Sarah Gordon Speeds to Adult Amateur Classic Victory at Vermont Summer Festival

July 23, 2017 - East Dorset, Vermont

Sarah Gordon riding Bonitha won the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Amateur Jumper Classic on Sunday, July 23, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography
Sarah Gordon aboard Bonitha was joined by her father, Michael Gordon, for the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Amateur Jumper Classic presentation at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Sarah Gordon of Stamford, CT, won the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Amateur Jumper Classic on Sunday, July 23, to close out the third week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival, running through August 13 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.

From a starting field of 33 entries, three horses advanced to a jump-off set by course designer Kenny Krome of Westminster, MD. Gordon returned first in the jump-off order and left all the poles intact, setting a blazing pace of 38.75 seconds riding Bonitha that would prove to be unbeatable.

Tracey Gorin-Byrne of Wellington, FL, finished second with a clear jump-off round in 41.02 seconds riding Daphne while Annie Friedman of Washington, D.C., claimed third riding Corfu LS La Silla with one rail down and a time fault. Jessica Matelis, also of Washington, D.C., riding Amalee and Wendy Wood of South Hamilton, MA, aboard City Life were clean over the fences in the opening round, but each picked up a single time fault to finish fourth and fifth respectively.

“This is my first Classic win with this horse and I am super happy!” said Gordon of her performance aboard her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare. “We have had a lot of seconds and thirds, but could never quite seal the deal like we did today.”

Gordon trains with Stacia Madden at Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, NJ, but is riding under the direction of Mark Leone of Ri-Arm farm based in Oakland, NJ, while at the Vermont Summer Festival.

“This is my first time showing in Vermont,” said Gordon, 21, who attends the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, GA. “I came last year just to watch with friends and I liked it so much that I asked Stacia if I could go. She made it happen and Mark graciously took me on. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me.”

Sunday’s victory marked a comeback for Bonitha, as the mare lost her eye to an infected ulcer last September and her future in the sport was uncertain.

“She was in the clinic for about a month, so we missed competing at the Washington International Horse Show and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show,” said Gordon. “She was only ten, so we were hoping she would be able to come back, but we really didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Gordon returned Bonitha to the show ring at the start of the 2017 winter season with realistic expectations, explaining, “I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to see the jumps when we were turning left off her blind side, but she felt like the exact same horse. I don’t ride her any differently and she doesn’t even turn her head to give anything a better look. No one knows how she copes with it so well, but I chalk it up to her having a huge heart and loving this job.”

Nearly a year after Bonitha developed the ulcer, Gordon has plans to pick up where she left off and compete at the 2017 editions of the Washington International and Pennsylvania National Horse Shows.

On Sunday, the Grand Prix Ring also showcased wins for 15-year-old Failenn Aselta of Weston, CT, in the $1,500 Marshall & Sterling Children’s Jumper Classic riding Columbus and Elizabeth McKim of Wilmington, NC, who claimed victory in the $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. McKim received a pair of Tonic paddock boots and half-chaps from Schockemoehle in recognition of her win. Closing out the day, Christina Antonucci of Lake Hopatcong, NJ, won the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, presented by Miller & Associates, riding Cupido van’t Schuurke.

For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont for great competition in an ideal summer setting. Offering more than $750,000 in prize money over the course of its six-week run, the Vermont Summer Festival is New England’s largest hunter/jumper competition as well as the state’s richest sporting event based on purse. Outside the show ring, exhibitors are immersed in the charm of Vermont's shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.

Competition at the 2017 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children with 100% of all gate proceeds benefiting the Manchester Community Library, Meals on Wheels of Bennington County, and the Rotary Club of Manchester.

For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail or visit

$2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Amateur Jumper Classic
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rider  Hometown  Horse  Faults/Time
1. Sarah Gordon  Stamford, CT  Bonitha  0:0/38.75
2. Tracey Gorin-Byrne  Wellington, FL  Daphne  0:0/41.02
3. Annie Friedman  Washington, D.C.  Corfu LS La Silla  0:5/50.30
4. Jessica Matelis  Washington, D.C.  Amalee  1
5. Wendy Wood  South Hamilton, MA  City Life  1
6. Nancy A. Bounpane  Melville, NY  Rio  3
7. Kelsey Meyer  Commerce Township, MI  Carduzo  3
8. Kara Krushel  New York, NY  Lolita  4