Winn Alden and Attila.
Lexington, VA – August 8, 2015 – Betty and Ernie Oare just purchased Attila a month ago, and Winn Alden only sat on the gelding for the first time on Friday, but following the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Lexington National Horse Show, the owners, rider and talented gelding seemed every bit the veteran winning team.
In their first time in the show ring together, Alden and Attilla bested a field of 37 other horses to win Friday evening’s national derby, held at the Virginia Horse Center and generously sponsored by Chatham Hall.
“Winn hadn’t shown him at all, and she jumped up and did phenomenally here,” Betty said. “She gave him a beautiful ride. She had two other really nice horses in there tonight, very competent horses that can win in any company, so we were proud of the win tonight. She did a fabulous job.”
The derby win at the Virginia Horse Center was particularly special for the Oares, as Ernie serves as the Virginia Horse Center Foundation Board President, and the couple has been extremely instrumental in the ongoing positive changes at the Horse Center.
“I was really nervous riding for the Oares here!” Alden laughed. “I was nervous because I know [Attila]’s a good horse. They didn’t put pressure on me. I put pressure on myself. My other two in the class had little mishaps in the handy round, so he was my last chance, and he really came through.”
Alden and Attilla picked up an early lead in the class, earning the first round high score of 89 over the Glenn Moody designed course, but their lead would not go uncontested in the second round. Amy Nunnally and Cailler, owned by Carilynn Peyton, had finished the first round on a score of 84.25, but in the second round, they earned the highest score of the class: a 93 including the four high option points.
Their handy round efforts shot Nunnally and Cailler to the top of the leader board with a score of 177.25 and put the pressure on for Alden as the final rider to return. With a second seamless round utilizing all four high option fences, Alden and Attila clinched the victory with a handy round score of 92 and an overall total of 181, while Nunnally and Cailler finished in second.
“It was fun to watch Amy [Nunnally],” Alden said. “She’s my good friend, and she’s been a good friend for a long time. We’ve been in this situation before where she’s put in a really good handy round, so I had to step it up to stay ahead of her. At Deep Run she got me and I ended up behind her, so here I got to stay up front. It’s fun when someone puts the pressure on you like that.”
The win in the derby marks part of a “dream week” for Alden at the Lexington National Horse Show. Earlier in the week she rode to the Conformation Hunter championship, the First Year Green Hunter championship, the High Performance Hunter championship and the ultimately the overall grand hunter championship title on Celtic Gold, owned by Meg Valnoski.
“I really enjoy coming here; I’ve been coming here for a long time,” Alden said of the Virginia Horse Center. “Leslie Brown is such a great person and a great manager; Andrew [Ellis] is always great to work with, and Sarah [Jackson] is one of the best in-gate people around.”
Classes like the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Lexington National Horse Show would not be possible without the support of generous sponsors including Chatham Hall. The all-girls college preparatory boarding school’s riding program offers forward seat fundamentals woven with modern hunter and equitation styles in accordance with horsemanship. Chatham Hall Riding strives to create the multitasking rider of today, making the school one of the top equestrian boarding schools in the country. Learn more about the Chatham Hall riding program online at www.chathamhall.org.
Sarah Boston Is Best in VHSA Children’s Hunter Seat Medal Final
Sarah Boston, 15, worked hard throughout the year to qualify for the Virginia Horse Show Association (VHSA) Children’s Hunter Seat Medal Final, so when she broke her foot a few weeks out from the final, she was not going to let that stop her.
On Friday night at the Lexington National Horse Show, Boston, with broken foot and all, topped the field of 36 other qualified entries to win the 2015 VHSA Children’s Hunter Seat Medal title.
“I didn’t get cleared until Tuesday to ride,” Boston, of Owings Mills, Maryland, said. “It feels really good [to win], especially because I just started riding my horse again [after the injury], and he really just took care of me. He’s perfect.”
Boston, who trains with Amy and Streett Moore at the McDonogh School, and her mount, Royal Ace, were one of six pairs from the initial starting field called back to execute additional testing over fences. With a well-executed test, Boston moved ahead from the third place position to take the win. Finishing in second was Lekha Ramachandran of Greensboro, North Carolina, and taking the third place award was Madison Busey of Ashburn, Virginia.
While the VHSA Children’s Hunter Seat Medal Final is complete for Boston that does not mean that the young rider is going to take more time off from her injury. Next weekend, she will head to Culpeper, Virginia for the Tad Coffin Junior Equitation Finals.
At the Lexington National Horse Show, the VHSA Medal Finals continue with the VHSA Championship on the Flat, the VHSA/EMO Hunter Seat Medal Final and the VHSA Horsemanship Championship all on Saturday evening. Competition continues on Sunday with the VHSA/EMO Adult Medal Finals beginning at 8 a.m. in the Anderson Coliseum.
To learn more about the Virginia Horse Center and the Lexington National Horse Show, visit www.horsecenter.org.
The Virginia Horse Center is situated on a 573-acre site with eight barns to accommodate 750 horses in permanent stabling. Indoor stabling can be increased to 1,200 horses with the use of temporary stalls. The Virginia Horse Center hosts 19 show rings, including two large arenas and a five-mile Olympic cross-country course. Four of the Virginia Horse Center barns are winterized with close access to the 4,000 seat indoor coliseum. The Virginia Horse Center is recognized for the excellent footing of its show rings and the durable construction of the concrete stalls. The Virginia Horse Center also offers camping facilities and on-site food and beverage services. Find the Horse Center online at www.horsecenter.org.
Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International