SAUGERTIES, NEW YORK (August 3, 2011) – On Tuesday, the USEF National Junior Hunter Championship – East Coast at HITS-on-the-Hudson welcomed Junior equestrians to the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium for the first phase of competition. Riders vied for individual Champion awards as well as Wild Card Berths in September’s Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.
Riders in Small Junior 15 and Under, Large Junior 15 and Under, Small Junior 16-17, and Large Junior 16-17 completed the first two phases of the three-phase format on Tuesday. The initial standings were established after the scores from a $4,000 Classic Hunter Round, worth 40% of the overall score, were then coupled with the scores of the $2,000 Under Saddle Phase, worth 20% of the overall score. After the third and final phase, the top ten overall in each section will be pinned, and the champion rider of each section will receive a Wild Card Berths for September’s Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final.
Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under
Lillie Keenan of New York, New York aboard Don Stewart’s Confidential established a strong hold on the top spot of the overall rankings in the Small Juniors 15 and Under, winning both the Classic Round with a score of 88 and the Under Saddle with an impressive 92.
“My goal is to qualify for the [Diamond Mills] $500,000 [Hunter Prix] Final and winning the Wild Card would be great,” said Keenan, who trains with Andre Dignelli at Heritage Farm. “I would love to show Confidential in the Hunter Prix Final. He is so much fun to ride and the class will be a great match for us.”
McKayla Langmeier of East Granby, Connecticut on Linda Langmeier’s Czar-Z finished second in the Classic with a score of 84 and stands fifth overall after the under saddle phase. Ailish Cunniffe of South Salem, New York in the irons of Whipstick Farm, Ltd.’s Good Times sits in the second spot overall after placing third in both the Classic Round and the Under Saddle, with scores of 82.33 and 85 respectively. Thanks to two fourth-place efforts Gabrielle Conte of Dunkirk, Maryland on her own Best Of are in third place overall.
Small Junior Hunter 16-17
Taylor Ann Adams of Eads, Tennessee held onto the winning position in the older Small Juniors with a first-place score of 85.33 in the Classic and an Under Saddle score of 83 aboard Susan Hutchinson’s Samoan Dancer. Kristen Lutz of Darien, Connecticut won the Under Saddle with an 87 on Stratford Stables’ Huntington and placed second in the Classic round with a score of 80.33, which helped to settle her into second place overall going into the final day of competition.
Callie Morgan Smith of Bernardsville, New Jersey on Smithfield Farms, LLC’s Petrini finished the day in the number three spot overall, after she finished the Classic Round in fourth place with a score of 77, and the Under Saddle in third place with a score of 83.5.
Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under
After dominating the Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under group, Keenan made a return to the winning spot in the Large Junior 15 and Under group, this time aboard Chansonette Farm LLC’s Madison. She jumped to a score of 86.33 to win the Classic round and earned 86.5 points in the Under Saddle to finish second, placing her in the top spot overall. Maggie Ridenour of Birmingham, Michigan won the Under Saddle Phase with a score of 91 and sits fourth overall with a Classic score of 79 on her own Savvy.
Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, Florida sat steady in second place overall after finishing second in the Classic Round with a score of 85.5 and a seventh place finish in the Under Saddle with a score of 81.5 on Scott Stewart’s Inclusive. Sophie Michaels of New York, New York moved into the third slot overall aboard Elizabeth Skae’s Small Talk after placing fourth in both the Classic Round with a score of 82.33 and the Under Saddle with a score of 86.
Large Junior Hunter 16-17
In the Large Junior Hunter 16-17, Meg O’Mara of Rumson, New Jersey aboard Don Stewart’s Walk the Line won the Classic Round with a score of 85, and sits fourth overall after the Under Saddle. Ashley Lake of Cape May Court House, New Jersey rode to victory in the Under Saddle, earning an 85 on her own Brilliant and finished fourth in the over fences with a score of 81 to take hold of the number three spot of the overall rankings.
In addition to holding the number two spot in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17, Kristen Lutz moved in to take the overall lead in the Large Junior 16-17 with two third-place finishes in after an Under Saddle score of 83 and a Classic score of 85 on Sophie Cohen’s Que Sera. Samantha Schaefer of Westminster, Maryland currently owns the number two spot in the overall rankings thanks to a second-place finish in the Classic and a fourth-place effort in the Under Saddle in the irons of Lexi Maounis’ Platinum.
Riders will continue their battles for champion honors in the $4,000 Handy Hunter Phase on Wednesday, carrying 40% of the overall score. The final phase will establish the overall champions and the Wild Card Berths in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final this fall at HITS Saugerties.