Wellington FL — February 16, 2019 — Young hunter professional Victoria Colvin piloted her 2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship mount, Private Practice, to the victory in the $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Amanda Steege of Bedminster, NJ and Lafitte De Muze held the early lead into the second course as the pair received a high score of 92.00 in the first course. Designer Ken Krome gave returning competitors plenty of options to show off their horses’ abilities with several long approaches to gain speed and a rare bounce-jump feature made of hay bales halfway through the second round handy test. Junior rider Jordan Allen of West Bloomfield, MI ascended to a top three finish on Kind of Blue, owned by Float On Equestrian LLC. As the second-to-last to return, 22-year-old Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL and Brad Wolf’s Private Practice performed a flawless round to win the event with judges’ scores of 93, 94, 91, and a final two-round total of 182.66.
Capt. Brian Cournane Captures Win in $36,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI3*
Capt. Brian Cournane of Ireland and his mount, Penelope Cruz, topped a 40-horse starting field to win the $36,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI 3* held at the Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Saturday afternoon.
Cournane and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stiller, were one of seven entries to advance to the jump-off after navigating the first-round, Ana Catalina “Catsy” Cruz Harris (MEX) designed course without fault. Time proved to be a bit of a factor over the opening course, with four additional entries kept from the jump off by just one time fault apiece.
When Cournane returned to the grass field midway through the jump-off order, the time to beat had been set at 45.25 seconds by Liza Finsness (USA) and her own longtime mount, Shiver. Cournane and Penelope Cruz, however, swiftly took over the lead with a time of 44.89 seconds, and while three riders would follow Cournane, none would catch either he or Finsness, securing him the victory and Finsness the second-place honor. Finishing in third on a time 45.43 seconds were Mattias Tromp and Eyecatcher, owned by Beyaert Farm Inc.
Junior and Amateur Riders Vie for Weekend Championships
Competition on Saturday once again saw junior and amateur hunter riders vying for a championship title amongst the steep competition at the show’s WCHR Hunter Week. Classes ran throughout the day leading up to the special “Saturday Night Lights” event, the $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular.
Leading off competition in the International Arena, Augusta Iwasaki and Small Occasion started the day by taking the champion title in the Palm Beach International Academy Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under 3’6“. Iwasaki also took the reserve champion title with her other mount Wheels Up, a 11-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lordanos x Lisboa) owned by Vantage Point Equine Corp.
Wellington, FL – February 2, 2019 – In a day full of top competition at both venues of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, fans of equestrian sport were treated to a thrilling jump-off in the $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI 4* on Saturday, February 2. Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden (USA) rode Darry Lou to the top spot in the grand prix.
Competing over a course set by Brazil’s Anderson Lima on the stunning grass derby field at Equestrian Village, 45 entries completed the first round, with 13 clear to advance to the jump-off. Of those 13, it was a mix of show jumping veterans and up-and-coming rookies, but it was the veterans who would take the podium places on the day.
Olympian Amy Millar of Canada and her 2016 Olympic mount Heros, owned by Ammo Investments, set the early time to beat with a clear round in 41 seconds flat, which would hold up for seventh place. The leading time was dropped to 38.87 seconds by 21-year-old Lucas Porter (USA) riding Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Diamonte Darco. They would finish in fourth place. Olympian Margie Engle (USA) and Royce galloped through the timers in 40.19 seconds for sixth place, and they were bumped by Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) on Roulette BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, who finished in 39.10 seconds for fifth place.
It came down to a highly anticipated jump-off finale with three American riders in the top 4 in the country deciding the final placings.
Tenth Annual Great Charity Challenge Crowns Holy Ground Shelter for the Homeless as Winner
The “Saturday Night Lights” of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) beamed on Palm Beach County Charities during the 10th Annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), on Saturday, February 2. Holy Ground Shelter for the Homeless took home $150,000 as the lion’s share of the $1.3 million in prize money on offer after their team of riders David Blake, Carly Dvorkin, and Madelyn Ruskin, along with team sponsor Pine Hollow and corporate sponsor Havensafe Farm, took the victory.
“We Are the World” was the theme of the night with riders, charities, local families, and horse sport fans coming dressed in support of their favorite nation. In total, the evening’s contributions brought the overall Great Charity Challenge tally to $13.5 million distributed to more than 230 well-deserving Palm Beach County charities over the last 10 years.
Small Request and Augusta Iwasaki Dominate the Small Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 & Under Division
Saturday competition in the Rost Arena at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) saw 15 horse-and-rider teams return for an early morning start in the Small Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 & Under division. Augusta Iwasaki of Calabasas, CA returned to the ring with three separate mounts but would ultimately take the tricolor ribbon aboard her newest mount, Small Request.
Iwasaki and the seven-year-old Westphalian gelding (Quaid x For Bella) held the lead for the duration of the division as the duo picked up three firsts and a second across the classes. Small Request is a recently imported gelding owned by Elizabeth Reilly and Augusta/Chris Iwasaki.
Lexington, Ky. – May 19, 2018 – Saturday of the Kentucky Spring Classic closed with the week’s highlight event, the $131,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3*, honoring the late Mary Rena Murphy. Forty-one horse-and-rider combinations were tested over Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) 16-effort course which saw 11 athletes finish clear to move into the jump-off round, but once again Ireland’s Darragh Kenny was unstoppable to claim the Saturday night victory under the lights on the second week of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show series, this time with brand new mount, Balou du Reventon.
Kenny and Ann Thompson’s Balou du Reventon just started showing together two weeks ago, but they are on an impressive streak after finishing second in Thursday’s $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic CSI3* and jumping to a number of clear rounds during their new partnership in Kentucky. Saturday night amplified their success as they flew to a clear round in 41.54 seconds to capture the featured grand prix victory. The 12-year-old Oldenburg stallion is already showing promise as an option for Kenny in this year’s World Equestrian Games.
Early pathfinder Margie Engle (USA) was the first to produce a clear round with long-time partner Royce, and first to return for the jump-off round. She and Gladewinds Partners, LLC’s 14-year-old Oldenburg stallion put on the pressure with a clear round in a time of 42.08 seconds, but their time was just overtaken by Kenny and the pair finished in second place.
Rowan Willis (AUS) and his own Blue Movie, an 11-year-old Anglo European Warmblood mare, followed with a clear jump-off round in a time of 42.55 seconds, speeding to a third place finish. The pair recently traveled to the United States in February to capture a notable victory in the $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* at HITS Ocala.
The Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix is held every year in honor of the late Mary Rena Murphy, an important part of American horse show history. Murphy was known for helping many top hunter and jumper professionals begin their careers, in addition to being a successful horse show organizer. She began her career in her hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. She is most known for promoting the Kentucky Horse Park and helping shape the park into what it so well-known for today, world class hunter and jumper shows that not only cater to world class competition, but also to all levels of the equestrian sport.
Emma Wujek and Augusta Iwasaki Lead Day One of Large Junior Hunters
The Kentucky Spring Classic’s junior riders braved Saturday morning’s rainy weather to compete in the Large Junior Hunter divisions, which are divided by age into the 16-17 and 15 and under. After two over fences classes in the 16-17 division, it was Emma Wujek who took the lead with Carento after placing first and third. Directly after, the 15 and under juniors took to the ring to see Augusta Iwasaki top the lead by placing first and second in the over fences rounds with Small Occasion.
Wujek and Carento just began their partnership together last week, while showing at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Their compatibility showed in the ring after producing two solid over fences rounds which placed them as the top contenders for Sunday’s champion ribbon. Carento showed successfully throughout the duration of the Winter Equestrian Festival with owner Erika Luter. Wujek also placed second and fourth with her other mount, Puppet.
Iwasaki is no stranger to the winner’s circle at just 14 years old, with big wins at USEF Pony Finals in 2017 and USHJA National Hunter Derbies. Her partnership with Small Occasion began during the summer of 2017 and the pair plan to continue to show in the Large Junior Hunters, with high hopes of capturing the championship ribbon. Iwasaki is also entered in the division with another mount, Small Anecdote, where they placed second and third in Saturday’s over fences classes.
Tiffany Foster and Victor Win Suncast® 1.50m; Augusta Iwasaki and Caleche Crowned Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC Large Pony Hunter Champions
Wellington, FL – March 12, 2017 – Jonathan McCrea (USA) and Special Lux concluded week nine competition of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on Sunday, March 5, with a win in the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. Also showing on Sunday, two-time Olympian Tiffany Foster of Canada won the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Victor.
Course designer Alan Wade (IRL) concluded his week challenging the international competitors at WEF with 45 entries in the two-star grand prix and 11 in the jump-off. McCrea and Candy Tribble’s Special Lux completed the fastest of six double clear rounds in 36.74 seconds. Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Skara Glen’s Presence stopped the clock in 38.75 seconds to place second. Jonathon Millar (CAN) and Millar Brooke Farm’s Daveau finished third with a time of 40.89 seconds.
McCrea and the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Lux x Coille Mor Hill) have been partnered for almost four years and won the FEI World Cup™ qualifier in Bromont, Quebec, in July 2016, but the rider felt like his horse lost some form after that. He was happy to have the two-star division to compete in this week, and the pair also won the $8,000 Douglas Elliman CSI 2* 1.45m speed class on Thursday.
“It’s always a struggle when that happens – when you go from everything to nothing overnight,” McCrea stated. “Literally, I just backed right off him. Two weeks or three weeks ago was his first time showing in Ocala. He was second in the two-star there in the grand prix. Then I gave him a week off and came here, again just with the idea of showing in the two-star to get him confident and happy.”
Detailing his winning round, McCrea noted, “I was in the position today to go last, which is always in his favor. I had seen Paul go. I knew maybe I had a little bit more ground speed with my horse, and he maybe has a bit more experience than Paul’s on the rollback turns. He is super careful, so I am never afraid to gallop with him.
“His ride is a little different; he is very Irish,” McCrea said of Special Lux. “He loves to gallop. I think even if you look back at his first round, he was almost ten seconds under the time allowed. That is how he his. He wants to be able to gallop; that is his strength. He is very careful. I just have to let him alone, and let him jump.”
O’Shea was aboard a young mount in Skara Glen’s Presence, a nine-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Contendro x Nekton) that he owns in partnership with Skara Glen Stables and Michael Haydon, and was happy with both of his rounds.
“I was just delighted with my horse,” O’Shea stated. “He is just a nine-year-old. I have done four grand prix with him, and he has won two of them, and second now today, so I could not be happier. I just love him; he has been really consistent.”
O’Shea found the horse when it was six and showed him in Europe as a seven-year-old. He detailed, “I think he jumped in 24 rounds, and he was clear 19 times. He is just a fantastic horse. He does not really have a weakness. He is very scopey and very careful. He is a real fighter. He is a horse for the future. I think he is a horse that is going to do championships if I don’t get in his way, so I am delighted. When they have his kind of quality, it makes everything much easier. He has the raw materials.”
Remarking on his jump-off, O’Shea added, “It was for sure the fastest jump-off I have done with him. I went very quick; Jon was just faster than me today. If I was to do it again, I do not think I could have done anything different. Maybe to the last two, I could have been a little bit quicker, but I would not have been quicker than Jon.”
For his third place finish, Millar was aboard Daveau, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zento x Glennridge) that he has been bringing along for two years. The pair was also second in week seven’s two-star grand prix, and Millar has been pleased with his horse’s consistency.
“The last three two-star grand prixs, he was fifth, second, and now third, so double clean in all three,” Millar pointed out. “The addition of these two-star classes has been fantastic for a wide variety of horses and riders. It just gives everybody a little bit of a different option. It is fantastic to be able to take this opportunity and develop my horse.
“I could not be more pleased with him,” Millar continued. “I am just trying to teach him about turning and galloping, and things like that, without running his legs off here. He has always been a very consistent horse. I think he has a bright future, and I am just trying to develop him and give him the exposure here.”
Detailing his jump-off, Millar stated, “He does cover the ground really well. He is efficient, and quick, and turns really well. I think [the times were] pretty close, and that is what these classes end up being. It is where you can take your risks and what your horse’s sort of risk/reward situation is. Fractions of a second is what it comes down to, so overall I could not be more pleased.”
Tiffany Foster and Victor Win Suncast® 1.50m
Fifty entries started in round one of Sunday’s $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, with ten advancing to the jump-off and five double clear rounds. Two-time Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster took top honors with her veteran partner Victor, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable.
Jimmy Torano (USA) set the pace in the jump-off in 40.23 seconds to eventually finish fifth aboard Day Dream, owned by Jimmy and Danielle Torano. Laura Kraut (USA) and Cherry Knoll Farm’s Constable II upped the pace in 38.75 seconds to earn the third place prize. Lillie Keenan (USA) and Chansonette Farm’s Skyhorse followed with the fourth place time of 40.21 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) briefly jumped into the lead with a time of 37.56 seconds riding his own and Susan Heller’s Tina la Boheme, but was bested in the end. Third to last, Foster and Victor raced through the timers in 36.82 seconds.
“I think that I had an advantage, going later in the jump-off, and knowing how fast that everybody was going,” Foster said following her round. “It was one of those jump-offs where you just needed foot speed and you needed to take a little bit of an extra risk at some point. I know my horse obviously really well, since I have had him forever, and I knew that if I landed on stride one in that last line, I could probably get there in seven. I kind of opted for seven very fast strides instead of eight formal strides, but I have huge trust and confidence in my horse, and I knew he would get there. It turned out well, because if not, I do not think we could have won it.”
Even in the first round, Foster knew that she had the longtime partnership with Victor on her side.
“He is such an experienced and great horse that to jump one of these courses, even though they are difficult, you feel like it is easy for him,” Foster noted of the horse she has ridden for eight years. “That makes a big difference. There is a big margin of error I think, when you go into a class like that on a horse with that much scope and experience. That obviously is a huge advantage, and you feel a lot of confidence with that.”
Now that Victor is 15 years old, Foster and the team at Artisan Farms pick his classes carefully and try to keep the gelding’s schedule light.
“I was not even planning to do this class,” Foster laughed. “Victor’s owner, Andy Ziegler, has full credit for me even being in this class today. I had a time-fault in the WEF (Challenge Cup), and I was so mad at myself because my plan was for that to be Victor’s only class. If it were not for Andy, I never would have entered, so he has full credit for this win.”
Also competing in the International Arena on Sunday, Madison Goetzmann and Prestigious were victorious in the $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic.
Augusta Iwasaki and Caleche Crowned Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC Large Pony Hunter Champions
The Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC Large Pony Hunter division finished Sunday morning on ‘Pony Island.’ Augusta Iwasaki of Calabasas, CA guided Laura Barrett-Gurtis’ Caleche to win two over fences classes, place fourth in the other over fences round, and fifth in the conformation. The pair earned the championship honors with a total of 23 points.
Caleche, a ten-year-old Oldenburg Pony mare by Constantin, was imported late in 2011 and started her U.S. show career at WEF in 2012. The mare is currently stabled at Stefanie Mazer’s Forget Me Not Farm in Wellington, FL.
“She’s an awesome large pony,” Mazer complimented. “She’s beautiful, easy to take care of, and so sweet. It is a real pleasure to have her in the barn. She always jumps in great form and is a really classy mare.”
Mazer introduced Caleche to her current owners two years ago when they first purchased the mare.
“I actually sold her to her current owners,” Mazer continued. “She was for [Barrett-Gurtis’] daughter to show in the pony divisions. Her daughter outgrew ponies, and they sent the Caleche back to me at the 2015 Washington International Horse Show to sell. The mare has been doing really well during the winter circuit!”
Libbie Gordon of Statesville, NC captured the reserve ribbon aboard Valor. The pair received a second place ribbon under saddle, second in an over fences trip, and third in the conformation class. Valor, owned by Gochman Sport Horses, LLC, is a 13-year-old Welsh Pony gelding that Mimi Gochman previously campaigned.
The Winter Equestrian Festival continues in its tenth week of competition on March 15-19, 2017. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Augusta Iwasaki and Small Affair Are Champions Three Weeks in a Row
Wellington, FL – January 28, 2017 – Eric Lamaze, Canada’s 2008 Olympic Champion and 2016 Olympic individual bronze medalist, guided his Rio mount Fine Lady 5 to victory in the $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday night at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. Lamaze topped Germany’s Olympic team bronze medalist Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum riding Comanche 28 in second, and Spanish Olympian Sergio Alvarez Moya aboard G&C Unicstar de l’Aumone in third.
Belgium’s Luc Musette built the course for Saturday night’s grand prix under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Forty-three entries contested the first round track, with seven advancing on to the jump-off, and three double clear rounds.
Lamaze, with Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Fine Lady 5, stopped the clock in 40.26 seconds for the win. Michaels-Beerbaum and Artemis Equestrian Farm’s Comanche 28 finished second in 40.79 seconds. Moya was close behind for a third place finish in 40.80 seconds with G&C Farm’s Unicstar de l’Aumone. Laura Chapot (USA) clocked the fastest four-fault round with Mary Chapot’s ISHD Dual Star to place fourth in 41.83 seconds.
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 concluded a banner 2016 season with a win in the Rolex Top Ten Final at CHI Geneva (SUI) in December before a short rest and gearing up to compete this winter.
“She felt really good tonight,” Lamaze said of the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth FRH x Drosselklang II). “I gave her a long rest after the Olympics, and then started back and just did Paris and Geneva. I plan on using her quite a bit at the beginning of the circuit here since she is fit from Geneva already. Then we will give her a rest before returning to Europe.”
Fine Lady’s quick foot speed carried the pair easily through the jump-off track, and Lamaze remarked on the long gallop home to the final oxer on course.
“You need to have the distance in front of you to be fast,” he noted. “If there is something in front of you, you take it. One pull and I’m easily third or maybe fourth.”
He added, “This was a difficult course, but she has done some very big classes lately. This was hard, but for her but it was a little bit of an easier class.”
Michaels-Beerbaum was happy with the progress that her mount, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Coupe de Couer x Baloubet du Rouet), has made since last winter in Wellington.
“I think Fine Lady is a really fast horse, and Comanche is just learning to go fast,” she stated. “I was very happy with him tonight. Comanche, I believe over the last year, has gained a tremendous amount of experience. He has always been a fantastic jumper, but he has been slightly green in the ring and a little bit spooky. Over the last year he’s been to shows all over the world, and I think that has helped him. I think he has grown up a lot, and tonight you could really see he gained a lot of self-confidence.”
Michaels-Beerbaum applauded Lamaze on his victory, adding, “It is a great honor to sit next to this guy and to be second to him by just a tiny bit.”
Riding for Spain, Moya was aboard a young mount in the nine-year-old Selle Francais mare Unicstar de l’Aumone (Ninio de Rox x Timorrak des Isles) for his first experience in a WEF “Saturday Night Lights” grand prix.
Moya stated, “I was very confident with her. She has never been under the lights, but she is always great. She tries her best, and she never doubts anything. She is naturally very fast, so I did not want to override the jump-off. It was not an easy class, and it is an honor to be next to Eric and Meredith. I am very happy with my third place.”
Allyn Mann, representing class sponsor and week three title sponsor Adequan®, was on-hand for the night’s event and remarked on the competition.
“What an honor to be sitting here with Eric, Meredith, and Sergio,” Mann stated. “The beauty of these equestrian disciplines is that it is an acknowledgment of these animals and what we ask them to do. Tonight was a wonderful example of that. We are honored and humbled by the opportunity to help the health and well-being of the horse so that these riders can go out and do what they love to do, which is to compete.”
Michaels-Beerbaum was also presented the award for Leading Lady Rider for week three, the award sponsored by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in memory of Dale Lawler.
Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Eugenio Garza and El Milagro’s Victer Finn DH Z won the $15,000 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. The $1,500 Sleepy P Ranch High Junior Jumper speed class saw victory for Cooper Dean aboard William Upton’s WEC Quidam-Quidam. The $1,500 Equiline Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class awarded top honors to Michelle Navarro-Grau riding Tazman.
Augusta Iwasaki and Small Affair Are Champions Three Weeks in a Row
On Saturday, Augusta Iwasaki of Calabasas, CA and Small Affair claimed their third championship in a row in the Engel & Völkers Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under division at WEF. In the past three weeks, the pair has won ten over fences classes. This week, they took the blue ribbon in three over fences classes, placed second in another, and finished fifth under saddle.
Small Affair, owned by Lyn Pederson, is a coming 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Elf d’Or. Iwasaki started riding him almost exactly a year ago and has shown him all over the country.
“He’s kind of grumpy,” said Iwasaki of her accomplished hunter mount. “He likes to keep to himself, and he thinks he’s the best.”
Iwasaki, who is just 12 years old, splits her time between riding in the pony divisions, Junior Hunters, and equitation classes. She is looking forward to hopefully showing in the USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular during week six.
When asked which division she enjoys showing in the most, Iwasaki responded, “The Junior Hunters, for sure.”
Emma Wujek of Grosse Pointe Farms, MI took reserve honors aboard Puppet, owned by John and Stephanie Ingram LLC. The pair earned second place under saddle, and finished second, fourth, fourth, and eighth over fences. Puppet is a 2006 gelding by Palladium Ex Poladii.
The third week of WEF concludes on Sunday with the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic in the International Arena. The Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under division will award championship and reserve honors in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Augusta Iwasaki and Bit of Laughter (Shawn McMillen Photography)
Woodlands Stevie Ray Collects Medium Regular Hunter Pony Champion Honors
Lexington, Ky. – The US Hunter Pony Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans came to a close on Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park. Medium Regular Hunter Ponies went to task in the Walnut Arena in their Over Fences phase to determine the 2015 Champion. Alexa Aureliano and Woodlands Stevie Ray emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon, but it was Thursday’s champion, Bit of Laughter, that proved unbeatable as he was named the 2015 Grand Champion Hunter Pony.
National titles are determined in the hunter championship following three phases of competition, with Model and Under Saddle phases each counting towards 25% of the overall score, and the remaining 50% being determined by the Over Fences phase.
Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) and Chris Iwasaki, Elizabeth Reilly, and her own Bit of Laughter, earned an impressive score of 1033.29 to win the Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship on Thursday. As the highest scoring Regular Hunter pony, she and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding claimed the Grand Champion Hunter Pony title. This marked Iwasaki’s second Grand Champion title after winning Grand Champion Green Hunter Pony honors with Kingston on Saturday.
Taylor St. Jacques (Glen Allen, Va.) and Glynhafan Red Kestral, Peacock Ridge LLC’s 10-year-old Half Welsh gelding, received a score of the 1025.39 to claim top honors in the Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship, thus earning them the Reserve Grand Champion Hunter Pony title.
Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship
Aureliano (Old Brookville, N.Y.) and Hannah Bernstein’s Woodlands Stevie Ray scored the National title with an overall score of 1000.34. After earning 238.32 in the Model phase and 255.78 in the Under Saddle phase, she and the 11-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding climbed from 10th place to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 253.12 in the Over Fences phase.
“It feels amazing,” Aureliano said of winning the Championship, her first title in the four years she has been attending the US Pony Finals. After fine tuning their partnership through the summer, the pair peaked at the right time. Commenting on today’s course, Aureliano explained that “it was really, really fun. It’s really nice and smooth; it’s just right out of stride.”
The Reserve Champion title went to Devin Seek (Ocala, Fla.) and Heaven’s Sake with an overall score of 992.07. She and Bibby Hill’s 12-year-old Warmblood gelding received scores of 252.48 and 253.19 in the Model and Under Saddle phases, respectively. The pair’s Over Fences phase garnered a score of 243.20 on Saturday.
Mia Wayne (Clarkston, Mich.) and her own Oliver Twist finished third in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship with an overall score of 987.95. On Friday, she and the eight-year-old German Riding Pony gelding scored 241.89 in the Model phase and 235.54 in the Under Saddle phase. The pair climbed an impressive 50 places on the strength of their Over Fences performance, which scored 255.26 and earned them first place in the phase. The pair also claimed the Champion Owner/Rider title for the division.
The Best Turned Out Pony in the Medium Regular section was Vermont Ruby Fox, ridden by Jenna Drago. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Woodlands Love Story, ridden by Brittany Bardwell.
The US Pony Finals will conclude Sunday with the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. ET in Alltech Arena. The USEF Network will live stream the coveted championship, courtesy of the USHJA Foundation.
For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to www.usefconnect.com.
CORRECTION: Augusta Iwasaki and Kingston had an overall score of 1046.80 in Friday’s Large Green Hunter Pony Championship. Iwasaki and Small Suggestion had an overall score of 1017.79 in the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship.
Emma Kurtz and Truly Yours (Shawn McMillen Photography)
Lexington, Ky. – Another day of competition at the US Hunter Pony Championship presented by Sallee Horse Vans saw two more championship titles decided on Friday. Emma Kurtz and Truly Yours collected Medium Green Hunter Pony honors, while Augusta Iwasaki and Kingston were named the Large Green Hunter Pony Champions. Both championship divisions completed the Over Fences phase on Friday, earning the final 50% for their overall score, after receiving 25% from both the Model and Under Saddle phases on Thursday. Following the completion of the Green Pony divisions, Kingston was named Overall Green Hunter Pony Grand Champion, while Truly Yours was the Reserve Grand Champion.
Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship
Kurtz (Hudson, Ohio) and Truly Yours, an eight-year-old Welsh Pony mare owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, were in third place heading into the final phase after earning 249.20 in the Model phase and 253.20 in the Under Saddle phase. A strong performance in the Over Fences phase gave the pair a score of 263.00 to finish the phase in first place and propelled them to the Medium Green Hunter Pony Champion title with an overall score of 1028.40.
“It was a nice course because it was set in-stride,” Kurtz, a US Pony Finals veteran, said of the Over Fences course. “She peeked down a little bit at the one jump, but the rest was perfect. She was so brave.”
Dr. Parker was extremely complimentary of Kurtz. “It’s a pleasure to support youth like Emma,” she said. “Emma tries so hard; she rides all the time. She rides many horses and is a very serious student.”
Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) rode Small Suggestion to Reserve Champion honors with an overall score of 1046.80. She and the seven-year-old gelding of unknown breeding owned by Iwasaki and Elizabeth Reilly scored 247.27, 248.52, and 261.00 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively, to come in second in the championship division. The pair also added the Champion Owner/Rider title to their accolades.
The third-place ribbon in the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship went to Samantha Palermo (Merritt Island, Fla.) and Vienna. She and her own eight-year-Welsh Pony mare received 236.60 in the Model phase, 260.46 in the Under Saddle phase, and 258.50 in the Over Fences phase for a final total of 1014.06.
The Best Turned Out Pony in the Medium Green section was Serafina’s Millenium, ridden by Hana Bieling. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Two for the Bunny, ridden by Alexis Bauman.
Large Green Hunter Pony Championship
Iwasaki rode Ava Peck’s Kingston to top honors in the Large Green Hunter Pony Championship, finishing on a score of 992.77. She and the 12-year-old German Riding Pony gelding garnered scores of 251.65 in the Model phase and 261.67 in the Under Saddle phase on Thursday. The pair sealed the deal Friday evening by earning 266.74 in the Over Fences phase, winning the title by an impressive margin of over 34 points. To top off their performance, Kingston was also named Overall Green Hunter Pony Grand Champion.
“I’m very excited and very lucky to get to ride him,” Iwasaki said. “He is always very sweet; he’s just perfect always; he never takes a foot out of line.”
Ellia Giuliani (Middleburg, Va.) and Brighton Decidedly received the Reserve Champion Large Green Hunter Pony title with a score of 1012.45. She and Kelly Tellier’s seven-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding had scores of 237.30, 250.03, and 262.56 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.
Emma Seving (Newtown Square, Pa.) and her own Captivating came in third in the Large Green Hunter Pony Championship with an overall score of 998.96. Seving and the seven-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding scored 248.70, 250.00, and 250.13 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively. The pair also claimed the Champion Owner/Rider title for the division.
The Best Turned Out Pony in the Large Green section was O’Henry, ridden by Darian Topolski. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Miss Penny Lane, ridden by Sydney Flashman.
Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship
After two phases of competition, Vanessa Mazzoli and Find the Love have taken the lead in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship. Mazzoli (Rockford, Mich.) and her own 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding captured first place with a score of 257.88 in the Model phase and 254.91 in the Under Saddle Phase for a total of 512.79. Claire Campbell (Cochranville, Pa.) and Madeline Schaefer’s Leon, a nine-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, sit in second with a total of 505.91, while Devin Seek (Ocala, Fla.) and Heaven’s Sake, a 12-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Bibby Hill, are in third with 505.67.
The US Hunter Pony Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans continue Saturday with ponies in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship completing their Over Fences phase to determine who will receive the National title.
The USEF Network presented by SmartPak will live stream competition from the Walnut and Alltech Arenas, courtesy of the USHJA Foundation. Tune in to the USEF Network for a complete schedule.
For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to www.usefconnect.com.
Lexington, KY – August 7, 2015 – Entering the final phase of competition with two blue ribbons already under her belt, Augusta Iwasaki, aboard her trusty mount Kingston, had a target on her back as the one to beat in the Large Green Pony Hunters. Already a weekly champion in Thursday’s Small Regular Pony Hunter division, Iwasaki was hoping to add another 2015 U.S. Pony Finals win to her list of accolades.
As the last to go, she and the chestnut Kingston were faced with the task of surpassing the 1,012.450 score set by competitor Ellia Giuliani and Brighton Decidedly, which the pair easily crushed with their cumulative score of 1,046.8 to sweep all three classes of the division and claim the lead spot in the victory gallop.
Called “Prince” in the barn, Kingston will surely be treated as royalty tonight, as he not only carried Iwasaki to her second champion tricolor of the week, but also the title of Grand Green Champion. Their overall score was the highest of the 208 Green ponies in the hunt for the Small, Medium, and Large size-based divisions throughout the Finals.
“He is never wild; he is always very sweet. He’s just perfect, always. He never puts a foot out of line,” Iwasaki sung the pony’s praises. “I’m very excited and very lucky to get to ride him. I want to thank Ava Peck for letting me ride this pony. He’s so perfect.”
The 11-year-old rider from Calabasas, California, opted to ride Kingston, owned by Peck of Topanga, California, instead of one of her own family’s horses, which ultimately proved to be a smart move. The pair has been together since January.
“This is definitely my favorite part of the week so far. I’m excited to hang up my ribbons and put up my trophies in my room when I go home. This was for sure worth the trip,” the young champion smiled. “The competition is one of my favorite things here; it’s much more competitive than at home. I think that the better competition makes me ride better.”
With one more pony still to ride this week, Iwasaki will try her hand at one more division, hoping to earn herself a third reason to celebrate in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters with Somekindawonderful.
Giuliani and Brighton Decidedly, owned by Morgan Munz out of Califon, New Jersey, maintained their reserve spot in the Large Green Pony Hunters as the only other pair to break the 1,000 point mark. Rider-owner Emma Seving and Captivating captured the third position, followed by Christina Judy’s Recess from Chesterland, Ohio, ridden by Camryn Halley, in the fourth spot. Rounding out the top six were Top That, owned by Emily Elik-Burtard of Ixonia, Wisconsin, and ridden by Giavanna Rinaldi, and San Francisco-based Pretty Penny Farm’s Splendid, with Ava Leraris in the saddle.
As the over fences portion of the Medium Green Hunter Pony division commenced, Emma Kurtz knew that she would have to navigate Truly Yours to a high-scoring ride to overcome her 21-point deficit behind Sophia Calamari and Unforgettable, the leaders after the model and hack portions of competition, and to jump from third position to the champion spot. Kurtz and Truly Yours ultimately did just that, impressing the judges to earning a 263-point score, the highest score of the over fences class, to secure the championship honors more than 10 points ahead of the next-closest finisher with 1,028.4 points.
“It is always such an amazing opportunity to get to ride the ponies I do. It is just so much fun. I love how family-friendly Pony Finals is – they make it really fun for everyone,” Kurtz commented.
Dr. Betsee Parker, out of Middleburg, Virginia, owns Truly Yours and has owned many ponies and supported numerous riders throughout the past years, but was quick to note Kurtz’s special place in her heart. Kurtz’s win marks a new milestone for Parker: her eighth consecutive year winning a division championship, an accomplishment no other owner has achieved.
“I have been very blessed to have Emma,” Dr. Parker said of the young talent. “She has had several champions with me. I feel very fortunate to have her and her mom. We brought her out to the George Morris clinic, and George really liked Emma. The first person who is going to hear about this win is George Morris.”
Dr. Parker added, “She is a very serious student. She tries so hard, and rides so many ponies and horses. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her. It has been really fun to see the children grow up.”
Regarding her future, at least for the next few years, the 15-year-old plans to continue working with green ponies and horses, hopefully racking up more accomplishments in the process.
“It is really fun to bring them along, see them excel and see them become the ponies they are today,” Kurtz said.
Clinching the reserve position was Iwasaki aboard her family’s Small Suggestion. Third place went to Vienna, piloted and owned by Samantha Palermo out of Merritt Island, Florida, followed by Calamari and Unforgettable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm in Wellington, Florida, in fourth position. Olivia Ferro in the irons aboard Anderin’s Momento for Linda Evans of South Hadley, Massachusetts, and Taylor St. Jacques with the ride for Danielle Roskens of South Lyon, Michigan, on Motown Mini swept the last two top six spots.
The Medium Pony Hunters kicked off their first day of competition Friday morning with over 150 ponies parading into the Walnut Ring for the model and under saddle classes. Vanessa Mazzoli of Rockford, Michigan, and her own Find the Love took the lead in the division with two top placings, concluding the opening day of competition with 512.79 points. She clinched the first place in the model, as well as the second place in the under saddle for a strong lead. Claire Campbell and Leon, owned by Madeline Schaefer of Westminster, Maryland, follow in the second place with 505.91 points, while Devin Seek and Heaven’s Sake, owned by Bibby Hill of Reddick, Florida, are only a hair shy with 505.67 points.
Zone 4 Pony Jumper Team Captures the Gold in Team Competition
Down the road in the Alltech Arena, 34 Pony Jumper riders took center stage, with nine teams facing off in the Pony Jumper Team Championship. Riding in championship format, competing over two rounds of courses, it was Zone 4 that came away with the 2015 Team Gold. Riders Charles Smith, Chloe Farmham, Hallie Rush and Anna Reisling left nothing to chance as they overtook the competition to end the two rounds of competition with only 20 faults to their team name.
“Every single one of these riders contributed to this championship equally,” said Katie Maxwell, Chef d’Equipe of Zone 4. “I watched them grow as riders from each round. It was just phenomenal to watch them learn and explore the process and achieve what they did.”
Zone 4 didn’t kick off the competition with a strong lead, earning a team total of 20 for the first round total, but they returned for round two with their eyes set firmly on the top finish.
Charles Smith, 17, and Venice rode to a faultless second round score to set a trend for his fellow teammates. Chloe Farnham, 15, and Cookies & Cream duplicated his effort, while the youngest rider of the team, Hallie Rush, 12, rode to a four-fault score. It was 17-year-old Anna Reisling’s clear effort that confirmed their winning point total as she laid down the third clean round aboard Blue Me Away.
“It’s a rush for sure; you feel it out there, and then when [your team members] go in, you feel it,” Smith said. “I think that competing as a team is more difficult than the individual competition. When you are on a team, you are rooting for everybody; you want to see every person do well. We each have to put in the rounds in order to win, and it makes it that much more exciting.”
As the second round came to a close, a hush fell over the Alltech Arena as it was announced that there would be a jump-off. Maxwell admitted that she had lost count of the points by that time, but when the announcer said that it was for the two 28-fault teams, the cheers erupted from the riders, trainers and parents as it dawned on them that Zone 4 won its third Team Gold in four years.
“What a big opportunity this is, and having such an amazing team to go through this with, it has been such a wonderful time and experience,” Rush smiled as she held her trophy.
2015 marks Rush’s second time competing in the Pony Jumpers; however, the young talent is going into the Individual Championship on Saturday as the top ranked rider of the team, with only four faults.
For teammate Farnham, the pony jumpers were a change of scenery from competing in the pony hunters at the USEF Pony Finals. After feeling the surge of adrenaline and the taste of victory, Farnham admitted that she is never looking back. With rescue pony Cookies & Cream, Farnham plans to compete in many more events in the future.
The gold medal proved extra special for one rider on the team, 17-year-old Reisling. With her birthday approaching in November, her days as a junior are limited; however, it was on her bucket list to make it to the Pony Finals and compete for Zone 4 before aging out of the division.
“I didn’t get to do the championship when I was 13, but now, in my last junior year, my trainer asked me what I wanted to do, and I had my heart set on making it to the championships,” Reisling explained. “It is so exciting going out there, and there is so much energy packed into a little body.”
She continued, “It is so different than showing in the hunters. You have pressure lifted off of your shoulders. It isn’t about how the pony looks, but rather the athleticism. You have to focus on lifting your pony off the ground.”
It worked out to be the perfect situation for Reisling and Blue Me Away, the spunky gelding whose trademark move is starting out the course with a few strong bucks and cow kicks. His antics do not bother Reisling, who refers to his quirks as “personality.”
Blue just recovered from colic surgery after being found only a few months prior in a field with no pulse. Thanks to an insurance policy, he was rushed into emergency colic surgery where he pulled off a remarkable recovery.
“They removed 10 feet of intestine and he just popped right off the table,” Reisling laughed. “A few months later we were jumping him around, and now he is here.”
Although Zone 4 rode cloud nine after the announcement of their gold medal win, the silver medal was tied between Zone 2 and the combined Zone 9/10, both with 28 points.
Zone 2 chose to send in Claire Jones and Proven Therapy, but four faults at the fifth obstacle would leave the door open. Stephanie Don and Joel followed consecutively, putting in their fourth clear ride of the competition, and earning Zone 9/10 the silver medal, while Zone 2 took the bronze.
Don is currently tied with Elizabeth McDougald and Knock My Sox Off going into Saturday’s Individual Championship, each with zero faults.
The 2015 USEF Pony Finals competition continues Saturday with the Medium Pony Hunter over fences classes beginning at 9 a.m. in the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Pony Jumpers will conclude Saturday evening in the Alltech Arena with the individual final round and the farewell class.
Lexington, KY – August 6, 2015 – As the over fences phase of the Small Pony Hunters got underway Thursday, all eyes turned to Augusta Iwasaki and Bit of Laughter. They ousted the top competitors to move up the ranks and capture the championship with an outstanding over fences effort, earning the high scoring round to move from the 11th position to the pinnacle of the leader board.
Although Iwasaki and Bit of Laughter, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly of California, kicked off the competition with 10 contenders ahead of them, with 50 percent of the overall scores tabulated from the over fences class, the tricolor was in the air with the young competitors vying for the coveted honor.
Bit of Laughter donned the championship ribbon in 2011 with rider Lindsey Levine in the saddle for the Small Green Pony Hunters; however, this was Iwasaki’s first time showing the talented pony at the 2015 USEF Pony Finals. The young talent, hailing from Calabasas, Calif., has worked to form a partnership with ‘Ceto’ for two years, and it all culminated with their exemplary performance over fences.
“I’m very excited about this win,” Iwasaki expressed. “My favorite part of today was our jumping trip, and it was probably one of my best rounds with this pony.”
Iwasaki admitted that the chestnut can allude to a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality, but he was on his best behavior Thursday.
“He has two sides; he is either really nice or really grumpy, but he’s been really good lately,” Iwasaki laughed. “He doesn’t really like other ponies, but he likes me when I give him treats. I think he likes being at the horse show much more than he likes being at home.”
The 11-year-old rider made the trek east all the way from Calabasas, Calif. for her third consecutive U.S. Pony Finals, and she seems to always enjoy her time in Kentucky. While the majority of the riders and spectators were averse to the constant rain that plagued the day, Iwasaki contrarily welcomed the change to her usual climate. Taking home a few top honors certainly can’t hurt the experience, either.
“I live in California, but I like Kentucky a lot. It is a lot more green and wet,” the young winner laughed.
Iwasaki closed out the competition with 1033.29 points after earning the high scores of 90, 86.5 and 92 from the judging panel. Mimi Gochman followed 10 points behind, making a nostalgic run for the reserve championship with Love Me Tender, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, Virginia.
Love Me Tender has been a part of the Gochman family for nearly five years, and 10-year-old Mimi was the first to have the ride out of the sisters.
“When she was a baby, she jumped really hard and really high,” Mimi elaborated. “In the beginning, she was green, and throughout the years she has become better and better. By the time Betsee bought her, my sister Sophie was riding her. This year, Sophie wanted to ride Chester [Bit of Love] at Pony Finals, so Betsee asked me if I would ride her. I was thrilled! I knew it would be nice memories for when I used to ride her.”
What Mimi did not expect was that she would earn her first rosette at Pony Finals with one of the first ponies she ever showed.
“She was really great, and I think I know her better now than I did in the past,” Mimi patted ‘Princess,’ as she is known in the barn. “She has a big stride, a low head and a good jump, all in all it is the perfect combination, and it was so much fun to ride her. It is awesome to win the reserve championship; I have never had a tricolor at Pony Finals.”
Iwasaki did not stop at besting a field of 120 small ponies. Earlier in the day, Iwasaki took the early lead in the Large Green Pony Hunters with Kingston, owned by Ava Peck of Topanga, Calif., outshining 86 entrants to earn the top spot in both the model and under saddle portions during the first day of divisional competition. Their overall score of 513.320 points swept them into first position, securing the pair as the last to ride Friday during the over fences phase, the final fraction of competition.
“I am very excited. I really wanted to win this for Ava, his owner, I want to thank her because she is so sweet for letting me ride him; I love him. He is very quiet and sweet and calm,” Iwasaki said.
Although Iwasaki will have a slight advantage as the leader headed into Friday’s class, she has some stiff competition still in the hunt for the top prize. The second through sixth positions are all within a few points of each other, with sixth position less than 13 points behind Iwasaki and Kingston. Garavani, ridden by Devin Seek and owned by Ashley Vail Aycox of Jones Creek, Georgia, sits in second, while Emma Kurtz in the irons aboard Oliver Twist, owned by Sharrone Peters of Dearborn, Michigan, clinched the temporary third. Ava Leraris and Splendid, owned by San Francisco-based Pretty Penny Farm, hold the fourth spot, followed by owner-rider Michelle Haskins aboard Until Tomorrow, and New York City-based Juliette Mark’s Lead Story, ridden by Lizzy McCrady, taking the final two top six spots.
Iwasaki and Kingston were not the only double blue winners Thursday, as Unforgettable, modeled and hacked by Sophia Calamari and owned by Forget Me Not Farm in Wellington, Florida, also impressed the judges during both phases of competition to earn consecutive blue ribbons in the Medium Green Pony Hunters. The pair took a commanding lead with their cumulative score of 523.560 points, nearly 20 points ahead of the next-closest competitor, with the over fences portion still to take place Friday.
Currently sitting in second position is Jenna Field and Apricot Brandy, owned by Victoria Redman of Ocala, Fla., trailed by Emma Kurtz and Truly Yours, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, in third place. Samantha Palermo and her own Vienna, Iwasaki and her family’s Small Suggestion, and Devin Seek and Dance with Me, owned by Bibby Hill of Reddick, Fla., hold the current fourth through sixth spots, respectively.
The Regular Pony Hunters continue Friday, with the Medium Regular Pony Model beginning at 7 a.m., followed by the under saddle. The Medium Green and Large Green Pony Hunters will commence their over fences as they compete for the division championships. The Pony Jumpers will conclude the day with the Individual Phase II and Team Championships getting underway in the Alltech Arena beginning at 4:30 p.m.