July 31, 2009 -- Reining joins dressage, show jumping, and eventing as the disciplines showcased at this year's Adequan® FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, presented by Gotham North which hosts teams from Canada , Mexico , and the United States for a full week of competition. In its second year as a full-medal sport, this year's SmartPak™ North American Young Rider Reining Championship is shaping up to be a major Can-Am challenge. With a very strong Canadian showing for this year's competition, the US Teams were surprised by the strength and depth of their neighbors to the north.
Sage Sapergia, riding Shiners Q Chex for Team Alberta took top honors in the pen with a score of 211, earning her way to the victory lap for the Welcome Competition - the first competition in this prestigious championship. The Welcome Competition is intended to be an opportunity to work out any team dynamics before the Team Competition which begins Friday afternoon.
The US - Southeast/South Central Team's Maggie Jo Gratny was second, showing Roo Fifty Two to a 210.5 score.
Rounding out the top three, Vanessa Strotmann representing Team Canada Combined, scored a 208.5 for her run aboard Listos May Day Hobby.
Securing five of the top ten scores in the Welcome Competition, Canada proved that they came to play and hold fast to their hopes of taking home some hardware from the medal ceremonies. The three Canadian teams are definitely focused and ready.
"Reining has a strong tradition in Canada and we are thrilled to have a nice turn-out for the NAYRC," Wendy Dyer of Quebec and Chef D'Equipe for Team Canada Combined said. "We look forward to spirited and friendly competition with the US Teams in the upcoming events."
Dyer is one of the strongest organizers for young rider programs in Canada and is largely responsible for the strong Canadian teams at this year's Championship.
The SmartPak™ North American Young Rider Reining Championship is running concurrently with the Kentucky Cup Reining; the first of several official test events being held in preparation for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games next September. These two events are among the first to be held at the beautiful new indoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park .