The CCIY3*-S was a small division, but the excitement was still large in the team competition. Area I/II dominated after both dressage and cross-country and had a nice lead heading into today’s show jumping finale, but when team member Megan Loughnane had to withdraw her horse Linford before the second horse inspection this morning, it dropped the team all the way down to bronze medal position. Area IV/VIII were now in the lead with Area III/VII hot on their heels.
All four members of the Area III/VII team jumped clear in show jumping, so then they just had to sit back and wait, and when the dust settled, those rounds proved to be enough to take over and be named the 2019 Adequan North American Youth Championships (NAYC) CCIY3*-S gold medal champions.
William Kidwell kept a clean slate throughout the competition aboard Michelle Donlick’s 14-year-old KWPN gelding, Tremolo (Sempatico x Avalon’s Rhapsody) and his final score of 28.0 was good enough for double gold.
“I didn’t expect to be [the gold medalist],” said Kidwell. “I was just trying to come here since it was my first time and try to be as competitive as possible. My horse was great for me, and I tried to be great for him and we just showed each other off.”
Kidwell was joined by two other Georgians from Area III, Ivie Cullen-Dean on Fernhill Full Throttle, Michael Dean’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cyrano x Euro Glory) and Grace Smith on Sir Saulsford Nazar, (Nazar x Ballydarton), a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. The team was made complete by Sophie Click from Area VII who rode Quidproquo (Quidado x Waleila), an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding.
Cullen-Dean and Smith grew up together and both ride with Julie Richards, who was the team coach for Area III, as does Kidwell when he is in Georgia. “I think this year was kind of special,” said Cullen-Dean. “Julie is my trainer at home, so it was great to have her here. It’s been such a great experience to be with all of them and everyone’s great attitudes.”
“It’s great that you can come together, support one another, and I think it gets you ready for bigger things,” Smith added about her NAYC experience.
This is Click’s fourth time at NAYC and even though she was the only one from her area in the CCIY3*-S, she bonded with her team as well as the Area VII riders competing in the CCIJ2*-L.
“What a special opportunity it is,” she said. Being on a team is really special and I try to remember every moment. I’m the oldest [from Area VII] by far I think and all the girls looked up to me and I really enjoyed really helping them and being a part of their team.”
The team standings weren’t the only ones to have a shake-up – the silver and bronze medal positions also changed hands from the overnight leaders. Katie Lichten (Area I) cantered into the ring in third and needed to jump a clear to keep her hopes for a medal alive. Riding her own Sapphire Blue B (Heritage Fortunus x Lucy Blue), a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, she left all the rails in the cups. That put the pressure on her twin sister, Madeline, who was in second place heading into the arena. Unfortunately, Madeline and Yarrow had two rails down so it opened the door for Katie to take individual silver. “My horse Steve is a really fantastic jumper and he tries extremely hard so I knew going in I had to try to get him to the jumps and show him where he’s going and he’d try his heart out,” said Katie.
“This year has been really fun, but I’ve had more experience because I’ve been here a couple times, so I wanted to be as competitive as possible, so there was a bit more pressure this time,” she concluded.
Cosby Green from Area VIII moved up from overnight fifth to take home the individual bronze medal with Edie and Clay Green’s 12-year-old Selle Francais mare, Takine de la Barbais (Mylord Carthago *HN x Taquine Rouge).
“This was my first time [at NAYC], and it was an awesome experience,” said Green. Our team had so much fun – we were just annoying the whole time, but it was so fun. My biggest takeaway is celebrating the success because that doesn’t come often.”
The USEA would also like to thank the Broussard family for their generosity in hosting the Adequan North American Youth Championships for the third consecutive year. It has been an incredible experience for countless competitors, owners, volunteers, spectators and fans of the sport.
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It’s the turn of the world’s best eventing athletes to stand under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spotlight over the next few days as all but one of the horses presented at this morning’s horse inspection at Baji Koen Equestrian Park were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.
And they're off! Eventing kicks off today in Tokyo (Thursday, July 29 – 7:30 p.m. ET), with the first of three Olympic dressage sessions. Competitors from 29 nations will go head to head, vying for a spot on the coveted Olympic podium.
There were a few last-minute dramas at the first horse inspection for the Tokyo Olympics which took place in the main equestrian park at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre at 9:30 a.m. JST today.