The first medals for team show jumping were presented Thursday at the Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) hosted at The Colorado Horse Park (CHP), as riders participating on the combined Zone 4/7 Team secured victory in the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championships Young Rider Team competition. Adjacent to the show jumping featured in the International Ring, riders representing Region 3 rose to the top of USDF North American Junior & Young Rider Dressage Championships FEI Junior Team Test competition, hoisting Gold medals in the Olson Ring.
Carlos Guerrerio competing for the Mexico North team, sealed a strong victory in the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championships Junior First Round Individual Qualifier aboard Santos, while Elena Hengel of Area III piloted Zipp to first place in individual competition following dressage competition on the first day of the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships CIC2*.
Gold Medals Awarded to Zone 4/7 Team as They Take the Top Podium in Young Rider Team Show Jumping Competition
A strong team of riders combined to represent both Zone 4 and Zone 7, catapulted themselves to the top of the leaderboard, taking top honors in the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championships Young Rider Team competition. The Zone 4/7 Team of Hannah Donald (18, Highland Village, Texas), Alexandra Ozmy (18, Coppell, Texas), Nicole Peterson (20, Dallas, Texas) and Sophie Simpson (18, Wellington, Fla.) finished the two round competition with zero faults to secure the victory ahead of the team representing Zone 3/8/9, who concluded competition with four faults and featured riders Delaney Flynn (16, Scottsdale, Ariz.), Jennifer Gates (20, Seattle, Wash.), and Christina Firestone (21, Upperville, Va.).
The Bronze medal team of Zone 10 saw riders Mackenzie Drazan (21, Woodside, Calif.), Hannah Heidegger (19, Chatsworth, Calif.), Chandler Meadows (20, Newport Beach, Calif.) and Uma O’Neill (21, Santa Cruz, Calif.) earn a third-place finish with a combined total of 12 faults.
The Zone 4/7 Team, led by dual Chef d’Equipes Kim Land and Matt Cyphert, finished with zero faults around the Manuel Esparza (MEX)-designed track, as Peterson, Ozymy, and Simpson each completed with a double-clear effort in both portions of competition. Donald and Hector were eliminated, but as the single lowest score is dropped, Zone 4/7 stayed within striking distance of the win. The pressure was placed on Simpson, who earned a Gold medal in the Junior team competition last year, as she and Why Not were the final combination on course for the Zone 4/7 Team.
“Why Not felt really good today. She felt great yesterday too and I wanted to take it one jump at a time. She felt a little tired towards the end of the course so I had to give her that, but I’m hoping for a great week,” said Simpson. “It was a nice track and coming into today, I wanted to focus on jumping two solid clear rounds and hope for the best.”
Most of the competitors composing the Zone 4/7 Team are veterans of NAJYRC competition, having competed as a Junior or Young Rider in previous years. Ozymy, who guided Curtis 57 to a double-clear effort around the track, commented on her appreciation for the event and the valuable experience team competition provides.
“My favorite part of coming to this competition is getting to compete with a team. In this sport, you don’t usually get the chance to compete with a team and really root for each other, so that’s the coolest part. Today, to be able to do this with a team of people, is just incredible,” said Ozymy.
“I had a great team behind me and it’s awesome to have them as teammates because they really held it together this week. It ended up being okay because of the great support behind me,” added Douglas.
Peterson and Fast Flo have been gaining valuable experience over the past year, as the pair contested the $1 Million Grand Prix during the winter circuit in Thermal, Calif., as well as completed their first Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier this past spring. Commenting on their growing partnership, Peterson said, “We didn’t really get along at first and I was getting jumped off a lot, but she’s really turned out to be a very special horse.”
“I want to thank all of the sponsor of this event. I don’t think that many Young Riders and people our age get to jump in competitions with teams. To get that experience at a young age, at a venue like this is really important, so I want to thank the sponsors for this opportunity,” added Simpson.
Region 3 Captures Gold in USDF North American Junior & Young Rider Dressage Championship FEI Junior Team Test
Four riders hailing from Region 3 secured their place atop the winner’s podium in the USDF North American Junior & Young Rider Dressage Championships FEI Junior Team Test with an averaged score of 197.298 to best the Region 4 team, who completed the competition with a final score of 194.729. A combined team of riders from Region 1 and Region 6 earned the Bronze medal, finishing the day with a score of 194.298.
The Region 3 Team, guided by Chef d’Equipe Sue Bender, featured riders Juliet Hess (17, Atlanta, Ga.) aboard Diano, Emily Hewitt (18, Atlanta, Ga.) and Whats Up De La Ferme Rose, Helena Marie Milazzo (17, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) with Baccus, and Marline Syribeys (17, Atlanta, Ga.) aboard Hollywood.
“Region 3 is a very special region because we’ve all been close for a while. Even before we came here, we knew each other and were friendly with each other. That made us want to do well even more,” said Hess, who piloted Diano to a team high score of 67.162%.
Teammates Emily Hewitt and Helena Marie Milazzo were overwhelmed with emotion when they received the final word to confirm where the foursome finished in competition, and both described the importance of the day, as one they’ll always remember.
“Winning gold was a shock and I wasn’t really expecting it. Everyone on the team held true to what they were supposed to do today and it was a team effort,” commented Hewitt.
“These ladies made this win so special,” added Milazzo. “I was flooded with emotions, that’s for sure. I couldn’t have asked for a better team and I’m really thankful that I get to ride with these ladies.”
While Syribeys did not have the day she was expecting aboard Hollywood, she triumphed on with a positive attitude and demeanor, aptly describing her experience at the competition and the benefit it holds when creating and maintaining relationships within their discipline.
“When you’re able to compete in an environment that you don’t feel like you’re competing against each other, but that you’re competing together is so much fun,” she said. “It gives this horse show such a different feel than any other show.”
Each of the riders commented on their individual tests, as well as the improvements they felt they had made on the first day of competition for junior dressage competitors.
“I think today was a really solid ride for me. I’m learning to ride the edge of the power with him and that is an improvement for us. It was a really special day,” noted Hess.
“His energy level today was a lot better than it usually is and I felt like he was much more expressive,” commented Milazzo. “I think NAJYRC is such a fantastic opportunity. You can come here and prove to yourself that you can achieve certain things that you may not have originally thought. I didn’t think that I would be doing something like this if you had asked me a few years ago and being able to compete in this type of environment is something so important and special.”
The Region 3 Juniors won the Gold medal with a total score of 197.298:
Juliet Hess (17, Atlanta, Ga.) and Diano 67.162%
Emily Hewitt (18, Atlanta, Ga.) and Whats Up De La Ferme Rose 65.595%
Helena Marie Milazzo (17, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) and Baccus 64.541%
Marline Syribeys (17, Atlanta, Ga.) and Hollywood EL
The Region 4 Juniors earned the Silver medal with a total score of 194.792:
Cara Fragomeni (17, Maple Grove, Minn.) and Aragon 62.432%
Jenna Upchurch (17, Chesterfield, Mo.) and Greystoke 67.919%
Bianca Schmidt (15, Edina, Minn.) and Octavian’s O’Neill EL
Madison Peer (17, Derby, Vt.) and Stella Luna 64.378%
The Bronze medal was awarded to Region 1/6 Juniors with a total score of 194.298:
Kayla Kadlubek (16, Fairfax Station, Va.) and Freewill 60.865%
Allison Nemeth (14, Flemington, N.J.) and Dafoe 67.703%
Cameron Wyman (17, Gig Harbor, Wash.) and Thys 65.730
Carlos Guerrerio and Santos Claim Victory in USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championships Junior Individual First Round Qualifier
Carlos Guerrerio of Mexico City, Mexico, who is competing for the Mexico North team, piloted Santos, a 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding, to top honors in the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championship Junior Individual First Round Qualifier, with a score of 33.196 seconds in the fault converted format of the class.
Guerrerio’s teammate Antonio Abascal Secchi of Veracruz, Mexico, and Continio 4, earned second place with a total score of 34.719, while Lucy Matz of Coatesville, Pa., representing Zone 2, secured third place with a final score of 34.978 aboard Bailey VI.
“I discussed a plan with my trainer when we walked the course and we didn’t want to go all out, but with the format being faults converted, you have to go quickly because if you have one down you take yourself out of placing,” explained Guerrerio. “We wanted to stay with a good pace, not too fast, but also trace the tight turns and I rode all of the strides forward.”
This is the second year that Guerrerio has represented Mexico North at the NAJYRC, as he debuted last year at the competition in 2015 at The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. This season, Guerrerio has been focused on gaining experience with Santos, who is a relatively new ride, and hopes their experience in Europe earlier this season will translate into top finishes throughout the week.
“My trainer rode him at WEF and then I started riding him in June. We had him over in Europe earlier this season and we did some of the shows over there with good results,” he stated. “We just got back to the U.S. last week so I’m hoping that we do well in the remainder of competition.”
“I think this is a very important competition for all of the Junior riders in North America. Last year we took bronze on Mexico North and I’m hoping that we can improve on that this year. We’re hoping for a good result tomorrow in the team competition,” added Guerrerio.
Elena Hengel Sits in the Lead Aboard Zipp in the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Championships CIC 2* Division While Team Canada Holds Top Team Position
Elena Hengel of Area IV and Zipp sit atop the leaderboard for the individual portion of competition in the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships CIC2* division with a score of 42.70. Hengel nearly outdid herself, riding Say I Do, who is participating in the team portion of competition for the combined Area III/IV Team to a score of 46.0. Alyssa Phillips and Bliss III, who are competing on the Area V/IX Team, rounded out the top three individuals, with a score of 48.80.
“They were both incredible,” said Hengel. “Donovan was second in the ring this morning and he was really calm and was able to have a nice, consistent test. Zipp was awesome – he is always great in the dressage and I felt that he was really on today. I am really proud of both of them.”
The Canadian team, featuring riders from Alberta and Ontario, are currently in first place in team competition with an overall score of 153.2. Riders Shelby Brost, April Simmonds, and Jamie Kellock compose the team of riders, while Brost and Crimson scored a team best 50.2 to help secure the team’s first place position.
“Crim felt great today. She gave it her all. We’ve been training really hard these last few weeks, putting some finishing touches on and she brought all of that to the ring,” commented Bost. “I really don’t think I could have gotten more from her in that test. She was foot perfect.”
“I initially wasn’t on the team because I’m from Alberta and we didn’t have a CIC2* team, but the girls allowed me on their team and I’m very grateful for that,” she explained. “We’re all very good friends and the team experience is unlike any other and I think that’s why people come to Young Riders.”
The USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships continues tomorrow featuring the CCI1* dressage phase of competition before riders from both the CIC2* and CCI1* will contest the cross-country track designed by James Atkinson on Saturday, July 30.