Katherine Strauss Goes All in with Gold Medal in Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Individual

© Taylor Renner: Individual Awards
Zone 2 teammates claimed the individual gold, silver and bronze medals after Saturday’s final phase of the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships. The gold medal went to Katherine Strauss, silver medal to Madison Goetzmann and bronze medal to Lauren Fischer.

Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 15, 2016 – Zone 2 riders continued to dominate on Saturday during Phase III of the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships, where the same top three gold medal winning teammates from Friday’s Prix des States class once again took the individual gold, silver and bronze medals. Seventeen-year-old Katherine Strauss, a senior at the Brearley School in New York City, rode her trusted mount All In to a clear round on Saturday to claim the gold medal with a total score of 1 fault, just edging out John Madden Sales, Inc. barnmate and teammate Madison Goetzmann from the top spot by half a point.

“This has been a class that I’ve watched for many years,” said Strauss. “It’s such an honor to represent Zone 2, which has such a great history and has had so many accomplished riders represent it, and compete with so many riders who’ve worked so hard to get here all year. I’m even more thrilled to have this win with my teammates and barnmate. It’s a true testament to how strong the team is at John Madden Sales and how strong the Zone 2 riders are.”

Scores obtained in Thursday and Friday’s Phase I and II competitions were converted into points and carried over into Saturday’s final Phase III competition, where the top 18 best ranked riders returned in reverse order of their standings from Phases I and II.

With Zone 2 teammates Strauss, Goetzmann and Lauren Fischer as the clear frontrunners, heading into Phase III of competition with the least amount of faults after jumping double clear rounds on Friday night to secure the team gold medal for Zone 2, the trio battled it out for the individual medals as the final three competitors of the class. Brett Burlington of Zone 4 and Bluf led the way prior with a clear round and total score of 12 faults.

Fischer, a student at Fairfield University in Connecticut who trains with her mother Cheryl Fischer and McLain Ward, was the first of the final three to tackle Steve Stephens’ technical track, challenging riders with tight turns, narrow verticals, wide oxers, a liverpool and double and triple combinations. Fischer executed a smooth and confident round up until the last fence of the course, where she took an unexpected long distance over the wide oxer. Luckily it paid off thanks to her careful and scopey 9-year-old Selle Français mare Tosca Du Feugre, and they crossed the finish line with no faults and a total combined score of 2.5 faults from all three phases.

© Taylor Renner: Lauren Fischer and Tosca Du Feugre
Lauren Fischer and Tosca Du Feugre

“It’s a great result,” said Fischer. “I’ve had her for about a year now and in the beginning she didn’t really like me very much. It actually took me about 12 months to figure out how to ride her so it makes this moment even more special.

“On the way to the last fence I didn’t see anything,” laughed Fischer. “I was thinking, ‘It’s the last jump, I can’t have it down!’ I panicked a little but I knew she had my back and I said, ‘Come on,’ and she cleared it. She’s a good girl. She has my back.”

Sixteen-year-old Goetzmann and Wrigley, a 13-year-old KWPN mare, were up next and followed in Fischer’s path with another clear round to take over the first place position with a total score of 1.5 faults.

© Taylor Renner: Madison Goetzmann and Wrigley
Madison Goetzmann and Wrigley

“It’s such an amazing accomplishment,” said Goetzmann. “Wrigley and I — we just continue to grow and grow. I’ve had her for about two years now and each show our partnership gets better and better. It’s a really amazing feeling having both my teammates finish in the medals with me. No matter what the end result was I was going to be happy because they were going to do well.”

Strauss entered the New Holland Arena at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex as the final rider of the Phase III competition with the lowest combined penalties of just 1 fault from Phases I and II. After just watching her teammates finish clear once again and in top contention for the individual medals, the pressure was on for Strauss to go clear as well to maintain her lead and claim the gold medal.

All In, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding, and Strauss pulled it off with another faultless performance taking them to the top of the podium for the second time this week, while Goetzmann was awarded the silver medal and Fischer the bronze medal.

© Taylor Renner: Katherine Strauss and All In
Katherine Strauss and All In

“I couldn’t have been happier with the way my horse jumped this week,” said Strauss. “I’m so proud of him. This is my third year competing with him here so it feels great to come back and have this finish. He has grown a lot in terms of flatwork and rideability and it’s amazing to see the difference of how far he’s come in just three years. The two days leading up to the Prix des States I actually got the chance to go up to my trainer’s barn and practice. I didn’t have school those two days and I don’t usually get to go all the way up to Cazenovia very often. Their indoor’s very small, especially compared to this ring in Harrisburg, so practicing having everything come up on the ends of the ring very quickly definitely really helped the way he rode this week. I was very happy with him.

“[Madison and Lauren] definitely put the pressure on me,” smiled Strauss. “It’s such an honor to be up here with these two riders who I know are so hardworking, so talented and so accomplished. I had total confidence in my horse. If there was one horse I wanted to take me here it was definitely All In. He’s such a special horse. He jumped great all week and was jumping great in the warm-up ring today so I really felt confident going in to the ring today with my horse, my team and my plan. I was definitely nervous just from having these two put the pressure on, but I had total confidence in my horse.”

© Taylor Renner: 2016 Prix des States AwardsPrior to the Phase III individual competition on Saturday, Zones 2, 4 and 5 were presented with their gold, silver and bronze medals from Friday’s Prix des States competition.

Strauss and Goetzmann’s consistent top finishes come as no surprise with the support and tutelage of dynamic duo John and Beezie Madden on their sides. They certainly provided the right advice to their students on Saturday as well, helping them master a challenging course that many struggled to clear.

“The time allowed was quite tight in this round so after the open four-stride line we made an inside turn to the bending line with an option for six or seven strides, but [Madison and I] both did seven,” said Strauss. “We just thought that would set up the combination right after it better and then we did a really waiting nine into the triple. Those were more of the technical things that John and Beezie wanted us to focus on.”

© Taylor Renner: Katherine Strauss AwardKatherine Strauss was also presented the William C. Steinkraus Style Award prior to competition on Saturday, which goes to a Prix des States junior jumper rider who best exemplifies the American style of equitation, and the respected, dignified, courteous and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman.

As the 2016 Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships come to a close, Strauss and Goetzmann are now switching their focus to the equitation as they will both compete in Sunday’s highly anticipated Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Final.

With this being Strauss’ final year as a junior, she hopes to finish strong in the equitation finals this fall, in between filling out college applications and winning gold medals, as any normal teenager does, and she looks forward to continuing to compete in the U25 division, after winning the reserve title in the 2015 USEF U25 National Championship, after ageing out and developing her partnership with All In even further.

“The U25 division has definitely been a focus of mine,” said Strauss. “I’ll be doing the U25 final in Kentucky in November with All In. After that, hopefully I’ll move up and maybe be able to do some 1.50m’s but we’ll just have to see how All In’s feeling and how I’m riding.”

© Taylor Renner: 2015 Prix des States champions
2015 Zone 2 Prix des States champions Katherine Strauss, Madison Goetzmann, Lucy Deslauriers and Chef d’Équipe Krista Freundlich along with 2016 Chef d’Équipe Ralph Caristo sending off the team championship flag to be hung on display in the New Holland Arena at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.

Many junior and pony hunter championships were also awarded throughout Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, the Small Junior 15 and Under Hunter championship went to Emma Kurtz and David Gochman’s Evermore, while Katherine Dash and Boss, owned by Laura Wasserman, collected the Small Junior 16–17 Hunter championship. In the Large Junior 15 and Under Hunter division, Sophie Gochman and Garfield, owned by Rose Hill Farm, took championship honors, while Burlington and Popish Farms, LLC’s Due West were champion in the Large Junior 16–17 Hunter division.

The Small Junior 3’3″ Hunter division saw Emma Hansen and her own Easy Time grab the championship tri-color and Lauren Watts and Jacqueline Watts’ Color Up win the championship title in the Large Junior 3’3″ Hunter division.

On Saturday, Burlington and Popish Farms, LLC’s Due West took home the Grand Junior Hunter championship. In the Small Pony Hunter division, the championship title as well as the Grand Champion Pony Hunter award went to Alexa Elle Lignelli and her own IParty, while Sofia Roberts and Rock Star, owned by Roberts Stables, LLC, claimed the championship in the Medium Pony Hunter division. In the Large Pony Hunter division, the championship was awarded to Mimi Gochman and Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller.

Be sure to check back with PhelpsSports.com for live updates throughout the day during Sunday’s Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Final, presented by Randolph College, at the 2016 Pennsylvania National Horse Show. Find more information on the Pennsylvania National Horse Show here.

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