Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg and Wish List Gallop to the Victory in the 2015 U.S. Junior Hunter National Championship - West Coast
Del Mar, CA
- Over the previous two days, when the horse show grounds are usually quiet in anticipation of the next show, the green grass of the Del Mar Horse Park Grand Prix Field was dressed in flower boxes, walls, stone rolltops and white poles, setting the stage for the 2015 U.S. Junior Hunter National Championship - West Coast. After a Classic Round on Monday, and an Under Saddle and a Handy Round on Tuesday, it was seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg aboard her Large Junior Hunter, Wish List, that earned the Grand Champion cooler.
Wish List and Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg
The honorable judging panel included Bucky Reynolds, Scott Williamson and Chris Wynne, all hailing from the East Coast. Greeted by typical weather for the 'right' side of the country, the air was slightly humid after a tropical storm doused Del Mar over the weekend.
Joe Lombardo designed a Handy Round that included a trot jump on the hill early on, a long hand gallop to a single oxer as fence #6, followed by a rollback turn to an in-and-out at the in-gate, finishing with another rollback to a fence facing the in-gate. As can happen on Handy day, mistakes and mishaps caused changes in the rankings.
Not coming into the day as the leader, a fantastic Handy round with scores of 86, 85 and 84 took Van Konynenburg and Wish List to the top in the class, the division and the overall event with a grand total of 245.5. She has had the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding for about a year and a half. Showing their style on the field in this prestigious event, the pair have also been successful Indoors, earning Champion at the National Horse Show last year.
Of the Handy challenges, she said, "Usually I'm a little nervous with the hand gallop jump on him, but this time, it was right there and very nice - I was really surprised." The Junior was pleased with her mount. "I had a lot of fun on him - he was really good, really solid. I'm just super happy with how consistent and smooth he was."
Starting her senior year in high school soon, Van Konynenburg is ending her summer at the Menlo Charity Horse Show in August and will head back to Indoors in the fall.
Reserve Overall Champion with a total score of 244.8, less than a point off of the leader, went to Ashton Alexander riding Krave (owned by Mountain Home Stables). Riding Café de Colombia to Grand Champion honors in 2014, the East Coast Junior returned to the West Coast and came close to repeating the feat on Krave.
Krave and Ashton Alexander
Once again, the talented Café de Colombia, this year ridden by Morgan Dickerson, earned the Small Collection Perpetual Trophy, Iwasaki & Reilly's award for the highest placing mare in the Championship. Café de Colombia and Dickerson scored a grand total of 243.4.
Speaking of 'Small' horses, congratulations also go to Celine Claessans, who rode Small Kiss to the Grand Champion honors in the 3'3" division with an overall total score of 249.7. "This was my first Junior Hunter Finals, and I was really nervous," she noted. "But I'm extremely excited." Claessans plans to spoil Small Kiss with his favorite treat of peppermints for the rest of the season.
Small Kiss and Celine Claessens
Blenheim EquiSports congratulates all the competitors in the U.S. Junior Hunter Championship - West Coast. Stay tuned for the Showpark Racing Festival and Showpark August Festival. Highlights include a $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the $40,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix, presented by EQ Almanac, a $25,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix and two $7,500 CashCall Mortgage U25 Qualifiers.
Overall Grand Champion Junior Hunter
The Monarch International Trophy
- WISH LIST and KAITLYN VAN KONYNENBURG
Reserve Champion - KRAVE and ASHTON ALEXANDER
Overall Top Placing Mare on the West Coast
The Small Collection Perpetual Trophy Donated by Elizabeth A Reilly
- CAFÉ DE COLOMBIA and MORGAN DICKERSON
Overall Champion Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under
The Huntover Farm Perpetual Trophy Donated by Huntover Farm
- IRASIR and GRADY LYMAN
Reserve Champion - RED ROOSTER and HUNTER SIEBEL
Overall Champion Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under
The Escort Me In Perpetual Trophy Donated by Shalanno Farms
- AS ALWAYS and HUNTER SIEBEL
Reserve Champion - PIROUETTE and KATHERINE DASH
Overall Champion Small Junior Hunter 16-17
The River Edge Farm Perpetual Trophy Donated by River Edge Farm
- KRAVE and ASHTON ALEXANDER
Reserve Champion - VERBATIM and KELLI CRUCIOTTI
Overall Champion Large Junior Hunter 16-17
The Magic Word Perpetual Trophy Donated by Karen Kay
- WISH LIST and KAITLYN VAN KONYNENBURG
Reserve Champion - CAFÉ DE COLOMBIA and MORGAN DICKERSON
3'3" Junior Hunter - 17 & under
- SMALL KISS and CELINE CLAESSANS
Reserve Champion - TACHE ROUGE and KAILIN KERZNER
Photos by CapturedMomentPhoto.com