Lexington, KY - Show jumping competition has started for the prestigious 2010 Adequan FEI American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North. The top American, Canadian and Mexican riders between the ages of 14 and 21 ventured to the Kentucky Horse Park to compete in the Individual qualifying round in the Main Outdoor Stadium. Riders vied for the top sport during today's classes and the opportunity to compete in the Individual Junior Rider Finals and Individual Young Rider Finals being held on Sunday, August 1, 2010.
Olaf Petersen, Jr., designed courses for both the Junior and Young Rider sections. The Young Rider course, set at 1.45m, was set at Table A, with faults converted, adding four seconds to the rider's time for each rail that was dislodged. Petersen designed a technical track which included an open water obstacle, double and triple combinations, and many options for inside turns along the way.
"There are ways you can gain time, that's the main purpose of the Table A course," said Petersen. "You not only have to watch speed, but also the turns." For each successive round in the Junior and Young Rider sections, Petersen said the courses will become more demanding.
After 37 of the 42 Young Riders had tackled Petersen's course, Reed Kessler took over the top spot aboard her 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Mika. The duo executed a daring route in order to have the quickest time. Her goal was not only to have a conservative clear, but also find ways to shave time in order to be on top.
"It was faults converted, so I knew no matter what, I needed to be neat and quick to be in the top three," explained Kessler. "Everyone was going for conservative clear, but there were so many places you could make time so easily."
Although Kessler dislodged the final two jumps at the last in-and-out on course, she still managed to have the fastest time even with eight seconds added to her total time of 86.97 seconds. Kessler praised her horse for helping her clinch the first-place honors.
"He's amazing, he has 1.60 scope," said Kessler. "He's going to be my 'big' horse when I'm old enough to do bigger classes, God willing I get there. He'll be the one I do it on. He's fantastic!"
Coming in second place was Mexico's Alberto Balas and Sylvana with a time of 87.29 seconds and no faults added. Canadian Marshall Whyte and Quinlan trailed close behind that time, tripping the timers at 87.87 seconds.
"It's a great experience, there's a good crowd out there," Whyte said of his first trip to Kentucky. "This is a beautiful facility, and it has been just an excellent time." The 21-year-old from Alberta credited his horse for his quick speed, and said he worried more about the rails while on course. "He's a unique horse, because we both learned how to do this sport together," Whyte mentioned.
The Junior Riders faced-off on a 1.40m course, also designed by Petersen. Twelve numbered obstacles were set with Table II, section 1 specifications.
Thirty-one riders went head-to-head in order to qualify for the next phase of competition, and it was Frances Land of Zone 4 who had the quickest clear round, coming home in 80.41 seconds, an impressive five seconds in the lead. The red rosette was awarded to Jasmine Wiggins, of Alberta, aboard Little Milton, while the third-place ribbon went to Ben Asselin, also of Alberta, with Lolita.
NAJYRC competition will continue with team competition Friday at 3:00 p.m. in the Main Outdoor Stadium. The next round, a team competition, will also count toward the total Individual score. In order to qualify for Sunday's final round of NAJYRC competition, Individual riders need to place in the Top 25 in their Junior or Young Rider group. The third and final round of NAJYRC show jumping competition will take place on Sunday for the USHJA Jumping Championships. The Junior Rider Individual Final is at 7:30 a.m. and the Young Rider Individual Final is at 2:00 p.m. The winners of the Junior and Young Rider titles will receive an Albion saddle of choice, leather bridle, leather girth, wrapped stirrup leathers and a numnah. Albion is the "Official Saddle of the NAJYRC.
For more information regarding NAJYRC, please visit www.youngriders.org.
PhotoCredit: Reed Kessler and Mika. Photo by SportFot.