Ireland’s Kevin McCarthy topped the $10,000 World Equestrian Center (WEC) Leading Open Jumper Awards following a highly successful season at the Vermont Summer Festival, held July 2 through August 11, 2019, at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Throughout the six-week circuit, riders accumulated points based on their performances in the weekly 1.40m open jumpers, Manchester Designer Outlets Open Welcome Stakes, and grand prix classes. Following the conclusion of the final grand prix on Saturday, August 10, McCarthy was the far-and-away front runner with 258 total points, which secured him the leading honor and a $5,000 bonus, sponsored by WEC.
Second and third place in the Leading Open Jumper Awards came down to the results of the final week, with second place and a $3,000 bonus ultimately going to fellow Irishman Kevin Mealiff, who finished the season with 191 points. Third place and the $2,000 bonus were presented to New Zealand’s Kirk Webby, who concluded the circuit on 168 points.
“I want to give a big thank you to World Equestrian Center for sponsoring this award; the rider bonus is much appreciated,” said McCarthy, who contested all six weeks of the series. “It was hard-fought for second and third for Kevin and Kirk. They were chasing hard! I probably did more shows than them though, so that probably worked out in my favor.”
McCarthy consistently topped the leaderboard all summer, notably winning four out of the six Manchester Designer Outlets Open Welcome Stakes classes and clinching two grand prix victories. Two of McCarthy’s welcome stakes wins came aboard Easton, his own 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Contendro I, while the other two welcome stakes wins and his dual grand prix victories were earned with Catch A Star HSS, a nine-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Sheraton x Amulet) also owned by McCarthy.
“She has a record now that out-passes many horses at the horse shows,” said McCarthy of Catch A Star HSS, a horse he started riding roughly a year ago. “She’s so consistent. She’s an amazing horse. I was always told that she was going to be the winner. You know, everyone says that, but she really is. I’ve never rode a horse that is as consistent as this, and it’s fun. You can’t beat winning!”
In addition to success in the open jumper classes, McCarthy also saw wins in amateur divisions, as, while he often competes against the professionals, his current profession includes managing his own McCarthy’s Irish Pub in Cazenovia, NY.
“It’s been excellent; it’s been a change of life,” said McCarthy of running the pub that he and his girlfriend, Keely O’Hara, opened two years ago. “It’s something new and different, but I always love riding and competing, so we’re back at this now again a bit. I go back home and back to the pub for a few weeks and then we go back on the road!”
Now concluding its 26th year, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a dynamic competition schedule while also giving competitors an opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of entertainment, recreation, shopping, and dining options offered in Dorset, Manchester, and the surrounding area. A recent study conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont cited that the total direct spending of visitors frequenting Vermont for equine-related activities is estimated at nearly $15.5 million annually.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.