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McKean and Stravinsky Win Junior Freestyle at NAJYRC

Lexington, VA—August 6, 2006 – In the final day of competition at the CN North American Junior Young Riders Championship, the Junior dressage riders performed their musical freestyles. Out of fifteen competitors Julie McKean of Camden, Maine riding Heslegaard's Stravinsky most impressed the judges for a final score of 71.400 per cent. A member of the gold medal winning Region _ team, McKean’s teammate Hannah Holland Shook, who also claimed individual gold, placed second with Cape Town on a final score of 71.350. Amanda Stearns on Mitchell won the freestyle bronze medal with 71.100.

Despite her success, McKean said that she doesn’t like her freestyle music, which is a compilation of big band music that Ruth Hogan-Poulsen put together for her. Since this her last year as a junior, McKean said that she is looking forward to competing in the Young Rider ranks so that she can put together a new freestyle for that test.

She said that Stravinsky, who is a Danish/Trakehner cross, is only eight years old and she has had him for a year and a half.

“He was imported from Denmark three weeks before I got him and he was very green, but he’s really blossomed with instruction from Cesar Parra,” she said. Parra has also shown the horse on the Florida circuit.

McKean also recently competed in the USEF National Junior Dressage Championship in Pebble Beach, CA where she placed sixth individually and was on the silver medal winning team riding Hicarlos, a horse that notably recovered from a severe case of EPM and returned to competition in time for the championship competition.

Of her NAJYRC partner, McKean said, “He’s finally stepped up and matured. He’s always been a little nervous in the ring but he’s a big boy now.”

Cape Town is a former upper-level event horse, and his athleticism only adds to his fluidity in the dressage arena. This was not the big dark gelding’s first Young Rider medal: In 2001, Montgomery won his second NAYRC team gold with Cape Town. The pair went on to win the Radnor CCI** that fall. Shook described her experience this year as “awesome.”

Stearns, of Royal Palm Beach, FL was constantly just out of reach of an individual medal this weekend, so it was gratifying that she claimed the bronze in the freestyle. Mitchell, a 12-year-old Dutch gelding, is actually owned by her trainer John Zopatti, who trained him to Prix St. Georges and was the 2005 Regional Champion at that level. Zopatti had a full schedule and Stearns was in need of a horse, so she started riding him about a year ago with the championships in mind. She also placed second at Pebble Beach individually and was on the gold medal winning team there.

“I’ll keep him until I go to college,” said Stearns. “I’m looking at Virginia Intermont or St. Andrews because they both have really good riding teams.” Asked if she has other interests, Stearns considered, “I’m a straight A student and I love hanging out with my friends, but horses are my life and I love it.”

The Junior and Young Riders’ Championships concluded today with an awards ceremony in the coliseum at the Virginia Horse Center. Team, Individual and Freestyle medals were awarded to competitors as they stood on a podium during the playing of the national anthems.

For complete results go to http://www.youngriders.org

This special report is a preview provided by PhelpsSports.com. Look for the debut of this new equestrian news website during the World Equestrian Games in August. Visit http://www.PhelpsSports.com for more information.

 

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