Lexington, KY - The show jumping team competition for the USHJA Jumping Championships was held Friday night at the 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park. After a grueling Nations Cup competition, Team Alberta proved victorious in the Junior Riders section, while Zone 10 took home the Gold medal for the Young Riders division.
Olaf Peterson, Jr., designed a demanding test for each group of riders that included a double combination, a triple combination and a tricky open water obstacle. Each rider completed a first round course, and the rider with the greatest number of faults had their score dropped before having all faults added together. The six teams with the lowest fault count after the first round returned to tackle the course for a second time in the same format.
Zone 10 Young Riders took an early lead after the first round of competition with an eight-fault total. The team included Richard Neal with Cavalier Tommi Tank, Taylor Siebel aboard Thunder-Ball, Saer Coulter riding Chalan and Lucy Davis showing Nemo 119. The group continued their domination during the second round under the guidance of chef d'equipe Mary Manfredi with another eight-fault score for a two round total of 16 faults to win the Gold medal.
"We had an idea of what to expect after competing here last year," noted Coulter. "Last year was definitely very hard and challenging, and this year was just as challenging. But, I think we came prepared expecting something that was of the same level."
Today's competition acted as second qualifier for Individual Young Rider Finals being held on Sunday. Although the last two days of competition have been difficult, the riders feel ready to tackle the challenges that Finals will pose. "It's anyone's game on Sunday, you just have to keep the same sort of attitude that we had today," explained Siebel. "You need to just focus and really do the best you can do."
Neal added, "I think the level of competition makes this a very special event. These are the biggest jumps and the hardest courses we will face all year, so it's a great place to do it, and you always learn a lot coming here."
The Silver and Bronze medal winners were determined by a jump-off between Zone 5 and Zone 2. They each scored 20 faults during the first round and 12 faults during the second round for a 32-fault total. All four horse-and-rider combinations from each zone were required to show over the jump-off course. During the jump-off, Zone 2 accrued 12 faults while Zone 5 incurred just 10 faults.
The Silver medal was presented to Zone 5 riders, which included Ali Wolff with H & M Necoll, Kirstie Dobbs aboard Kolette, Theo Genn riding Paradox and Taylor McMurty showing Just An Illusion. Champion rider Wilhem Genn acted as chef d'equipe for the talented group.
Zone 2 was awarded the Bronze medal for their excellent effort during the competition. The team included Jessica Springsteen with Vornado Van Den Hoendrik, Karen Polle aboard Cachette Z, Katie Dinan riding Couletto K James and Reed Kessler showing Mika. The talented group of riders competed under chef d'equipe Ralph Caristo.
Earlier in the day, the Junior Riders competed for the top prize during their Team competition. The Alberta team took the lead during the first round with a four-fault score. A nine-fault score during the second round kept them in the lead with a 13-fault total, and they were awarded the Gold medal at the end of the night. The team included Jasmine Wiggins with Little Milton, Bretton Chad aboard Calle 11, Alexandria Smith showing Calira and Ben Asselin riding Lolita. Chef d'equipe Jonathan Asselin coached the group.
"I thought today's course was a little bit tougher than yesterday's. There were more related distances between the jumps, but I thought the course designer did a great job creating an appropriate course," said Asselin. "Right now, my horse feels fit, and I feel fit, and I think we're ready to try to do it again on Sunday."
The team felt confident that they had an excellent group of riders competing during today's class. "We really felt we had a chance and we proved it," commented Smith. "We've got some good horses and some good riders." Team Alberta definitely showed up to compete at this year's event.
After earning 12 faults during both the first and second round of competition, the Silver medal was presented to the Zone 10 team. The riders included Kendall Skreden with Esperanto, Jocelyn Neff aboard Gaja 20, Lindsay Douglas riding Perno, and Audrey Coulter showing Rodenburghs California, and they were also led by chef d'equipe Mary Manfredi.
The Bronze medal went to Zone 4, which included Paige Coles with Pacific Touch, Frances Land riding Merlin, Michael Hughes aboard Pracht and Hayley Barnhill showing Toucan Tango. The first round proved more difficult for the group, and they had a 28 fault score. Coles was eliminated from the competition after two refusals during the first round, and it cost the team the chance to drop a score. Chef d'equipe Wendy Peralta did not let them quit, though, and with just eight faults during the second round, they had a 36-fault total to clinch the third spot on the podium.
NAJYRC Show Jumping will continue Sunday at 7:30 a.m. for the Junior Individual Final and 2:00 p.m. for the Young Rider Individual Final. The Top 25 Individual riders from both the Junior and Young Rider division will ride for the Gold medal during the last day of competition.
For more information about NAJYRC, please visit www.youngriders.org.
Photos: Richard Neal, Taylor Siebel, coach Mary Manfredi, Lucy Davis and Saer Coulter, winners of the Young Rider Gold medal. Photo by SportFot.
Canadians Alexandria Smith, Ben Asselin, Bretton Chad and Jasmine Wiggins took the Junior Rider Gold-medal prize. Photo by SportFot.