Sep 01, 2021

Champion Jockey Takes on Her First Eventing Championship

Left: Midnight Lucky and Rosie Napravnik winning the 2014 Humana Distaff on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby, May 3, 2014. Right: Rosie crossing the finish line of the 2021 AEC with Sanimo. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Rosie Napravnik currently sits in the sixth place position after the dressage and cross-country phases in the Bates USEA Preliminary Rider division at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The 2021 event is both her and her horse, Sanimo's, first eventing championship ever. However, she is no stranger to standing in the winner’s circle aboard a Thoroughbred. At only 33 years old, Napravnik is one of the most decorated Thoroughbred horse racing jockeys of her time having achieved the status of highest-ranked woman jockey in North America by 2014 and had lifetime earnings of $71,396,717.

Born the daughter of an eventing and pony club coach in New Jersey, Napravnik spent her childhood competing at the lower level of eventing and participated in her last event at the Training level when she was 12 years old. For the majority of the following 15 years, her life was consumed by racehorses.

Rosie Napravnik and Sanimo on course. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

“From the time I was 17 years old till I announced my retirement, I lived for racing,” she explained. “I was blessed to be a part of the absolute best of racing and I loved all of it, but when my husband and I decided to start a family it was time for me to retire.”

Her retirement announcement came on the day she won the Breeder’s Cup Distaff and, in an overwhelmed state of emotion, she made the announcement in the winner’s circle to the entire world on national television.

“Winning that race was truly my storybook ending,” Napravnik stated.

Already six weeks pregnant at the time, she took a brief hiatus from the saddle but continued to work in the training side of things with husband Joe Sharp till the birth of their first son in June of 2015.

Rosie Napravnik and Sanimo cooling out after their AEC cross-country ride. Summer Grace Photo.

“Joe and I just worked so well together because we both really respect each other’s areas of expertise,” she detailed. “We met when I was riding at the stable where he was an assistant trainer in 2009. He went out on his own shortly before I found out I was pregnant and for the brief amount of time I rode for him we were an extremely successful team.”

Shortly after ending her racing career, she committed to the idea that she would return to eventing after giving birth. That vision came to life with the purchase of a horse she had won several races on in her previous career. She followed the mount closely and bought him in a claims race and then produced the older mount up to the raining level despite his laundry list of physical ailments.

“That horse is what lit a fire in me for retraining racehorses before it was even a big thing,” she confirmed. “It wasn’t something I had ever really considered before but his strength and continued determination inspired me.”

Napravnik now runs her own Off-Track Sporthorses where she specializes in retraining and competing retired racehorses for the eventing sport as well as rehabilitating various injured or laid-up Thoroughbreds. She takes on many horses from the string in her husband’s facility under the tutelage of Dorothy Crowell.

“Working with Dorothy has been truly invaluable in my riding endeavors, she is a Thoroughbred guru,” Napravnik laughed. “More than anything it has made me addicted to learning new things and having new experiences with the Thoroughbreds.”

All smiles across the finish line. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Her current partner, Sanimo, a 6-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Smart Strike x Sanima) came out of her husband’s training program as a young 3-year-old and after a year hiatus was already the clear winner in the eventing section of the 2019 Retired Racehorse Project.

This season has been both Napravnik’s and Sanimo’s debut at the Preliminary level but she continues to look forward to their future development with excitement.

“Everyone assumes that because I was riding at such a high level in the racing that I must be competing at a very high level of eventing but that is not the case,” she said. “At this point, I have had several top clinicians tell me they think we have what it takes to continue to move up and my plan is just to keep going until I either run out of money or get scared! I have had my glory days so to be able to do this with no pressure and just enjoy myself and enjoy the horse has been an incredible experience.”

Rosie Napravnik and Sanimo after their successful round. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Napravnik and Sanimo will finish their weekend with show jumping on Thursday morning in the Rolex Stadium. Follow their live results here.

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Weekend Quick Links: July 13-14

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered!

Jul 11, 2024 Convention

The Puget Sound is Calling for the 2024 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Seattle, Washington

On Dec. 12-15, the United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) will be relocating to Area VII for the 2024 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Seattle, Washington! The Emerald City is known for its culture, cuisine, and coffee, as the birthplace of Starbucks, and it will serve as the perfect backdrop for a week centered around horse and rider safety. The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is hosted annually to allow our dedicated USEA members and supporters to discuss, learn, and enjoy being surrounded likeminded individuals, and this year’s event is set to be another exciting opportunity to bond over the sport.

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