Cayman places second in regional jumping challenge

Ashley van den Bol, winner of the 1.0-meter RJC class, rides Whindlass.

The Equestrian Center, located on the Linford Pierson Highway, was the site of the Cayman leg of the third annual CEA Regional Jumping Challenge Sunday, where the Cayman Islands team came in second place overall, just behind Bermuda and ahead of Barbados. Along with the excellent results posted by its athletes, the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation welcomed Dr. Jody Timpson, a local sports medicine specialist, who volunteered to be the medical officer for the event.

Organized by the CIEF under the rules of the Caribbean Equestrian Association, the Regional Jumping Challenge is a competition between the Cayman Islands and its English-speaking neighbors of Bermuda, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad. What is unique about this event is that the horses and athletes do not travel in order to compete. Instead, each participating country builds the show jumping course to the exact specifications proscribed by the CEA.

The competition is held at three heights: 0.7 meters, 0.85 meters and 1.0 meter. Athletes ride the course twice and their final placing is determined by the total faults received in the two rounds, with those receiving the least number of faults being ranked higher. Ties in faults received are broken using the time taken in the second round, with the fastest rider being placed higher.

The CEA Regional Jumping Challenge is both a team and individual competition. While all riders in the Caribbean participating in the event are ranked against one another, the top two riders from each country at each height form a team, and their total faults and times are added together to form a team score.

Two Cayman riders returned to compete at home. Ashley van den Bol, 16, who attends boarding school and rides competitively in the U.S., flew in for the Thanksgiving holiday to clinch the top spot in the 1.0-meter class with just four faults on her mother’s horse, Whindlass. Jodie McTaggart, who had not competed in show jumping for a number of years because she had been living in the U.S. until a few months ago, wowed the crowd with a blisteringly fast double clear on her new horse, Nala. After her ride, McTaggart announced that she is aiming to compete in the 1.0-meter class on Nala next year.

The Cayman team of Megan Swartz and Charli Milgate at 70 centimeters both had double clear rounds and strong times, placing them second at the 70-centimeter level among the five Caribbean teams participating. The team of Jodie McTaggart and Abbey Swartz placed fourth in the Caribbean, and the team of Ashley van den Bol and Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio placed third in the Caribbean. All six riders, based on their combined scores, led Cayman to a second place finish overall for the event.

After the CEA Regional Jumping Challenge was completed, the CIEF held two introductory jumping classes. Abbey Swartz won the 60-centimeter class on Teddy and Kayla Mannisto won the 50-centimeter class riding Pony Up.

The next show jumping event to be held by the CIEF will be the second leg of the four-part National Jumping Series, which will take place at the Equestrian Center, located on Linford Pierson Highway, on Jan. 28 at 8 a.m. Spectators are welcome and admission is free. For a complete list of CIEF horse shows, visit http://ciefcay.com/events/calendar/.

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