Devon, Pa. – May 28, 2022 – The third and final leg of the Junior Jumper Championship, sponsored by Land Services USA, Inc., welcomed back rising junior talents to the Dixon Oval under the lights for one final shot at nabbing valuable points toward the champion title. After riding to the win in Saturday night’s $20,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Jumper Classic aboard Gigi’s Girl BH, it was Mimi Gochman who claimed the Junior Jumper Championship honors to take home The Barry G. Balmer Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Blair Balmer in memory of Mr. Barry G. Balmer. Reserve honors were awarded to Alexa Elle Lignelli.
Out of the field of 24 talented junior athletes to contest Olaf Peterson Jr.’s 14-fence first round track, just eight left all of the rails intact in order to advance on to the tie-breaking jump off. Bailey McKeever was first in the arena, setting the pace for her fellow competitors and crossing the timers clear and quick in a time of 40.328 seconds. Gochman immediately unseated McKeever, taking over the top spot with Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Gigi’s Girl BH after turning and burning her way through the track to finish in a time of 38.504 seconds. The remaining six horse-and-athlete pairs could not catch her quick and careful lead, ultimately lending her the first place finish and the Second Marie Cramp Hill Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by her grandchildren. Second place was awarded to Zayna Rizvi riding Chaplin W, owned by Peacock Ridge LLC, to a jump-off time of 39.554 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Lignelli and Green Farm LLC’s Billy Kiara, finishing in a time of 40.293 seconds.
Adding to her accolades, Gochman also received the Second Richard W. Atkinson Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by the Atkinson Family for the Leading Junior Jumper Rider Award and presented to the athlete who earns the most points overall and showcases consistency throughout Junior Weekend at the Devon Horse Show. Capping off her evening of awards, Gochman was recognized by the judges as best exemplifying the American style of riding and the respectful, dignified, courteous and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman, garnering her the Junior Jumper Style of Riding Award and the Shalanno Style of Riding Trophy, donated by Shalanno Farms.
Competition will continue at the 2022 Devon Horse Show Sunday, May 29, highlighting the Children’s Jumper competitors as well as the Carriage and Harness divisions.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Mimi Gochman – 2022 Junior Jumper Champion & Best Child Rider on a Horse
On her strategy for the jump-off:
“So I have two very long strided, scopey animals, [Gigi’s Girl BH and Celina BH], and it was pretty fun to jump off with both of them since there were a lot of long runs. I know Gigi well, I’ve been working on trying to use her scope and talent a little bit and I really worked on that. Fence one to two was just as fast as you can go, and then there is a little bit of a tighter turn and I saw it on the angle a little bit and I was like, ‘Just go for it,’ and then [Gigi’s Girl BH] really saved my butt. I came a little bit on the angle and she came up with it of course and she’s incredible. And then a lot of us tried to do the leave out stride in five strides in the outside line and it worked out really well. Then tight back, I tried to show her before I went to it because it is a little bit on an angle and sometimes those will catch them by surprise, but she is a veteran she knows what she’s doing so I let her jump it and then I literally raced to the last jump with all my might. She was like ‘Where are we going? Which jump?,’ and then she saw it. She’s so smart, she knew where the distance was and she was on it. She got her legs out of the way and she was really ready for it. I sort of had the same plan for both of my horses I would say.”
On Gigi’s Girl BH’s ride:
“The way she goes is very lopey, so a lot of it is trying to support her and let her use her strength because she’s such a strong animal and she’s very short, but she’s very mighty. I think that with her you just have to keep her balance the way she needs it so that she can jump, because she can do it all on her own. I don’t even need to be there but i think the one thing for her really specifically is just keeping her balance in a good spot so she can get up because she’s built a little downhill. Just keeping her in balance and letting her do what she does best is really the key.”
On her team:
“It’s very much a group effort with everyone. I’d just like to thank my team, Amanda [Derbyshire], Ken [Berkley], my parents, Ghita Ziani, Kate Bacon, and everyone at home. Thank you to Georgie, Gustavo and Luis, all the grooms – I think they are imperative to the way this goes and everything that comes along with it. Of course, my horses obviously are the foremost, but I think the team really makes it so that they are comfortable, healthy, strong and that they are ready to go. A big thank you to everyone and my two girls [Celina BH and Gigi’s Girl BH] that always give me their hearts. Also thank you to Devon for allowing me to come back – it’s been a pleasure and I love it here!”
On the Devon Horse Show:
“I’ve been coming since I was in leadline! I did leadline when I was very very young with my sister [Sophie Gochman], and I’ve been coming forever. It’s always such a special place. ‘Where champions meet’ is the slogan and I think it’s true and I try to hold onto that. I was second place in this class in 2019 and I came in tonight and thought, “I’ve really gotta try to win this one!” And I think that I have grown as a rider and been able to get stronger as I’ve gone. I love it here! I think the horses love it, and Gigi knows there is a big crowd and she wants to please. Celina BH knows the lights mean something special, and I think that they really rise to the occasion and both of them want to win just as much as I do. They see the atmosphere and they think, ‘It’s my time.’”
On her plans for the rest of the year:
“This year we are staying in the U.S. for the summer. I am going to Upperville next, and then I am actually going to Aachen, but just myself, for the Junior Olympics. I am going to go myself for 10 days and work with the senior team and then ride in the junior olympic competition. After that we go to Michigan for two weeks and then we stay at home and do some Princeton shows. I’ve got some new younger horses. Celina BH and Gigi’s Girl BH are my older, well known horses, so I’ve got some newer horses that are a little inexperienced and younger and I’m trying to learn them a little better. We will try to go to some of the Princeton shows and HITS shows, and then our final destination will be the Quebec show, Bromont, and then we settle down at home for a few weeks and then the Hamptons. I’m so excited. I have a few new 9-year-olds and I’m really really excited to see what I can do. As I grow as a rider, I think it’s important to be able to ride experienced ones like Gigi and Celina who have been around, but also ride some younger ones. It’s good for my own growth and learning the real connection between horse and human.”
On her two top mounts being mares:
“I think I am a mare person. When you find a really good mare that will give you her whole heart and is brave and wants to win as much as you do, you can’t find a better horse. Celina and Gigi are really my heart horses, I’ve known them for quite a bit and they really want to win. They love me and I love them a lot, and I feel like when you get that mare that knows what they are doing and they want you just as much as you want them you can’t get a better horse. Mares are intuitive, they are smart, they know what they are doing in order to let you do what you’re doing. I think I will never find two horses that are as in-tune with me as they are and I’m really grateful for both of them because I think they are smarter than me honestly. I think when you find a really good one you have to cherish it.”
$20,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Jumper Classic
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Gigi’s Girl BH / Mimi Gochman / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 | 70.842 / 0 | 38.504
2. Chaplin W / Zayna Rizvi / Peacock Ridge LLC / 0 | 69.642 / 0 | 39.554
3. Billy Kiara / Alexa Elle Lignelli / Hampton Green Farm LLC / 0 | 69.930 / 0 | 40.293
4. Formidable / Baylee McKeever / McLain Ward / 0 | 67.385 / 0 | 40.328
5. Celina BH / Mimi Gochman / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 | 68.883 / 4 | 38.388
6. Chapka de Moyon / Grace Debney / Temple Equestrian LLC / 0 | 70.819 / 4 | 40.998
7. Prestigious / Alexander Alston / Alston Alliance, LLC / 0 | 72.812 / 4 | 42.635
8. Eldorado WP Z / Stella Wasserman / Stella Wasserman / 0 | 72.503 / 8 | 39.693
9. Adelita / Lola Head / Lola Head / 4 | 67.169
10. Deleyn / Sofia Cady / Sofia Cady / 4 | 70.258
11. Nakia / Ella Kraut / Ella Kraut / 5 | 73.130
12. Sonic Boom / Hailey Royce / Double Clear LLC / 6 | 74.211