San Juan Capistrano, CA – August 23, 2022 – Four new jumper champions were named on Friday, August 19, and Sunday, August 21, during the $60,000 Blenheim EquiSports West Coast Young Jumper Championships at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
The championships welcomed more than 50 young horses, all vying for top honors in either the 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-Year-Old Young Jumper Championships.
Guy Thomas and Sundance Secure 4-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship
The first Young Jumper tricolor of the week, awarded in the $2,000 4-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship, went to Guy Thomas and Sundance (Jonkheer 2 x Provence).
The Four-Year-Old Championship is unique from the other age-group championships in that it features only two phases, and in the first round, each horse performs a brief, individual flat phase that showcases trot and canter work in each direction, including demonstrations of both lengthening and shortening of stride. Both phases are judged, and the champion is named based on the cumulative total score from the judge.
For the 2022 championship victory, Thomas and Sundance, owned by Carolyn Putney, were awarded a Blenheim EquiSports gift back and a $50 Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths gift certificate.
Also unique to the Four-Year-Old Championship are two special awards, the Best Type/Movement Award and the Jumping Scope/Technique Award.
The Best Type/Movement Award was presented to Sinclair (Jonkheer Z x Karo), ridden by Leslie Wright and owned by Willow Tree Farm, Inc. The Jumping Scope/Technique award was given to Land Rover II, ridden by Guy Thomas and owned by Willow Tree Farm, Inc. Both award winners received a $375 Blenheim EquiSports cash gift certificate/show credit, a $50 Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths, and a Blenheim EquiSports gift bag, and each reserve champion also received a $125 Blenheim EquiSports cash gift certificate/show credit.
Amanda Gomez Flies to 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Aboard So Fly
Following three rounds of competition, the $12,500 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship went to So Fly (Flexible x Pecora), owned, ridden and bred by Amanda Gomez and her Rising Star Equestrian.
Gomez and the Westphalian mare were one of four entries in Sunday’s 12-horse final to jump the first round without fault. They then returned to produce the fastest four-fault time to clinch the championship.
“It’s really special,” said Gomez. “She is actually my first homebred. So, five years ago, she was born, and I was super excited. As I’m sure everybody knows, it feels like a long time waiting, especially when you breed them on your own. So yeah, it was a long time coming, and it was great to see that all the work we put in has paid off. Obviously, it’s so much more special that she’s my first homebred.”
Gomez continued, “In all honesty, she’s been a bit difficult. People say that Flexible was difficult. I wasn’t super familiar with him other than watching him in the ring and being totally in awe of him, so I had no idea going into it that he was a little bit mean. She was fine the first two years, and then year three came along, and she turned a little bit nasty. I honestly think that’s why she has the fight that she does now – because she has a really strong personality which I like. She’s much sweeter now than she was when I was a youngin, but she’s got that determination and that fight that it takes, in my opinion, to be something special. She’s got that grit that I really love.”
In addition to their championship win, Gomez and So Fly received the High Score USA Bred 5-Year-Old Award, for which they were presented with a $250 Blenheim EquiSports gift certificate.
Also coming out of the 5-Year-Old division was the recipient of the Best Overall Young Jumper Champion. This award is chosen by the judges, course designer and steward and was this year bestowed upon Roxy Music (Jonkheer Z x Calida), ridden by Leslie Wright and owned by Hilary Bates.
Wright and the Belgian Warmblood mare finished as the reserve champions in the 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship before being presented with a $750 Blenheim EquiSports gift certificate as the overall award winners.
“It’s so great,” said Wright of the award win. “[Roxy Music] has been a horse that, since we’ve been taking her to shows, has kind of always gotten stopped in the warm-up ring; people have always watched and appreciated her. It was really nice to have that recognition from the judges as well and have other people think that she’s as wonderful as we do!”
Wright continued, “She is lovely to ride. She’s the perfect amount of uphill and in your hands without getting away from you. Her jump’s lovely to sit on. She’s just got a really great attitude – just enough spice from the chestnut mare! She’s super fun.”
Both Roxy Music and So Fly will now enjoy some well-deserved down time before embarking on their 6-year-old careers in 2023.
Leica Lands 6-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship with Wendy Brownlee
The $19,000 6-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship went to Leica (Luidam x Equestrian Picture), ridden by Wendy Brownlee and owned by Tiffany McCormack.
Following the first two rounds of competition, the top 15 entries returned for the third round on Sunday. From the final field, it was only Leica who produced a clear effort.
“It was really exciting,” said Brownlee, who has been working with Leica for the past year and a half. “I didn’t get a chance to watch the whole class, so I didn’t know that nobody else had gone clean. I was over helping another student, and they said that we were the only ones clean, so that was really exciting! I imported him from my partner in Europe, and Tiffany McCormack agreed to let me help her with this process of bringing along a young jumper.”
Brownlee continued, “I’m grateful that Tiffany’s given me the opportunity to bring this awesome young horse along and trusted me to [come here with him]. She couldn’t be here, so that feels pretty special.”
For the win, Brownlee, and each division champion, was presented with a Shady Lady neck scarf and an $80 Riderzon gift certificate. Each winning owner received a Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths gift certificate and custom frame.
The High Score USA Bred 6-Year-Old Award went to third-place finisher WT Leapalong (Lio Calyon x Grandessa), ridden by Guy Thomas and bred and owned by Wild Turkey Farm.
Stacey Bacheller and Ketouelle-S Win $25,000 7-Year-Old Championship
The final Young Jumper Championship of 2022, the $25,000 7-Year-Old Championship, went to Ketouelle-S (Edinburgh x Etouelle-S), owned and ridden by Stacey Bacheller. The pair were one of three entries to qualify for the jump-off and the only entry to jump double clear in Sunday’s final to secure the win.
“It was my first time doing [the championship],” said Bacheller, who has had Ketoulle-S for eight months. “I’ve had young ones before that I’ve worked with but never really at this level. So, it was super exciting and fun to be in the jump-off with Cassio [Rivetti] and Everardo [Hegewisch]. Even before the jump-off started, I was like, ‘I’m so happy that I’m even competing against them!’ It was really rewarding to see how far she’s come in the eight months that I’ve had her and even just being double clean today was really exciting.”
Bacheller acquired the Dutch Warmblood mare from Alan Waldman and has enjoyed the process of bringing her along since then.
“She’s small, but she’s feisty and fun. She’s probably one of the best horses that I’ve ever had. In the past couple of months, we’ve really clicked and have had really good results in the 1.30m, so I was super excited going into this weekend because I feel like we are in a good partnership and in sync. She tries really hard and always wants to be clean,” said Bacheller. “I’d like to thank Alan Waldman and my trainer Jeni Brown for finding me this horse and helping in the process of it all, in developing a young one and the reward of seeing how well they’ve come along.”
Earning the High Score USA Bred 7-Year-Old Award was Chupadis (Calvados x Fair Jordan ETC), owned and ridden by Derek Chang and bred by Equine Trading Company.
For full results of the $60,000 Blenheim EquiSports West Coast Young Jumper Championships, visit blenheim.showgroundslive.com.