The Capital Challenge Horse Show recognized the best hunter horses and riders in the country with the awarding of 11 championships on Tuesday, October 3, at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
In the 3’6”-4’ professional hunter divisions, Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL, added three championships to his already lengthy list of Capital Challenge accolades earned over the years. In the High Performance Hunters, Stewart rode A Million Reasons to the championship for owner Dr. Betsee Parker. Stewart and the 12-year-old, bay, Holsteiner mare came into the day with two wins over fences, as well as the win in the under saddle, and with a final win in Tuesday’s over fences class, they delivered a clean sweep of the division to take the championship, sponsored by Karen Long Dwight and Take the High Road LLC. The reserve championship in the High Performance Hunter division went to Olympic Fire ridden by Jennifer Hannan of Wakefield, RI, and owned by Roger Smith.
In the Green Hunter 3’9” division, Stewart’s championship came aboard William Hill, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC. The seven-year-old, bay, warmblood gelding was the reserve champion of the First Year Green Hunters Section A at the 2016 Capital Challenge Horse Show, and this year, he topped two over fences and the under saddle class to take the Green Hunter 3’9” championship. Earning the reserve championship honor was Early August, owned by Deeridge Farms and ridden by Patricia Griffith of White Plains, NY.
Stewart’s third championship was earned riding Private Life, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, in the Green Conformation division, sponsored by Joie Gatlin & Morley Abbey. Private Life is a highly-successful graduate of Capital Challenge’s $25,000 Green Hunter 3’ and 3’3” Championship, having won the class in 2016 and earning numerous accolades since.
“He’s always been easy,” Stewart said of the bay, Dutch Warmblood gelding who earned two firsts and a fifth over fences, as well as the fourth in the hack. “He’s only six years old, but he acts very mature. He’s really the youngest horse I show in these classes, but he’s the easiest.
“The first round he was quite good; he touched the first jump lightly but was quite good,” Stewart continued. “The handy was his best round. He likes it when it’s a little bit more difficult. He likes the handiness and stuff that’s a little bit spookier, so that was his best round.”
Finishing in reserve to Private Life was Top Shelf, ridden by Leslie Steele of Calabasas, CA, and owned by Milissa Summer.
In the Green Hunter 3’6” Section B, sponsored by Lee Sadrian & Cynthia Kellogg, the championship was awarded to Always, owned and ridden by Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL. The five-year-old, Oldenburg gelding earned two wins and a third over fences and a fifth in the under saddle in what is only his fourth horse show as a hunter.
“He’s been doing the five-year-old jumpers,” Colvin explained. “All of [Winter Equestrian Festival] he did the five-year-old jumpers, and he was amazing. He had clear rounds, but I just did that because he seemed like he could be a nice jumper as well. Our last horse show when we were in Traverse City, MI, I showed him the first week in the jumpers, and the second week we were like, ‘let’s see what he looks like in the hunters.’ We did him in the 3’3” Performance, and he won every class.
“Every round he does, he gets better and better,” Colvin continued. “I think I might ride him in the WCHR Professional Challenge too, and I mean, he just turned five. He’s just a baby – and he has probably one of the best jumps that I think that I’ve jumped.”
Taking home the Green Hunter 3’6” Section B division reserve championship with a first and third over fences and a second in the under saddle were Louise Serio and Kings Landing, owned by Meralex Farm.
The Green Hunter 3’6” Section A championship, sponsored by Peter Pletcher, was presented to Nick Haness and Mayfield, owned by Strasburg Morin Inc. Haness of San Clemente, CA, and the seven-year-old, warmblood gelding topped two of the over fences class, as well as taking fifth in another and second in the under saddle, to clinch the victory.
The reserve championship in the Green Hunter 3’6” Section A went to Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, TX, and MTM Outbid, owned by MTM Farm.
“Mayfield is a super fun horse to ride,” Haness said. “He’s my type of horse. I love riding him. Even though he’s a first-year horse, I really had a lot of confidence in him this show because I didn’t think he’d come in here and get green, be over-faced or get scared or spooked by any of the jumps or atmosphere. He’s a really brave horse. I knew he would come to this show and have the indoor circuit be fun for him, and that’s exactly how it went. He was really confident the first day. He won both classes the first day and walked in here like he’s been in there his whole life. It was a ton of fun.”
Haness has been attending the Capital Challenge Horse Show since 2005, when he first competed at the event as a junior rider, and it is a horse show that he looks forward to every year.
“This has always been one of my favorite horse shows. It’s a great first show to start the indoor season and getting all of the horses acclimated. It’s a long way for us to come from California so the horses have to get their feet wet, so to speak, in the indoors circuit and get their confidence up and get on a good roll.
“I always feel like Capital Challenge is the first time all year that everyone is together in one place and has all of their nicest horses that are ready for indoors and ready to show themselves off. They’re all ready to walk in here and perform, and you really get a chance to see the quality of horses from across the country,” Haness concluded.
In addition to the 3’6”- 4’ professional hunter championships, the Capital Challenge Horse Show awarded six Green Hunter 3’- 3’3” championships on Tuesday. The Green Hunter 3’- 3’3” champions for 2017 are as follows:
Green Hunter 3’3”:
o Champion: Flint, ridden by Tori Colvin and owned by John & Stephanie Ingram, LLC
o Reserve: Soon To Be, ridden by Jennifer Hannan and owned by Jennifer Smith
Green Hunter 3’3” Section B:
o Champion: Hemingway, ridden by Sandy Ferrell and owned by Stephanie Bulger
o Reserve: True Story, ridden by Holly Orlando and owned by Cathy Zicherman
Green Hunter 3’ Open:
o Champion: Playbook, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Fashion Farm
o Reserve: Hulla-Balou, ridden by Michael Dennehy and owned by Renee Rainey Howard
Green Hunter 3’ Open Section B:
o Champion: Bieber, ridden by John French and owned by Four Winds Farm
o Reserve: Giovanni, ridden by Deidre Catani and owned by Martha Gangemi
Green Hunter Mares 3’-3’3”:
o Champion: Kamera Shy, ridden by Catherine Ellis and owned by Heathfield Hunters LLC
o Reserve: Small Occasion, ridden by Keri Kampsen and owned by Iwasaki & Reilly
Green Hunter Colts & Geldings:
o Champion: Status, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Krista & Alexa Weisman
o Reserve: MTM Page 6, ridden by Tracy Fenney and owned by MTM Farm
The 2017 Capital Challenge Horse Show continues through Sunday, October 8, with highlight’s of Wednesday’s competition including the $25,0000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Challenge, the $25,000 Future Hunter North American Championships, and the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge.
For additional information, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org.
About the Capital Challenge Horse Show
Now in its 24th year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter and equitation competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, the 2017 edition of the Capital Challenge Horse Show will take place September 29 – October 8. The ten days of competition will include prestigious equitation events and the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Finals with many of the country’s best horses and riders competing in junior, amateur, and professional hunter divisions.