Harrisburg, PA – Coming into Saturday night’s third and final phase of the USEF Junior Jumper National Championship at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Sofia Cady felt that she had little to no shot at a podium finish. However, as the rails fell for each of the top five, a clear round from Cady and her mount, Deleyn, took them straight to the top of the leaderboard for the gold medal win.
“I didn’t [think I had a chance]; I just wanted to have a nice last round on [Deleyn],” said Cady, who is in her final year as a junior competitor. “I wanted her to have a really nice experience. She really tried her heart out, and with a little bit of fighting, she produced that result for me. I’m very proud of her.”
Cady was one of 33 entries that contested Thursday evening’s Phase I class, and by Saturday, she was one of 18 riders left vying for the national championship title. Heading into Phase III, each rider carried over penalties based on their results from Phases I and II, and all of the top five riders sat within less than five points from one another.
Given the close margin, the pressure was on for each of them to perform over the Nicholas Granat-designed course, but as rails fell for all of the top contenders, it was Cady who climbed up the ranks to finish on a final score of 5.94. Also making sizeable moves up the leaderboard were silver and bronze medalists Hunter Champey and Taylor Cawley, respectively.
Champey and High Hopes SFN, owned by MDHT Equestrian, LLC, moved from seventh to second place following a clear round on Saturday that saw them finish on a score of 8.27. Cawley and Corlencia BC, owned by Windsor Show Stables, also produced a clear round to end on a score of 8.88.
“I was very nervous, not only for tonight but for the whole horse show,” continued Cady, who was presented with the AHSA National Show Jumping Individual Championship Perpetual Trophy for the win. “I have not had the opportunity to ride this horse in a couple months, and so I try to walk in with not a ton of expectations. Deleyn is my day one girl. She’s been with me since the very beginning of my jumper career, and she’s taken me up to the Young Riders at NAYC and then through this championship. This is our second time, and she came out with [an individual] gold this time.”
Last time they contested the Junior Jumper National Championship at the PNHS in 2022, Cady and Deleyn also came away with gold – team gold as part of the Zone 7 Prix des States winning team.
“That was a really, really fun year,” said Cady of her time at the 2022 PNHS. “It’s just such a different and interesting experience jumping the horses indoors in such a small arena; it really just changes up everything. I love Harrisburg. It feels very historic. It’s my favorite of all of the indoors and really one of my favorite horse shows of the year. You just feel like you really work to earn a spot here. Every time I walk in the ring, it makes me feel really grateful and really happy to be here.”
Like Cady, Champey was happy to be at the PNHS and thrilled – and also a bit surprised – to be on the podium.
“After the first day I was really ecstatic,” said Champey, 18. “I had a great round. [High Hopes SFN] jumped amazing in the team day. Obviously, I was a little disappointed getting four falls in each round, but I was optimistic because, during these competitions over three phases, people can get faults just like that. Going in today, I really did not expect a podium. I just wanted to get a clear round redemption from yesterday. He jumped incredible, and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
Cawley also echoed similar sentiments. “It was a technical track and the biggest out of the three days, so I really wanted to have a nice clear round. I came into today in 10th, so I didn’t feel a ton of pressure. Of course, I was hoping to move up, but I had no idea I was going to be on the podium!”
In addition to earning the bronze medal, Cawley was presented with the William C. Steinkraus Style Award, donated by Karen Healey. For full results of the $10,000 USEF Junior Jumper National Championships, click here.