Nicholas Hansen and Ritter Benno (SusanJStickle.com)
Nicholas Hansen and Ritter Benno Take Gold in FEI Young Rider Individual Test; Ontario Team Leads CH-J* Heading into Cross-Country Phase
Parker, Colo. – The Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) continued on at The Colorado Horse Park (CHP) welcoming the third day of championships for athletes competing in the show jumping, dressage, and eventing disciplines.
The Mexico North Junior Team captured a significant feat in the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championships Junior Team competition, as the winner’s podium welcomed the only team represented by four male riders, who accepted their Gold medals in front of a roaring crowd. Nicholas Hansen of Region 1 and mount Ritter Benno secured another mark above 70% this week, receiving a 72.502% from the judging panel to take the USDF North American Junior & Young Rider Dressage Championships Young Rider Individual Gold medal. The Ontario Team will test the James Atkinson-designed cross-country track Sunday morning, as they look to maintain their lead over the remaining seven teams competing in the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships CH-J*.
Mexico North Junior Team Captures Gold Medal in Junior Team Show Jumping Competition
The four gentlemen representing the Mexico North Junior Team in the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Show Jumping Championships Junior Team competition finished with a total of 16 faults in the Nations Cup-formatted class to earn victory, as Carlos Hank Guerrerio (16, Mexico City, Mexico) aboard Santos, Antonio Abascal Secchi (15, Veracruz, Mexico) with Continio 4, Cristobol Collado (18, Mexico City, Mexico) and Corin, alongside Yago Alvarez Del Castillo (16, Guadalajara, Mexico) with Coloredo 2, stood atop the medal podium overlooking the International Ring, beaming with joy. The Mexico North Junior Team Chef d’Equipe Maurcio Guerra accompanied the team as they made their way to the podium.
The Zone 10 Team, under the watchful eye of Chef d’Equipe Morley Abey, featured Hunter Siebel (17, Woodside, Calif.) and AD Vangelys, Dalan Laughlin (17, Carmel, Calif.) with Babiole, Sarah Baz (17, Los Gatos, Calif.) aboard Abadan, and Sydney Hutchins (18, Westlake Village, Calif.) with Zorlando, who secured the Silver medal totaling 28 faults. The Zone 2/9 Team of Megan Hilton (18, Seattle, Wash.) and Washington, Lilly Higgins (18, Summit, N.J.) with Zinnia, Lucy Matz (18, Coatesville, Pa.) and Bailey VI, led by dual Chef d’Equipes Cara Anthony and Ralph Caristo, captured the Bronze medal and finished with 32 total faults.
While the age and experience level of each team member is varied on the Mexico North Junior Team, the group united together to achieve a common goal, as they were determined to reach the medal podium once again. The Mexico North Junior Team secured the Bronze medal in team competition at the 2015 Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North at The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.
“I know that when I walked the course it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Abascal Secchi. “I wanted to go clean, and unfortunately I didn’t, but I think our expectations were the same as the result. We always wanted to win and we did.”
The course added elements of technicality that tested each rider’s ability to navigate a large track built with multiple combinations and a series of airy square oxers, as well as an open water obstacle.
“I was a little bit nervous, but I expected to complete two clear rounds. We had a technical problem in the second round, but we had a good result as a team. I’m so happy to be here,” added Alvarez Del Castillo, who encountered an equipment malfunction, as a rein snapped in the second round, forcing him to retire early aboard Coloredo 2.
While no teams in the Junior Team phase of competition finished without faults, the Mexico North Junior Team secured a class best result of 16 total faults. The strong riding of Carlos Hank Guerrerio and Santos helped propel the team to the podium. The duo completed two clear rounds in team format after collecting a win in the Junior Individual First Round Qualifier Thursday afternoon.
The Mexico North Junior Team accepts the Gold medal in the USHJA North American Junior & Young Rider Championships Junior Team competition with the Zone 10 Team and Zone 2/9 Team, alongside Katie Patrick, Director of Sport for the USHJA; Bill Moroney, Chief Executive Officer of USEF; Phillip Rozon, President of the FEI Ground Jury; Michael Stone, President of The Colorado Horse Park; and
Allyn Mann of Adequan®.
“It’s always really important to finish well here. I was on the team that earned Bronze here last year and we were looking to improve on that,” commented Guerrerio. “Also, Mexico hasn’t won a Gold medal in a couple of years so I was pleased with the result today.”
“I’m really happy to have my teammates here and we all did a good job to win this Gold medal,” said Collado, the oldest member of the team. “This was a great experience and we’re proud to be here.”
Nicholas Hansen and Ritter Benno Take Gold in FEI Young Rider Individual Test
Nicholas Hansen (21, Catawissa, Pa.) of Region 1 has had a spectacular week at CHP, piloting his mount Ritter Benno to the two highest scores seen so far this week in the USDF North American Junior & Young Rider Dressage Championships Young Rider classes. The pair earned a 72.502% in the Young Rider Individual Test to take the gold medal, while Rachel Robinson (21, Orlando, Fla.) of Region 3 guided Indira to a Silver-medal finish, receiving an overall score of 68.921%. Hometown competitors Lexy Donaldson (18, Littleton, Colo.) of Region 5 and Power Play rounded out the top-three finishers, collecting the Bronze medal with a score of 68.053%.
Hansen and Ritter Benno have taken the week by storm, first anchoring Region 1 in the FEI Young Rider Team Test, in which they earned the Gold medal, as well as rocketing to the top of the leaderboard in the FEI Young Rider Individual Test. The 2001 Westphalian gelding has proved to be worth his own weight in gold this week, helping Hansen to achieve his dream of standing atop the podium at the NAJYRC.
“It honestly hasn’t really sunk in yet. For us to be at the very top for the second time this week, it just doesn’t feel real. It’s something that I think I can speak on behalf of almost all riders that are here; this is something that takes so much work,” commented Hansen. “I just can’t thank everyone enough who has helped me get here but I also can’t thank the horse enough.”
“If he were a human, he would give the best hugs,” smiled Hansen, when describing the personality and traits of Ritter Benno. “Honestly, he’s the happiest horse who always tries 100% every single day and never gives up. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to ride him.”
The pair have had a tumultuous go over the past four years, as Ritter Benno was given a poor diagnosis on his potential return to top competition after sustaining a serious injury. Hansen, not willing to give up on his dreams, rehabilitated Ritter Benno, navigating him back through the ranks of dressage and ultimately guiding him to their two Gold medals this week.
“Being able to put him slowly back into work, have him actually feel better than before he went lame, and get here after being told that your horse probably won’t be able to work again is something that is amazing,” he explained. “It honestly is. I would like to thank the vets who did what they did to get the horse to where he is now. My horse, in particular, has such a big heart and is such a hard worker. He’s just such a happy horse.”
The pair excelled in their trot work, scoring above the expectations of Hansen, although he anticipated improvement as it is what the pair have been focusing on in the months leading up to the event. He commented, “My favorite part of the ride today was the trot work. It’s something we’ve really been working on over the last couple of months and it felt really great to be able to sit the trot and have it be so adjustable.”
The three riders discussed the different mentality needed to switch from a team competition atmosphere back to an individual one, as they now turn their focus to the final class of the week in the Young Rider Freestyle.
“I was really happy with my canter work today, especially the one tempis because we hit all of the counts,” said Donaldson. “I went into both tests knowing that I had to just try my best, because I knew that ‘Player’ was behind me and I wanted whatever happened to be successful. He tried his heart out.”
Robinson, who earned her first medal of the week in the FEI Young Rider Individual Test aboard Indira, found herself overjoyed with emotion at the conclusion of their test, which she noted was the best of their career together.
“This test today was most likely the best test I’ve ever had in my entire life. I actually came out crying, which never happens for a good reason,” she laughed. “It was pretty incredible. Her canter work was just super on point to the aids. She was engaged and beautiful. It was definitely the best ride we’ve had together.”
Ontario Team Leads CH-J* Heading into Cross-Country Phase
A team of riders from Ontario lead the charge on the second day of competition in the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships CH-J*, as the second phase of cross-country is set to begin Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. Alisa Morrison (17, Belle River, Ont.) and Princess Sophia, Emma Johnston (18, Uxbridge, Ont.) aboard FE Coconut Kiss, Annick Niemuller (17, Goodwood, Ont.) with FE Akari, and Alexis Murray (18, Barrie, Ont.) with My Principle make up the team representing their home nation of Canada and currently sit on a combined score of 137.0.
The Area VI Team holds second-place position with an overall score of 139.6 and is represented by Delaney Vaden (14, Nevada City, Calif.) and Redrox Jazzman, Kesley Holmes (17, Malibu, Calif.) and NZB The Chosen One, Mia Farley (16, San Clemente, Calif.) with Fernhill Fine Diamond, and Megan Traynham (16, Arbuckle, Calif.) piloting Lord Lombardi. Following closely behind with an overall score of 141.3, the Area IV Team of Lily Geelan (17, Independence, Minn.) and Luksor, Emma Fettig (18, Lake Geneva, Minn.) aboard Spanning The Globe, Ellis Rold (16, Delano, Minn.) and Fernhill Spring Lightly and Makenna Rold (16, Delano, Minn.) with Fernhill Imperial will look to move up the leaderboard after their cross-country performances.
“I was thrilled with Coco today. This is her first time at Young Riders with a ring of this atmosphere and she was absolutely incredible. She gave me 150% and I couldn’t be more proud of her today,” said Johnson, who rode FE Coconut Kiss to a score of 42.3, which currently places them in second individually.
While some members of the team are still building partnerships with their mounts this season, the entire group was thrilled with their overall result in the team portion of competition.
“I think this opportunity is incredible for future eventers,” noted Morrison. “It allows both horse and rider to get used to this atmosphere, as well as working with and on a team. It’s been great having such good teammates this year.”
The added pressure of team competition can be demanding, which is why understanding the team dynamic at an early age is incredibly beneficial to the budding careers of the competitors. Niemuller, who rode a beautiful test on FE Akari, found herself dealing with the pressures of team competition, but also balancing the focus on her own goals in the ring.
“Being on a team can be really stressful because you want everything to go right for your teammates. When you’re on a team it’s a great experience and you have a whole new network of people, but you’re not only worried about yourself anymore and how your ride is going to go. You’re now hoping for the best for the three other people around you.”
The riders discussed their initial thoughts on the cross-country track they will face Sunday and each was delighted with the design, layout, and overall appearance of the course. Murray, who will look to pilot a solid round aboard My Principle, touched on her first impressions and commented on what she thinks will be the deciding factor for competing teams.
“The course looks great and I’m looking forward to getting out there. It’s well built and I think that there are a lot of spaces to make up time or get ahead, which I think will be the separation for teams,” she added.
The Ontario/Alberta Team hold the lead heading into the USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships CICY2*, with a total score of 153.2. The Area III/IV Team sits in second place with a total score of 156.0, while the Area V/IX Team is in third place with a score of 159.1.
The CH-J* competitors will head out on the course beginning at 8:00 a.m., while the CICY2* riders are set to follow.
By The Colorado Horse Park/USEF