Riders leap to first on home turf

Local equestrians have soared to new heights. 

The Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation is proud to announce the Cayman Islands won the second leg of the 2013 Caribbean Equestrian Associations Junior Show Jumping competition held at home in Grand Cayman on 18 and 19 May.  

The CEA JSJ competition consists of four legs hosted throughout the year in each participating country. The teams are selected via trial or competition in the home country and they travel to compete in each leg.  

All riders stay with local families so not only are the riders riding horses they have not encountered before but they are also staying in a foreign country with families and people that they have not met before.  

The event comprises of four different show jumping courses that become progressively more difficult with the riders on four different horses that the visiting riders had never ridden before. In Cayman, the 14 & Under riders jump a course with a maximum height of .70 metres, while the 16 & Under riders jump a maximum height of .85m.  

This is the 16th year of the competition and it is credited with inspiring young Caribbean riders and offering them their first international competition experience. 

The Cayman team was made up of sisters Phoebe and Polly Serpell, who represented Cayman in the Under 14 and Under 16 divisions, respectively, during the two-day event held at The Equestrian Centre owned by Mary Alberga and Jessica McTaggart. This was Phoebe’s first time riding for Cayman in the CEA JSJ competition. She was a reserve rider who had to step up and replace Hannah Fowler, who was injured while training the week before the competition.  

Polly Serpell had only been back in the saddle for two weeks after breaking her ankle when her horse fell on her in the first leg of the National Jump series in March.  

Cayman took the lead early on in the competition and after the first day, Cayman held a two-fault lead. But after round three, the gap widened to a four-fault lead. 

The Serpell sisters proved to be unbeatable and they won the Under 14 and Under 16 classes, as well as claiming first place in the team competition. Phoebe Serpell was also the only rider to complete all four rounds of the competition without any faults and received an award to recognise the accomplishment.  

The Cayman team was coached by Mary Alberga, who said, “I am extremely proud of the Cayman team, Phoebe had to step in to replace Hannah with less than 24 hours notice and no time to train and Polly had only been back training for two weeks after breaking her ankle. Both girls listened well and followed all of my instructions and deserved to win.”  

After the four rounds of jumping, Cayman had eight faults, Barbados 23 faults, Trinidad 24 faults and Jamaica 56 faults. The total year to date country points after the Cayman leg of the CEA JSJ is as follows: Cayman, first place, 10 points; Barbados, second place, six points; Trinidad, third place, four points and Jamaica, fourth place, two points.  

These points are carried over for each leg of the CEA and the country with the most points at the end of the year is the winner. The next leg of the competition is to be held in Trinidad in September and Cayman is keen and motivated to maintain its lead.  

The federation is now planning for its next show, the CEA Mini Dressage Show, to be held this June. 

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