Abundance of Talent at FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships 2012
by Louise Parkes
With the opening of the Olympic Games in London just around the corner, some of the next generation of potential Olympians were displaying their talent at the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships 2012 at The Horse Park in Kentucky (USA) over the last week. Open to riders between 14 and 21 years, the busy annual event embraces the three Olympic disciplines of Jumping, Dressage and Eventing along with the FEI World Equestrian Games™ disciplines of Reining and Endurance. Competitors from the USA, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands lined are permitted to ride in these Championships.
Brandi Roenick helped Region 5 to Young Rider team victory before going on to take both the Individual and Freestyle titles with Weltino’s Magic. This was the fourth team gold for the 17 year old rider who won the National Young Rider Dressage Championship in Gladstone, New Jersey, with her mare Pretty Lady five weeks ago. Weltino’s Magic claimed team and individual gold for Roenick’s trainer, Steffen Peters, at the 2011 Pan American Games, and the 10 year old gelding produced the leading score of the Young Riders team event when putting 70.500 on the board, while Roenick’s team-mates Victoria Fernalld (Amazing) earned 61.921, Devon Wycoff (Power Play) achieved a mark of 67.763 and Madeleine Birch (Uoeri) scored 67.842.
Silver went to Region 7 who finished less than five marks behind while Canada/Quebec took team bronze.
Monica Houweling came closest to Roenick’s winning score of 74.974 in the Individual Championships when putting 71.237 on the board with Rifradin, while fellow-Canadian, Alexandra Reed riding VIP, took the bronze with 70.000. And Weltino’s Magic worked once again to scoop the Freestyle honours with a mark of 72.000 while Houweling took her second silver here and another Canadian, Mathilde Tetreault, stood on the bronze medal step of the podium.
Talking about the experienced Weltino’s Magic, Roenick, who now has six gold medals at the NAJKYRC, said “I have to keep what he and Steffen (Peters) did in the past. I have to think about what I’m going to achieve with him and not let it intimidate me. I have to stay humble, and keep my head in the game”. Peters is a member of the US team at London 2012.
The Junior team title went to Canada/Quebec’s Frederique Bourgault (Pepin’s HG San Classic), Laurence Blais Tetreault (Pissarro), Naima Moreira Laliberte (Tolando) and Nicole Babich Morin (Foxfire) on a score of 200.642. Three of the team were enjoying their Championship debut, and 17 year old Bourgault said afterwards “I think we are speechless! Winning the gold is like a privilege for all the hard work we did”.
But it was team silver medallist, Ayden Uhlir from Region 9, who took the Individual title with Sjapoer when a mark of 69.684 left Ariel Thomas and Montfleury in silver ahead of Laurence Tetreault and Pissarro in bronze. It was a great week for the Tetreault family as Laurence Blais claimed the Freestyle gold with Pissarro in her last competition with this horse. “I’ve had my horse for three years, and it’s a long way to the top” said the youngster from Montreal (CAN) whose sister, Mathilde Blais Tetrault had taken the Young Riders Freestyle bronze. “It’s really nice because I’m proud of her” said older sister Mathilde, who would like to ride on a team with her younger sibling next year – “we’ll have to see if she can make it because she’s only 15” Mathilde pointed out. Another Canadian, Mariah Sutton, took Freestyle silver with Renoir while Individual champions Uhlir and Sjapoer filled bronze medal spot.
However the highest scores in both the Junior Individual and Freestyle were recorded by 15 year old Colombian talent Nicolas Tores Rodriguez and Silver Label who were ineligible for medals due to their country’s designation. Their Freestyle mark of 75.500 was highly impressive and the young man from Bogota, who travels once a month to New Jersey to train with Cesar Parra, has a name that may be one to remember.
Zone 2 riders stole the spoils in both the Young Rider and Junior Jumping team championships. Young Riders Mattias Trom (Bosquinus), Callie Smith (Upstaire), Meg O’Mara) Sinatra) and Lydia Ulrich (Santos Utopia) recorded the 11th victory in the history of this event for their region. His team performance, with a clear first time out and a single mistake in round two, put 17 year old Tromp at the top if the individual standings at this early stage. Tromp described Vosquinos as “a great first-time horse – I’m grateful to have him” and Callie Smith described the team’s delight – “we wanted it so bad, we were clutching each other at the gate, freaking out, and so nervous for the whole team!”. Tromp described Chef d’Equipe,, Ralph Caristo as “our fearless leader!”.
Team silver went to a composite side from zones 3, 7 and 8 that included Kaitlin Campbell (Grand Pleasure), Katie Cos (Twilight) and Navona Gallegos (No Fear). Zone 10 slotted into bronze medal position, with 2011 silver medallist Sage Flynn (Hot Pants) joined by Stevie Sorenson (Esperanto), Charlotte Gadbois (Semira de Saulieu) and Kilian McGrath (Salerno). And it was McGrath who emerged to take individual gold, ahead of Callie Smith in silver and Lydia Ulrich in bronze.
The 18 year old McGrath from California trains with Karen Healy and said he expected “I’d make the top three at the most”. He came into the individual decider in fifth place, and picked up a time fault in the first round on the final day before adding six more second time out. That however was good enough for the title. He described his horse, Salerno, as “really smart, really forgiving and really athletic”.
Smith lost the gold with the final rail on the floor but was philosophical about it. “We learn so much here, especially as a team event. If you want to go to Olympic level or show in Europe, you have to do something like this and be prepared”
Zone 2’s Junior team of Lillie Keenan (Vanhattan), Kira Kerkorian (Malcolm), Katherina Strauss (Chellando) and Charlotte Jacobs (Kachina) pinned Zone 5 into silver while Zone 4 had to settle for bronze. Keenan’s double clear with Vanhattan proved pivotal to team success. At 13 years of age Katherine Strauss stayed cool with her Zangersheide gelding to pick up just nine faults over the two rounds, while team veteran Charlotte Jacobs ensured she was well in the frame for an individual medal when staying double clear. This was a tenth team gold for Zone 2 in the Junior division.
Zone 5’s silver medal was all the more creditable for the fact that this was a three-member team – they made every round count and Abigail McArdle and the nine year old mare Cosma produced a double-clear that put them at the top of the individual leaderboard. And the 18 year old rider who trains with Katie and Henri Prudent capitalised on that, never putting a foot wrong to take the individual title on a zero score. “I’m beyond happy!” she said afterwards, “I thrive under pressure, and so does my horse!”.
Shawn Casady and Charlotte Jacobs went into a jump-off for silver when they also left all the poles in place, and it was Casady and the eight year old Zubantos, a horse that spent some of its early career with US team legend Margie Engle, who clinched the middle step of the podium.
Area V took Junior Team and individual gold in Eventing. Victoria New and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val were lying second after dressage on a score of 48.5, went into the lead after a clear round on cross-country day and had just one pole down on the last day to complete on the winning individual score of 52.5. The team total of 169.9 ensured a clear victory over the silver medallists from Ontario, while Area III slotted clinched the bronze.
The winning side were defending the title they won in 2011, and they survived the potential elimination of Alyssa Phillips and Exploring who had two cross-country refusals before she went on to complete with a clear jumping round on the final afternoon. Brindley House and Might be Regal finished on a dressage mark of 57.7 which left her individually fourth. The fourth member of the winning team, Taylor Wood and On Eagle’s Wings were clear cross-country but had two rails down in the jumping arena. The 17 year old rider said that competing at the Championships “is the greatest experience I’ve ever had!”.
Individual gold medallist, New, said the team has clinched the title “for the ‘Silver Fox’ – referring to Alyssa Phillips’ father who passed away earlier in the year. “He’s greatly missed and was a huge part of our team” New said.
In the Young Riders Championship, Shaun Braun (Perfect Intentions), Teresa Harcourt (Bonza Twist of Fate), Lizzie Snow (Coal Creek) and Kendyl Tracy (Ever so Lucky) took team gold for Area VI, VII and IX when pipping another composite team from Areas II, III and IV, while Ontario and Quebec claimed team bronze. And Connor Husain, a member of the silver medal winning side, took Individual gold with Piece of Hope, heading off a strong challenge from Snow while Lexi Scovil and Sky Show filled bronze medal spot.
Snow anchored the winning team’s result with a dressage mark of 50.7 followed by just 4.4 time penalties on cross-country day. Braun and Perfect Intentions, who train with US team member Hawley Bennett, secured a dressage mark of 59.8, adding just eight faults in the final jumping phase. Kendyl Tracy and Ever So Lucky were in front going into the jumping phase but a fence down left them just outside the individual medal placings while Teresa Harcourt’s adventure ended with elimination on the final day – she wasn’t perturbed however – “he’s my best friend and I couldn’t ask for another horse like him” she insisted. The winning team’s final tally came to 180.2, giving them more than a three-point advantage over the runners-up.
Husain meanwhile added nothing to his dressage mark of 53.9 to take the individual title at his first NAJYRC and only his fifth three-day event. Lying second going into the closing phase he could feel the tension – “coming down the ramp, my heart was beating 100 miles an hour!” he admitted afterwards. Snow was delighted with silver, and with her horse Coal Creek who ran away with her on the cross-country course last year. She says they have “come to a mutual agreement and understanding” now, and so it seems.
Lexi Scovil and Sky Show improved from seventh after dressage to fourth after cross-country and finished on their dressage score in bronze medal position. The horse received a special award, The Horsepower Trophy, for one that stands out from the crowd. Sky Show has returned to the top end of his game after a near-fatal leg injury. “I never thought he’d get to this level again” Scott admitted.
Junior Individual champions, Canada’s Haley Franc and Jacs Shy Boy, produced the only chink in the otherwise impenetrable armour of the US Reining riders who swept gold and silver in the Young Rider Team event, Individual Young Rider gold and the Junior team title.
The Young Rider team champions were Jake Letner (A Genuine Diamond), Reed Kyle (Ruf Gal), Chyna Tinney (Smarter Than Chics) and Kay Rae Hatfield (Dun It Gotta Gal from USA South Central. Silver went to USA South East and bronze to Canada. Kyle, whose father Pete was Chef d’Equipe for the gold and silver US sides
competed at the 2010 Youth World Cup, but Tinney, also 21 years old, had never ridden in a team event before. Letner, who didn’t make the medals last year, said that victory was “a pretty good feeling”.
Due to her strong score in the Team Championship, Kyle was last to go in the battle for the individual medals and sealed it with a score of 218.5 – a full 4.5 points ahead of her nearest rival. Silver medallist, 19 year old Laura Sumrall, is a Championship veteran and had a four-point lead over Letner in bronze.
The Junior team from USA South East had the narrowest of wins over Canada, just 1.5 points separating the two sides, while bronze went to USA South Central. Meloney Morris (Mr Loney 2001) was joined by 13 year old Savannah Ostner (Sparkin Hat Skidmark), Nick Taylor (Outlaw Whiz) and Stephen Timberlake (Whiz Bang Boom) on the gold medal winning side. Timberlake attributed their success to “a really good coach, Randy Schauffer”. Team Canada consisted of 17 year old Emily Birch (Sunup Dun It), Franc, Micaela Maharaj (Fancy Footprint) and Emily Wilson (Miss Cielo Chex).
Individual Junior champion, Haley Franc, said “I’d definitely say this is my best win. It’s really big for me. He’s a great horse to ride through the pattern” she said of Jacs Shy Boy, “I couldn’t be any happier!” Individual silver went to 13 year old Stephen Timberlake (Whiz Bang Boom) and bronze went to 17 year old Kaylan Marks (Sparts Electricspark).
Canada claimed the Endurance team title with three riders competing pure-bred Arabs. Lee Hutton (Parker AES) completed the 120kms course in 7 hours and 33 seconds, team mate Emma Webb (Serloki) stopped the clock in 7 hours 34 seconds and Jessica Yavis (Jahlad) finished in 7 hours 35 seconds. The team was led by Chef d’Equipe Maura Leahy.
Webb borrowed her horse from US rider Jan Worthington and said “my horse felt really good all day” but Yavis had a scare when she and her horse almost fell on Loop 3. Hutton said “it was awesome crossing the finish line together. We talked about it before. We decided if we met out out he trail we’d stick together” and they did just that.
Katherine Gardner rode AF Big Bucks to take Individual gold when finishing in 6 hours 11 minutes and 48 seconds. The experienced horse has set record times in shorter races, but this was only their second big competition together. “He knows how to race and do well” she said. “When he comes into the hold, he knows how to chill and relax and conserve energy. His pulse is dow within seconds” she pointed out. They covered the course at an average speed of 19.41 kilometres an hour, exactly the same as silver medallists Kelsey Kimbler and Fringant – the horse that claimed the coveted Best Condition Award. But one second in the ride time decided the difference between gold and silver.
Cassandra Roberts and CA Classy Marina took bronze with an average speed of 19.08 kilometres an hour and finish time of 6 hours, 38 minutes and 16 seconds.
Young Rider Team Dressage Championship: GOLD – Region 5, 206.105, Weltino’s Magic (Brandi Roenick) 70.500, Amazing (Victoria Fernalld) 61.921, Power Play (Devon Wycoff) 67.763, Uoeri (Madeleine Birch) 67.842; SILVER – Region 7 201.578: Donarweiss GGF (Genay Vaughn) 67.184, Winzalot (Jamie Pestana) 64.605, Taboo (Jaclyn Petter) 67.526, Brigadier (Mackinzie Pooley) 66.868; BRONZE – Canada/Quebec 196.210 – Michelangelo (Mathilde Blais Tetreault) 67.500, Viva’s Capitol (Camille Frechette) 63.184, Dancing Tyme (Tayna Strasser Shostak) 65.526, Rela (Julie Channell) 62.368.
Young Rider Individual Dressage Championship: GOLD – Weltino’s Magic (Brandi Roenick) USA 74.974; SILVER – Rifradin (Monica Houweling) CAN 71.237; BRONZE – VIP (Alexandra Reed) CAN 70.000.
Young Rider Freestyle Dressage Championship: GOLD – Weltino’s Magic (Brandi Roenick) USA 72.000; SILVER – Rifradin (Monica Houweling) CAN 70.825; BRONZE – Michaelangelo (Mathilde Tetrault) CAN 69.525.
Junior Team Dressage Championship: GOLD – Canada/Quebec 200.642: Pepin’s HG San Classic (Frederique Bourgault) 65.514, Pissarro (Laurence Blais Tetreault) 66.514, Tolando (Naima Moreira Laliberte) 68.434, Foxfire (Nicole Babich Morin) 55.784.
Junior Individual Dressage Championship: GOLD – Sjapoer (Ayden Uhir) USA 69.684; SILVER – Montfleury (Ariel Thomas) USA 67.895: BRONZE – Pissarro (Laurence Tetreault) CAN 67.684.
Junior Freestyle Dressage Championship: GOLD – Pissarro (Laurence Tetreault) CAN 73.575; SILVER – Renoir (Mariah Sutton) CAN 71.050; BRONZE – Sjapoer (Ayden Uhlir) USA 70.125.
Young Rider Team Jumping Championship: GOLD – Zone 2: Vosquinus (Mattias Tromp), Upstaire (Callie Smith), Sinatra (Meg O’Mara), Santos Utopia (Lydia Ulrich); SILVER – Zones 3/7/8, Grand Pleasure (Kaitlin Campbell), Twilight (Katie Cox), No Fear (Navona Gallegos); BRONZE – Zone 10: Hot Pants (Sage Flynn), Esperanto (Stevie Sorenson), Charlotte Gadbois (Semira de Saulieu), Salerno (Kilian McGrath).
Young Rider Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD – Salerno (Kilian McGrath) 22.92; SILVER – Upstaires (Callie Smith) 24.00; BRONZE – Santos Utopia (Lydia Ulrich) 27.28.
Junior Team Jumping Championship: GOLD – Zone 2: Vanhattan (Lillie Keenan), Malcolm (Kira Kerkorian), Chellando (Katherine Strauss), Kachina (Charlotte Jacobs); SILVER – Zone 5: Cosma (Abigail McArdle), Winde (Kalvin Dobbs), Wait and See (Ali Boone): BRONZE – Zone 4: Zubantos (Shawn Casady), Cordino (Elizabeth Patz), Quick n Easy (Claudia Billups) Belle Bleu S (Kaely Tomeu).
Junior Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD – Cosma (Abigail McArdle) 0 faults; SILVER – Zubantos (Shawn Cassidy) 4/0/40.78; BRONZE – Kachina (Charlotte Jacobs) 4/4/37.85.
Young Rider Reining Team Championship: GOLD – USA South Central 642.0, A Genuine Diamond (Jake Letner) 214.0, A Ruf Gal (Reed Kyle) 214.5, Smarter Than Chics (Chyna Tinney) 213.5, Dun It Gotta Gal (Kayla Rae Hatfield) 200.5; SILVER – USA South East 623.5, Einsteins Fancy Pine (Laura Sumrall) 211.0, Electric Maid Chic (Jonathan Timberlake) 207.0, The Tari Nimble (Jacklyn Hoyt) 205.5; BRONZE – Canada 415.0, Stick to Your Guns (Starr Boisvert) 201.0, Sheza Smart Cookie (Megan Robinson) 214.0.
Young Rider Reining Individual Championship: GOLD – A Ruf Gal (Reed Kyle) 218.50; SILVER – Einsteins Fancy Pince (Laura Sumrall) 214.00; BRONZE – A Geniune Diamond (Jake Letner) 210.00.
Junior Reining Team Championship: GOLD – USA South East 594.0, Mr Lonely 2006 (Meloney Morris) 190.5, Sparkin Hot Skidmark (Savannah Ostner) 202.0, Outlaw Whiz (Nick Taylor) 0, Whiz Bang Boom (Stephen Timberlake) 201.5; SILVER – Canada 592.5, Sunup Dun It (Emily Birch) 181.5, Jacs Shy Boy (Haley Franc) 206.0, Fancy Footprint (Micaela Maharaj) 205.0, Miss Cielo Chex (Emily Wilson) 0; BRONZE – USA South Central 583.5, Sparts Electricspark (Kylan Marks) 188.5, Starlena Rue (Faythe Vest) 186.0, Roses for Wrangler (Karl Johnson) 209.0.
Junior Individual Reining Championship: GOLD – Jacs Shy Boy (Haley Franc) 212.00; SILVER – Whiz Bang Boom (Stephen Timberlake) 207.00; BRONZE – Sparts Electricspark (Kaylan Marks) 205.00.
Young Rider Endurance CEI4* Team Championship: GOLD – Canada 21.01.42: Parker AES (Lee Hutton), Serloki (Emma Webb) Jahlad (Jessica Yavis); No Silver or Bronze Awarded.
Young Rider Individual Endurance CEI4* Championship: GOLD – AF Big Bucks (Katherine Gardner) 6.11.48; SILVER – Fringant (Kelsey Kimbler) 6.11.49; BRONZE – CA Classy Marina (Cassandra Roberts) 6.38.16.
Young Rider Team Eventing Championship: GOLD – Area VI, VII & IX 180.2; Perfect Intentions (Sarah Braun) 67.8; Bonza Twist of Fate (Teresa Harcourt) 1,000, Coal Creek (Lizzie Snow) 55.1, Ever So Lucky (Kendyl Tracy) 57.3; SILVER – Area II, III & IV 185.4; Piece of Hope (Connor Husain) 53.9, A Dream Come True (Jamie Doolittle) 75.6, Sky Show (Lexi Scovil) 55.9, Savannah (Molly Curtiss) 91.3.
Young Rider Individual Eventing Championship: GOLD – Piece of Hope (Connor Husain) 53.9; SILVER – Coal Creek (Lizzie Snow) 55.1; BRONZE – Sky Show (Lexi Scovil) 55.9.
Junior Team Eventing Championship: GOLD – Area V 169.9: On Eagle’s Wings (Taylor Wood) 59.7, Might Be Regal (Brindley House) 57.7, Fleeceworks Myustere du Val (Victoria New) 52.5, Exploring (Alyssa Phillips) 123.8; SILVER – Ontario 185.8, Danzig (Kylie Figueira) 66.6, Autorytet (Daria Ivandaeva) 60.0, Mail Order Bride (Charlotte Evans) 1,000, Roksolana (Haley Armstrong-Laframboise) 59.2; BRONZE – Area III 191.5; Guinness (Matilda Segal) 56.9, Castlefarm Snooze Cruise (Aiden Leavitt0 59.7, Nuance (Mary Atkins Hunt) 74.9, Utopia (Nicole Doolittle) 1,000.
Junior Individual Eventing Championship: GOLD – Fleeceworks Mystere du Val (Victoria New) 52.5; SILVER – Pinney North (Hanna Krueger) 52.9; BRONZE – Guinness (Matilda Segal) 56.9.