Arabian Breed Crowns US Open Champions to Start Central Park Horse Show

Cathy Vecsey and HL Sanction.

September 21, 2016 – New York, NY – The third annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show (RCPHS) began on Wednesday evening, September 21, in New York City’s Wollman Rink with featured competition celebrating the Arabian breed. The Arabian Horse Association (AHA) and Aljassimya Farm proudly presented the second annual Arabian U.S. Open at RCPHS, showcasing the beauty, athleticism, and diversity of the Arabian breed through a variety of classes.

The Rolex Central Park Horse Show runs through Sunday, September 25, with five days of multi-discipline equestrian sport for Arabians, jumpers, dressage, and hunters. The $216,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI 3*, presented by Rolex, and Friday night ceremonies will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, September 25, from 9-10:30 p.m. EST.

A mix of in-hand/halter and performance classes graced Wollman Rink Wednesday evening, as the Arabian horses kicked off opening night in Central Park. To start, the Arabian Mounted Native Costume class portrayed the magic and romance of the Arabian horse as ancestors of modern day light breeds. The performance division also included classes in Hunter Pleasure Pro/Am, Western Pleasure Pro/Am, and Country English Pleasure Pro/AM. Junior Mares, Junior Stallions, Senior Mares, and Senior Stallions were then presented in-hand to highlight the horses as desirable breeding stock based on their conformation and shape. Gold, Silver, and Bronze Champions were awarded for each of the classes offered.

The gold medal winner of the Mounted Native Costume class for the second year in a row was HL Sanction, owned by Hawk Haven Farms and exhibited by Cathy Vecsey. At an incredible 27 years of age, the beautiful Arabian, bred by Jayne Solberg, displayed the bloodlines of sire The Chief Justice and dam Overlook Seratifa. The silver medal was awarded to Captain Courageous PA, owned by Madison Fernandes and Krystal Duarte, and exhibited by Kayleigh Meyer.

This year, performance classes were ridden Pro/Am style, with the exception of the Mounted Native Costume class. Pro/Am allows professional horsemen and women to ride the horses the first direction of the class, while seasoned amateurs rode the second way – proving that teamwork is successful in the show ring and representing the bond and relationship between horse, professional and amateur.
In the Country English Pleasure Pro/Am class, Sally Wheeler Maier returned to the RCPHS for the second year in a row, and also rode Captain Courageous PA. Maier is a hometown New York City resident, living just blocks away from Central Park, and was excited to return for the second annual Arabian U.S. Open.

“It is thrilling to be back. It was so much fun last year and just as beautiful this year,” Maier stated. “It is a perfect setting, and we really have an exciting, showy breed. They are a loving, beautiful horse. They have such beautiful features. I think that starting out with the costume class was great with them really in their element. It was a great evening and a great showcase for the Arabian breed.”

Katie Russell flew in from California with her horse Ariya Encore to compete in the Hunter Pleasure Pro/Am class at RCPHS for the first time and had a fantastic experience.

“This is my first time here, and I feel blessed to be here,” Russell stated. “I think it is pretty amazing to be over 55 and be here competing. Most people have things that they say are their glory days, and I feel like I made a glory day today. This is something pretty amazing to do. We have such a great horse, and a great breed, that I can be out there doing something that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. This is a dream come true. I went in the arena, and I looked around and thought, ‘Wow!’ We have the best breed of horses that can do so many disciplines. It was an amazing experience.”

Judge Steve Lieblang also commented on the evening’s competition. He remarked, “Being added into the RCPHS with the Arabians is absolutely amazing. It is an incredible opportunity to get some wonderful exposure. It is great for people who are not normally exposed to Arabian horses to actually see them compete. I think the horses that we had tonight were extremely high-quality, and everyone did an absolutely incredible job.”

Among the night’s wins, competition included three gold medals for handler Michael Byatt. Byatt held Quintessa Partners LLC’s Aria Quintessa in-hand to win the Junior Mare Halter class. He also led Quintessa Partners LLC’s Aria Qatars Angel to a win in the Senior Mare Halter class. Byatt then concluded the evening with a win holding Aria Impresario Holdings LLC’s Aria Impresario in the Senior Stallion halter class.

Andrew Sellman was the handler for Mulawa Arabian Stud’s Vangelis MI to win the Junior Stallion Halter class. Natalie Jones and Anna Redmond rode Wolf Springs Ranches Inc.’s C Hondo to the gold medal in the Hunter Pleasure Pro/Am class. Rob Bick and Janie Wasilewski guided J Frank and Sara R. Chisholm’s PA Kid Khan to victory in the Western Pleasure Pro/Am class, and Joel Kiesner and Alexa Cohn rode I Ask LLC’s Afires Style to a win in the Country English Pleasure Pro/Am class.

Wednesday’s competition was a beautiful display of the Arabian breed and just the start of the 2016 Rolex Central Park Horse Show. Competition continues through Sunday, September 25, with more multi-discipline equestrian sport for jumpers, dressage, and hunters. For more information, visit www.centralparkhorseshow.com.

Full results from the Arabian U.S. Open are available at www.arabianhorseresults.com.

Tickets are selling fast! To get yours, go to http://bit.ly/29LwkkD.

About Rolex Central Park Horse Show
Launched in September 2014, Rolex Central Park Horse Show is the first-ever outdoor, multi-day equestrian sporting event in New York City, showcasing some of the best show jumpers and dressage riders in the world as they vie for top prizes against a backdrop of skyscrapers in one of the world’s most iconic venues. As the event founder, Mark Bellissimo is the CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions and International Equestrian Group LLC; Managing Partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEF), Tryon Equestrian Partners and Colorado Equestrian Partners; and Publisher of The Chronicle of The Horse magazine. The Rolex Central Park Horse Show will feature five days of multi-discipline equestrian sport and performances, ranging from Arabians and Dressage to Hunters and Show Jumping. The Rolex Central Park Horse Show will also host the second annual U.S. Open in the following categories: Jumpers; Dressage; Hunters; U25 Jumpers; and Arabians. For more information, visit www.centralparkhorseshow.com or Facebook at www.facebook.com/CPhorseshow and follow @cphorseshow on Twitter and Instagram.

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