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DiGenova and Ligon Cross-Country Leaders at NAJYRC
Lexington, VA, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photos: Anthony Trollope/
Jessica Di Genova (CAN) and Upolu
With an eleven-point lead after dressage, Jessica DiGenova of Norval, ON could afford the four time penalties that she added to her score and maintains her lead in the two-star championship at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships in Lexington, VA. She and her grey Dutch Warmblood mare Upolu cruised around the cross-country course at the Virginia Horse Center with no jumping faults. "I'm really happy with her performance today," said DiGenova. "She tried so hard. She's not a fast horse, and she was tired at the end. The coffin at the end was tough, too - the jump in was a really upright vertical. I was afraid she might hang a foreleg there but she jumped it really well."

Jennifer Brannigan, Newnan, GA and the indomitable Thoroughbred gelding Kozmo blasted around the course clear and well under the time to maintain their second-place standing. "He's the best cross-country horse," enthused Brannigan. "He's been running advanced this year, so I thought this course was pretty good for the level. He was ten seconds under the time - he's a fast California racehorse, and when they've got a tattoo, they've got more heart!"

Ontario rider Robin Miller had an unfortunate stop early in the course with Don J. Good's T'Jean and dropped out of the top three, making room for Nate Chambers and Rolling Stone II to slide into third place on their dressage score of 59.6. Kirsten Selvia and Ruse de Guerre are fourth (59.6) followed by Ashley Adams on Vaunted (60.6), both with double clear rounds.
Nina Ligon (USA) and Pacific Storm
Out of sixteen starters three had refusals but finished the course, and Danielle Ziehlke and Glasgow Dancer were eliminated at the first water jump. The aerovating and watering that the course crew did before the competition paid off, and competitors were pleased with the quality of the footing, which had become packed and hard with the hot weather and lack of rain in Virginia this summer. It seemed that all of the competitors did their homework and their horses handled the heat and humidity and hilly terrain, as well.

In the one-star division Virginia rider Nina Ligon and Pacific Storm went double clear to maintain their tie for the lead, which was broken when Anisa Tracy and Tigger VIII finished two seconds outside the time allowed. Cassidy Lundmark and What's Shakin' edged into second on a double clear, and Tracy is now in third place.

Two competitors were eliminated in this division, one for going off-course, and two retired from the course. All but three competitors finished within the time allowed. Taylor Stephens should win a sportsmanship award for deciding to retire after his horse stopped at the Homestead, only four fences from home. "My horse never stops, so I'm going to call it a day," he said as he walked off the course patting his horse.

Nina Ligon said that she thought the course rode well and that her horse felt wonderful today. At 17.2 hands the gelding covers the ground easily, and she said that making the time was no problem for him.

Looking towards tomorrow she commented, "He's usually pretty good in show jumping; I used to have some rails, but since he and I have gotten in sync with each other we've been doing well, so I just have to ride right. I've never been under this much pressure before, but I usually perform well under pressure. I'll just have to ride like I'm schooling and hopefully it'll all work out."

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