Harrisburg, Pa. – The 2023 USEF Junior Jumper National Championships concluded Saturday evening at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show with the $10,000 USEF Junior Jumper Individual National Championship. There was a leaderboard shake-up in Phase III of the competition, and a clear round from Zone 7’s Sofia Cady and Deleyn moved them up from sixth place to the gold-medal spot on the podium with a final score of 5.94 faults.
Cady (Austin, Texas) didn’t expect to end up on the podium but was thrilled with the outcoming at the end of the night. At 18 years old, Cady’s junior years are coming to a close making the win more meaningful.
“I just wanted to have a nice last round on [Deleyn],” said Cady. “I was kind of going for the podium since it is my last year [as a junior], and she really helped me deliver tonight. It just sort of happened, and I'm very proud of her.”
Cady and Deleyn, Twist Studio LLC’s 2011 Holsteiner mare, started their partnership about three years ago, going from 1.05-meter jumper classes up to the high junior jumpers. Cady had high praise for her horse and the effort Deleyn gives in competition.
“She's arguably the most special horse I've ever sat on,” said Cady. “She wants to win more than you every single time, and she always tries 110%. It's more about staying out of her way than you doing it yourself.”
This season has been an exciting one for Cady as she was a member of the U.S. Young Rider Team at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth Final in Opglabbeek, Belgium. She noted that it was an educational experience that has helped her further hone her riding skills.
“I think that competing internationally at the Youth Nations Cup Finals was the most pressure I've ever felt, and I think everything after that has sort of been all about controlling my nerves,” said Cady. “Tonight, I was able to remember how big of a stage that felt like and then just channel that concentration going into this round. It was really thinking about jumping the jumps and following a plan rather than going for a result.”
Zone 2’s Hunter Champey and High Hopes SFN, MDHT Equestrian, LLC’s 2012 KWPN gelding, moved up from seventh to claim the individual silver medal with a clear round and a final score of 8.27. Champey (Bedminster, N.J.) sat in second after Phase I before dropping down in the rankings with two four-fault rounds in Phase II. She was looking to make a comeback in Phase III and did just that.
“I was optimistic because during these competitions over three phases, people can get faults just like that,” said Champey. “And going into today, I really did not expect a podium. I just wanted to get a clear round—redemption from yesterday. He jumped incredible, and I couldn't even have asked for a better outcome.”
Zone 4’s Taylor Cawley and Corlencia BC, Windsor Show Stables’ 2013 Swedish Warmblood mare, moved up from 10th to earn the individual bronze medal with a clear round and a final score of 8.88. Cawley (Wellington, Fla.) had results throughout the week similar to Champey with a solid first round followed by two four-fault rounds. She hoped to end on a high note and ended up on the podium.
“Walking the course you could see it was a technical track,” said Cawley. “It was the biggest out of the three days, so I really wanted to have a nice, clear round. But being in 10th, I didn’t have a lot of pressure and was looking to move up. But had no idea I was going to be on the podium.”
Zone 4's Olivia Sweetnam received the William C. Steinkraus Style Award as the Prix des States junior jumper athlete who best exemplifies the American style of riding and the respectful, dignified, courteous, and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman or sportswoman.
Find out more about the USEF Junior Jumper National Championships.
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The USEF International High Performance Programs and the USEF High Performance Pathway Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, the philanthropic partner to USEF. High Performance Program support is also provided by the USOPC and USEF sponsors and members.