I am just going to start this breakdown off by saying that I LOVE the U25 division. I love watching young athletes begin to mold themselves in a highly competitive atmosphere as they grow to be tomorrow’s next headline. The U25 divisions were created to give more opportunity to upcoming riders ages 16-25 and sort of bridge the gap between the Junior Jumpers and Grand Prix levels.
All year long young riders have been fighting to qualify for this week’s championships (which will be held during the Holiday and Horses show in Wellington from November 27th- December 2nd), and the lists of qualified riders have finally be released. Forty insanely talented athletes and their four-legged partners will battle it out over four days of 1.50m competition.
Day one kicks off tomorrow, Thursday the 29th, with a speed round, followed by a jump-off class on Friday the 30th. The competition wraps up with two rounds on Sunday, December 2nd which will follow World Cup regulations.
So who can you expect to see in this week’s showdown? Coming in at number one on the list is WEG team gold medalist Adrienne Sternlicht, so you know, no pressure there. Other notable names include Lucy Deslauriers, Hunter Holloway, Kelli Cruciotti, Eve Jobs and Cat Tyree.
Who does JN have their eyes on? Obviously, Sternlicht is one-to-watch, but we are eager to see what the number two rider Shawn Casady will bring to the table. The Tennessee native has been bringing home the bacon over in California this fall. We are a fan of his mount Durango VDL, and while there is no confirmation as to which horse Casady will be competing, we hope to see the big gray there.
Lacey Gilbertson is another JN fave! This amazing 24-year-old brings it all to the table every time she sets foot in the ring. We loved getting to know Gilbertson a little bit better during our JN Exclusive on her in the spring of 2017. Since then, she and her talented string of horses have been killing it all season long.
Another former JN feature, Abigal McArdle has also qualified for this week’s championship and we expect big things out of her! She has had countless top ten finishes all year long, including a win in the U25 Grand Prix at the Kentucky Spring Classic earlier this season. We adore her spicy mount Fanta Light B, but lately she has been slaying it in the big money classes with Victorio Equine Group, LLC’s horse Victorio 5.
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Lastly, we can’t help but follow along with young-gun Brian Moggre. Moggre has been winning, well… everything. He had a one-two finish in the $25,000 Welcome at Equifest, he stole the victory in the 2018 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final and then he topped a field of 14 professional riders at WIHS last month to win the $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator class. All of this success and he is still considered a junior rider (Meanwhile, I am just trying to survive in the 1.0m classes over here… no biggie).
It’s going to be an exciting week, that’s for sure. So keep your eyes on JN for the latest and greatest in the U25 Championships and more!