NAJYRC Show Jumping Awards Kilian McGrath & Abigail McArdle with Gold

July 21, 2012

Lexington, KY - The 2012 North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championships sponsored by USHJA as part of the 2012 FEI/Adequan North American Junior & Young Riders Championships wrapped up a week of intense competition among elite athletes from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Columbia and Guatemala.

After some thunderstorms cancelled Wednesday’s planned start of event, Thursday morning kicked off show jumping action with the individual qualifying rounds. Run under the rules of FEI, the governing body for equestrian sport, 35 junior competitors took on the Table A speed course of 12 obstacles [15 efforts] designed by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England. The biggest obstacles facing the horse and rider pairs was a time allowed of 92 seconds and the open water jump. Only four riders were successful in clearing the course, the quickest time of 79.13 belonged to Cosma 20, a nine year-old Hanoverian mare by Couleur Rubin x Shakira, piloted by Zone 5’s Abigail McArdle of Barrington, IL. Zone 4’s Shawn Casady of Harriman, TN placed second with a time of 84.17 aboard Zubantos, an eight year-old KWPN gelding by Namelux R x Zabanta. Rounding out the top three was Gabrielle Bausano of New York, NY representing Zone 2 on Ubico H, an 11 year-old KWPN gelding by Ruben H x Foniek, turning in a clear time of 86.72.

Following some course adjustments eighteen young riders readied their mounts for the 15 effort- 120 second limit layout which would strictly follow the FEI Table C standards of converting faults and using a multiplier to determine an overall score. While time faults were not an issue for this group, the open water hazard once again proved to be a tricky spot for several. Zone 2 riders dominated the top three spots with the only clear rounds of this qualifier. Bernardsville, NJ resident Callie Smith riding Upstaire, an 11 year-old KWPN gelding by Gran Corrado x Ralmetaire, turned in a fault free effort. Meg O’Mara of Rumson, NJ rode Sinatra IV, a 12 year-old SBS gelding by Churchill x Isabelle de L’Epine, to the second position with a score of 2.86. North Salem, NY’s Mattias Tromp aboard the 10 year-old KWPN gelding Vosqinus – Kigali x Lady Brown- finished third with an overall score of 3.55. Thoughts of the next day’s heated team competition now took priority for these riders.

Friday’s team competition became a historical event with Zone 2 triumphing in both the Junior and Young Rider sections, which gave Chef Ralph Caristo his tenth and eleventh team gold medals. Under Caristo’s guidance the Junior team of Charlotte Jacobs (NY), Kira Kerkorian (NY), Katherine Strauss (NY), and Lillie Keenan (NY) swept the Gold Medal position with a mere 9 fault total. Three of the team members were first timers to NAJYRC and Katherine Strauss was among the youngest at age 13. Strauss also has one of the most interesting stories about her horse’s personal good luck charm, “Chili has a pet frog that lives in his stall –it’s a stuffed frog and it needs to be with him at every show for him to go well.” A giggling Strauss shared. Going into the final round with only four faults, the team tried to ease anchor rider Lillie Keenan’s nerves by saying it’s ok to have a rail –“don’t tell my horse that!” Keenan laughed and added, “I knew I could depend on my team and I wanted to be there for them too.”

The Silver medal was awarded to the Zone 5 team lead by Chef Alex Jayne with only three riders; Kalvin Dobbs (IN), Ali Boone (KY), and Abigail McArdle (IL) finishing with a total of 20 faults. When pointed out that this three member team racked up five clear rounds out of six, they replied in unison, “We wish had a fourth [rider]!”

Zone 4 led by returning Chef Kim Land captured the Bronze medal position with a total of 32 faults- the team consisted of Elizabeth Patz (FL), Kaely Tomeu (FL), Claudia Billups (MS), and Shawn Casady (TN). Land’s young team had some hurdles to overcome with new mounts, but the Chef is proud of how they came together.

As the junior press conference wrapped up, the announcement was made that this victory had given Zone 2 Chef Ralph Caristo his tenth team gold medal. Callie Smith of Caristo’s Young Rider team leaned over and whispered, “He’s about to get his eleventh!”

Keeping her vow, Callie Smith (NJ) helped her Zone 2 Young Rider team of Meg O’Mara (NJ), Lydia Ulrich (NY), and Mattias Tromp (NY) claim the Gold with a total of 21 team faults over the 2 rounds of competition under the lights of the Rolex arena. “If anything the lights make the jumps a little bit more impressive, so they make my horse more careful. I felt like jumping under the lights was more of an advantage than a disadvantage.” Tromp responded about competing in the evening. All the team members sang the praises of their Chef, “Ralph is the best Chef ever! We want to thank him for everything he’s ever done for Zone 2. He puts his heart and soul into everything for this competition. It’s just amazing how he gets the riders and horses ready to go mentally and physically. Every single time you come out of the ring, whether you died- he will say good job, don’t worry about it just go fight the next time. He’s one of the best Chefs and I want to thank him for everything he’s done.” Callie Smith said. “He’s our fearless leader!” Mattias Tromp added.

The combined riders from Zone 3, 7, and 8 - Katie Cox (TX), Navona Gallego (NM), and Kaitlin D. Campbell (DC) with assistance from Chef Sandra Ruiz claimed the Silver medal with a total of 34 faults. Chef Karen Healey’s Zone 10 team of California girls, Sage Fynn (CA), Stevie Sorenson (CA), Charlotte Gadbois (CA), and Kilian McGrath (CA) achieved the Bronze.

Presenting the awards was CEO of the USHJA Shelby French, “While the weather provided an unexpected challenge for the NAJYRC show jumping, Ralph Caristo’s Zone 2 teams more than rose to meet the challenge of the weather and courses. What an inspiration to watch those young riders really work together to capture the gold medals and make Ralph the coach of the most Gold Medal teams in NAJYRC history – eleven! Well done.”

The grand finale for show jumpers were the final two rounds in the individual medal competition on Saturday morning. Junior riders shook things up in the previous standings with an exciting first two rounds that led to a jump off to determine the silver and bronze medal positions. The gold medal was easily claimed by Zone 5 rider Abigail McArdle aboard Cosma 20, who came into this final day of competition with no faults and maintained their perfect score to the end, "Such an honor to be here and jump every round clean," she began, "I’m beyond happy!" McArdle was also steady as a rock, even when hearing the announcer emphasize the perfect score as she entered the arena for the final round, “Actually, I think I thrive under pressure and obviously so does my horse. This last round was significantly easier than the others, so I think it was more a matter of holding it together and not doing anything stupid.” the tired winner mused. When asked what she did to prepare for the competition McArdle chuckled and said, “After Spruce Meadows we were only home for about week so our preparation was turn out and trail rides.” McArdle’s Zone 5 team won the silver medal on Friday evening, making for a long night followed by a 6:30 morning soundness jog. When the subject of lack of sleep and strength to compete came up she shared her secret, “A Red Bull and Doritos. That seemed to do the trick!”

In regards to the jump off, Silver Medalist Shawn Casady commented, “There were three 4 faulters going into the last class, so I was planning for a jump off- I was kind of hoping it would happen.” Casady and mount Zubantos finished the jump off clear in 40.78 seconds and a combined 5 round total of 4 Faults. Charlotte Jacobs rode Kachina to a Bronze medal with an overall total of 8 faults -4 from the jump off with a time of 37.85. “The three of us came in today with four faults- Lillie [Keenan] who is very consistent, Shawn who is very consistent, and I was hoping I could stay consistent too. I had to go first of the four faulters and I jumped clear and it really felt great. Then when Lillie came out and she had one down, I thought, alright I’m guaranteed a medal. When I went into the jump off I had to go before Shawn. I’ve shown against him a lot and know he goes fast, so I really took a shot and ended up having one down, but I’m very happy! ” Jacobs said.

To close the show jumping on a high note Young Rider Kilian McGrath of Westlake Village, CA and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding, Selerno, made smart and decisive choices to finish the competition with an overall score of 22.92 and capture the Gold medal. “I was just hoping that I’d make top three at the most! I’ve just tried to be as consistent as possible and it worked out apparently.” the slightly stunned winner said. Her partner Salerno was only acquired this winter, purchased from Olympic veteran Laura Kraut, “He’s one of the most amazing horses I’ve ever ridden. He’s really smart, very forgiving, and really athletic.” McGrath added, “I’ve been doing the high juniors throughout the year and just before I came here I did a grand prix. “ McGrath’s Chef Karen Healey is also her personal trainer. “It’s really nice having her here. It was a little weird. I’m used to my trainer sitting with me and going over the course with me, so it was a little different than usual, but it worked out.”

The final round’s 12 fence [15 efforts] layout in the Rolex Stadium had a tight time of 60 seconds that cost every rider but one at least one time fault. Silver medalist Callie Smith of Bernardsville, NJ riding for Zone 2 aboard Upstaire aka Otto were the only pair to complete the course below the time allowed. “Otto’s a really fast horse; he’s pretty reliable on time so I don’t really think about it. I’m a pretty efficient rider so I could have probably taken a little extra time where I had my first rail.” The duo finished round two in a time of 57.62 but with eight faults bringing their overall score to 24.

Completing the top three with the Bronze medal was Zone 2’s Lydia Ulrich of Rochester, NY and Santos Utopia. The pair finished the competition with a score of 27.28. "Time was definitely a factor for me, even though I don’t usually have to worry about it with my horse because he’s quite fast. However, I just wanted to take my time and make sure I was doing everything correctly before I worried about time." Ulrich said.
USHJA is proud to sponsor the NAJYRC show jumping and recognizes the importance this program plays in the development of our sport’s future top athletes.

For complete results on the 2012 FEI/Adequan North American Junior & Young Riders Championships please visit

**Photo Credit Sportfot- Images may be used only in relation to this press release

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