Thermal, Calif. – Nov. 10, 2021 – The Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships for Zones 9 and 10 held their first round at the Desert International Horse Park on Wednesday of Week II of the National Sunshine Series. The jumps increased in height beginning with the Children’s Jumpers at 1.10m-1.15m and culminating with the 1.30m-1.35m Amateurs to close the day. In the Grand Prix Arena, the Platinum Jumper Championship Team Final was held under the lights. Six winners were crowned by the end of the day in Jumper 1 and one team stood atop the podium in the Grand Prix Arena.
The First Individual Qualifier is set in the Table II format, with riders trying to jump a single round clear in the fastest time to win the class and set themselves up for success for the cumulative championship format. Course designer Alan Wade (IRL) set a winding track for the day that changed slightly for each height level, featuring an oxer-vertical double combination and a vertical-vertical combination, plus long bending lines that riders played with depending on their horses’ stride lengths to achieve the most efficient track. The round also served as the First Team Round, so riders also had the pressure to perform well for their teams, with only one drop score allowed.
Avery Ray and Ohlala Z were the first winners of the day, capturing the 1.10m-1.15m Children’s Jumper win in a blazing time of 61.839 seconds. With 15 clear rounds out of the 28 starters, the Children’s section proved to be the most competitive to win and riders will have to keep up the clear rounds if they want a chance to step onto the podium later in the week. Set over the same track as the Children’s, the 1.10m-1.15m Adult Amateur Jumper section was also very competitive, with 10 pairs jumping double-clear efforts. Ultimately, Viola Mitchell and Future V/D Silverhoeve topped the field, breaking the beams in 64.649 seconds.
The course increased in difficulty as the 1.20-1.25m Juniors stepped in, with Tyra Cleary and Hebron L producing the first clear round, tackling the course in 73.074 seconds. Ultimately, that would only be good enough for second, with Hannah Attar riding to the only other clear round aboard Admiral B in a time of 70.299 seconds and taking the win. Topping the 1.20-1.25 Amateur section was Lauren McMahon and her own Galina. Until the last few to take on the track, there was only one clear round, achieved early with a time to beat of 78.077 seconds. Last to go, McMahon and Galina shaved nearly seven seconds off the initial leading time to finish in 71.152 seconds. McMahon’s four-year working partnership with her mount served her well, as did the mare’s large stride as they easily cantered down the long lines and kept all the rails intact.
The jumps were then raised and the course slightly modified for the 1.30-1.35m Junior section, where clear rounds were more abundant. Grace Belmont captured the win aboard Ipsylon B in a time of 59.643 seconds, besting seven clear-round efforts over the new track and becoming the only pair among both juniors and amateurs at this height to break below the 60-second mark. In the following class, Kristina Cain and Bella Luna took the win with a clear round in 65.108 seconds.
In the final class of the day in the Grand Prix Arena, the Platinum Jumper Championship participants took to the Team Competition and Second Individual Qualifier. Set in the same Table II format, the riders were chasing a time, but with more of a focus on clear rounds to keep their team in contention for the gold medal. The course presented difficulties, including an oxer-vertical-vertical triple combination and a water jump, with the added pressure of being held under the lights after sunset. After each rider jumped, alternating between riders from different teams, the team consisting of Maison McIntyre, Alexa Leong and Elena Haas finished on top, securing the gold medal with the fewest faults accumulated over the two rounds of competition. Only one rider cleared all the fences in Wednesday’s competition, at the expense of 2 time faults, but Elena Haas secured the win in the Second Individual Qualifier with Ce Ce Senior heading into Thursday’s Individual Final.
The Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships for Zones 9 and 10 will continue on Thursday, November 11, with Team Championship and Second Individual Qualifying rounds for the Children’s, Adult Amateurs, Juniors, and Amateurs in the Grand Prix Arena. The Platinum Jumper Individual Championship will follow, crowning a new champion and completing the Platinum Jumper Championships for the week.
Show jumping highlights will continue at DIHP on Thursday with the $30,000 National Grand Prix, sponsored by FarmVet, followed by Friday’s $10,000 1.35m Young Jumper Futurity Series, sponsored by Interactive Mortgage. Saturday’s highlight event will be the $100,000 1.50m Grand Prix, sponsored by Great American Insurance Group, and show jumping competition will conclude on Sunday with the $15,000 1.35m Open Classic, sponsored by Alu Jumps.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Maison McIntyre – Platinum Jumper Championship – Team Gold
On the course:
“It was under the lights, which is unusual for a class like this and we don’t do that very often. It was a really nice course. There were definitely some challenges, but it rode exactly like I walked it. My horse was great – everything was super.”
On her goals:
“I haven’t been doing the jumpers for very long, but my goal this year was to try and qualify for as much as I could. My goal for this class was just ride my best and jump a clear round. I know my horse can do it – he’s a really good boy – so just do the best I can and hopefully my horse is feeling as good as I am about it.”
Alexa Leong – Platinum Jumper Championship – Team Gold
On the course:
“I thought the course walked really nicely. There were a lot of places where I could open up my stride. I haven’t had my horse for very long, so riding under the lights was a challenge for me, but I am glad I did it.”
On her goals:
“My long term goal is to compete on a senior Nations Cup team ad go to Europe with the U.S. team. Doing these team experiences definitely prepares you for those and it teaches you how to ride with pressure and be a teammate.”
Elena Haas – Platinum Jumper Championship – Team Gold
On the competition:
“It was really fun to jump out here under the lights. We don’t get a ton of opportunities in the junior and amateur classes, so it was really fun. Like Alexa said, the course was really nice and open, which especially made it fun to be under the lights to be able to gallop up. It rode like it walked. I’ve had my horse for quite a long time, so it’s nice to be able trust him to come out here and give it our best shot. We have a really great team, so it was a really fun night.”
On her goals:
“I would love to represent the U.S. in a team competition someday and go to the World Cup Finals. The main goal would be to jump for my country, so this definitely helps set us up for that. My short term goals are Young Riders and getting as much experience as possible riding on a team.”
Lauren McMahon – 1.20-1.25m Amateur
“I’ve had her since she was a 6-year-old and she’s 10 years old now. I took her to her very first horse show in the U.S. where we competed in the 0.70m jumper division and we moved up to the 1.30m division this year. We are so happy to be here. She is my absolute heart horse and I would not be where I am today without her. I’m so thankful that she is my partner. [For the remainder of the week] I’d like to try to ride as well as I did today, keep her energy level up and keep her focus, and then I think she will take care of the rest.”
On Wednesday’s course:
“I watched the juniors go before and my plan was to try to be as smooth as possible. The course designer is fantastic and he sets things up in places where you think it should ride easy and they actually end up being quite tricky. I wanted to get a good canter to fence one and keep that the whole way through. She has a massive stride and she’s really fast and careful. Everything came up great and there is a lot of credit to give to her for being such a wonderful horse and tackling that course really well.”
On the Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships:
“I competed in 2019 in the 1.10m championships and I had an absolute blast so I was super excited to come back again this year in the 1.20m. [The format] is so different from what we usually get to do. As a young amateur who has not been doing this for very long, we usually get the same format over and over again, but it’s so nice to meet new people and compete on a team here. It’s fun to have that team spirit and it’s one of my favorite things about coming out to do these championships this year.”
$6,000 Team Champ/Ind Second Round – Platinum 1.40m-1.45m
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time
- Ce Ce Senior / Elena Haas / USA / Elena Haas / 2 | 91.472
- Collin 4 / Kendall Bourgeois / USA / Imagination Lane / 4 | 89.034
- George ZG / Andrew Lopez / USA / Andrew Lopez / 8 | 78.970
- Hold It Against Me / Maison McIntyre / USA / Maison McIntyre / 8 | 86.951
- Kasstender C / Katie Murray / USA / Katie Murray / 11 | 89.361
- Vainqueur De Brekka / Anneke Power / USA / Anneke Power / 20 | 87.851
- Carlsson 72 / Alexa Leong / USA / Alexa Leong / 22 | 103.913
- Cooper 166 / Lauren Kolbe / USA / Lauren Kolbe / 24 | 88.662