.
Finally, remaining in Bronze-medal position is Team Canada with 208.2 points. The team is made up of Baskerville and Malibu, William Dow and Midleton, Melissa Boutin and Siamese Kat, and Christian Bennett and Rolex.
On the leader board in the CCI*, Sable Giesler and her Holsteiner gelding, Evil Munchkin, moved up two places from third to first after cross-country. The pair turned in a faultless round to keep their score at 52.3. "The course rode how I expected," she said, adding that although the course was open and gallopy, Evil Munchkin "came back well for questions." Giesler said that her horse slipped approaching the second water, but he was able to regain his footing to jump cleanly through the complex.
Looking ahead to show jumping, Giesler said, "My horse is a little green, but he's a good jumper. I just have to not ride like a monkey and we should be good."
Alyssa Phillips and Sundance Bay - a 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding - from Area V remained in second place after running clean over the cross-country course. Phillips added just 1.2 time faults to her score for a two-day total of 52.7. Phillips said her horse enjoyed the open course and that he handled well. "It was a really nice course," she added.
Moving up into third place with a two-day score of 53.7 were Victoria New from Area V and her Irish Sport Horse gelding, Bally Whatnot. New and Bally Whatnot added no jumping or time faults during the cross-country test. "It was a great course for my horse," New said. "I had a stronger horse. He fought a little on the first few fences, but then came back nicely."
New said she didn't have any footing problems and that she was happy with her stud choice. She explained that she got some pointers from team members who'd ridden earlier, and that she rode wider turns to compensate for any possibly slick footing.
In the team standings, the team from Area V held their lead with a score of 163.3. New and Bally Whatnot, Phillips and Sundance Bay, Avery Klunick and In It to Win It, and Alexa Ehlers and In Any Event make up the team.
Making a jump from fourth to second in the team standings was the team from Area VI with a score of 189.2. The team is made up of Piper Leddick and Emmie Lou, Zachary Brandt and Cavallino Cocktail, and Kaitlin Veltkamp and Flashpoint D.
Finally, sitting the Bronze-medal position is the team from Ontario. Giesler and Evil Munchkin, April Simmonds and Sunday Best, and Brook Pickering and Abbey Rhode amassed a total of 191.8 points.
Both the CCI* and CCI** competitions resume tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. with the final horse inspections, followed by show jumping beginning at 1:00 p.m.
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Photos: CCI** leader Devon Brown Brant Gamma Photography; CCI* leader Sable Giesler Brant Gamma Photography