Harrisburg, Pa. - October 14, 2017 - Following a 28-year-long drought, the team from Zone 7 finally had their moment at the top of the podium winning the Neue Schule/ USEF Prix des States Team Championship and Individual Championship Phase II at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund. Zone 5 captured the silver medal and bronze went to Zone 1.
The Zone 7 team was led by Chef d’Equipe Martien Van Der Hoeven and consisted of Briley Koerner, 17, of The Woodlands, Texas, rode For Jef VD Wezelse; Anna Beth Athey, 17, of Enid, Okla. was aboard Cantero Da Lagoa; Carson Grisham, 15, of South Lake, Texas was on Zeros, and Brian Moggre, 15, Flower Mound, Texas, on Condero 3.
The Prix des States Championships follows a modified FEI Nations Cup™ format with all six teams and individual riders jumping the same course twice. A maximum of four members are on each team with three scores to count in each round. On Friday, five of the six teams moved on to the second round. Following round one, Zone 2 led with a team score of eight faults. Zone 7 had a score of 12 faults and Zones 1 & 5 each had 16 faults.
Two rails or eight faults separated the top four teams. At first glance it seemed as if the defending champions from Zone 2 would enjoy a third-consecutive win. However, three out of four riders had incurred multiple faults, taking them out of contention. The team from Zone 7 seized the moment, beginning with Koerner, who negotiated a clear round on the Steve Stephens-designed course. Koerner was one of only four riders to go double-clear in the team championship.
“It feels awesome! My horse just comes back each time wanting to produce a good round. You know he’s going to jump for you. He just gives me a lot of confidence,” said Koerner. “Going in we had a great team. Three of us were on the Young Riders team this year, so it was good to be back together on the same team again. It was a great feeling.”
Athey followed Koerner with just a single knockdown. At the midway point, Zone 7 jumped into the lead, which pleased Athey.
“My horse was fantastic, I was super happy with him,” said Athey. “I was a little nervous at the first round, but in the second round I knew Briley jumped double-clear and I just needed to relax and get a good score for the team. Briley always sets the tone and gets everyone confident and fired up to do well.”
Most of the time the final rider of a team secures the victory, however, in this year’s team championship, Grisham, going third in the order, clinched the gold with her clear round. Grisham was not even aware of her feat.
“It was such a great surprise,” said Grisham. “I was really just trying to go in and have fun and try not to let my nerves get to me. To go in and have a clear round after having trouble yesterday in Phase I was just such a rewarding feeling.”
With the drop score-format, anchor rider Moggre’s second round score was not necessary since his team already secured the win with a score of 16 faults.
"I have such amazing teammates, they are all my best friends," said Moggre. "They all have incredible horses and ride so well so I was really confident going into this year. We all put in great rounds and to be able to do so well and put our name on the banner after so many years is really cool."
With the gold medal won, attention turned the battle for silver. Only four faults determined the eventual team placings. Zone 5 finished second on 24 faults with team members Dana Wille on Mach 5, Alexandra Pielet riding Helene VE, and Annabella Sanchez on Cassano Z. Daisy Farish aboard Alberto II kept her fault-free streak going with a double-clear performance for Zone 5.
The team from Zone 1 had 28 faults for third place. Zone 1 team members were Yasmin Rizvi with Lumiere, Isabella Russekoff riding Calvero IV, McKayla Langmeier riding Durosa W, and Coco Fath on Huckleberry. Fath and Huckleberry were also double-clear.
The Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championship culminates on Saturday with the Individual Phase III competition. The top 60 percent of competitors from Phases I and II, who have not been eliminated, are eligible to take part. The individual champion is the competitor with the lowest number of combined penalties after Phases I, II, and III.
USEF Network will be live-streaming Individual Phase III of the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships on Saturday. In addition, USEF Network will be live-streaming the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final on Sunday, October 15.
© Al Cook – www.alcookphoto.com