Category Archives: Hunter/Equitation

Holly Shepherd and Tybee Lead Classic Phase of USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship

Photo: Holly Shepherd and Tybee.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 17, 2018 – Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the 2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship returned Friday to the Kentucky Horse Park for the first of two days of competition, bringing along with it 83 of the country’s top hunter horses and athletes. Since 2012, the program finale has steadily increased in prize money, and this year is no exception, with the overall purse nearing $300,000, a welcome incentive for the collection of skilled entries. With only 40 slots in Saturday evening’s championship handy round up for the taking, competitors needed to showcase themselves well enough to earn a place in the top half of the scorecard to retain a shot at the title. Rising to the challenge in the face of an onslaught of rain, Tybee carried Holly Shepherd to the highest marks of the day to emerge as the early front-runners ahead of a field comprised of both veterans and newcomers.

The 2018 championship, held inside the Rolex Stadium for its ninth year, featured a 12-effort track from designer Alan Lohman, who chose to implement plenty of lofty oxers and the standard four high-option fences for exhibitors to highlight their precision and scope. As the 10th pair in the order-of-go, Jamie Taylor aboard Iwasaki and Reilly’s Small Kingdom set the bar high for subsequent contenders with a total tally of 266 points. The top slot soon changed hands, however, as three-time champion and veteran hunter rider Liza Boyd piloted Maggie Hill’s Tradition just nine trips later to the first 90 score of the day, accompanied by an 86, 89 and 12 bonus points to overthrow the early leaders with a whopping 277 points. Intermittent downpours of rain plagued the morning, and Shepherd and Holly Brown’s Tybee were one of the unlucky pairs to have to face the elements for their classic round. The skilled duo overcame the added difficulty, earning scores of 88, 91 and 92, in addition to 12 bonus points, for cumulative marks of 283 to usurp Boyd and Tradition for the throne with more than 50 partners still left to ride.

As only the 25th to take their turn around the ring, Shepherd and Tybee anxiously waited to see if their place atop the leaderboard would hold. On her second ride of the day, reigning champion Victoria Colvin and Brad Wolf’s Private Practice gave the top contenders reason to worry, electing to jump all four high-options and pulling in a total score of 279, just four points shy of the lead. As 54 more entries continued to come forth throughout the morning and afternoon, many with the benefit of sunny skies, the cut-off score for 12th place continued to rise, ultimately settling on 267.50 as challengers consistently illustrated exceptional rounds that raked in scores in the 80s. However, none were able to catch the leading trio of Shepherd, Colvin, and Boyd, each of whom rode within the first 30 in the line-up and only a few trips from each other.

Heading into the final handy phase of competition, Shepherd and Tybee will face off against a group of top talent, aiming to retain their spot at the head of the class as the last to ride Saturday. Just points off the lead, Colvin undoubtedly hopes to match her 2017 results, jumping from third place after the classic round to the championship tricolor and largest prize money check of the competition thanks to a standout handy portion. No stranger to the winner’s circle and always a threat to the leader, Boyd managed to maneuver her way into both the third and fourth place spots with Tradition and Finally Farm and Westerly Farm’s Clemens, respectively. Tied with Clemens’ score of 276.50 is Tracy Freels’ Red Ryder with Hannah Isop at the helm, while Jenny Karazissis held the reins on the sixth highest-scoring horse, Dulcie Lou Morris’ Big Shot.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Patricia Griffith and Sandy Ferrell Earn Top Honors in USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship

Photo: Patricia Griffith and Endeavor.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 16, 2018 – The final phase of riding for both the 3’/3’3” and 3’6”/3’9” divisions of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship took place Thursday afternoon, bringing back eligible exhibitors to the Walnut Ring for one final time around the course and a shot at the greatest purse of the three-day competition. Patricia Griffith and Endeavor added to their two previous performances with an uncatchable score in the 3’/3’3” competition to ride away with the victory, while Sandy Ferrell and Hemingway followed suit with the highest score of the entire competition to emerge as the inaugural winners of the 3’6”/3’9” section.

Entering the ring just slightly more than halfway through the order in the 18th slot, Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Endeavor were up against the leading score at the time of 263, earned by Sara Taylor and Ingrid Avera’s Noah who rode eight trips earlier. Displaying an excellent show of precision and consistency, Griffith and the 9-year-old bay gelding made their way smoothly around Bobby Murphy’s 11-fence track at the 3’3” height to the tune of scores of 88, 88.5 and 88.5 for a cumulative 265 points from the judges to take over the top spot on the leaderboard. The talented pair was chased by their subsequent counterparts, and although a handful would lay down solid performance to earn scores in the high 80s, ultimately none could catch them on the scorecard, solidifying Griffith and Endeavor as the blue ribbon and biggest prize money winners of the afternoon in their section.

One of the last to ride and Wednesday’s class winner, Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM First Dibs jumped their way into the reserve spot with a total tally of 264.50, just half of a point behind Griffith and Endeavor. Fenney and MTM First Dibs edged out the 2019 champions in terms of prize money by just a few hundred dollars thanks to their top rankings in each of the three phases. Though Taylor and Noah were bumped from the top of the podium, the duo maintained a top finish to finish with the bronze medal, trailed by three-time champion Scott Stewart with Rivers Edge’s Everwonder in fourth position. Kim Buzby, in the saddle aboard Catherine Cox’s Final Cut, took fifth position.

Earlier in the morning, the first round of the two-phase 3’6”/3’9” section of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship determined the top 30 finishers out of the 42 original entries that would return for a stake at more prize money and the top honors. Over the first course, Hunt Tosh rode Ceil Wheeler’s Bastogne to the high score of 268, followed by Ferrell with the reins aboard Stephanie Bulger’s Hemingway with marks of 265 from the three panels of judges. Though the second round operated with riders returning with a blank slate, Tosh and Ferrell, along with other top contenders Stewart, Liza Boyd, and Katherine Newman, among others, had already once proved their horses’ prowess in the ring to earn a favorable reputation headed into the grand finale.

Unlike the prior class, more entries opted for the smaller fences in the final class of the day, with only five pairs electing to tackle the 3’9” obstacles and the rest preferring the 3’6” height. One of the first horse-and-athlete combinations to maneuver the course, Kelley Farmer and Aizlynn Radwanski’s Shameless set the bar high with a score of 264, the same score that had earned Fenney’s reserve placing only a few minutes before. Farmer’s lead would not hold long though, as Ferrell and Hemingway entered the showring as the 11th in the order of go, laying down a textbook trip to earn scores of 90, 92 and 93 for a composite score of 275 points, the highest of both height sections across all three days. Ferrell and Hemingway waited out their peers, and in the end were awarded with the rosette and the greatest stake of the pot.

Farmer and Shameless remained unsurpassed by any other exhibitors to clinch the reserve championship honors, while Stewart tied himself aboard two mounts owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, Private Life and Harvard Hall. Liza Boyd showcased Maggie Hill’s Tradition to the next-highest score on the scorecard to round out the top five.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Tara Metzner and Lion Lead Day Two Rankings at USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships

Photo: Tara Metzner and Lion.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 15, 2018 – The second phase of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships brought more than 140 exhibitors back to the Walnut Ring on Wednesday, presenting horses and riders one final chance at qualifying for the championship round by earning a place in the top 30 contenders. Jumping from sixth position after day one, Tara Metzner and Lion secured their place in the finale with a standout performance to nab the overall lead on the scorecard and the second place ribbon in the day’s over fences class. Only two points behind in the rankings, Tracy Fenney and MTM First Dibs also navigated their way into the third portion of riding with the highest score of the day to secure the tricolors and fourth place overall.

Unlike past years, competitors did not return in reverse order of standings for phase two, but instead the class operated under a somewhat random order of go. The 3’ horses first tackled the Bobby Murphy track, which once again offered a first fence option, followed by the 3’3” entries. In the end, the top five pairs overall turned out to be horses jumping the higher fences, led by Metzner and Davlyn Farms’ Lion with a two-day total score of 526.50. Following Tuesday’s initial round, Metzner and the Selle Francais gelding were sitting in the sixth slot thanks to their 262.50-point marks, which the pair added to Wednesday with a textbook trip to the tune of 264 points from the judges to jump to the lead overall and for the day slightly more than halfway through the class.

Competing at the 3’3” height, Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM First Dibs were one of the last pairs to ride for the day, and saved the best performance of the class for nearly last with their standout trip around the expansive Walnut Ring. Earning scores of 86, 88 and 92 from the three panels of judges for an over fences score of 266, Fenney and the chestnut gelding propelled themselves to the top of the leaderboard for the day and jumped into fourth place overall, up from 11th after day one. The 2015 winner of the event aboard MTM Personalized, Texas-based Fenney has only been paired with MTM First Dibs since April, but their short relationship certainly did not hold them back in the showring.

In the overall standing, Metzner and Lion earned a narrow lead with their cumulative score of 526.50, only 1.5 points ahead of both Scott Stewart aboard Rivers Edge’s Everwonder and Haylie Rolfe with the reins on Pony Lane Farm’s Queen Celeste, each with 525 points. Fenney and MTM First Dibs sit in fourth, followed by Sara Taylor and Noah, owned by Ingrid Avera, in fifth place.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

THIS National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship Qualifying Classes to Begin Sept. 1, 2018

Photo: The THIS VIP Club overlooking the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Lexington, KY – Aug. 15, 2018 – Qualifying classes for the brand new Taylor Harris Insurance Services Adult Equitation Championship begin Sept. 1, 2018 for the 2019 calendar year. We encourage all competitions which currently host the ASPCA Maclay and Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Medal classes to add this class to their competitive rosters. The National Horse Show is thrilled to be able to provide adult equitation athletes an opportunity to compete at our event, and encourage our fellow horse show managers to support our efforts by offering the qualifying classes for this program during the coming competition year.

The THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship is open to all adult participants and will not be limited by any qualifying criteria in its inaugural year. The Championship will include a preliminary round, a flat phase, and a final round featuring of a minimum of fifteen riders. Esteemed judges will select a Champion and Reserve, and riders will receive ribbons through tenth place. The trainer of the winning rider will also be recognized with a specialized trophy.

Riders that want to participate in the inaugural event will need to submit their entries to the National Horse Show by 5:00pm EST on September 28, 2018. Judges will present awards to both champion and reserve champion riders, as well as give ribbons through tenth place.

To learn more about the National Horse Show and its entire 2018 class schedule, click here.

Hunt Tosh and Bordeaux Lead First Day of USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships

Hunt Tosh and Bordeaux. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 14, 2018 – The 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships brought 145 hopeful entries to the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park, with Tuesday’s round of competition serving as the first of three phases for the 3’ and 3’3” exhibitors. A former overall champion in the event, Hunt Tosh navigated Douglas Wheeler’s Bordeaux to a masterful trip to capture the early lead ahead of the lofty field, ultimately capturing the blue ribbon and the lion’s share of the day’s prize money.

Riding 62nd in the order of go as one of the final horse-and-athlete pairs at the 3’ height, Tosh and Bordeaux were chasing Christopher Payne and Moore Park, owned by Still Water Farm, LLC, as the early front runners with cumulative marks of 259.50 from the three panels of judges. Course designer Bobby Murphy presented a 9-fence track to competitors that offered two obstacles from which to choose as fence one, and the pattern proved to lend itself nicely to Tosh and the 4-year-old chestnut gelding as they pulled in impressive scores from the watchful eyes of the judges. The pair earned a total 272 points to catapult to the lead almost halfway through the class.

More than 80 partners would take their turns around the ring in an attempt to usurp Tosh and Bordeaux as the leaders but, though a handful earned scores that broke the 260-point threshold, none would prove successful. Tosh and Bordeaux finished the afternoon as the only pair to break 270 points.

No stranger to the winner’s circle, Tosh is a veteran rider in the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships and won the inaugural event in 2013 aboard both Crisp and Casanova, tying himself for the top honors. This year, Bordeaux was the third of Tosh’s five rides of the day, four of which placed within the top 50 in Tuesday’s rankings. As if Tosh’s performance with Bordeaux was not impressive enough, the fact that the horse is only 4 years old certainly adds to their feat. The chestnut Warmblood only just entered his first horse show past winter in Florida, and is already on a fast track to accruing plenty of accolades. Though the horse has little experience, Tosh credits his quiet and brave demeanor as a factor of their win and will try to take advantage of the horse’s natural ability when they return to the ring Wednesday.

Courtney Lenkart and Lori Mathews’ Alisto nabbed the reserve spot with impressive marks of 268, followed by Patricia Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Endeavor in third position with 263.50 points. Three-time champion Scott Stewart and Samantha Schaefer, with the reins on Rivers Edge’s Everwonder and Take 3 LLC’s Trademark, respectively, are tied in the subsequent two slots with 263 points apiece.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Tessa Downey Captures USEF Pony Medal Finals Championship

Photo: Tessa Downey and Hallelujah.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 12, 2018 – The 2018 USEF Pony Finals drew to a close Sunday, but not before one more champion was crowned following the capstone event of the week, the 2018 Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Finals. Nearly 200 young riders aboard small, medium, and large ponies took their turns around the equitation track inside the Alltech Arena, and ultimately it was Tessa Downey aboard Hallelujah who outshone the large pack to earn the coveted winning title. Downey added to an already outstanding week with her new accolade, as the 13-year-old rider also earned the tricolor just one day ago in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters.

Riding 112th in the original order of go, Downey set the bar high for those that would follow her performance with a first-rate display of equitation riding, surpassing almost the entire herd of pony riders that had already jumped the 11-fence track. Designer Jasen Shelley’s winding first round course offered exhibitors a number of chances to display their skills, with a handful of inside turn options in addition to a trot fence and a required halt following the final obstacle to conclude the test before exiting. After watching more than 190 pony-and-rider partners tackle the course, judges Jeffrey Ayers and William Ellis awarded Downey the second slot on the callback behind Alexandra Lynn Willner, who had the reins on a medium pony, to emerge as one of the early frontrunners headed into phase two thanks to her precise and quiet riding.

Whittled down to an elite 20 riders, the second portion of the 2018 Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Finals brought back the remaining contenders, with riders aboard small ponies trying their hands around the abridged pattern first, followed by the larges and finally the mediums in order to allow the leading pair to ride last. Of the returning crew, four duos were smalls, 11 were mediums and five were larges. Slightly shortened to nine obstacles, the second sequence of fences asked riders to halt after fence two and then immediately canter to the subsequent vertical only a few strides away. Though Downey was ranked second in the standings, she returned as the ninth out of 20, due to the larger group of medium pony riders that would ride last. As noted by Judges Ayers and Ellis, Downey improved upon first round performance to put her at the top of the scorecard with 11 left to ride, and ultimately overthrew the initial leader and leapfrogged to the top to claim the championship honors.

Adding to her impressive performance is the fact that Downey first took up the reins on Hallelujah just four days ago, and this week was her first time competing on a large pony. Based in Texas, Downey is trained by Peter Pletcher and made her fourth appearance at the USEF Pony Finals this year. Though the young rider had never made it to the winner’s circle before, Sunday’s win gives her double the reasons to celebrate after her divisional win earlier in the week.

Though third-phase testing was a possibility should the judges panel opt for it, Ellis and Ayers chose not to ask for a final work-off, citing that the creme of the crop was easily distinguishable. Of the original top five, only two entrants retained their status, with three riders moving up the ranks with their second phase performances. Advancing from sixth place, Reilly Gogul nabbed the reserve championship behind Downey, followed by Alexa Lignelli and Maddie Tosh, up from seventh, in the third and fourth positions, respectively. Alexandra Miller finished in fifth place, making the move up from 12th after the first round.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Tessa Downey and Kat Fuqua Steal the Show at USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Tessa Downey and Anisette.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 11, 2018 – The final and largest division of the week concluded with the over fences phase Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park, closing out 2018 USEF Pony Finals competition in the hunter ring. Tessa Downey and Anisette were awarded the championship in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters ahead of a massive field of 163 other contenders, moving up from third position to earn the coveted tricolor. Boasting the highest cumulative score of the six divisions, Kat Fuqua and Brighton reigned supreme to capture the Grand Regular Pony Hunter championship title, while Downey and Anisette rode to the Grand Reserve Regular Pony Hunter honors, in addition to the Best Turned Out Award.

Beginning bright and early in the Walnut Ring, the expansive collection of entries in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters were in the spotlight for the majority of the day, but ultimately it all came do the final few pairs to tackle the course. With one championship already under her belt for the week, Maddie Tosh aimed to add another to her list with the reins aboard Peacock Ridge, LLC’s Smallwood Mystic, navigating the pony to a top score of 264 over fences and 1,019.52 overall, bumping them from 20th position to the top of the leaderboard. Tosh would retain her position until Downey and her own Anisette entered the ring as the third-to-last duo to take their turn over the fences. The pony-and-rider partners executed a textbook performance to the tune of 87, 88 and 89 for a total score of 264 over fences and 1,045.14 from the judges, overthrowing the sitting leaders. The final two pairs to ride, Caroline Signorino aboard Newhaven’s Magnum and Ava Berman with Toblerone, tried their best to match the efforts of their peers, but were unable to surpass the lofty scores earned by Downey and Anisette.

Proving that everything is bigger in Texas, Houston-based Downey fittingly nabbed the win ahead of the largest division of the week and was accompanied by a horde of supporters including family, friends, and the team at PJP Farm. Trained by Peter Pletcher, the 13-year-old rider is attending her fourth USEF Pony Finals, but the 2018 event marks her first time in the winner’s circle. The Downey family had reason to celebrate last year as the owners of News Flash, the pony that won this same division and the Grand Regular Pony Hunter title in 2017 with Augusta Iwasaki in the saddle, but this year the division win is even sweeter as Downey both owns and rode Anisette.

Tosh and Smallwood Mystic earned the reserve spot in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters, followed by Skye Kania and Sammy Kania’s Falling Moon Front Page in third position, up from their 12th place spot after the first two phases of competition. Baylee McKeever and Heritage Farm, Inc.’s Dream Come Blue nabbed the fourth position, and owner-rider Calder Trotz navigated Not So Secret to fifth overall.

Exemplifying the highest level of talent and ability across the three size-based Regular Pony Hunter divisions, Fuqua and Brighton added another accolade to their names as the winners of the Grand Regular Pony Hunter title. The first divisional champions of the week, Fuqua and her own Brighton modeled, hacked, and jumped their way to a two-day total score of 1,063.65 in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, impressively putting them in a league all their own more than 30 points ahead of the next-closest competitor in their respective division. Downey and Anisette had double the reasons to celebrate Saturday as the Grand Reserve Regular Pony Hunter winners.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Samantha Takacs and Grace Debney Earn Green Hunter Tricolors at USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Samantha Takacs and Galianna.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 10, 2018 – The penultimate day of hunter competition concluded Friday at the Kentucky Horse Park with two new 2018 USEF Pony Finals champions hoisting their titles. In the Medium Green Pony Hunters, Samantha Takacs and Galianna extended their day one lead to secure the overall championship and the Grand Green Pony Hunter rosette, while Grace Debney and Lafayette Park led the victory gallop and took home the final green pony division championship in the Large Green Pony Hunters in addition to the Grand Reserve Green Pony Hunter title.

Beginning the day as the early leaders and the last to ride over fences out of 72 entries, Takacs and Kim Wolf’s Galianna needed 236 points to surpass Cecelia Jackson and Northwind Marwyn, the current leading pair, as they entered the ring for their over fences ride. A steady stream of solid performances throughout the class kept the top of the leaderboard close, but luckily Takacs and the dappled dark bay pony had finished the first two phases of competition with a 16-point lead, easing some of the pressure. Pulling in scores of 84, 85 and 87 from the judges’ panel for a total 256 points after a first-rate trip, the 13-year-old rider and Galianna earned the over fences blue ribbon and boosted their cumulative two-day score to 1,040.02, claiming the division title and Grand Green Hunter Pony championship as the highest scoring of the three size-based Green divisions.

Takacs and Galianna, affectionately known as “Adele” or “Deli Sandwich,” are newfound partners, with the young rider only just getting the reins on the mare one short week ago. When California-based Gabrielle Sokolow was not able to attend the 2018 USEF Pony Finals with trainer Corinne Bevins, New Jersey-based Takacs stepped in to take over the ride. Though their time together was scant, the combined talent of the rider and pony proved to be the perfect match, earning top marks in all three phases.

Jackson and Susan McDade’s Northwind Marwyn finished in the reserve position with 1,000.50 points, the only other pair to break the 1,000-point threshold, closely followed by owner-rider Lola Head and Goldhills As You Like It in third position overall. Kierstin Antoniadis and Elizabeth Garcia’s Blank Check finished fourth in the standings, while Alexa Lignelli and The Lignelli Family’s EMC Entourage rounded out the top five placings.

Concluding the afternoon was the Large Green Pony Hunters, comprised of a pack of 81 pony-and-rider combinations vying for the top spot. Riding fifth-to-last in the order of go, 14-year-old Debney and Temple Equestrian, LLC’s Lafayette Park executed a near flawless trip over the 10-fence track to usurp the sitting class leaders, Kierstin Antoniadis and Winter Tietjen’s Pokerface, who leapfrogged from 20th position to the top of the field with a 259-point over fences score. The remaining four contenders each navigated satisfactory rounds, but were unsuccessful at matching the finesse shown by Debney and “Jake,” who ultimately finished in the top spot overall with 1,018.85 points and second in the over fences portion of competition. With their composite score, Debney and Lafayette Park secured the Grand Reserve Green Pony Hunter tricolor.

Debney is hot off a standout performance at the Devon Horse Show with the famous pony, Storyteller, who she piloted to the Large Pony Hunter Championship, the Grand Pony Hunter title, and the Best Child Rider on a Pony title in May. With her win Friday, Debney can add another accolade to her mounting trophy case.

The only other duo to hit 1,000 points, Antoniadis and Pokerface finished in the reserve position with 1,005.03 points, trailed by Isabella Griffin and her own Heaven’s Gift with the bronze. Owner-rider Jessica West and Stoneledge Just My Style captured fourth place, while Takacs added another top placing to her repertoire with fifth position aboard Rendezvous Farm’s Small Romance.

In the Medium Regular Pony Hunters, the last hunter division of the week, Toblerone carried Ava Berman to the forefront of the standings after two strong showings in the model and the hack. Narrowly missing first place by less than half of a point in the model, Berman and Sofia Baiker’s Toblerone secured the divisional lead with a ninth place finish under saddle, propelling them to the top of the overall scorecard with total marks of 519.55.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Maddie Tosh Jumps to Small Regular Pony Hunter Championship at USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Maddie Tosh and Bit of Love.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 9, 2018 – The 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, returned to the Kentucky Horse Park for the third day of competition , with Maddie Tosh and Bit Of Love proving to be the day’s big winners as the over fences and overall champions in the Small Regular Pony Hunters. The winning 12-year-old and Bit Of Love bested a lofty field of 101 entries to assert themselves as the 2018 titleholders. The remaining larger green pony divisions all had their time to shine Thursday, as well, with Samantha Takacs aboard Galianna and Josephine Rose with the ride on Cacique claiming the early leads in their respective divisions, the Medium Green and Large Green Pony Hunters.

Returning in sixth position for the Small Regular Pony Hunters, Tosh was not faced with the pressure of riding as the last to go with Dr. Betsee Parker’s seasoned pony, Bit Of Love, but was challenged to lay down a near-perfect showing in order to eclipse Finley Morgan and the five pairs sitting ahead of her after the model and hack phases. Tackling the expansive track with finesse, the young rider and Bit Of Love pulled in scores of 88, 90 and 92 for a composite score of 270 over fences, overtaking the early leaders Morgan and her own Howie Do It, who impressively jumped from 50th position to the initial lead after a textbook trip. Forced to watch five of her peers chase her down, Tosh was ultimately rewarded as each pair failed to accrue enough points to oust her from her spot atop the leaderboard. Though Helen Ryan and Smitten gave them a run for the title with individual scores of 87, 87.5 and 88, their effort would have to settle for second position in both the over fences and overall.

In addition to their class and division tricolors, Tosh and Bit Of Love also earned the High-Scoring Welsh Award for Small Regular Ponies as the top finisher for the breed. Tosh is trained by her father, acclaimed rider and trainer Hunt Tosh, out of Alpharetta, Georgia, and has been riding “Chester” for two years. This is her second appearance at Pony Finals, but the first win for Tosh, who also competes on the horses in the equitation and Children’s Hunter.

Combined with Wednesday’s score from the model and under saddle portions of divisional competition, Tosh and Bit Of Love concluded the Small Regular Pony Hunters with total marks of 1,050.54, a handful of points ahead of the reserve champions, Ryan and Town Line Equestrian, LLC’s Smitten. Not far behind, the day one leaders Carolyn Colter and So Enchanted, owned by Jessica Zandri, claimed third position, trailed by Lauren Gee and Ava Berman’s Farmore Charismatic in fourth place. Morgan and Howie Do It made the largest jump of the afternoon to round out the top five finishers.

Boasting two strong showings in the Medium Green Pony Hunters a few hours prior, four-time Pony Finals veteran Takacs modeled and rode Kim Wolf’s Galianna to the highest total marks of the day to emerge as the early pair to beat. The pony-and-rider combination commenced their morning with a third place finish out of 72 exhibitors in the model, and then secured the divisional lead with an eye-catching performance in the hack, riding to the blue ribbon more than 10 points ahead of the next-closest finisher.

Rose and Joey Rose, LLC’s Cacique concluded the initial phases of Large Green Pony Hunter competition as the frontrunners with a narrow 4-point lead headed into the over fences class. Now at her fifth Pony Finals, Rose showed off Cacique’s conformation expertly, warranting a fourth place ribbon and score of 255.59 from the judges’ panel. The pair soon improved upon their showing in the hack, displaying the walk, trot and canter to the reserve spot and a lofty score of 270.16, less than one point behind the class winner, Caroline Passarelli in the irons aboard So Dapper, owned by Jessica Zandri.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Kat Fuqua and Skylar Wireman Crowned First Two 2018 USEF Pony Finals Champions

Photo: Kat Fuqua and Brighton.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 8, 2018 – Bowties and braids returned to the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park for the second day of the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, on Wednesday, with the day one leaders aiming to retain their top positions in the Large Regular and Small Green Pony Hunter divisions. In the end, Kat Fuqua and Brighton led from start to finish and were successful at fending off the large field of competition to emerge victorious in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, while Skylar Wireman, with the reins on Neon Moon, leapfrogged 20 places to the top of the leaderboard in the Small Green Pony Hunter division.

As the last to ride of more than 140 entries in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, 11-year-old Fuqua and her own Brighton overcame the pressure to lay down the highest scoring single trip of the day, easily sweeping all three phases of the division and claiming the championship tricolors. Displaying their prowess by maintaining an even rhythm around the lofty track, the winning duo raked in scores of 85.5, 87.5 and 88 from the judges’ panel to brandish top marks of 261 in the over fences class. Combined with Tuesday’s score, Fuqua and Brighton’s final tally was 1063.65, more than 30 points ahead of the reserve champion and a strong score to keep them in contention for the Grand Regular Pony Hunter title to be crowned Saturday following the conclusion of all the divisions.

The 2018 event is Fuqua’s fifth Pony Finals appearance, but her first championship win, fittingly on her mother’s birthday. Both of Fuqua’s parents are grand prix dressage riders, but their daughter has shown an aptitude for jumping and shows no signs of slowing down, recently earning a top placing at the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – East. The young rider from Atlanta, Georgia will return later in the week to contest more pony divisions against her peers.

One of only five pony-and-rider combinations to break the 1,000-point benchmark, Chandler Wilks navigated Ashley Vail Aycox’s Valentino to the reserve championship with a cumulative score of 1029.86, followed by Propp and Aquitaine Equine’s News Day, who jumped from ninth at the beginning of the day to nab the final podium spot with marks of 1027.76. Clair Campbell and Eastside, owned by Maher Family, LLC, claimed fourth place, while Emma Rupinski and Lily Rupinski’s Stonewall Top Call pulled off one of the largest improvements of the day to finish in fifth position after jumping from the 30th spot.

Capping off the afternoon, the Small Green Pony Hunters took the spotlight and, with a smaller field of 40 contenders, movement among the top of the ranks was not out of the question. Riding 19th in the order of go as the 21st-ranked pair after day one, 13-year-old Wireman and Balmoral’s Neon Moon were not pegged as one of the frontrunners, but quickly attracted attention with their talented trip that earned them scores of 86, 87 and 90 from the watchful eyes of the judges. Forced to wait with nearly half of the class still to ride, Wireman looked on as her fellow riders took their shot at usurping her place atop the scorecard, but none were able to overtake her over fences marks of 263 or her cumulative 998.50 division points.

Alexa Lignelli and Agatha Lignelli’s Just Right rode to the second place ribbon both over fences and overall with 254 and 994.60 points, respectively, while Alexandra Miller aboard Pineapple, owned by Emily Elek-Burtard, likewise clinched third position over fences and in the final division rankings. Owner-rider Vanessa Mazzoli and Partly Cloudy earned the fourth spot, and Propp and Aquitaine Equine’s With Love, the day one leaders, rounded out the top five finishers.

Earlier in the day, Carolyn Colter and Jessica Zandri’s So Enchanted maneuvered their way to the early lead in the Small Regular Pony Hunters thanks to ribbon-worthy performances in both the model and under saddle phases.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com