August 1, 2016 - The Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) concluded Sunday, July 31, at The Colorado Horse Park (CHP), bringing a close to competition, which featured three disciplines throughout the week including show jumping, eventing, and dressage.
Carmen Holmes-Smith (18, Chase, B.C.) and Spartacus continued their move up the leaderboard after a double-clear stadium round Sunday and were presented with the CH-J* Individual Gold medal for finishing on their starting score of 45.9. Shelby Brost (18, Red Deer, Alta.) and Crimson made a significant jump up the standings after tackling the cross-country track of the CICY2* and added no penalties to their dressage score of 50.20. The pair finished with one of five double-clear show jumping rounds to conclude NAJYRC, capturing the Individual Gold in the CICY2*. The Area I Team took to the medal podium as they were awarded with the CH-J* Team Gold medal, while the Area V/IX Team rode to victory in the CICY2*, participating in the final medal ceremony of the week. Closing out the jumping and dressage disciplines, Lucy Matz (16, Coatesville, Pa.) guided Bailey VI to the top of the Jumping Junior Individual Final, while Jenna Upchurch (18, Chesterfield, Mo.) and Greystoke earned top honors in the Dressage Junior Freestyle with a score of 71.350%.
NAJYRC remains a yearly highlight and source of motivation for young riders competing in multiple disciplines and CHP, along with the facility's management team, are honored to have hosted this prestigious championship event, which showcases the talent, perseverance, and sportsmanship of the next generation of top equestrian athletes.
"It has been an honor to host the Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) this year at The Colorado Horse Park. This competition continues to serve as an essential component in the continued history and tradition of equestrian sport in North America," said Meg Krueger, Chief Operating Officer of The Colorado Horse Park. "The team at CHP is proud to have contributed to the success of this monumental event and we are grateful for the opportunity to support the careers and aspirations of these dedicated riders."
Carmen Holmes-Smith and Shelby Brost Collect Top Honors on Final Day of CH-J* and CICY2* Individual Competition
Individual and team medal ceremonies in the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships were presented today at CHP to close the 2016 Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, recognizing riders in both the CH-J* and CICY2*. Carmen Holmes-Smith (18, Chase, B.C.) and her mount Spartacus, competed as individuals throughout the week and sat well within reach of the win following cross-country. Haley Rosenberg (18, Pleasantville, N.Y.), representing Area I as an individual, piloted Evil Munchkin to the Silver medal, also finishing with a score of 45.9. The tie for first place was broken by a comparison of each rider's cross-country time, with the closest to the optimum time taking the victory. Cornelia Dorr (18, Manchester, Mass.) and Sir Patico MH received the Bronze medal, alongside their Team Gold with Area I.
"I was thrilled with my horse today. The scores today were very close and there really was no margin for error. I rubbed one fence pretty hard, which was nerve-racking, but we ended up finishing clear," explained Holmes-Smith. "I was thrilled with the way he stepped up and performed throughout the week."
Holmes-Smith was ecstatic with the pair's cross-country trip and stadium round. Even with a few self-proclaimed bobbles in their dressage test, the duo finished one of the their most competitive weekends yet.
"Overall, the dressage has been our weakest phase and I thought that our test this weekend was one of the best tests we've done ever. I was thrilled with that and our cross-country round," she said. "We're pretty good in stadium, but there's always that chance that you can have a rail. I was really happy with the weekend."
Overcome with emotion, Holmes-Smith addressed her initial reaction when she learned of her top finish and the meaning of competing alongside her sister Tosca, as well as the return of British Columbia to the medal ceremony.
"This was very emotional. I didn't come into this competition thinking that I was a contender for a medal. I want to thank the grooms, my chef, my coach, and my parents. It was also really great to compete alongside my sister and she did extremely well herself, which was special too," she commented.
"Even though I wasn't on a team, I still felt the team atmosphere. I don't' think anyone was really expecting that we would do that well here. British Columbia hasn't really been competitive in eventing and to come out and do this well was overwhelming."
Silver medalists Rosenberg and Evil Munchkin have only been competing at the FEI level together since last summer and their strong finish this week is a testament to how far they've come since Rosenberg took over the ride.
"I mentioned yesterday that I really think the horse is only as good as the rider, and we really stepped up as a pair today. I always know that he can do it, but sometimes I feel like I can't, and I was proud of myself for not letting my nerves get the best of me," she said.
Rosenberg and Evil Munchkin found themselves tied with Holmes-Smith heading into the final phase, but the pair did not let the added pressure alter their ride, which is a noted improvement in Rosenberg's mental game.
"This is been our best competition ever. We've never broken into the 40's in the dressage and typically in high pressure situations I contribute to us having a rail," commented Rosenberg. "The week, as a whole, has been amazing. I wouldn't trade this week for the world. Even if we did terribly, I still would have loved and enjoyed every moment."
Dorr and Sir Patico MH were the only horse and rider combination in the CH-J* division to medal in both individual and team competition, anchoring the Area I Team before learning she had also earned the Individual Bronze medal for her efforts.
"This week was the best week of my summer, not just because we medaled as a team or individually, but because of the friends and experiences that we had. I just loved the week," she explained. "Dressage for us is always hit or miss and I think this summer we've worked really hard on making it more consistent and that showed through in our test. This was also our best score at the FEI level."
Shelby Brost (18, Red Deer, Alta.) and Crimson made the most of their time at NAJYRC as their win fit perfectly into their future plans of one day representing their home nation of Canada on an even more international scale. Brost and Crimson sat in fifth place with a 50.2 after the dressage phase, before moving into second after a double-clear cross-country trip. The duo, who were Individual Bronze medalists at the 2015 NAJYRC in Lexington, Ky., in the CH-J*, returned this year to finish as the only combination to complete the weekend on their dressage score in the CICY2*.
"I always try to stay out of her way in the show jumping. The last line turned out to be a little difficult for us, but she gave it her all and I'm so proud of her," said Brost. "Coming into stadium I knew that I was sitting in second so it was important for me to jump a clear round. I was beyond thrilled with her to even be sitting in second place."
"She's still green at the 2* level and so am I. We only did our first 2* together this spring and I was still 17. I think we'd like to do a CCI2* in the fall and she's just a great horse for the future," added Brost.
Clara Cargile (20, San Angelos, Texas) also secured a Team Gold medal for the Area V/IX Team in the CICY2* and finished with Individual Silver aboard White Indian with an overall score of 55.5.
Cargile and White Indian have been rebuilding confidence throughout the year in CCI/CIC2* competitions, and their finish today was an emotional one, as they completed one of their best competitions to date.
"He felt great. When he came into the ring he could tell that this is not what we were doing two days ago," laughed Cargile. "We had the first rail down because I let him get a little long but, you know, I was proud because we kept it together even after having the rail because there was a lot more to come."
Rounding out the top three individual finishers was Elena Hengel (20, Woodland, Minn.) and Zipp, who ended the week on a final score of 60.3. The pair began competition earning a 42.1 in the dressage phase, before picking up 9.6 time faults on cross-country to move into stadium with a 52.3. The pair dropped two rails on the course to secure their final score of 60.30.
"Zipp felt great this week. It's always been a dream of mine to come here and medal like we did. It's really nice to feel like we finished strong through the whole week," added Hengel. "We're going to aim for a fall CCI and I'm really just learning how to ride him for the future. I want take my time and see what the next few years bring."
Area I Team Takes CH-J* Championship while Area V/IX Team Captures CICY2*
Team competition for the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships concluded Sunday for both the CH-J* and the CICY2* divisions, as a new group of champions were crowned for their efforts at the 2016 NAJYRC competition. The Area I Team was composed of four riders from Massachusetts including Katie Lichten (17, Hamilton, Mass.) and RF Luminati, Madeline Lichten (17, Hamilton, Mass.) with Yarrow, Erica Jarrell (17, Lincoln, Mass.) aboard Uni Sprite, and Cornelia Dorr (18, Manchester, Mass.) with Sir Patico MH, took to the podium, hoisting the Gold medal for their overall team score of 146.7, which bested the other seven teams competing in the CH-J* division.
"Show jumping is Hugo's strongest phase and it was nice to be able to go into the ring and perform under pressure. That was the biggest piece and improvement in our round this week," said Dorr, who anchored the team as the last rider on course for Area I.
Securing the overall place of the Area I Team was based on the efforts of Katie Lichten, Jarrell, and Dorr, as Madeline Lichten was unable to compete due to her cross-country elimination on Saturday, serving as the only drop score.
"Uni Sprite was just amazing today. He was very through his topline and we're always working on getting him to extend his neck a bit more. He was listening to everything, which ended up being tough for us in the triple combination, but it was only one rail and I was so proud of him. This was an amazing day and an amazing event," detailed Jarrell.
Katie Lichten and RF Luminati posted a double-clear effort around the stadium course designed by Chris Barnard (USA) to finish in seventh place overall with a score of 48.3, while Dorr and Sir Patico MH produced the team's second clear -ound effort to secure the top podium.
"Even though I didn't get to compete today, I was still so proud of all of my teammates. They each put in such beautiful rounds under pressure and this has been a great experience for all of us. To come out with a win is something that we've all been working towards," concluded Madeline Lichten.
The Area III Team earned the CH-J* Silver medal with a total score of 160.8:
Mikensey Johansen (Hamilton, Ga.) and Grey Prince - 66.7
Carson Richards (Charleston, S.C.) and Fernhill Mr. Cool - 53.5
Parker Miller (Bainbridge, Ga.) and What Law - 57.4
Haley Curry (Canton, Miss.) and Resolute Protector - 49.9
The Area VI Team earned the CH-J* Bronze medal with a total of 181.5:
Delaney Vaden (Nevada City, Calif.) and Redrox Jazzman - 85.1
Kelsey Holmes (Malibu, Calif.) and NZB The Chosen One - 48.4
Mia Farley (San Clemente, Calif.) and Fernhill Fine Diamond - 48.0
Megan Traynham (Arbuckle, Calif.) and Lord Lombardi - E
The Area V/IX Team was victorious in the CICY2* division after compiling strong rides from their three-member team of Clara Cargile (20, San Angelos, Texas) and White Indian, Madeline Backus (21, Larkspur, Colo.) with P.S. Arianna, and Alyssa Phillips (19, Fort Worth, Texas) aboard Bliss III with a total score of 183.7, which was more than 20 points lower than the second-place team.
"Bliss came out this morning feeling great and I was excited to get to the show jumping. We've been working on her rideability at home and she was really with me the entire time around the course," detailed Phillips. "It says a lot that we were a team of three this week and really held our own against the rest of the competition. I think that was one of the more exciting parts of the week. It's nice to end on this note."
Backus and P.S. Arianna have competed at the upper levels of the sport for numerous years, as this season marks their 10th anniversary together. The pair has established a trusting relationship, which Backus noted, was evident in their completion of the three phases this week.
"Ari was great. She tries really hard for me every time out. We've been together for over ten years and I think our partnership really starts to show at competitions like this," she said. "This is very exciting and I think from here we're going to do a few more 3* competitions and then look to qualify for Rolex next year."
"Area V hasn't won a Gold medal in the two-star since 2005, and it's very exciting to bring it home again," added Cargile. "I think we're going to contest some additional two-stars in the fall and we don't have any plans to move up to Advanced any time soon, so we'll just see where it goes."
"This venue is absolutely beautiful and we've had great weather here. We've each had great rounds and it's been fun. This competition is always a fun experience," she concluded.
The Ontario/Alberta Team earned the CICY2* Silver medal with a total score of 218.0:
Jamie Kellock (Cedar Valley, Ont.) and Don't Blink - 73.0
Shelby Brost (Red Deer, Alta.) and Crimson - 50.2
Emma Green (Alliston, Ont.) and Raniki - E
April Simmonds (Uxbridge, Ont.) and Impressively Done - 94.8
The Area VI/VIII Team earned the CICY2* Bronze medal with a total score of 250.5:
Josey Thompson (Shafter, Calif.) and Pistol Annie - R
Margaret Ragan (Crestwood, Ky.) and Surefire's Anwar - 68.4
Woods Baughman (Lexington, Ky.) and Montesquieu - 62.5
Chelsea Kolman (Versailles, Ky.) and Dauntless Courage - 119.6
Lucy Matz Races to Victory in Junior Individual Final
Lucy Matz (16, Coatesville, Pa.) and Bailey VI, competing for Zone 2, nearly didn't make it to the finish of the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Junior Rider Individual Finals, as the pair encountered a hairy moment at the final oxer before crossing through the timers. Instinctively, Matz clucked Bailey VI forward and the pair regained their balance upon landing, which secured their overall win. Carlos Hank Guerrerio (16, Mexico City, Mexico) and Santos, competing for the Mexico North Junior Team received the Silver medal. Brian Moggre (14, Flower Mound, Texas) and MTM Flutterby of Zone 7 took home the Bronze medal for their efforts throughout the week.
Matz has held her own during the competition aboard Bailey VI, who was originally ridden by her brother Alex Matz, who also competed this week in the Young Rider division at NAJYRC. In addition to their strong finish in the final, Matz and Bailey VI picked up a Bronze medal in the team portion of competition, and finished in third place during the Junior Rider First Round Individual Qualifier.
"I thought the courses were great all week. They were technical enough but definitely fair. Walking the first course, we just wanted to have a smooth clear round," detailed Matz, as she discussed her approach and plan for the week. "The second course was a little bit more difficult for us. Unfortunately, the last fence got a little bit away from me, but it all worked out."
Out for a bit of redemption, Matz explained that she narrowly missed the cut for the Junior Individual Final at the 2015 NAJYRC and made it her goal to make it beyond that point this year. She commented, "I just missed the cut last year. This year I wanted to be more consistent, especially in the first round. I knew that if I could put together a clear round, then I would hopefully end up on the podium somewhere."
Guerrerio and Santos also concluded a banner week, as they propelled the Mexico North Junior Team to a Team Gold medal in the Junior Team competition. The duo dropped a single rail in the first round Sunday and one in the second round to ultimately finish in second place and earning the Silver medal.
"I think the first round was similar to the rest of the championship courses we've seen this week. It was technical and our goal was to jump a clear round, but there was a little bit of pressure coming into the first round as the last rider in the lead," explained Guerrerio. "In the second round, I thought it was quite bigger and still technical. I think my horse jumped really well and, overall, I'm very happy."
Guerrerio, like Matz, just missed the cut for the individual component of competition last year and wanted to put in two solid rounds aboard Santos in the final class of the week.
"Being on the podium again today was really important to me. I was really happy to earn two medals because last year we only got Bronze. It was good to improve," he added.
Moggre and the feisty mare MTM Flutterby were not expecting to finish in the top three after a few difficult trips early on in the week, but two solid rides on the final day helped to push the pair into the top three in the standings.
"Earlier in the week I didn't do too well, so today, I was hoping for two clear rounds and to move up a couple of spots," commented Moggre. "I came to Young Riders hoping for a medal and after my results earlier in the week, I wasn't necessarily planning to be on the podium. I have to say though, being up there with these two amazing riders is really an honor."
Upchurch Pilots Greystoke to Junior Freestyle Victory on Final Day of NAJYRC
Jenna Upchurch (18, Chesterfield, Mo.) and Greystoke, representing Region 4, continued to build on their success of the week, finishing the final day of dressage competition with another Gold medal podium appearance for their ride in the USDF North American Junior & Young Rider Dressage Championships Junior Freestyle. The duo received a score of 71.350% for the win. Vanessa Creech-Terauds (16, Caistor Centre, Ont.) piloted Fleur de Lis L to a Silver medal, earning a score of 70.500%, while Jackson Gillespie (17, Denver, Colo.) and Westpoint CB, riding for Region 5, secured the Bronze medal with a score of 69.500%.
Upchurch and Greystoke have impressed in each of their classes, attesting to the talent of both the horse-and-rider combination, as well as the growing potential for the duo moving forward in their career together. Upchurch and Greystoke have only been partnered since December 2015 and have already made great strides in their communication in the ring.
"I feel like we've improved on our connection a lot with the flow of the test and going from movement to movement, as well as how relaxed and collected he could be throughout the test," detailed Upchurch. "For our music, it's a compilation of Coldplay music including "Viva La Vida" and an assortment of scores from the "Fast and Furious" movies, which I love. I edited and cut the music myself with my trainer."
While Upchurch competed at NAJYRC in 2015, she did not qualify to move forward to the freestyle, so the experience and thrill of the atmosphere this year is something she will always remember.
"Last year when I came I didn't make the freestyle. Being able to ride it this year was just fantastic. I have music that I made, and the choreography that we created between myself and my trainer and getting this result is just fantastic," she said. "He's a fabulous horse and to be able to say that he's mine is incredible. He's an amazing animal. I have to thank so many people for the opportunity to work with him and have him. I'm really happy to be able to make my trainer Martin Kuhn proud."
Silver medalists Vanessa Creech-Terauds and Fleur de Lis L have also stood side-by-side with Upchurch and Greystoke in nearly every class this week. Creech-Terauds noted that NAJYRC is her favorite week of the year and also commented on the continued improvements of the young Hanoverian mare throughout the duration of the competition.
"Fleur was very good in all three classes and all three tests. She stayed very focused today, and was energetic with the music going. She kept with me very well and I was proud of her for that," said Creech-Terauds. "She was great all three days. This is a gorgeous facility and I have to thank the sponsors for making this show possible."
Creech-Terauds touched on the fun and lively music selection for her freestyle aboard Fleur du Lis L. She noted, "The trot music is from "Madagascar 2" and the canter is "Kung Fu Panda". We had a lot of fun making the music and in the juniors it's all about having fun and getting experience in the ring. I find that's exactly what our music reflects."
Gillespie returns to NAJYRC this year as a rider, as the Denver native narrowly missed selection to last year's team and traveled to Lexington, Ky., as a groom for Region 5. He explained, "This year getting to make the team was such an amazing experience, especially because there is nothing else like this competition for the youth community in our sport."
When describing his test and the inspiration behind his music and choreography, he spoke of other freestyles that had incorporated the scores of another famous movie franchise, "James Bond". Triple Gold medalist at NAYJRC, Nicholas Hansen, also rode to a popular movie franchise score in "Star Wars".
"My trot work music is my favorite part of the choreography because it's to "James Bond" music. He has an incredible extended trot, so when it slips into the larger band section it really goes well with his movement," explained Gillespie when discussing his musical choice. "I've seen freestyles put together with the "James Bond" music and wanted to include it in my music."
Competition at the 2016 Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North concluded Sunday at The Colorado Horse Park. For more information on NAJYRC and The Colorado Horse Park, please visit www.youngriders.org or visit www.coloradohorsepark.com.