Lexington, Ky.—July 21
Kilian McGrath and Salerno started the individual show jumping day at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in fifth in the young rider division. But a day full of felled rails for other competitors bumped the pair up to the gold with a final score of 18.92.
McGrath picked up 1 time penalty in the first round and 2 in the second. Callie Smith, 18, on Upstaire took silver (24.00), and Lydia Ulrich, 18, grabbed bronze on Santos Utopia (27.28).
“I didn’t think [I would win gold],” said McGrath, who was representing Zone 10. “I was just hoping I’d make the top three at the most. I tried to be as consistent as possible, and it worked out, apparently.”
McGrath, who rides with Karen Healey and is based in Westlake Village, Calif., started riding Salerno at the beginning of this year’s HITS Desert Circuit (Calif.). Salerno, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Indorado—Larena, Nimmerdor) gelding owned by Rolling Oaks Ranch, was imported from Brazil by Laura Kraut.
“He’s one of the most amazing horses I’ve ever ridden,” said McGrath. “He’s really smart, really forgiving and really athletic.”
McGrath did her first grand prix this year aboard Salerno.
“I honestly was shocked when they said I won,” she said of her individual gold medal. “I asked Karen if this was real. I’ve only dreamed of getting a gold medal and never thought it would happen this quickly. I was not as qualified as most riders here, but I have a good horse, and I believe in him.”
—The last rail down on the last course of the day bumped Smith and Upstaire, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Gran Corrado—Ralmetaire, Animo) owned by Smithfield Farms LLC, down to silver position. But Smith was still thrilled to finish the competition strongly; she was also part of the gold medal-winning Zone 2 team last night.
“I think NAJYRC is the precursor for any larger event,” said Smith, of Bernardsville, N.J. “We learned so much here, especially as a team event. You don’t get many opportunities to ride as a team. If you want to go to the Olympic level or to compete in Europe, you have to do something like that here first.”
—Ulrich, also part of the gold medal Zone 2 team, made a big move up the leaderboard as well, coming from eighth to third with 4 faults in the first round and 5 in the second round. Santos Utopia is a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Nevado 21—Kitty Utopia, Equador) owned by Beth Congel and Up The Creek Farm.
“The first round today was pretty technical, but it was a really good course,” said Ulrich. “I got see a couple of people go before me, and I made my plan.”
—Mattias Tromp and Vosqinus started the young rider individual show jumping in first place, but 20 faults in the first round and 19 faults in the second round demoted them to seventh. Kaitlin Campbell, third at the start of today, took a tumble off Grand Pleasure in the second round and was eliminated.
McArdle Concludes Faultless Weekend With Junior Gold
Abigail McArdle and Cosma 20 didn’t lower a single pole during five rounds of jumping in the Rolex Stadium. Their perfect showing earned them individual junior show jumping gold on a score of 0.
“It’s such an honor to be here and to jump every round clean. I’m beyond happy,” said McArdle, 18. “I kind of thrive under pressure and obviously so does my horse. The last round was significantly easier than the other courses we jumped. It was just a matter of holding it together and not doing anything stupid. I was nervous, but it turned out great.”
Cosma 20, a 9-year-old Hanoverian mare (Couleur Rubin—Shakira, Stakkato) owned my David McArdle, and Abigail are fresh off a strong showing at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Abigail’s trainer Katie Prudent helped her find the horse in Germany earlier this year.
“She’ a super special horse,” said Abigail, Barrington, Ill. “I’ve never had a horse like this. She’s a great ride, a great personality, and she’s so careful. Any mistake I make or rails we have, she learns from every experience and only becomes better.”
Since Prudent is in Europe helping another student, Reed Kessler, prepare for the Olympic Games, McArdle got assistance from Frank Madden this week. Kessler earned young rider team bronze at the 2010 NAJYRC.
“I think this competition is a wonderful format to help you get ready for something like the Olympics,” said Abigail. “You can see that from Reed.”
—While McArdle’s victory was never in question, Shawn Casady and Charlotte Jacobs were forced to jump off for silver and bronze. First to go in the jump-off, Jacobs pulled one rail aboard Kachina. Casady followed that up by putting in a clear round and earning silver with Zubantos, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Namelus R—Zabanta, Pantheon) owned by Elm Rock LLC. Casady's final score was 4 faults, and Jacobs’ was also 4 faults, but Casady's clear jump-off round earned him the edge.
“At the in-gate my horse was like, ‘OK, we’re really going in there again?’ But he really impressed me. Every round he gave 100 percent,” said Casady, 18, of Harriman, Tenn.
—Headed into the fifth round of jumping, Casady, Jacobs and Lillie Keenan on Vanhattan were all tied, but one rail down for Keenan relegated her to tied for fifth with Hannah Von Heidegger on Candlelight VD Warande. Kalvin Dobbs and Winde were fourth.
“The three of us came into today tied with four faults, and I know Lillie is very consistent, and Shawn is very consistent,” said Jacobs, 17. “I went in, and I had to go first of the 4-faulters. When Lillie came out with one rail down, I knew I was guaranteed a medal. When I went in for the jump-off, I really took a shot because I’ve shown against Shawn, and I know he goes fast.”
—Jacobs, East Aurora, N.Y., was pleased that Kachina, a 14-year-old Selle Francais mare owned by Deeridge Farms, still felt energetic after so many rounds of jumping in a row. Riders just finished the team show jumping competition last night after storms forced schedule changes.
“She actually came out a little fresh this morning because it was kind of cool,” said Jacobs. “The weather stayed nice for us, and every round she came out and kept jumping better and better.”
The dressage freestyle begins today at 2:00 p.m. Check out coverage from Wednesday’s team dressage , Thursday’s show jumping , Friday’s show jumping  and Friday’s individual dressage . Full results available online .