©ESI Photography. Sue DeCone and Delucia.
SAUGERTIES, NY (September 16, 2013) – It was all about speed in the Strongid C 2X Grand Prix Stadium as jumper riders took their turn in the spotlight during the 23rd annual Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Junior/Amateur, Adult and Child riders alike all eyed $7,500 prize purses and pursued national titles over courses designed by Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, Florida.
$7,500 Junior/Amateur Jumper Low Classic
Sue DeCone of Bridgewater, New Jersey was the only rider to best Dougherty’s course, jumping to the only clear round in the first round of the $7,500 Junior/Amateur Jumper Low Classic. She and her eight-year-old Irish-bred mare Delucia, owned by Portsmouth Farm, LLC, were second to go and left all the jumps up while staying under the 86 seconds time allowed.
“I was ecstatic when I realized that I was the only one clear!” said DeCone after the class. “This Final is so great – everyone loves riding in this big ring and it makes for good courses and great classes.”
DeCone has been partnered with Delucia four two years, and admits that while the mare makes her work for every victory, Delucia always gives it her all.
“She lives up to her ‘chestnut mare’ reputation, but is super careful and brave in the show ring,” said DeCone. “We qualified to come to [Marshall & Sterling] Finals last year, but she was still a little young. She has really stepped up to the plate this year.”
Delucia lost a shoe early in the round, but according to DeCone, it didn’t faze either one of them and the mare jumped beautifully.
Stacey Walsh of Douglassville, Pennsylvania and Abby Slaven of Ocala, Florida completed the course without rails coming down, but time faults kept them from securing a jump-off. Slaven was second aboard her own Renaissance, while five time faults bumped Walsh to fourth on her own Leon. Madison Newman of Wellington, Florida was third in the irons of Edulcee D’Hulst, owned by Todd Minikus, Ltd and Patti Subik of Amsterdam, New York capped with top five with her own Tallulah.
$7,500 Adult Jumper Classic
Of the eight riders who advanced to the jump-off in the $7,500 Adult Jumper Classic, Tammy Eyerman Kelly of Long Valley, New Jersey and her own Belvedere were the lone pair to ride fault-free over the shortened course. Riding last, Kelly knew all she had to do was leave the rails up – she took her time and accomplished just that. Three time faults blemished the round, but her ride was still good enough for the win.
“I knew that if I took my time, I could go clear,” said Kelly. “Perhaps I took my time a little too much, but in the past 25 years that I have been doing this, I haven’t had a win like this, so it was very special.”
Belvedere is a 16-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse gelding and, according to Kelly, he always walks in the ring as surveys it like a battlefield. He wants to win, she said. Kelly finished the jump-off with the three time faults and a time of 56.1 seconds.
After winning the $2,500 Adult Jumper class earlier in the day, Alissa Kinsey of Danville, New Hampshire rode her own Grisset to second place in the Classic. They crossed the timers in a blistering 39.11 seconds, but had a rail down at the second fence for four jumping faults.
Elizabeth Kirby of Mendham, New Jersey was both third and fourth with her self-owned horses Winter White and Amelia. With Winter White, Kirby was under the time allowed in 40.40 seconds, but clipped a rail at the second-to-last fence and landed with four faults. She rode Amelia to four-fault round in 41.98 seconds. Capping the top five was Cienne Warren of Tinton Falls, New Jersey and her won Fabius. They finished with four faults in 48.39 seconds.
$7,500 Children’s Jumper Classic
Natalie Hughes and her family made the trip from their home in Spring Hill, Florida for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals and returned with an impressive list of accolades. After placing second in the $2,500 Children’s Jumper class, Hughes and her own Ramona Quimby rode to the top spot in the $7,500 Children’s Jumper Classic. To add to the list, Hughes was also named high-point Children’s Jumper at the annual Marshall & Sterling Insurance League year-end awards banquet, held at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern on Friday evening.
Hughes was one of five to advance to the jump-off and was second to return. “The girl before me was fast, so I made a last minute decision in the ring to do an inside turn to one fence – and my horse was so fast,” she said.
Standing at only 15.3, Romana Quimby, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood-Thoroughbred cross, may be small but is the “best horse in the world,” according to Hughes. “She is so much fun – she sees really long spots, but is so athletic that she makes it look easy,” said Hughes. “She’s a hard ride and it took us a while to work together, but now we get along in the ring and really work together.”
Hughes and Romana Quimby were the fastest of three fault-free rides and stopped the clock in 48.03 seconds, just one one-hundredth of a second faster than Cayla Fisher of Ridgefield, Connecticut who rode to second place aboard Blue River Farm Sales’ Windo.
Third place was presented to Sophia Bertot and her own 2 The Nines after riding to a clear jump-off round in 52.42 seconds. Hadley Benneyan of Chester, New York was fourth with Michael Kirby’s Texas Tea. They had four faults and a time of 43.37 in the jump-off. Alexandra Rose of New York, New York rounded out the top five with McLain Ward’s Cevin 24 with four faults in 45.92 seconds.
This year marks the first Finals for Hughes as well as her first year in the jumper ring, making her a debut into the jumper world a successful one.
About The Marshall & Sterling League
The Marshall & Sterling League was designed to enhance the level of competition for children and adult riders, with an opportunity to qualify for a prestigious National Finals competition. Now celebrating their 22nd year, the Marshall & Sterling League features 14 divisions of competition. Riders who are members of the League had the opportunity to earn points throughout the year by competing in Marshall & Sterling classes in order to qualify for the Marshall & Sterling League Finals, held at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
The Marshall & Sterling League is proudly sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc. Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc., founded in 1864, is among the largest privately owned insurance agencies in the United States. For more than a quarter century, Marshall & Sterling has protected precious equine assets with unparalleled service and support, whether the family hunter, a champion racehorse or a commercial farm. An employee-owned company, Marshall & Sterling is recognized throughout the nation as a leader in providing exceptional service and support. The company maintains a national presence and is licensed in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.