NAJYRC Jumping Day 3: Scenes from the Championship

Saturday marked the final day of competition in the individual championships for show jumping at NAJYRC. The competition featured two rounds that determined the winners of the junior and young rider division, with the top 12 riders after the first round returning for the second. This final day contributed to the test of endurance the event provides, marking the 4th and 5th rounds in four days for these horses at the highest jump height.

The junior division did not have much movement at the top in today’s competition—the top three riders going in to today all remained in their positions. Sophie Simpson and Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez both had rails down but maintained their overall brilliance for the weekend to capture the bronze and silver medals. Vivian Yowan continued her remarkable show posting two more clear rounds today, knocking no rails down for all five rounds over the past four days. It was a tremendously impressive display by her and her horse Vornado Van Den Hoendrik.

The three junior rider medalists after their round.

Here are a few sights from the two rounds of the junior competition.

The competition started bright and early at 7am so that the Rolex Stadium could then be used for dressage championships in the afternoon. Both the junior and young rider jumping events concluded by 1pm.

Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez flying high. I was very impressed with his riding over the course of the week.

I also loved the emphatic cheering from Juan Pablo’s teammates and friends after every round.

Vivian Yowan quietly delivered perfection each day during Young Riders.

Vivian was all smiles after her first clear of the day.

One of my favorite junior riders to watch, Daisy Farish. Her equitation remained flawless even given the impressive jump height.

Madison Goetzmann has her eyes on the next jump.

I’ve been following Sophie Simpson closely this summer since Tryon and every time she enters the ring I watch a strong, technically sound performance.

Vivian delivering her final clear round and securing the gold medal for the junior rider championship.

Sophie and Vivian sharing a hug after their rounds.

Vivian’s horse enjoys a treat while she collects her medal.

It was great to see extremely talented junior riders from Canada and Mexico like Juan Pablo in person.

Vivian got the gold medal AND a flying hug afterward from fellow Zone 5 rider Daisy Farish.

This scene unfolded outside of the schooling ring after the junior rider medal ceremony. FEI Steward Karen Golding had promised Juan Pablo the past 3 years that she was going to give him a haircut if he delivered a medal. His first stop out of the ceremony was Karen’s makeshift barber shop, where she triumphantly got a lock of his hair as a keepsake.

Sophie checks to see how much damage Karen did.

The young rider division had much more drama, and I personally could barely breathe during the final riders’ rounds. The competition was fierce from the start, with one jumping fault separating the extremely talented top eight riders. Lucy Deslauriers entered the day in 5th place, behind Lucas Porter, Maddy Darst, Brittni Raflowitz and Noel Fauntleroy. After posting a clear first round, she moved into 3rd behind Brittni and Noel, who stayed ahead of her with clear rounds of their own. She applied the pressure to them once again in the 2nd round with another clear round. Brittni had a rail down late in her run that allowed Lucy to move ahead of her, with Noel needing five or less faults to win. Noel stayed clear until about 2/3rds of the way through the course before the first rail came down, then on the last jump had a heartbreaking 2nd rail down that dropped her to 3rd and sealed Lucy’s victory.  The very smallest of margins separated all these top riders, and the level of competition between them was clearly at its peak on the final day.

Here are scenes from the young rider competition.

These little birds chose the best seat in the house for the competition.

Kaely Tomeu and Fidalgo Van Het Leliehof look around the turn to the combination.

Lucy Deslauriers was focused and sharp during her first round.

Brittni gave her mare “B” a kiss before she began every one of her rounds.

Noel Fauntleroy smiles after a strong first round.

The horses patiently await the second and final round of the championship.

Tori Colvin trots into the grand Rolex Stadium, which has seating for over 7,000 spectators.

Kira Kerkorian arrived off a very successful run at Tryon prior to NAJYRC and delivered superb rounds throughout the competition.

Lucy Deslauriers was also awarded a style award for her strategic and smart riding throughout the competition.

Last year’s junior gold medalist, Lucas Porter, was looking for a repeat in the young rider division but had a few unlucky rails that kept him at 5th place.

He still managed to more than clear the jumps aboard the always impressive Doma Sue.

Maddy Darst had the top performance in Wednesday’s opening round and also contributed to the gold medal Zone 3/5 team.

Brittni Raflowitz’s complete emotional dedication to her horses is something to be admired.

Noel Fauntleroy flying during her fifth and final round of the week.

Lucy smiles with friend Katherine Strauss before heading in to the ring for the medal ceremony.

Since I put an emphasis on sharing the stories of the junior and amateur show scene on this blog, it was very special for me to cover NAJYRC. The memories riders and their families make at this show will last forever, not to mention all of the hard work, sweat, and tears everyone has put in to get to this point. While some of these young riders will eventually go professional and others will choose not to, a championship like NAJYRC is a personal part of that journey and it’s incredibly moving to witness the emotion in and out of the ring. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have been here. Congratulations to all riders who participated!

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