Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 16, 2018 – The final phase of riding for both the 3’/3’3” and 3’6”/3’9” divisions of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship took place Thursday afternoon, bringing back eligible exhibitors to the Walnut Ring for one final time around the course and a shot at the greatest purse of the three-day competition. Patricia Griffith and Endeavor added to their two previous performances with an uncatchable score in the 3’/3’3” competition to ride away with the victory, while Sandy Ferrell and Hemingway followed suit with the highest score of the entire competition to emerge as the inaugural winners of the 3’6”/3’9” section.
Entering the ring just slightly more than halfway through the order in the 18th slot, Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Endeavor were up against the leading score at the time of 263, earned by Sara Taylor and Ingrid Avera’s Noah who rode eight trips earlier. Displaying an excellent show of precision and consistency, Griffith and the 9-year-old bay gelding made their way smoothly around Bobby Murphy’s 11-fence track at the 3’3” height to the tune of scores of 88, 88.5 and 88.5 for a cumulative 265 points from the judges to take over the top spot on the leaderboard. The talented pair was chased by their subsequent counterparts, and although a handful would lay down solid performance to earn scores in the high 80s, ultimately none could catch them on the scorecard, solidifying Griffith and Endeavor as the blue ribbon and biggest prize money winners of the afternoon in their section.
One of the last to ride and Wednesday’s class winner, Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM First Dibs jumped their way into the reserve spot with a total tally of 264.50, just half of a point behind Griffith and Endeavor. Fenney and MTM First Dibs edged out the 2019 champions in terms of prize money by just a few hundred dollars thanks to their top rankings in each of the three phases. Though Taylor and Noah were bumped from the top of the podium, the duo maintained a top finish to finish with the bronze medal, trailed by three-time champion Scott Stewart with Rivers Edge’s Everwonder in fourth position. Kim Buzby, in the saddle aboard Catherine Cox’s Final Cut, took fifth position.
Earlier in the morning, the first round of the two-phase 3’6”/3’9” section of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship determined the top 30 finishers out of the 42 original entries that would return for a stake at more prize money and the top honors. Over the first course, Hunt Tosh rode Ceil Wheeler’s Bastogne to the high score of 268, followed by Ferrell with the reins aboard Stephanie Bulger’s Hemingway with marks of 265 from the three panels of judges. Though the second round operated with riders returning with a blank slate, Tosh and Ferrell, along with other top contenders Stewart, Liza Boyd, and Katherine Newman, among others, had already once proved their horses’ prowess in the ring to earn a favorable reputation headed into the grand finale.
Unlike the prior class, more entries opted for the smaller fences in the final class of the day, with only five pairs electing to tackle the 3’9” obstacles and the rest preferring the 3’6” height. One of the first horse-and-athlete combinations to maneuver the course, Kelley Farmer and Aizlynn Radwanski’s Shameless set the bar high with a score of 264, the same score that had earned Fenney’s reserve placing only a few minutes before. Farmer’s lead would not hold long though, as Ferrell and Hemingway entered the showring as the 11th in the order of go, laying down a textbook trip to earn scores of 90, 92 and 93 for a composite score of 275 points, the highest of both height sections across all three days. Ferrell and Hemingway waited out their peers, and in the end were awarded with the rosette and the greatest stake of the pot.
Farmer and Shameless remained unsurpassed by any other exhibitors to clinch the reserve championship honors, while Stewart tied himself aboard two mounts owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, Private Life and Harvard Hall. Liza Boyd showcased Maggie Hill’s Tradition to the next-highest score on the scorecard to round out the top five.
Lexington, KY – August 14, 2015 – For David Beisel, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show holds incredible memories, yet there is one in particular that stands out for him. It was three years ago exactly that David Beisel and Ammeretto, owned by Equine Holdings, LLC, entered into only the second grand prix of their show jumping partnership during the week of the USHJA Hunter Derby Finals, and they won. Friday night, under the lights of the Rolex Stadium, it was déjà vu for Beisel as he entered into a 12-horse jump-off with the small but mighty warmblood stallion, winning the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, presented by Zoetis.
“Before the jump-off, as I was getting ready to go over the course, I was thinking to myself that it was three years ago that he competed his second grand prix, and now, here were are,” Beisel smiled. “I knew that if I had a little faith in him, and with the good partnership we have now, that it all would work, and it did.”
Out of a field of 47 horse and rider combinations, Beisel and Ammeretto rose to the top of the leader board, besting 11 fellow contenders during an exceptionally fast jump-off. Shane Sweetnam and Easy Contact Humlan, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, were the first to tackle the shortened course, designed by Allen Rheinheimer. Although they posted the quick time of 40.487 seconds, he left the door open just enough to let Beisel take his shot.
Beisel sat ringside during the course change, observing Rheinheimer’s changes to the track. He noted that deeper cups were added to the skinny, warranting a tight turn back, and the black oxer originally the 11th obstacle of the opening track was narrowed, allowing for a tight rollback. It was the race to the final oxer with Ammeretto that would have spectators on the edge of their seats.
“I knew I really had to take a shot to the last one,” Beisel explained. “Allen had made the black oxer quite narrow, and I hoped to turn back as tight as I could and trust that he would hop over it. It didn’t come up exactly how I would imagine, but he gave a huge effort. I tried to be smooth to the in-and-out and then trusted him to fly to the Hagyard. He did just that.”
Ammeretto and Beisel have a special partnership, rooted in time and trust. Ammeretto originally found a home with Beisel as a 3-year-old, and now, seven years later, the pair has an unspoken understanding.
Beisel continued, “He is such a smart horse; he really truly enjoys competing and jumping. I think he totally understands to adjust his speed out there and slow up for the jumps. If I have an error in the jump-off it is usually because I am pulling on the reins and mess up his rhythm. I think staying out of his way is the best way to go.”
Beisel and Ammeretto stopped the clock in an astonishing 38.229 seconds.
Sweetnam did not want to take no for an answer tonight. Having already lost the lead to Beisel, as well as to the 18-year-old Emanuel Andrade who posted a clean and speedy effort in 39.962 seconds, he returned on his second qualified mount, Eregast Van’t Kiezelhof.
Although Sweetnam gave it a gamble on the course, his time would still fall 1/10th of a second shy of Beisel’s winning time, landing from the oxer in 38.332 seconds for the second place, pushing Andrade into third.
“This horse was also second in the most recent Hagyard Challenge I did two weeks ago. He was close then and close again tonight. David is a very fast rider,” Sweetnam said. “Eregast Van’t Kiezelhof is not the fastest horse in the world, but he’s learning to be faster, as you saw tonight. He makes my job quite easy. I just have to find the jumps, and I think we’ll have a chance.”
All three top finishers plan to return to the Rolex Arena on Sunday afternoon for the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. For Beisel, he is aiming for even bigger purses and dreams.
“We plan to jump the HITS Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix and the [American] Gold Cup and to keep trying to climb up the ranking list,” Beisel concluded. “It is a dream of mine to get on the short list for Team USA, so I want to keep chipping away at getting more points and prove that [Ammeretto] is a competitor. I cannot thank Equine Holdings enough for their support; you cannot do this without owners; I am blessed to have them and for them to back our goals.”
Fourth place was awarded to Sweetnam for his earlier round aboard Easy Contact Humlan as the first of the class, while fifth place was won by Victoria Colvin and Echo Von T Spieveld with a clear effort in 42.645 seconds. Amanda Derbyshire and Lady Maria BH rounded out the top six as the last of the clear efforts in a conservative 48.232 seconds.
Liza Boyd, Kelley Farmer, and Sandy Ferrell Lead the Way in Day One of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Final
The question of impending retirement has been in the air recently for 17-year-old chestnut Brunello, famously ridden by Liza Boyd to two USHJA International Derby Championships in the last two years, but the elder horse put those rumors to rest in the Rolex Stadium Friday as he earned three top marks above 90 for a cumulative score of 287 to secure the lead after the Classic Round. Kelley Farmer and Mindful, one of Farmer’s numerous mounts of the day, closely trail the current frontrunners headed into the second day of competition, featuring the handy round. Sandy Ferrell, having just come off a reserve showing in the Pre-Green Incentive Finals Thursday, kept her momentum going by clinching the third position with El Primero ahead of the 76 other entries.
“I think we can say that he is not retired. That is a question I have gotten a lot this year and I don’t think he wants to be retired. He just felt like he was six years old again,” Boyd gushed. “The horse is amazing. I will never have a horse like this again. I get a little emotional about him. He tries so hard; he loves what he does and he makes my life so easy. He is just really, really special; I can’t thank him enough.”
Although Brunello, co-owned by Boyd and Janet Peterson, has a few more notches in his belt than his younger counterparts, Boyd feels that the Hanoverian horse is still in great shape, which can be attributed to the training and fitness regimen she keep him on at home in Landrum, South Carolina. She credited lots of trail riding, treadmill workouts, turnout, and double rides on some days as their secret weapons to keeping him looking and feeling his best, a recipe that has shown successful.
“We do really focus on fitness, and this horse doesn’t have to show super often. The week before I locked him up in the stall and barely did anything with him. He had a massage, and I had a facial,” Boyd laughed. “I wanted him to be as fresh as possible.”
The winning pair laid down a stellar trip, proving that the best was saved for last as the final in the order to go over designer Steve Stephens’ classic round track, which presented riders with 13 efforts to show off their talents. Four fences offered high and low height options, giving competitors a chance to earn up to 12 additional points, four from each of the three judges, to their score. Boyd and Brunello opted for all the high options, contributing to their seamless round.
“I think it [the course] is typical Steve [Stephens]. You walk it and it seems pretty straightforward, but you get out there and they get a little wiggly; the horses don’t know where they are. It isn’t so much the height or that he didn’t test us with a lot of numbers. We only had one line. It was really where he placed the jumps,” Boyd said. “Even starting out with fence one, they didn’t expect the jump to be there; it was away from the in gate. He definitely placed them in tricky spots, but it was very rideable for a young horse and kept an old horse enthusiastic and sharp. Once again, he did an unbelievable job.”
As the two-time defending champions, Boyd and Brunello felt the pressure headed into the ring, but did not exude any of that anxiety to the crowd or, more importantly, the judges. The duo’s 287 score was pieced together of 90.5, 91.5, and 93.0 scores from the judges, plus the bonus 12 earned due to the high fence options.
“Last year was a thousand times less stress. I think I should have another baby before next year because last year I was just hoping to hold on and have fun. This year was a lot more stress; my palms are still sweating. I was super nervous,” Boyd reflected.
Currently in the reserve position, hometown rider Kelley Farmer aboard veteran mount Mindful, owned by Larry Glefke and Kensel, LLC, are hot on the heels of Boyd and Brunello, only a singular point behind the current leaders. She and the black gelding Mindful have an impressive résumé together, having accrued lifetime prize money topping $97,000, of which $65,000 was won this year alone.
“I can’t say enough about that horse. He is a fantastic horse, and he went beautifully today. I hope it goes the same tomorrow. I made some mistakes on some of the others, but the course was nice and the horses went well,” Farmer said.
Farmer also earned a stop amongst the frontrunners in the saddle aboard Dalliance, who is owned by Avatar Real Estate, LLC out of Coral Gables, Florida. The pair rode to a 276.600 score to claim the sixth position headed into the handy round.
On the opposite side of the age spectrum from Brunello sits El Primero, the 6-year-old bay stallion navigated to third in the standings by Sandy Ferrell of Bernville, Pennsylvania. The talkative horse whinnied all the way around the ring, but that did not detract from the strong performance as he proved to not only talk the talk, but also walked the walk to the tune of a 280.250 score in his first Derby Finals.
“He is a newcomer to the derby world. He just turned six this year, and he is a baby, and must be the youngest out there. I think that we are just seeing the beginning of his career. He was a little bit talkative out there today; I think he was wondering where his friends went because he couldn’t see anybody. He was talking all the way around the ring,” Ferrell said.
El Primero, owned by Bryan Baldwin and Meralex Farm of Brandon, Florida, is known as ‘Sexy’ outside the ring and was imported from Europe as a jumper, but smoothly transitioned into the hunter ring, where he has shined under the tutelage of Louise Serio.
“As a horseman, you are going to fall in love with that horse. Whether it is his look, his athletic ability is endless; his desire to perform is endless. He is an amazing horse, and I think great things are only yet to come,” Farrell commented. “It is rare that a horse comes out of the jumper ring in Europe and plops into the hunter ring and off we go. He is just an incredible animal. He has such a wise soul. He is so in control of everything.”
The top six horse and rider partners are separated by 11 points headed into Saturday’s handy phase. Trying to surpass the top three will be Cassanto, ridden by Brady Hamilton and owned by Emily Perez of Pittsford, New York, the current fourth place contenders, as well as Jennifer Alfano and Miss Lucy, owned by Helen Lenahan of Buffalo, New York, who rank fifth. Alfano also claimed the seventh and eighth position with Maggie May, owned by Billie Steffee of Noelty, Ohio, and Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms Inc. of Buffalo, New York. Farmer and Dalliance round out the top six.
Tomorrow the hunters will return to the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park for the Handy Round, which serves as the USHJA International Hunter Derby Final during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
Devon, PA – June 30, 2011 – Once again, the weather was perfect as riders gathered at the Devon Show Grounds for the second day of the first annual Brandywine Valley Summer Series, presented by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. Today, riders competed for top honors in the professional hunter divisions in the Dixon Oval. Sandy Ferrell and her Second Year Green Working Hunter mount Showman were the day’s big winners, claiming the Grand Champion Green Hunter title after earning the Second Year/High Performance Hunter Championship.
This morning in the Second Year/High Performance Hunter, Ferrell was presented with the championship honors for her ride aboard Showman, owned by Krista and Alexa Weisman of Sherborn, MA. The division was sponsored by Meralex Farm, and the duo earned three first place ribbons, a second place ribbon, and a third place ribbon this week. They truly showed the way during their handy class, earning a high score of 90 for their efforts. Ferrell and Showman were then presented with the Grand Champion Green Hunter award after earning the most prize money in the Green Hunter divisions. The division’s reserve championship prize went to Louise Serio and Phillipa, owned by Jennifer Burger of Buffalo, NY.
Ferrell smiled, “I am thrilled! This was our first show back after Florida, and it is nice to know that after a break Showman can come back and still be the same super star he was earlier this year. He’s a horseman’s horse, he’s a winner, and he has a huge fan club.”
Wellington, FL – March 3, 2011 – The eighth week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 3, is well into its second day of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The sun was shinning along with strong gusts of wind as the Green Conformation Hunters made their way into the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring on Thursday morning.
Sandy Ferrell was aboard the new entry from Stephanie Riggio, Moshi, for the championship win in the Green Conformation Hunters. Riggio purchased Moshi, a seven-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding by Quintus, around the fourth week of competition at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. “He’s a new ride for me, so I get to be the lucky girl, which is nice,” beamed Ferrell.
Moshi and Ferrell secured the championship honor by winning the model and the under saddle classes. The duo went on to win another over fences class and receive a second and two thirds in the division’s remaining classes.