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Déjà vu! Zone 2 Captures Double Team Gold at Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships


July 19, 2013

Lexington, KY- The 2013 Adequan FEI NAJYRC Show Jumping, presented by USHJA, welcomed 61 elite athletes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to the Kentucky Horse Park for four days of intense competition.

Despite the threat of thunderstorms and scorching temperatures, Thursday spotlighted team show jumping action. Run under the rules of FEI, the international governing body for equestrian sport, 35 junior competitors (three competed as individuals)  took on the Table A speed course of 12 obstacles [ 15 efforts ] designed by Olympic course designer Steve Stephens of the USA. The course was technical and after round one, only the Zone 2 team of Allison Toffolon (NY) partnered with Kadans Webster, Victoria Press (NY) with Cayenne 140, Kira Kerkorian (NY) aboard Leopold 221 and anchor Katherine Strauss (NY) riding Chellando Z had zero faults. The team finished round two with just eight faults as an overall total.  

Two of the riders from Zone 2 were new to the team experience. "I've never been on a team, especially in riding, but I've known all these girls for a long time, we've been showing in ponies and then horses for a while. We've always had that friendship, so it was nice to be able to come and really work as a team - rooting for each other. A great experience!" Toffolon said.

Chef Ralph Caristo was given high praise for leading the young junior team. "He's always supportive, even if you have a bad round or a bad day. He's really an amazing Chef." Kerkorian said. None of the team felt pressured to live up to the countless medal wins Zone 2 has enjoyed under Chef Caristo's tenure. "Sure the pressure of knowing this Zone's reputation for winning is there, but we don't feel that. We want to be the best for each other, for our horses and for Ralph because that's what we want." Strauss said. 

Coming into the final round, Chef Kim Land's Zone 4 team of Hayley Waters (FL), Jenna Friedman (GA), Sophie Simpson (FL) and anchor Kaley Tomeu (FL) were carrying 8 faults and the hope that a clear round could force a jump off. After picking up 8 additional faults they got their jump off, however it was in a battle for the Silver position with team Mexico. Unfortunately Zone 4 acquired 14 more faults while the Mexican riders went fault free and secured the Silver. Zone 4 accepted the Bronze medal position with grace and offered congratulations to their competitors.

Three of the riders were first timers to the experience of team competition and demanding courses. "I've learned a lot of things. The experience has been both good and bad, the beginning was rough but in the end it came together and was better. The first round the open water did get to my horse, but we came back in the second. I stopped second guessing myself and did what I know. He was a lot better." Friedman said. 

Asked about tackling the technical challenges of these courses, "My horse is still new and the water worried me. My horse is kind of spooky. They were great courses, and I'm glad we got to ride them twice. " Simpson said.

All three winning junior teams complimented Stephens' layouts and the challenges each line presented. The question left was whether the young riders to follow would agree.  

With heights and lines adjusted the Young Rider team competition got underway. Six teams started but at the end of round one Zone 4 found themselves eliminated from team competitions. Zone 2 led the way with 16 faults, followed by the combined three member group from Zones 3 and 5 with 28 faults and in the third position was the combined Zones 8 and 10 with 34 faults.

The second round wasn't without its issues for several; the open water obstacle took its toll on quite a few mounts. However, Mattias Tromp (NY) with Casey, Gabrielle Bausano (NY) aboard Ubico H, Michael Hughes (NJ) with Luxina and Lillie Keenan (NY) riding Londinium, helped maintain the Zone 2 Young Rider's legacy by giving their best efforts and achieving the Gold position on the podium with an overall total of 36 team faults.

"There's no doubt it [the course] was challenging, the first round there was only a single clear. Going into the second round there were a couple of clears, I think everyone having the experience of doing the course once knew really what they needed to do. It was definitely a challenge, but I think all of us expected that and I think we rose to the occasion." Keenan said.

"It rode a little bit harder than it walked, because it didn't walk very big and when you rode it everything was bigger, wider and a lot more technical." Hughes added.

Asked about the pressure of living up to the Zone 2 history and working with Chef Caristo, Bausano remarked, "This is actually my third year on the team. I think knowing the history there was some excitement coming onto the team, being a part of it."

This marks the second consecutive year that Zone 2 has achieved double Gold in the team show jumping and Chef Caristo's twelfth Gold Medal victory. 

The combined riders from Zone 8 and 10 - Taylor Alexander (CO), Haley Schwab (CA), Hannah Von Heidegger (CA) and Robert Jornayvaz (CO) with assistance from Chefs Paul Rohrbach and Will Simpson claimed the Silver medal with a total of 47 faults. The combined Zone 3 and 5 team of three, Kate Morrison (OH), Catherine Tyree (IL) and Chloe Reid (DC) achieved the Bronze.

Next up are the individual medals with final rounds taking place Saturday, July 20. USEF Network will be live streaming NAJYRC events throughout the day.

USHJA is proud to be the presenting sponsor of Show Jumping for the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, presented by Gotham Northand recognizes the importance this program plays in the development of our sport's future top athletes. 

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