The first medals for team showjumping were presented yesterday 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 young rider team 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. The Zone 4/7 Team of Hannah Donald (18, Highland Village, TX), Alexandra Ozmy (18, Coppell, TX), Nicole Peterson (20, Dallas, TX) and Sophie Simpson (18, Wellington, FL) finished the two round competition to secure the victory ahead of the team representing Zone 3/8/9 which featured riders Delaney Flynn (16, Scottsdale, AZ), Jennifer Gates (20, Seattle, WA), and Christina Firestone (21, Upperville, VA).
The bronze medal team of Zone 10 saw riders Mackenzie Drazan (21, Woodside, CA), Hannah Heidegger (19, Chatsworth, CA), Chandler Meadows (20, Newport Beach, CA) and Uma O'Neill (21, Santa Cruz, CA) earn a third place finish.
The Zone 4/7 Team, led by dual Chef d'Equipes Kim Land and Matt Cyphert, finished with 0 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 two double clear efforts 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, CA, 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.
Source: Press release from The Colorado Horse Park // Picture © Sportfot
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