Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 17, 2022 – One rail is all it takes to change a leaderboard, and that was the case in Saturday night’s final round of the 2022 Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper National Championship held at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
Ansgar Holtgers Jr. (Wellington, Fla.) stood second in the overall standings after the first two rounds of individual competition. Round III went in reverse order of standing and the penultimate round by Holtgers and Chaploon, a 2010 Oldenburg gelding owned by Gut Einhaus, LLC., was a clear one. When overnight leader Virginia Bonnie (Upperville, Va.) and Nina Bonnie’s 2012 KWPN gelding Heldorado had a rail down at the third-to-last jump, they dropped down to third place, bumping Holtgers up to gold. Tessa Downey (Houston, Texas) won the silver medal after a fault-free round with Isabelle, a 2009 Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Horse Orchard LLC.
“It means a lot to be here,” said Holtgers. “It’s a prestigious show. A lot of people set their goals to come here to show and I think it’s a big deal because there are 38 of the best juniors in the country here with the best horses. To win is also an amazing feeling.
“I was introduced to Chaploon in May of this year, so it’s kind of a new partnership,” said Holtgers. “He came from Paul Schockemoehle’s stables in Germany. We flew out there to try him, and ever since I sat on him I was in love with him. He’s so much fun to ride. He comes back easy. He has a huge step, he’s ultra careful, and he’s very scopey. I think it’s a great partnership, and I can’t imagine a better way to start our partnership than to win this gold medal together.”
Downey, who was part of the gold medal-winning team from Zone 7 in Friday’s team competition, had similar praise for her horse.
“I partnered with Isabelle around the beginning of last year,” she said. “Previously to that Claire McKean had her with Martien Van Der Hoeven. She’s an incredible animal. Ken and Emily Smith and well as Peter Pletcher and Jef Lauwers were the ones that teamed us up together, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them for allowing me this opportunity.”
For Bonnie, the weekend at Harrisburg was a rewarding one even without hanging on to the gold-medal position.
“Heldorado doesn’t have the most experience,” said Bonnie. “We spent a lot of time at Spruce Meadows stepping back and really allowing him to mature, so genuinely, to be here is just a huge honor. I’m immensely proud of him. Going in, whatever was going to happen, I knew I could not be happier with how Heldorado jumped and the huge effort he put in everything.”
Competition for junior riders at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show continues on Sunday, which includes the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final. Watch live on USEF Network. USEF members and subscribers can also watch the Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper National Championships on-demand. Join today!