Lexington, KY- The final day of individual competition at the 2015 Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Show Jumping Championships, presented by the United States Hunter Jumper Association, was tense as riders headed into the last round. Junior rider Vivian Yowan secured the Junior individual gold medal with a near faultless score, and Lucy Deslauriers came from behind to claim the Young Rider individual gold medal.
Ending on a score of just 3.08 faults from the first day of competition, Vivian Yowan, 17, of Lexington, KY, (Zone 5) and Vornado Van den Hoendrik laid down two near-perfect trips during the fourth and fifth rounds of the final individual competition, picking up just one time fault and blowing their competition out of the water. "After last year I kind of knew what it took and that you have to be consistent to even medal, so coming into this and even today I knew that I just had to be consistent to get here," said Yowan.
Yowan, who earned the Junior individual silver in 2014 by one fault, a time fault, remembered the importance of staying within the time allowed. "The one thing I've always had an issue with [Vornado Van den Hoendrik] is time faults and, especially here, that can be kind of crucial, except for in the last round today when I knew I could have a time fault," said Yowan. "But this year I think that was my biggest concern. I felt kind of guilty last year, so this year I didn't really want to have one."
Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez of Mexico and Puertas So What were a close second after a rail in the last combination, ending the competition on a score of eight faults. Bronze medalist Sophie Simpson, 16, of Royal Palm Beach, FL, (Zone 4) and Why Not also picked up an unlucky rail and ended on a score of 11.5 faults. "Of course I'm a little disappointed, being so close, but luck just wasn't in my favor today," said Sophie Simpson. "My mare was incredible, and I couldn't have asked for anything more. She got a little tired and a little empty, but I'm happy to be standing here with good competition and a medal around my neck."
Underdog Lucy Deslauriers, 15, of New York, NY, (Zone 2) had a brilliant and lucky fifth and final round with just one time fault to ride away with the Young Rider individual gold medal aboard Hester, ending on a score of 9.04 faults. Coming into the final day of competition, Deslauriers sat in fifth place and didn't expect to be in contention for the gold medal. "It's really incredible," said Deslauriers. "I definitely did not think going into this that this would be the end result. Especially going into today, I knew I was definitely kind of the underdog coming in fifth place, and I know how much can change. But, my horse jumped incredible, and I couldn't have asked more of him." In addition to taking the gold medal, Deslauriers was awarded the Jumping Style Award, recognizing her style while mounted as well as her manners and overall demeanor around the competition grounds and at the organized functions.
Giving Deslauriers a run for her money in the ring was Brittni Raflowitz, 19, of Palm City, FL, (Zone 4) and Baloumina Du Ry, who laid down two clean trips in the team competition, one clean trip in the fourth round of the individual final, and picking up five faults in the fifth and final round to end with a score of 9.15 faults, just 0.11 faults behind Deslauriers. "I never thought I would jump three clean rounds with her this week," said an emotional Raflowitz. "She literally gave me everything she possibly could, and I couldn't have asked her to do more."
First time Young Rider competitor Noel Fauntleroy, 20, of Manakin Sabot, VA, (Zone 3) rode into the final day of competition in first place and rode away with the individual bronze medal, after feeling the pressure from Raflowitz and Deslauriers. Fauntleroy, aboard newly acquired mount Cabras, was thrilled with her finish, despite getting nudged out of the top spot. "I honestly had no expectations coming into this," said Fauntleroy. "It's my first time here, and I am just happy with [Thursday]. Having another clear round today was more than I could have asked, so I am happy."
All three Young Rider medalists had high praise for their horses, as well as course designer Alan Wade of Ireland. "I thought both courses were a good test today of scope, carefulness, and the time allowed in the second round was definitely a huge factor," said Deslauriers. Raflowitz echoed, "He really put the test on and made us think, and we really had to keep our composure because I think if we got a little bit anxious at all, it was not going to end well." She continued, "The first round was a test more of stamina and scope, and the second round the time allowed was really tight and you had to be careful. He did an amazing job; he really did."
In addition to medals and awards for riders, the final day's competition included special recognition for one chef d'equipe. Zone 5 Chef d'Equipe Abby Blankenship was awarded the Caristo Cup, an annual award given by Susie Humes, Susie Schoellkopf, Leo Conroy, David Distler, and Karen and Heather Caristo in Ralph Caristo's honor. The award is given to the chef d'equipe who best exemplifies Ralph's enthusiasm and professionalism. Zone 2 was lucky enough to have Ralph as their chef d'equipe for many years, and he led them to win more individual and team gold medals than any other zone. He was again Zone 2's chef d'equipe in 2015.
For complete results, please visit www.youngriders.org.