Katie Cooper and Sandlot took home the Open Hunter Classic winning title, as well as securing the Gulf Coast Winter Series Circuit Championship. Flashpoint Photography.
Gulfport, MS – March 10, 2013 – It was an exceptional four weeks of showing for Katie Cooper and Cherry Knoll Farm’s Sandlot during the Gulf Coast Winter Series in Gulfport, Mississippi. After securing the Pre-Green 3’3″ Hunter Championship three weeks straight, Cooper guided Sandlot to the first place finish in the Open Hunter Classic during the Gulf Coast Mid Winter IV, and was named the Gulf Coast Winter Series Circuit Champion.
It was a battle of the best during the fifth week of the series, and the admirable chestnut gelding rode to the top of the leader board for a phenomenal conclusion to their winter circuit. Cooper and Sandlot dominated the Pre-Green 3’3″ Hunter division from beginning to end, a feat for the pair as they demonstrated talent week after week in front of over 12,000 spectators at the largest hunter/jumper show on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The two-round Open Hunter Classic welcomed over 15 entrants to the prestigious class. It became a heated competition between Cooper and Holly Shepherd. They rode with good-hearted rivalry as Sandlot went head to head for the championship against Shepherd’s LPF Woodford. Only a few points separated the victor, but it was Sandlot who stepped forward for the tricolor with his scores of 87 and 85.
“He jumped the courses great, and has become super consistent. He is very classic in his style. When we are together, we are hard to beat,” Cooper explained. “We took a group of young horses to Gulfport this year to allow us to give them the individualized attention that we value. It is a circuit where there is opportunity to expose the horses and riders to good competition in a positive, relaxed environment. With Sandlot we were pushing to the next phase of his education and wanted to be in Gulfport to explore this training. He far exceeded our expectations!”
Sandlot and Cooper completed their time at the 15th Annual Gulf Coast Winter Classics Horse Show this past week. They will head back to Caves Farm in Owings Mills, MD, and will return to the show ring in the spring for the Pre-Green Initiative.
If their record continues to stay as consistent and strong as this past week, there is no doubt that they will prove themselves unstoppable.
Cooper concluded, “I am excited to have quality horses like Sandlot and the opportunity to make them shine with our team and am eager to expand our reach as we continue to develop the horses and ourselves. I am very lucky to have a very strong team at Caves Farm – Sissy Wickes introduced us to Sandlot, and she has been hugely influential in our program, helping us to strive to be better in every aspect of the program from our riders’ education to our training to our horse management.”
For more information on Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc., please visit http://www.cherryknollfarminc.com/.
Kendall Bierer for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International