Lexington, KY- Team USA Southeast dominated the podium on Friday morning at the 2015 Adequan/FEI NAJYRC. The team took both Team and Individual Gold, while USA Northeast earned Team Silver.
Kelsey Russell, 19, of Williston, Fla., rode off with both the Individual Gold and the Best-Conditioned Horse Award aboard My Wild Irish Gold, a 12-year-old Anglo-Arabian mare owned by Valerie Kanavy. Her teammate, Annie Whelan (Louisa, Ky.), won the Style Award. Team medals are determined by the top three highest-placed combinations. The USA Southeast team finished with the best cumulative time of 19:35:15, followed by USA Northeast (20:30:41). In the individual rankings, Russell had the best time of 5:43:56 hours.
The Silver medal went to Hanna Weightman (Shamong, N.J.) with Meg Sleeper's Syrocco Rabia (5:46:07 hours), and the Bronze to Hope Misner (Webster City, Iowa) with Roxi Welling's GDE Sweete Legacy (5:52:03). Eleven of 14 starters completed the course designed by Emmett Ross, which drew numerous compliments from competitors. "Emmett Ross got us out of the mud, and we're very grateful for that," said Whelan. Ross spent the entire day before the race rerouting the course because portions of the original route were belly-deep in water from torrential rains earlier in the week.
At the press conference after the awards, there was laughter and tears, particularly when the competitors talked about their horses (three of which are being retired after this event). Among the retirees is My Wild Irish Gold, Russell's champion mount whom she has been riding for six years and whom will now become a broodmare. The pair previously won this event at the Horse Park in 2011. "I won my first ride on her, and she took me to two world championships," Russell said. "It's a bond I don't think anyone will ever take (away)."
The Gold medal team roster included:
- Kelsey Russell with Valerie Kanavy's My Wild Irish Gold
- Katie Baldino (Marietta, Ga.) with Mary Kathryn Clark's Questafir
- Annie Whelan with Nicki Meuten's RF Priceless
- Mary Kathryn Clark (Eatonton, Ga.) with her own Kalilas Legacy
- Mallory Capps (Cumming, Ga.) with Jeremy Olson's SA Belshazzar
The Silver team members were:
- Hanna Weightman with Meg Sleeper's Syrocco Rabia
- India Orino (Albany Township, Maine) with Thomas Hutchinson's Frontier Random
- Maria Muzzio (Clifton, Va.) with Natalie Muzzion's Laconic
- Hunter Green (Star Tannery, Va.) with Cheryl Van Desusen's Spotless Summer Magic
For full results or to learn more about the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, please visit www.youngriders.org.
USEF Network presented by SmartPak will live stream the entirety of Saturday's events from the Rolex Stadium and Stonelea Ring during NAJYRC. Visit www.usefnetwork.com to tune in and to find out more.