Nicole Walker Takes Uplands U25 Jumping National Championship

Nicole Walker from Aurora, ON won the Uplands Under 25 (U25) Jumping National Championship on Nov. 11 at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON

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Nicole Walker from Aurora, ON won the Uplands Under 25 (U25) Jumping National Championship on Nov. 11 at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.

As the culmination of the Canadian U25 series, which saw qualifiers take place across the country in 2017, a total of 15 Canadian athletes and one international wild card – Daniel Coyle of Ireland – attended the Royal Horse Show to go head-to-head for the national title.

Walker began her journey to the top with an impressive win in the $12,500 1.45m Alfred Rogers U25 National Championship – Phase I on Nov. 9, held as a one-round speed class. Riding Excellent B, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, sired by Balou du Rouet and owned by Gabrielle Buisson, she flew around the 11 jumps and 13 efforts set by Rio 2016 Olympic course designer, Guilherme Jorge of Brazil.

One of only two riders to produce clear rounds in Phase I, Walker stopped the clock in 61.07 seconds to narrowly beat out Veronica Bot of Burlington, ON who crossed the timers in 61.62 seconds with Quidam’s Caprice M, owned by AEI Corp.

“(For Excellent B) to be clear here for his first time indoors, I’m very impressed with him,” said Walker, who began riding him in the spring of 2017, taking over the ride from her coach, Irish Olympian, Cian O’Connor. “He is so mature for his age, and such a brave soul. I couldn’t ask for a better horse.”

Walker returned to the ring on Nov. 11 for the $12,500 1.45m Alfred Rogers U25 National Championship – Phase II to lay down one of just four clear rounds and secure a spot in the final jump-off. As the last rider to take on the jump-off, Walker knew she had to be quick and clear, after Alexanne Thibault of Boucherville, QC produced a clear and quick round in 34.82 seconds aboard Chacco Prime. Although Walker left all the rails up, she came up just slightly short of Thibault’s time, stopping the clock at 35.96 for second place.

“I thought today was a little tougher than the first day, a little more technical,” Walker commented about the track Jorge set for Phase II. “But, there are a lot of good riders here too. Canada has done really well in the U25 classes this year. So, I think the course designer did a good job, building to the field that is here.”
Having accumulated the most points across the two phases (12), Walker was crowned the 2017 National Champion.

“I have one year left in U25, and I feel like it’s been a great stepping stone in helping me prepare to do bigger stuff,” said Walker, looking back on her U25 season and her stellar finish in the national final. “I think it’s building a strong field for Canada because, as you can see, the riders are getting better and better. I think it’s really good for Canada’s future.”

The Reserve Champion title went to Thibault, who was just one point off Walker’s total with 11 after combining her Phase II win with a third place finish in Phase I as the fastest of the four-fault rounds with Chacco Prime (Chacco Blue x Le Primeur), her nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding.

As the National Champion, Walker received a saddle provided by Antares Sellier. In addition, plates for the class winners and prize money were generously donated by the Uplands Charitable Foundation in memory of the late Alfred Rogers, as well as the Equestrian Canada (EC) Jumping Committee.

For full results from the 2017 Uplands U25 Jumping National Championship, visit www.royalfair.org.

$12,500 Alfred Rogers U25 National Championship – Phase 1

Placing / Rider / Hometown / Horse / Owner
1st / Nicole Walker / Aurora, ON / Excellent B / Nicole Walker
2nd / Veronica Bot / Burlington, ON / Quidam’s Caprice M / AEI Corp.
3rd / Alexanne Thibault / Boucherville, QC / Chacco Prime / Alexanne Thibault
4th / Julia Madigan / Vancouver, BC / Farfelu du Printemps / John Madigan
5th / Ashley James / Senneville, QC / Dartagnan Z / Ashley James
6th / Rachel Schnurr / Waterloo, ON / Prince Garbo / Sara Tindale
7th / Megan Champoux / Aldergrove, BC / Arctic Outflow / Cobblestone Farm
8th / Sierra Mark / Augusta, ON / Heat Wave 3E / Sierra Mark

$12,500 Alfred Rogers U25 National Championship – Phase 2

Placing / Rider / Hometown / Horse / Owner
1st / Alexanne Thibault / Boucherville, QC / Chacco Prime / Alexanne Thibault
2nd / Nicole Walker / Aurora, ON / Excellent B / Nicole Walker
3rd / Julia Madigan / Vancouver, BC / Farfelu du Printemps / John Madigan
4th / Daniel Coyle (IRL) / Cheltenham, ON / Harakiri Z / Conor Coyle
5th / Sabrina Lefebvre / Terrebonne, QC / Alaska / Sabrina Lefebvre
6th / Rachel Schnurr / Waterloo, ON / Prince Garbo / Sara Tindale
7th / Jacqueline Steffens / Harriston, ON / Braveheart de Muze / Double C Stables
8th / Sierra Mark / Augusta, ON / Heat Wave 3E / Sierra Mark