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2011 North American Team Challenge
Images by Merri

2011 North American Team Challenge
Images by Merri

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The Party Before The Calm Before The Storm || Winding Up

Winding Up

Friday September 23 2011

"I wouldn't trade a minute of riding with my daughter. We just want to have a good ride." So said Central team's Karen Binns DiCamillo, riding with her 17-year-old daughter Jessica, one of four Young Riders in tomorrow's North American Endurance Team Challenge. Karen and Jessica won the 2004 Bill Thornburgh Family Award Winners - top mileage parent(s)-child(ren) team - with 2410 miles.

Jessica already has 5000 endurance miles. She has ridden her 10-year-old horse 'Woody' in the last 4 FEI North AMerican Junior/Young Rider Championships. Their goal at this ride is to to have fun and finish, because they have an even bigger goal beyond this ride: Jessica is hoping to participate in this year's Junior World Endurance Championship in Dubai. Endurance is Woody's second career - he and the other DiCamillo horses do ranch work to earn their endurance riding fees. Karen will be riding RGS SHA Strike Two. This will be 11-year-old Strike's first 100; he entered the 100 at the Kentucky WEG pre-ride when the ride was shortened on course to 75 miles due to horrid weather.

"We expect the East riders to go out fast," an anonymous source told me. It's a hard first loop, a climb up, 13 miles and a couple thousand feet. It'll be chilly in the morning, around 56* at the basecamp start, and still chilly for the 30 minute hold up top. If some of those front runners go too soon too fast, it might set up nicely for those in the second tier, or some of those, like Jan Worthington and Golden Lightning who get stronger the last 50 miles.

The officials are looking forward to a competitive ride. Since it's a Team competition, there might be a higher completion rate than normal. In this event, Team Medals seem to be a bit more important than individual gold medals. Some riders may have the fastest horse but they may not be out to win. Strategy will play a big part in the ride.

If it were a betting race, favorites - either fast horses, experienced horses, fast riders, smart riders, experienced riders, or a combination - would be Central's Darolyn Butler on DJB Jolly Roger, Central's Ceci Butler-Stasiuk on KJB Cytron Kon JMS, Northeast's Meg Sleeper on Syrocco Reveille, Pac South's Heather Reynolds on Destiny Gold, Pac South's Jeremy Reynolds on A Kutt Above, Pac South's Becky Hart on No Repeat, Pac North's Lindsay Graham on Monk, and Mountain's Christoph Schork on Stars Aflame. Some of these horses ran a hard race last time out: Monk and A Kutt Above ran a sub-7 hour 100; No Repeat did a sub-8 hour 100; Stars Aflame won and BC'd the challenging AERC National Championship in New Mexico.

But, like a horse race, it all depends on how the horse feels on the Big Day.

The Butlers came here with 6 horses... 2 for mom Darolyn Butler and daughter Ceci Butler-Stasiuk, and 2 for Canadian Yvette Vinton, and Northeast's Holly Corcoran (2 horses were backups).

Jan Worthington and Grace Ramsey and Golden Lightning were going to have a "Jan and Grace and Leon Vacation"... but ended up bringing 5 horses along. They leased 4 to Northeast's Melody Blittersdorf, Southeast's Young Rider Mary Kathryn Clark, Southeast's Cheryl Van Deusen, and for Jan's son Guy Worthington.

Watch for Nicole Smith on 13-year-old Ravenwood Shahbar. He won the AERC National Championship over this very course in 2009 with Ken Keele. Nicole bought him from Ken in 2010. Since then, they've completed 10 of 13 rides including the Tevis, with 3 firsts and 2 seconds and 1 Best Condition Award. "He's a good horse," Nicole said. "He keeps his head down, he knows his job. He's good on downhills."

There are 4 Young Riders to keep an eye on, Central's Jessica DeCamillo, Mountain's McCamey Kimbler, Southeast's Mary Kathryn Clark, and Northeast's Kyle Gibbon. They might just slip past their elders and surprise everybody!

Merri Melde