Lexington, KY - Junior and Young Rider eventing teams took to the cross-country course today on Day Two of the three-day event at the 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, being held this week at the Kentucky Horse Park.
The Young Riders were on course early in the day. Following brief showers, lower temperatures made for ideal conditions to gallop the 4,750 meter, 24-obstacle two- star course designed by USEF President and Olympic Gold medalist, David O'Connor.
Jacob Fletcher and Falcon Splash, representing Area V/IX, were first of the 18 Young Rider pairs to go today. With only four time faults, they set the bar at 64.9, a score that was later smashed to bits by Laura Lambert and Baba Creek, representing Area II/IV/VIII, with a score of 53.6.
Perhaps exhibiting a bit of home turf advantage, Kentucky native Lambert held on to that lead and finished at the top of the leader board.
"It was a great galloping course," said Lambert following her run. "I have to give David O'Connor credit for creating a course that was really inviting and that really flowed given all that is roped off on the course in preparation for the WEG [The Alltech FEI 2010 World Equestrian Games, which will be at the Horse Park beginning September 25]."
Lambert and Baba Creek, her 13-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred, had no problems on the course, even sailing through water at fence 21, the Turtle drop. "I did take the longer option at fence 5 A-B," she noted. "But, I made up the time in the back of the course." Lambert had only .8 time faults.
Julia Norman and Sauvignon, representing Team Canada, are currently in second place only nine-tenths of a point behind Lambert.
Norman also took the slower option at fence 5 A-B. "We got word that it wasn't riding that well," she said. "We decided as a team to take the option, so that changed my ride bit. But Sauvignon is a sweet, athletic horse that will just try his heart out."
Close behind Lambert and Norman is Kelly Pugh on Copycat Chloe, representing Area VI/VII, with score of 55.9. "The course rode so much better than I could ever imagine," she said after her run. "I did find the water jump a bit difficult-I had to ride much harder into the bounce than I expected, but Chloe was just fantastic."
After a short break, the Juniors took the field for the one-star course, a bit shorter at 4,280 meters.
Kelly Loria and her mare, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, representing Area VI/VII/VIII, were first after yesterday's dressage competition and held on to that lead by finishing with no jumping faults and no time faults to maintain a score of 40.0.
"She is just awesome," Loria said of her 10-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred mare. "She's little, but she's mighty." Loria and Lucy had an anxious moment at the water, but managed to straighten out and barrel through cleanly. "She is still very green; she didn't realize there was a downgrade after the jump," said Loria.
Although there were a few falls and eliminations on the course (many at the water) no injuries were sustained.
Being in first place, Loria said the pressure is certainly on for the stadium jumping phase on Sunday. "Lucy loves to jump, but can get very forward," she noted.
Second in the Juniors after the cross-country is Claire Kelley and Clifton Peekachu, representing Area IV, with a score of 42.5. And, in third place is Kendyl Tracy and Ever So Lucky, representing Area IX, with score if 48.5.
All the riders are looking forward to Sunday's final phase. "I just want to stay relaxed and not let the pressure get to me," said Kelley.
The 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North concludes Sunday. For more information, visit www.youngriders.org.
Photos: Laura Lambert, Julia Norman and Kelly Pugh were first, second and third, respectively, after the cross-country phase of two-star eventing. Photo by Brant Gamma Photos.
Claire Kelley and Kendyl Tracy are aiming for a medal in the one-star eventing competition. Photo by Brant Gamma Photos.