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CN FEI NAJYRC Presented by Gotham North, Colorado Horse Park, Parker, CO


Hannah Selleck Claims Gold As Zone 10 Young Riders Sweep Individual Medals At 2008 NAJYRC

California gold rush showed up again as Karl Cook and Paige Dotson made the finish exciting at the Colorado Horse Park.

Lincoln Rogers

Reporting from CN FEI NAJYRC Presented by Gotham North, Colorado Horse Park, Parker, CO
Monday, August 4, 2008 :: Posted 12:10:10 PM CDT


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© Lincoln Rogers: Zone 10 Team members (left to right) Karl Cook (Silver), Hannah Selleck (Gold), and Paige Dotson (Bronze) sweep the top three spots in the Young Riders Individual Medal standings
Zone 10 Team members (left to right) Karl Cook (Silver), Hannah Selleck (Gold), and Paige Dotson (Bronze) sweep the top three spots in the Young Riders Individual Medal standings

With two rounds of jumping action left for Sunday, the last day of 2008 NAJYRC competition, Zone 10 riders were breathing down each other’s necks for the gold medal, all three separated by less than two faults total. Going in reverse order of standings, the California trio was last to enter the ring for a double-dose of well-designed Olaf Peterson Jr. courses. Big oxers, technical lines, and another water jump greeted the twenty contestants left standing after the first three runs earlier in the week inside the Colorado Horse Park’s main Grand Prix ring, and they appeared determined to make it interesting.

The top ten riders saw just two go clean in the first round over a longer course, with time allowed playing a role and the water claiming a victim or two along the way. Fourth place rider from Zone 8, Sarah Tredennick, was unable to gain any ground on the west coast challengers when she tipped the water and also incurred a time penalty for five faults. Tredennick needed Selleck, Cook, and/or Dotson to help her case for cracking the top spots by putting down more than a rail of their own. Trouble was, someone forgot to send them the memo.

© Lincoln Rogers: Karl Cook competes in the final round for a chance at a gold medal
Karl Cook competes in the final round for a chance at a gold medal

With a clean round by Cook, and just four faults each from Selleck and Dotson in the first round, the three were closer than ever in the standings and it was going to take a near disaster to prevent them from sweeping the medals. After watching Zone 10 ride strong all week, the chances for that disaster appeared slim-to-none.

“These kids have been fantastic the whole week, especially in the Young Rider division,” said Butch Thomas, their Chef d’Equipe for the Rocky Mountain experience. “The three that were in contention all the way were within a rail of each other the whole time. Brilliant jumping and brilliant riding,” Thomas added with pride. “They’re tough.”

© Lincoln Rogers:  Zone 10 Chef d'Equipe Butch Thomas ponders strategy for his riders between rounds of Sunday jumping action
Zone 10 Chef d'Equipe Butch Thomas ponders strategy for his riders between rounds of Sunday jumping action

They showed just how tough when the shorter second course was unveiled for the last round of Young Riders jumping action in 2008. After Tredennick provided more breathing room with a rail down in the final round, the Zone 10 riders were left to compete for all the medals. It just hadn’t been figured out who was getting what, and the gold wouldn’t be assayed until the very last contestant arrived on the scene.

Selleck was third from last, and she made things interesting with a zero on the board accompanied by a loud cheer from the gathered crowd. When Cook rode next, he put a rail down, losing his bid for back-to-back Individual titles and leaving Dotson an opportunity to either grab the gold with a clean round or let Selleck enjoy the spoils of victory for herself.

© Lincoln Rogers: Paige Dotson had the gold medal in her grasp until the last obstacle fell on Sunday, moving her back to the bronze
Paige Dotson had the gold medal in her grasp until the last obstacle fell on Sunday, moving her back to the bronze

Dotson was late getting to the in-gate, leaving spectators buzzing, but she eventually arrived aboard Friponnier II CH for the moment of truth.

“I had a little spill in the warm-ups,” Dotson explained later about her tardy arrival to the ring. “I was jumping my last vertical and my horse jumped it so high that I fell off.”

After collecting herself, Dotson took on Olaf Peterson Jr.’s course with determination, leaving everything up and getting the crowd excited as she rode toward the last two fences. She easily cleared the vertical and then sped toward the very last obstacle, a gold medal within her grasp, until the final fence fell and replaced it with bronze.

“I was thinking, I’m almost there, just leave it up,” described Dotson about nearing the final obstacle. “And I didn’t manage to do that, obviously,” she finished with a good-natured laugh at her own expense.

“I thought she was going to jump clear,” said Selleck about her thoughts during Dotson’s last performance.

© Lincoln Rogers: Hannah Selleck starts the victory gallop after achieving the victory
Paige Dotson had the gold medal in her grasp until the last obstacle fell on Sunday, moving her back to the bronze

Asked if there were any conflicting thoughts of whether to root for or against her teammate, Selleck admitted to none.

“You always have to root for your teammates,” she answered. “If you jinx them, that karma is going to come back to you,” she added with a laugh. “I don’t try and wish them ill. I’m not going to do that.”

When a follow up question was posed regarding her feelings about NAJYRC gold, Selleck had an easy answer.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said with a pleased expression. I’ve had some disappointment before, like last year I wasn’t able to do it because my horse got hurt. That’s a big disappointment, but it kind of makes it all the sweeter to be able to come back and do this.”

“We were so close,” offered Cook about the competition between teammates over the last four days. “You saw how Hannah was like a quarter of a fault less than me at the end. And if Paige would have had one less rail, she would have been a fault better than Hannah. So it was so close and there was so little room for error, it just gives you that drive to really focus hard.”

© Lincoln Rogers: Hannah Selleck after winning the Gold Medal
Hannah Selleck after winning the Gold Medal

“We know each one of our teammates can go out there and do it well,” said Selleck. “So it puts the pressure on. I think it makes me ride better when I know there is someone there who can do just as well.”

The team performing so well after last year’s top finishes provided a measure of satisfaction to Cook, event though he lost his bid for four gold medals and had to settle for three golds and one silver.

“This year was kind of to prove that we are doing well,” said Cook about wanting to show Zone 10 was for real. “We wanted to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. It is just me and Paige who are on the team this year that were also on last year’s team, and we want to prove that we have more than just those riders who can win the gold like we did last year. It is almost a completely different team this year and we still got “B” Team Gold and we did it again in “A” Team,” he added. “It is solidifying that we have the riders of a certain caliber that many people didn’t think we had.”

“They are unreal. Unreal,” said Thomas about his pupils for the competition. “They’re pretty hard to beat.”

With all the positive experience he has had over the last two years, Cook was asked if he would recommend the NAJYRC to anyone who is wondering whether it is worth attending.

“Yes,” he said in reply. “Regardless of how well you do, it just gives you so much experience to move forward, if that is your goal. Since we get to work as a team I think it builds character, as well. It gives a different side to each of the disciplines because you are representing your area and so you feel pride when you do well. Even when you don’t do well, you come out of it with so much more experience because you don’t get this kind of atmosphere anywhere else,” he added. “The only way to get this exposure for the Olympics or World Cup is that you have to come to this, because then you know how to handle yourself when you are in those situations.”

“It feels great because everyone is so good,” summed up Selleck about her experience of being on this talented team from California. “No one cracked and it just puts the pressure on and makes you do better.”

2008 proved Zone 10 is no fluke when it comes to winning medals. Now it’s up to the rest of North America’s Young Riders to rise to the challenge and see if they have a bigger taste for some precious metal of their own.

© Lincoln Rogers: Zone 8's Sarah Tredennick improved upon her 2007 fifth place with a fourth place in finish in 2008
Zone 8's Sarah Tredennick improved upon her 2007 fifth place with a fourth place in finish in 2008
© Lincoln Rogers: Alberta, Canada Team member Jaclyn Duff comes in 5th place
Alberta, Canada Team member Jaclyn Duff comes in 5th place
PHOTOS BY: Lincoln Rogers/PhelpsSports.com
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Zone 10ís Lucy Davis Is Perfect Over Five Rounds to Win NAJYRC Junior Individual Gold
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CN North American Junior and Young Rider Championships Sun Highlights
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