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But after intense storms on Wednesday, the days were shifted plus times adjusted, which meant jumping five rounds between Thursday and Saturday. Friday’s classes went late into the evening, finishing at about 10:30 p.m. and Saturday’s started early in the morning, with the jog at 6:30 a.m. and first horse for the Junior Individuals at 7:30 a.m.
The changes had zero effect on Junior division Gold Medalist Abigail McArdle and her nine year old mare Cosma 20. After five rounds the pair had no rails, no time faults, in short they were perfect. With the help of trainer Katie Prudent, McArdle purchased the mare just this year. The match is solid – the more they get to know one another the better they perform. Returning home from a great circuit at Spruce Meadows, the dynamic duo was unstoppable. When asked about how it felt to gallop in the ring for her last round knowing she had four clean rounds, she replied with a smile, “I thrive under pressure. And obviously so does my horse.” She continued, “She’s super special. I’ve never quite had a horse like this – every mistake we’ve had she just gets better. Every time we re-entered the ring, she was thinking that we were in the jump off. And I kept telling her, ‘No not yet!’
Cosma 20 didn’t have to return for a jump-off, but Kachina (Charlotte Jacobs) and Zubantos (Shawn Casady) were tied with four faults after five rounds. To determine the Silver and Bronze Medal positions, Jacobs jumped-off first. “I show against Shawn a lot and I know he is fast. So I took a gamble and had one down,” she explained. Casady did clinch the Silver with a clean and tidy jump-off ride.
It is notable that the top six Junior riders had eight faults or less. Although in some cases the Junior division represents a place to start and then the following season the potential to step up into the Young Rider division, this year it also served as a young horse division where a group of excellent riders, some of our nation’s best, rode newer, younger horses, not only making them better in the process but proving their ability to rise to the occasion.
There's Gold in California
The Young Riders faced some difficult tracks and scores reflected the challenges in the ring. Starting with only eighteen riders, each day some dropped off the list based on unfortunate refusals and falls. As the final rounds came to a close, faults accumulated and positions changed.
Going into Round Four Mattias Tromp had a small lead over Callie Smith, with Kaitlin Campbell and Navona Gallegos sitting third and fourth respectively. After rounds with multiple faults, rails and time, Kilian McGrath and Salerno was the only pair to not drop a rail, finishing with just one time fault.
McGrath and Salerno riding towards Gold. Photo ©StockImageServices.com
The four riders that followed couldn’t top that score. Sitting eighth going into today, Lydia Ulrich and Santos Utopia had the next best score of four faults, which combined with her five fault final round, earned the Bronze Medal. Possibly affected by the long nights, early days and multiple courses, Gallegos had several uncharacteristic rails in both rounds. Campbell also had trouble on Grand Pleasure, hitting the ground on her way to 4a-b in Round One. Smith and Upstaire held a top spot after a respectable eight fault score. Exhaustion or nerves or both may have plagued Tromp and Vosqinus who had rails and circled in the final rounds. When it came down to the final two – less than one rail separated the top, McGrath had 16.92 and Smith 16 faults overall. McGrath finished with six faults, leaving the door open for Smith to have a rail, but not two. However it was a Silver day for Smith. Speedy at the end of the course, she had two rails at the final two fences.
Not focused on the win but focused on the ride Gold Medalist McGrath remarked, “I was hoping to make the top three and just tried to be as consistent as possible.” She credited her mount, purchased from Laura Kent earlier this year. “He’s one of the most amazing horses I’ve ever ridden. He’s so smart, forgiving and athletic.”
Gold Medalists McArdle and McGrath both appreciated the opportunity to compete here. McGrath summed it up, “I’ve only dreamed of actually winning a Gold Medal. I was shocked when I had won. I asked Karen (Healey) if it was real!”
Lydia Ulrich, Kilian McGrath, Callie Smith. Photo ©EquestriSol
North American Junior Rider - Individual Results
Rider | Horse | Faults
GOLD: Abigail McArdle - Cosma 20 - fault free after 5 rounds
SILVER: Shawn Casady - Zubantos - 4 / 0
BRONZE: Charlotte Jacobs - Kachina - 4 / 4
Kalvin Dobbs - Winde - 7
TIE 5th: Hannah Von Heidegger - Candlelight VD Warande - 8
TIE 5th: Lillie Keenan - Vanhattan - 8
Gabrielle Bausano - Ubico H - 12
Katherine Strauss - Chellando Z - 14
Dana Scott - KM Whatever RV - 19
Alicia Gasser - Audi's Reflection - 24
North American Young Rider - Individual Results
Rider | Horse | Faults
GOLD: Kilian McGrath - Salerno - 22.92
SILVER: Callie Smith - Upstaire - 24
BRONZE: Lydia Ulrich - Santos Utopia - 27.28
Charlotte Gadbois - Semira De Saulieu - 36.78
Sage Flynn - Hot Pants - 39.02
Madison Cameron – Wiberra – 42.58
Mattias Tromp – Vosqinus – 46.55
Katie Cox – Twilight – 46.91
Navona Gallegos – No Fear – 49.54
Annie-Sophie Milette – Zorro 182 – 76.89