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Kendal Lehari Holds Lead in Long-Format Event at NAJYRC…Amber Heintzberger reports for PhelpsSports.com
Lexington, VA—August 4, 2006— Kendal Lehari and Understudy scorched around the cross-country course today at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia. The overnight leaders in the non-championship CCI* with steeplechase at the NAJYRC, Lehari and her thoroughbred gelding were focused and fast as they negotiated the solidly built, technical course over difficult, hilly terrain.
“It was the first time my horse or I had done steeplechase and when we took off out of the box he galloped every fence like he knew what he was doing. We had a fast time on both steeplechase and cross-country; I was really happy with his fitness and he jumped beautifully.”
Lehari admitted that she was concerned about fence 12, a narrow corner coming downhill in the second half of the course that did cause quite a few run-outs, but said that her horse jumped it exactly as he should have.
The course was designed by USEF president David O’Connor and constructed by Johnathan Wells, and the Canadian mixed team coach Sonya Crampton, coaching riders from Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia, commented that she thought it was a good test for the young riders, many who were participating in a long-format event for the first time.
“I thought it was a stiff course,” she said. “Fence three, a hanging log with three strides to a brush, was really tough. The kids had to know how to ride technically, not just hang on and kick.” She also thought that it was a fair course. “There were very few scratches or lumps and bumps on the horses, and no major crashes – a couple of riders popped off their horses, but it was a hard course that rode well.”
Two of Crampton’s riders did not finish the course, but her Alberta rider had a clean round and her horse was the quickest to recover in the vet box, where veterinarians monitor the horses’ vital signs following the course. Grooms were hard at work with ice water, bathing the horses in front of giant cooling fans, and veterinarians said that despite the heat and humidity the horses generally recovered well.
Veterinarian Susan Johns commented, “By midday the horses’ temperatures were running quite high but within twenty minutes they were coming down quite well.” She added, “The humidity was a factor but the horses were quite fit.”
At the end of this second day of competition, Jamie Marlewski on Sprint Tech is in second place (53.8) and Andrea Leatherman on Mensa is in third (53.9). This leaves Lehari with a bit of breathing room going into show jumping but Marlewski has no room for error. Team Ontario (168.6) is in the lead in the team standings, followed by Area II (191.1) and Area IV (198.4), respectively.
Ontario coach Ian Roberts said, “We were in the same position last year, leading team and individual. It’s a good place to be. But in the end what matters is that the riders have personal bests.”
The CCI* Championship also began today with the dressage phase, which took place in the heat of the afternoon following the non-championship cross-country. Out of 28 competitors, the current leader is Katlyn McMorris of Area IV riding Clifton Peekachu (40.7), followed by Alexandra Caspary of Area VI&VIII on Malletto V (43.3) and Cassidy Lundmark of Area IV on What’s Shakin (51.0).
McMorris, 18, of Barrington Hills, IL was the individual silver medalist at the NAYRC in 2005. Clifton Peekachu, imported from New Zealand by Donna Smith and competed by Smith at four one-star events, is a 9-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred/Warmbood cross. McMorris said that while Young Riders is the highlight of her riding career, another highlight of her life was singing with her high school choir, with which she traveled to Italy and won a classical singing competition.
The eventing championships continue tomorrow with the CCI* and CCI** cross-country competition.