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DiGenova Wins Two-Star at NAJYRC
Lexington, VA, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Jessica Di Genova (CAN) and Upolu
Jessica DiGenova and Upolu made their last competition together an event to remember by claiming the individual gold medal in the CH** at the NAJYRC in Lexington, VA. The grey mare will be retired as a broodmare after this event, bred to DiGenova's coach Darren Chiacchia's Olympic partner, Windfall owned by Timothy Holekamp. The pair jumped around clear and in the time to finish over ten points ahead of Nate Chambers and Rolling Stone II. Chambers had moved into second after Jennifer Brannigan's Kozmo was spun at the jog this morning. Chambers had one rail down but could afford it, finishing 1.4 points ahead of Kirsten Selvig on Ruse de Guerre, who also had a rail down but moved up from seventh place after dressage to claim the individual bronze.

DiGenova said, "The course rode well - it needed an aggressive, powerful ride and really come through the corners. She did feel tired and I had to get after her, but she gave me her all."

Chambers, who took home the gold medal in the one-star championship two years ago, said that he liked the new arena that was installed just before the competition. "Two years ago it was on grass and the new footing made a big difference," he said.

Selvig was also a member of the winning Area III/X combined team that also included Kate Luce of Alabama on Tia Lusso, Georgia Gibbes of South Carolina on Bounce Back and Brett Elise Handy of New Mexico on Promising Sports Field.

Selvig competed in the one-star last year and said that it went badly, with an explosive dressage test and two rails down in stadium jumping. This year she said it was a surprise that she qualified, as this was only her fourth intermediate and her horse's first CCI. "We weren't expecting a lot!" she said. "I just came to be on the team and it's been a good experience."

Handy arrived at the championship expecting to compete on a team with Area VI, but was then switched to Area III. She was stabled with Area VI so did not get to spend as much time with her teammates as she might have liked, but competitively things worked out for the best. Handy had competed in seven CIC's already this year, so she said that she felt more than prepared for the championships.

Coach Kyle Carter, who was just back from representing Canada at the Pan-Am Games, said, "The two-star team could not have done more. We were hoping for better dressage scores, and it's hard to believe that the scores should have been that high in the two-star, but the one-star seemed more balanced." Unfortunately the Area III one-star team had one horse withdrawn due to injury and one rider go off-course on cross-country, so they went from a probably silver medal standing to a final seventh place finish. The team gold in the CCI* went to Area IX, whose riders are fittingly from Colorado - the state that will host the NAJYRC next year. Team members include Holly Hillenbrand on Woodrow, Anisa Tracy on Tigger VIII, Kendyl Tracy on Mr. Incredible and Sarah Huebner on Newsbeat.

The individual competition had a dramatic and bittersweet finish when overnight leader Nina Ligon's horse Pacific Storm crashed through a fence at the end of the course and Ligon fell off. Her sportsmanship was admirable as she smiled through the awards ceremony and congratulated Tracy on her win. Individual silver went to Cassidy Lundmark on What's Shakin', who might have taken gold but had one rail down. She had hoped for individual gold but said that she was satisfied with silver and hopes to qualify for the two-star championships and improve on her performance next year. The Tracy family has much to celebrate as Kendyl Tracy, Anisa's younger sister, took home individual bronze.

Erica Kokze and Dare to Compare were the top-finishing Canadians in this division. The pair had a double clear cross-country round and one rail down in stadium to finish on 65.4, closely followed by Emily Daigneault on Misty Vale Bacardi, who had two rails down to finish on a score of 65.9. Ali Kraushaar and Romancing withdrew from the competition, leaving a three-person team representing Quebec and Ontario consisting of Kocze, Daigneault and Sophie Laframboise. All three riders had rails down which resulted in a fourth place finish, just out of the team medals.

Team Chef d'Equipe Lorraine Laframboise said, "This competition is extremely worthwhile for all participants - coaches learning elites skills, athletes who are exposed to world class competition for their age and difficulty. There is a high level of professionalism in the organization here - everything is first-class."

Laframboise said that she hopes that funding and support for the Young Riders program in Canada will grow, commenting, "It is absolutely critical that this competition and the process leading up to it be supported by the National federation and Provincial organizations. This is the foundation for our teams of the future."


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