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Young Riders Take Spotlight After Cross-Country Day at Maryland International for 2024 USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships

by US Equestrian Communications Dept. | Jul 6, 2024, 5:03 PM

Adamstown, Md. - The 2024 USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships are underway for the CCI1*, CCI2*, and CCI3* divisions at the Maryland International at Loch Moy Farms in Adamstown, Maryland. The three divisions are two phases through the championship, with just stadium left tomorrow to confirm the final standings and crown new Young Rider champions in each of the divisions.

The reinvigorated USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships provides a three-day championship experience for riders at the FEI age of 25 or younger and actively competing at the international levels. The USEF Young Rider Championships are meant to ensure access to educational and developmental opportunities for athletes within the U.S. A range of seminars and educational sessions are offered as part of the championship experience, continuing to support and provide access to a variety of industry leaders to help pass knowledge and learnings to the next generation of eventing athletes.

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With the first phase of dressage behind them, the cross-country course at Maryland International, designed by Ian Stark, was an excellent opportunity for qualified Young Riders to test themselves against a strong FEI track at each of their respective levels. The final phase of jumping for each of the three championship divisions will take place tomorrow, Sunday, July 7.

In the YR CCI3*-S division, Mégane Sauve (St. Paul, Quebec, Canada) and her own Nuance, a 2014 Thoroughbred mare, moved up the leaderboard into first place after cross-country, finishing as the closest to the optimum time of all the combinations in the division. The pair added just 6.8 time penalties to their dressage score of 36.1, which originally saw them tied for fourth, and now they enter the final phase with two rails in hand on a 42.9. Lizzie Hoff (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and HSH Limited Edition, a 2015 Irish Sport Horse gelding, owned by Andy and Mollie Hoff, are the highest-placed U.S. combination, sitting in second place overall. They led following the dressage phase after earning a 30.8 from the judges but added 19.6-time penalties on cross-country to sit on a 50.4 looking ahead to their final phase tomorrow. Caitlin O’Roark (Centreville, Va.) and What The Devil, a 2012 Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred gelding owned by Shannon O’Roark, rode to a 34.7 in the dressage phase yesterday and completed cross-country without any jumping penalties. The pair crossed through the timers in 6:27, a minute off the optimum time, and adding 22.8-time penalties to hold third place on a 57.

“It’s really fun to get to meet new people and have a team atmosphere even though we’re a combined team and haven’t met before,” said Hoff of the team experience. “It’s great to be able to talk through ideas and bounce thoughts off of one another. We’re all here for the same reason and it’s a great bonding experience, both with people who love the sport and have the same goals.”

With team competition reserved for U25 riders at the CCI3* level, the combined team representing Areas I, VII, IV will see both Lizzy Hoff (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and HSH Limited Edition alongside Rebecca Roth (Malone, Wisc.) and Chapter Two look to close out team competition tomorrow, as they lead ahead of the Area II team on 1124 penalties due to the retirement of their third team member Elizabeth Gill and Opportunity Knox on cross-country. The Area II team of Maya Clarkson (Santa Cruz, Calif.) and Clueso and Caitlin O’Roark (Centreville, Va.) and What The Devil, will look to improve their overall team score, as they saw additional penalties added for the elimination of teammate Megan Loughnane (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) and Flamenco Ping. They will look ahead to tomorrow’s stadium round on a current team total of 1160.5.

“There was a lot to do within the time allowed and you had a lot to accomplish out there on that kind of terrain. It took some energy out and you had to ride a little bit more than normal in some places. It’s a very twisty course and set well, so it really focused on adjustability and rideability,” commented Roth.

The YR CCI2*-S saw an incredibly competitive dressage score keep a firm grasp on to the top of the standings, produced by Annabelle Sprague (Brookfield, Ver.) and Da Vinci Code, a 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Kylie Lyman. The pair were spectacular in the dressage phase, receiving a 23.6, one of the lowest dressage scores of the entire competition. Continuing to show the consistency and potential of their partnership, the pair finished their trip around the cross-country track with just 2.8-time penalties and looking ahead to tomorrow’s jumping phase on a 26.4. Saffron Klotz (Ottowa, Ontario, Canada) and her own Ballingowan Clarity, a 2015 Irish Sport Horse gelding, finished the flat with a score of 30.2, to slot them into fifth place overall. The pair nearly crossed through the finish within the optimum time on cross-country, but with three-seconds over, there were an added 1.2 time penalties to their score, for a total score of 31.4, which currently sits them in second. Audrey Ogan (Fall Creek, Ore.) and Revitavet Always Cooley, a 2011 Irish Sport Horse mare owned by Kimberly Severson, finished just a tenth of a penalty ahead of Klotz in the dressage, receiving a 30.1, but 3.6-time penalties in the second phase just nudged them behind in the standings, where they hold third place overnight on a 33.7.

“I thought Ian designed a very technical course, which forced us to be accurate and fast where you could be. At the end, he had a skinny, and I thought that was a real accuracy question, because he wanted to make sure that you were still focused and able to deal with a technical question at the end of the course,” said Sprague.

The combined team representing Areas I, III, V in the YR CCI2*-S is just four penalties ahead of the team from Area II, making tomorrow’s show jumping competition a tight one for top honors. The combined area team currently sits on a 103.7 as their team total, while Area II holds a combined total of 107.7. Addison Craig (Ft. Worth, Texas) and OT Bandini, Audrey Littlefield (Amherst, N.H.) with Mr. Pumpkin, Chloe Paddack (Ocean City, Md.) and Hawthornstud Fortunate Love, and Annabelle Sprague (Brookfield, Ver.) and Da Vinci Code are working together and representing different their different areas looking to secure gold after tomorrow’s final phase.

In the largest division of the championships, the YR CCI1*-S fielded 20 entries. Berkley Gardner (Leesburg, Va.) currently leads aboard In Vogue, her own 2016 Irish Sport Horse mare, in their first FEI start together after a strong dressage test, earning them a 27, and a fast cross-country round added just 2.8-time penalties to their score. The pair currently hold first overnight with a 29.8. Catherine Purcell (Gainesville, Fla.) and Mystic Hazzard, her own 2013 Thoroughbred mare, made an impressive jump up the standings following cross-country, finishing as one of only five combinations to make the optimum time. The pair earned a 31.4 from the judges for sixth place after the first phase, but their efficient cross-country round moved them up to second, staying on their original score going into the final day of competition. Katelyn Smith (Marietta, Ga.) and her own HSH Henry, a 2017 Irish Sport horse gelding, were strong in the flat phase to score sub-30 and sit on a 29.8. The duo was nearly at the optimum time after their cross-country run, but two added time penalties currently slot them into third on a 31.8, with very little margin for error between the top three in the standings.

“The course rode well. When I walked it, I thought it would be more straightforward than how it rode for us. The aeration in the ground was great with the water they’ve been putting down, so I thought that was helpful too. Overall, I think both my horse and I learned a lot and it’s been a good experience for us,” said Gardner.

The team from Area II are currently holding tight to the top of the leaderboard in the YR CCI1*-S division with a combined score of 103.6. The team comprised of Claire Allen (Hume, Va.) and Crazy Choice, Berkley Gardner (Leesburg, Va.) and In Vogue, Leeci Rowsell (Long Valley, N.J.) and Man of Conviction, and Sophia Stolley (Gainesville, Va.) and BWE Stopping Waves will look to keep distance from the team from Area III tomorrow, who hold second place and are just a rail away from Area II’s team total.

The USEF Young Rider Championships will end tomorrow, Sunday, July 7, with the final jumping phase, after which a new USEF Young Rider National Champion will be crowned for each division.


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