Kelsey Russell Wins Individual Gold in North American Young Rider Endurance Championship

USA Southeast Claims Team Gold

Russell and Wild Irish Rose in France

Russell and MY Wild Irish Rose in France

17 July 2015, Lexington, Kentucky ~ Kelsey Russell of Williston, Florida, won the individual competition of the North American Young Rider Endurance Championship aboard My Wild Irish Gold on Thursday, 16 July, with a time of 5:43:56.

Hanna Weightman (Shamong, N.J.) took the Individual Silver medal with Syrocco Rabia finishing in a time of 5:46:07, and Hope Misner (Webster City, Iowa) earned Bronze with GDE Sweete Legacy with a time of 5:52:03. Russell rode for Team USA Southeast, Weightman for USA Northeast, and Misner for USA Central.

I didn’t think she was going to stop,” said a grinning Russell, 19, after she dismounted.

Fourteen riders started the 120 km (75-mile) 4* course at 6:30 a.m. in crisp weather and a soupy mist that made it challenging to see at a distance. By noon, however, the sun was shining brightly, and the air was a hot, heavy blanket of Kentucky humidity. The first horse crossed the finish line shortly after 3:00 p.m.

Because of torrential rains earlier in the week and for the safety of the horses, portions of the course were rerouted the previous day. The entire race (five loops) took place on the 1,200-acre Kentucky Horse Park grounds instead of crossing adjacent private properties, as has done previously and was planned this year.

Although there were some muddy stretches, Russell said the course rode very well. “Emmett Ross, [the course designer], did a really good job. By the end of the last loop most of the footing was dry. We took it easy the first two loops, and by the third she was ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”

Owner Valerie Kanavy, a legendary endurance rider and also Russell’s coach, bred her mount. Kanavy said the 11-year-old mare will have some time off as a broodmare after this event. She described Russell as “a very special young lady,” adding, “She works her tail off and is already managing our whole training program, which has 17 horses. She’s amazing – a straight-A student who can do just about anything.”

After this race, Russell has finished 13 of 14 starts, placing within the top five in each, including the 2013 FEI World Endurance Championship for Juniors and Young Riders. She is starting her sophomore year in college as a business major and plans to become a veterinarian.

The USA Southeast team claimed Gold with a combined time of 19:35:15. The members are:

Kelsey Russell and My Wild Irish Gold

Katie Baldino and Questafir

Annie Whelan and RF Priceless

Mary Kathryn Clark and Kalilas Legacy

Mallory Capps and SA Belshazzar

The endurance medals ceremony take place on Friday 17 July at 11:00 a.m. along with the announcement and presentation of the best-conditioned horse award.

For full results or to learn more about the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, please visit