Lexington, Ky., July 20
The young riders on the team from Zone 2—Meg O’Mara, Lydia Ulrich, Callie Smith and Mattias Tromp—spend most of their seasons competing against each other. But they made the transition from individuals to team seamlessly, banding together for team gold on a score of 21 faults.
“You’re also thinking about riding as an individual as well as trying to do well for the team,” said O’Mara. “But tonight was all about the team, and it was really great. I love these four. They saved me a lot.”
“We all want to win, but we want everyone to do well too,” added Tromp, 17. He is currently leading in the individual competition, which will conclude with a final round on Saturday.
Vosqinus, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Beyaert Farm Inc., and Tromp jumped a clear first round and picked up 4 faults in the second round—the strongest performance of all the young riders.
“I’ve been lucky enough to show in a lot of bigger classes with my horses, so I didn’t see anything new out there today,” said Tromp, of North Salem, N.Y. “But I thought it was a very challenging course.”
Ulrich, 18, and Santos Utopia, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Nevado 21—Kitty Utopia, Equador) owned by Beth Congel and Up The Creek Farm, had one rail down and 1 time penalty in the first round over Richard Jeffrey’s course, and they had one rail down in the second round. Callie Smith, 18, and Upstaire—yesterday’s winners of the speed class—had two rails down in the first round but jumped clear the second time around. This was Upstaire’s first competition jumping under lights at night.
“The first round I was skeptical of how it would go,” said Smith, of Bernardsville, N.J. “The second round he was perfect. I think it’s an advantage for a careful horse to go under the lights; they see things differently and jump up great.”
O'Mara, 18, and Walsib Stables' Sinatra IV rounded out the Zone 2 effort, earning 12 faults in the first round and 9 in the second.
—A composite team from Zones 3, 7 and 8 (Katie Cox on Twilight, Novano Gallegos on No Fear and Kaitlin Campbell on Grand Pleasure) finished second with 34 faults. Sandra Ruiz served as their chef d’equipe. Gallegos put in two 4-fault rounds while Campbell jumped the second round clear and earned 8 faults in the first round. The team had no drop score. Several of the silver medalists' horses hadn't jumped under lights before either.
"I thought it might back him off a little bit, which it did in the first round," said Campbell of Grand Pleasure, an 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Malito de Reves—Belle Utopie de Muze, For Pleasure.) owned by Rachel Kennedy and ESP Farm. "He was really good though, just a little green in places, which is normal for an 8-year-old."
—Zone 10 (Sage Flynn on Hot Pants, Stevie Sorenson on Esperanto, Charlotte Gadbois on Semira De Saulieu and Kilian McGrath on Salerno) took bronze (35 faults). The only other young rider team—a team for Zones 5 and 9—didn’t have enough riders finish to earn a score.
—Thunderstorms forced show management to push the show jumping team competition back a day, meaning that riders won’t have any down days before jumping two more individual rounds. “Not having a day off is definitely a disadvantage to every horse, but everyone is in the same boat, and we’ll deal with the tired horses we have tomorrow,” said O’Mara.
—The young rider team gold earned by Zone 2 was the 11th NAJYRC team gold medal for the Zone and Chef d'Equipe Ralph Caristo.
"Ralph is the best chef ever," said O'Mara. "It’s amazing how he can get all the riders and horses ready to go. if you come out the ring, even if you did terribly, he always says, ‘Good job, you’ll get it next time.’ "
"He’s our fearless leader,” added Tromp.
Zone 2 Earns Gold Again With Junior Team
The junior team (Lillie Keenan on Vanhattan, Charlotte Jacobs on Kachina, Kira Kerkorian with Malcolm and Katherine Strauss with Chellando Z) from Zone 2 picked up gold after their two rounds of jumping. Their combined score of 9 faults easily bested the silver medal team from Zone 5 (20 faults) and the bronze medal team from Zone 4 (32 faults).
Keenan jumped two clear rounds aboard Vanhattan, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Manhattan—Cilthana Z, Cilton) owned by Chansonette Farm. This is the first year of NAJYRC competition for Keenan, 15, of New York City. She’s sitting tied for second individually after pulling one rail in yesterday's speed class.
“I was nervous before the first round,” said Keenan, who rides with Andre Dignelli and the rest of the team at Heritage Farm. “I knew I could trust my team, but I wanted to do well for them as well as for myself. It was definitely fun being part of this team.”
Jacobs, 17, East Aurora, N.Y., also put in two double-clear rounds aboard Kachina. Kachina, a 14-year-old Selle Francais mare (Voltaire—Coline Star, Paladine des IFS) owned by Deeridge Farms, was formerly ridden at the grand prix level by Charlotte’s father, Louis Jacobs. Charlotte and Kachina are also tied for second individually.
“I’ve gotten the chance to watch my dad ride her over and over again,” said Charlotte. “He’s jumped tons of clear rounds with her, and when he handed her down to me, we started low and worked our way up to medium juniors and then the highs. Then did a few grand prix classes with success. She’s a great horse, and I’m so happy to have her.”
Kerkorian, 14, jumped two 8-fault rounds, while Strauss, 13, picked up 4 faults in the first round and 5 in the second.
“My FEI age is 14, so I was able to compete here. I really was happy Ralph chose to put me on the team, so I tried to follow through and ride my best,” said Strauss, of New York City.