Harrisburg, Pennsylvania—Oct. Fifteen
Last year, Ansgar Holtgers Jr. won a team gold medal at the Neue Schule/USEF Team Jumper Championship Prix Des States National Championship with zone 4, so he came back to Harrisburg this week determined to snag another. And he did, but this year as a solo act and won the Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper Individual Championship on Saturday with great rides on Chaploon.
“Emotions were running high and I obviously wanted to win gold,” said Holtgers, 17, of Wellington, Fla., who had Rene Tebble to help. “I was so happy with my horse.”
Holtgers was the only rider out of 36 to hold up all the fences all week. Holtgers slipped to the gold medal position after Virginia Bonnie and Heldorado, who ranked slightly ahead of him thanks to a faster speed lap, lost a rail to take bronze in the last class of the championship. Tessa Downey, Houston, put in a brilliant clean Saturday on Isabelle to move up to sixth place to add an individual silver to the Zone 7 team gold she earned on Friday night.
On the course designed by Alan Wade, only five out of 23 pairs remained clear.
“I thought it was a really great class,” said 18-year-old Bonnie. “It tested all the skills we aim for – rideability, forwards, backwards. It was really well designed.”
Holtgers, 17, rode Chaploon, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue – Wisira) for the first time this May. They began their partnership at World Equestrian Center – Ocala and spent a month in Europe this summer.
“I think being able to ride is a big, big help [in Europe],” he said. “You get to compete with the best juniors and young riders in the world. It’s also great to meet new people, see different courses, different jumps, different rings and different lifestyles, which I think is very important.
“[Chaploon] comes from the Paul Schockemöhle stable in Germany,” he continued. “We flew over there to try it and I think I’ve been in love with it since I sat on it. He comes back easily, he has a big stride and he’s extremely cautious. It’s just a lot of fun and I can’t think of a better way to start our partnership than by winning this.”
Downey, 16, teamed up with Isabelle at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida) this year. This summer they competed at the Gotham North FEI Youth Championships (Michigan) and placed seventh in the juniors’ singles final.
“She’s an incredible animal,” Downey said. “Ken and Emily Smith and Peter Pletcher and Jeff Lauwers brought us together.”
Bonnie first tried Heldorado in 2021 when she competed with Holtgers in the final team of the FEI Junior Nations Cup at Kronenberg CSIOJ (Netherlands), where they won team gold.
“It was the first time I’ve ever competed in Europe or one [youth] Nations Cup final team,” said Bonnie. “Having that experience of being able to rely on such a big international stage and having to rely on your teammates is a key growth factor and an important step for young riders.”
Find results here. Want more Pennsylvania National? The Chronicle will be there during Grand Prix night bringing you photos and stories. For more analysis from the Pennsylvania National, see the November 7 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.