Scott Stewart Wins Historic Fourth WCHR Professional Finals at Capital Challenge

Scott Stewart and Venlo. Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Melissa Feller Keeps Top Spot in ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals

Upper Marlboro, MD – October 8, 2010 – Scott Stewart captured his fourth win tonight in the WCHR Professional Finals, presented by the John R. Ingram Fund. Stewart persevered through four rounds against the five other best hunter riders in the nation to set the record number of wins in the 18-year history of the class. Earlier in the day, Melissa Feller kept the lead through two rounds for victory in the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals, sponsored by ARIAT International, Inc.

The World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Finals consist of the top six ranked hunter riders in the country in head-to-head competition where they switch horses each round. Six judges at three positions scored the class: 1. Mindy Minetto and Steve Wall, 2. Rob Bielefeld and Randy Mullins, 3. Phillip DeVita and Bob Crandall.

Stewart set impressive scores on the final two horses he rode. In the first round, he scored an 85 with his own horse Blessed, who is just six years old. The judges felt that the rail he had down at the last jump was not entirely his fault, and were able to score accordingly. “I was really relaxed because I didn’t think I had chance,” Stewart said of his feelings after the first round. “So after going and having a rail, it was the most relaxed I’ve ever been. It’s the best time I’ve had doing the class.”

His second-round mount was MTM Off the Cuff, owned by Therese Peck, whom he rode to a score of 86.33. In the first two rounds, Stewart sat in fifth place, and he moved up to fourth place after a fantastic third round round on Venlo, owned by Susan Grange, and received a 92.33. His final round was on Welcome, owned by Oscany, Inc., where he was able to lay down a fantastic handy round. With a very forward hand gallop to the final oxer, the crowd roared and the judges rewarded him with the highest score in the final round, a 93.66, which propelled him to the win.

“I thought I was pretty far behind, and I really had to go for it. I probably had the best draw of the evening for the handy portion,” Stewart conceded, “because I think he’s an equitation horse. So I could cut the turns and take a chance and go for it.”

Kelley Farmer was in second going into the final handy round. “Not knowing the horses in the handy you don’t really know how much of a shot you can take, and you don’t want to get into trouble,” she explained. “The course rode nicely. I thought all and all the horses went well.”

John French, who had the highest score of the night of 94.33 on Stars Go Blue, placed second. Third place went to Farmer, whose highest score was 91.66, also with Stars Go Blue. Last year’s winner, Hunt Tosh, was fourth. He received his highest score of 89.33 on Welcome. Sandy Ferrell, the Finals winner in 2008, placed fifth with a high score of 90.55, also on Stars Go Blue.

First timer Tracy Fenney was sixth, and had her high score also with Welcome, an 89.33. She said afterward, “Obviously, these are the best riders there are, and it’s an honor to be in the field with them.”

The other two donated horses for the class were Timber Ridge, owned by Caitlin Lane, and Blessed, owned by Fashion Farm.

Tosh noted the camaraderie of the event, “I think it’s an all-day process. Havens (Schatt) was nice enough to lend me a horse (Venlo) this morning. I think all day long we were asking each other about our horses. We are all friends out there.”

Ferrell agreed, “For me it’s the one time we all come together as riders and cheer each other on and really mean it. When we’re showing together every day we’re hard-core competitors. Even though we all went out there to win tonight, we’re still there for each other. I think we all felt, for whatever reason, this year was a more relaxed atmosphere.”

French, who travels from Northern California every year to compete at the Capital Challenge, joked, “I like this class because I represent the West Coast. Because without me it seems like East Coast people all of the time.”

Stars Go Blue, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Marigot Bay Farms, was the high-score horse of the finals and won the Far West Perpetual Trophy, donated to the WCHR by the Karazissis Family. Stars Go Blue scored 90.5, 91.66, 94.33, and 86.33. The 94.33 with rider John French was the High Score of the night.

“He’s a great horse,” said Ferrell. “He belongs to a client of mine, Kelly Arani. He’s 100 percent dependable. This morning he was a little fresh, and I was having anxiety all day. But they got him ready, and he was absolutely perfect today. You know his job as a first junior hunter is exactly what he does, and he came in here and was fantastic for all of us.”

Ferrell also praised the courses set by designer Michael Rheinheimer. “I thought the courses were nice. With the broken lines off of each lead, it let us see the strengths and weaknesses of all the horses. You knew which leads they preferred to land on when we watched the first round, which I think carried over for all of us as we rotated horses. I thought it was a great class.”

Stewart has been in the WCHR Professional Finals 11 times, and this is his fourth win, more than any other rider in the history of the class. He joked after the class that he would retire from the finals now, but the other riders had a hard time believing that he would live up to that promise. He remarked, “It’s really an honor to be included in this great group of riders. So it’s nice to stay at that level and to keep up and try to put your best game on.”

For his win tonight, Stewart was presented with the All The Way Perpetual Trophy, donated by Elizabeth Busch Burke and Lysa Burke Horkan.

Melissa Feller, of Lincoln Park, NJ, was able to hold off strong competitors in the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals for victory. Feller finished second two years ago and was sixth last year in the class. This year, she rode a green six-year-old horse, Tamber Bay, and without expectations she remained cool and collected.

“It was fun; there really wasn’t a lot of pressure. It was just for fun because this horse has never really been anywhere. That made it easier. I had to give him a nice ride,” she said.

Feller rode Tamber Bay for owner Pamela Mahoney this year in various ARIAT classes to get him experience in equitation classes. When she was without a horse for this year’s Finals, Mahoney let her show Tamber Bay. “He’s only six, so he hasn’t done anything,” she reiterated. “He hadn’t shown before they bought him. He’s a real good boy. He’ll jump anything. He was a little starstruck in the indoor, but he didn’t care about the jumps or anything like that.”

Feller believes that her trainer, Robert Beck’s, belief in flatwork and equitation work at home has helped her. “He’s firm on position. Our jumper and hunter riders do lessons with no stirrups all the time,” she described. “In our indoor and our outdoor (rings), there is always an equitation course set up that even our hunters do, with bending lines and rollbacks. He makes us pretty well prepared.”

Going into the final round, Feller was leading over Tracy Mack-Gorin, who would finish second by 3.95 points with Fernway Park. Darby Mazzarisi and Lion King finished third.

Most of the riders completed a right-hand inside turn to the final vertical, which was one spot on course where Feller had concern. “I was a little worried because he does like his left lead,” she said. “Everyone was doing the inside turn, so I had to if I wanted to do well. I just hoped that he’d land right, and he did. It feels good to win finally!”

Kirstie Dobbs took the lead in the first phase of the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup, sponsored by Kate Considine/Willow Brook Stables. In the opening speed class, she and Eso posted the fastest clear round in 57.454 seconds and will have the enviable last position in tomorrow’s final round starting order. Second in the class was Hayley Barnhill on Coral Z, who was also clear but slower in 58.810 seconds. Meg O’Mara was third on Mianta in 59.642 seconds.

In the $2,500 WCHR Adult Amateur Challenge, winners Lindsey Evans-Thomas and Music Street, owned by Krista and Alexa Weisman, continued their reign of dominance after their Grand Championship yesterday. Second place went to Dawn Fogel on Patron, owned by Yarmony Creek Sport Horses. Hillary Jean rode Limoges, owned by Audrey Carlson, to third place.

In yesterday’s $10,000 Children’s/Adult Jumper Challenge, Samantha Selldorf won out of 74 starters with her horse Rocket Man. That top performance earned her the Leading Children’s Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters.

The Best Adult Amateur Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by Meadow Grove Farm, went to Elizabeth Kirby, who placed fifth on Amelia in last night’s class. Kirby was presented with The Belfield Trophy, donated by Julie Karpan.

The weekend at Capital Challenge brings championship competition for the pony hunter and older junior hunter divisions. The Children’s Hunter Pony division will run in the outdoor ring. The evening session on Saturday hosts the final round of the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup.

Final Results: $7,500 WCHR Professional Finals, presented by the John R. Ingram Fund

85 90 80 85.00

87 86 86 86.33

91 95 91 92.33

93 92 96 93.66


87 89 92 89.33

88 87 88 87.66

92 96 95 94.33

84 76 85 81.66


84 84 89 85.66

91 92 92 91.66

89 92 93 91.33

80 80 86 82.00


89 88 88 88.33

90 91 87 89.33

75 72 80 75.66

86 89 84 86.33


91 92 88.5 90.50

89 89 90 89.33

86 89 87 87.33

55 55 80 63.33


77 78 85 80.00

55 55 80 63.33

88 88 92 89.33

88 85 89 87.33


Finals Results: ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals, sponsored by ARIAT International


91 92 90 88 90 90.20

90 94 90 90 90 90.80



90.5 90 88 89 87.75 89.05

89 92 89 85 85 88.00



90 88 84.5 84 87.25 86.75

93 87 88 86 88 88.40



89 86.5 83.5 83 87.5 85.90

83 82 82 82 83 82.40



88 82 81 85 86 84.40

84 85 84 83 81 83.40



79 83 79 79.5 85 81.10

81 81 81 76 77 79.20



81 79 76 82 83 80.20

80 80 79 79 79 79.40



84 85 85 87 88 85.80

76 73 68 70 65 70.40



82 86 84 78 83 82.60

72 75 67 81 67 72.40



83 80 61 79 87 78.00

75 70 75 74 75 73.80


Final Results: $5,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Challenge Cup- Round 1- Time First Round, sponsored by Kate Considine/Willow Brook Stables

1 195 ESO, KIRSTIE DOBBS: 0/57.454

2 327 CORAL Z, HAYLEY BARNHILL: 0/58.810

3 1001 MIANTA, MEG O’MARA: 0/59.642


5 1028 LADINO, ZACHARY LIBES: 0/60.154

6 235 CAMONA O, SAM WRIGHT: 0/65.515

7 1183 SCOTCH, HAYLEY BARNHILL: 0/65.517


9 1110 LARONE, TRACEY WEINBERG: 4/55.690

10 1027 VIVE LA VIE, ZACHARY LIBES: 4/55.842

Check the Capital Challenge page on Facebook to watch a video interview with Scott Stewart, this year’s WCHR Professional Finals winner! Scroll down the wall to see more video interview with Tracy Fenney, John French and Molly Sewell.

For full results and more information, please visit If you can’t attend the Capital Challenge Horse Show, remember you can log on to to see all the action live.

Highlights of the upcoming weekend at Capital Challenge Horse Show will include the final round of the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup (Oct. 9), the WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge (Oct. 9), the WCHR Pony Challenge (Oct. 10), the WCHR Junior Challenge (Oct. 10), the World Champion Junior Hunter Under Saddle (Oct. 10), and the WCHR Children’s Hunter Finals (Oct. 10).

In its 17th year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year’s show takes place on October 2-10. Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes. For more information, please visit or visit the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook!

© 2010 Jennifer Wood Media Inc.

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