Harrisburg, PA – Ansgar Holtgers, Jr. rode Chaploon to a gold medal win in the $10,000 Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper Individual National Championship, presented by Turnham Green, on Saturday, October 15, marking the thrilling conclusion to three days of junior jumper competition at the 76th Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Holtgers, of Wellington, FL, of his victory. “It means a lot to be here. It’s a prestigious show; a lot of people set their goals to come here to show at this time. It’s a big deal because there are  of the best juniors in the country here with the best horses, the best teams, the best trainers – everything. It’s a big deal to come here and then to win [is even bigger].”
Holtgers was one of 23 entries that contested Saturday’s Phase III class, with each rider that qualified for the final phase of the three-day Individual Championship coming into the evening carrying penalties based on their results from Phases I and II.
All of the top six riders coming into the evening sat within 3.05 points of one another, so the pressure was on to perform over the Alan Wade-designed course.
As riders returned in the reverse order of their standings, Sofia Cady and her own Deleyn returned in the 10th place position. As one of only three clear rounds, the 16-year-old from Austin, TX, shot up into the eventual fourth-place position. Fellow Texan Tessa Downey similarly climbed up the ranks, with a clear round aboard Isabelle, owned by Horse Orchard LLC, moving her up from sixth place to clinch the silver medal.
Holtgers and Virginia Bonnie were the final two to return, and when Holtgers produced a clear round, the pressure was on for Bonnie and her own Heldorado. An unfortunate rail saw the pair fall from the lead, but their impressive performances throughout the week earned them the bronze medal spot on the podium.
“It was a really great course to test all the skills required – including rideability both forward and back,” said Bonnie, 18, of Upperville, VA. “It was really, really well designed. Coming back on top – Heldorado doesn’t have the most experience. We spent a lot of time in Spruce [Meadows] stepping back, and we spent the time really allowing him to mature. So, genuinely, to be here is just a huge, huge honor. I’m immensely proud of him. Going in, whatever was happening, whatever was going to happen, I knew I could not be happier with how Heldorado jumped and the huge effort he put into everything.”
Downey expressed similar thoughts in regard to her silver-medal winning mount, Isabelle.
“She’s an incredible animal. Ken and Emily Smith, as well as Peter Pletcher and Jef Lauwers were the ones that teamed us up together, and I just couldn’t be more grateful to them for allowing me this opportunity.”
For Holtgers his partnership with Chaploon, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Gut Einhaus LLC, is still relatively young.
“I was first introduced to Chaploon in about May of this year,” said Holtgers of the gelding acquired from Paul Schockemöhle Stables in Germany. “I remember we flew out there in about May to try him. Ever since I sat on him, I was in love with him. He is just so much fun to ride. He comes back; he has a huge step. He’s ultra-careful, and he’s very scopey. It’s a great partnership, and I can’t imagine a better way to start our partnership off really than to win a gold medal.”
To view full results from the $10,000 Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper National Championship, click here.
From October 13-22, the 76th-annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show will host more than 1,200 of the best hunter, jumper and equitation horses and riders from across the nation. In addition to the Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper National Championships, highlight events of the 2022 horse show include the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final on Sunday, October 16, and the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National on Saturday, October 22. To learn more, visit www.PAnational.org.