Ten professional hunter champions were named on Tuesday, September 29, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Wilmington, OH, which continues through Sunday, October 4, at the World Equestrian Center.
Earning the first championship of the day, and his very first Capital Challenge professional championship title, was Evan Coluccio of Marshall, VA, riding Miller’s Cove.
Coluccio and the 11-year-old German Sporthorse gelding, owned by Balmoral, finished first, second, and third over fences and third under saddle to clinch the Green Conformation Hunter division championship, sponsored by Joie Gatlin – Morley Abey Show Jumping Inc.
Immediately after securing his first Capital Challenge professional hunter championship, Coluccio went on to repeat the feat. He secured his second tricolor of the day in the Green Hunter 3’9” aboard Philadelphia Story, also owned by Balmoral.
“It’s huge!” said Coluccio of what it means to be champion at Capital Challenge. “This is my first championship win at Capital Challenge in the professional hunters – and not only one, now [multiple]! For me, it’s awesome. I can’t believe it. My horses have been awesome; the courses have been beautiful. It’s all been great.
“Balmoral sent me the horses about 10 days ago,” continued Coluccio, who picked up the rides for the California-based farm after their team was unable to make the trip to Ohio due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and wildfires on the West Coast. “This is my first show with Philadelphia Story. We went in yesterday, and he won all of the classes. He had a little rub today, or I think he would have won the last one too.”
In total, Coluccio and the eight-year-old grey Hanoverian gelding claimed two wins and a second-place finish over fences and the win in the Green Hunter 3’9” Under Saddle on their way to the championship.
“[Philadelphia Story’s] awesome; he’s so nice to ride,” said Coluccio. “Everything that I’ve asked of him, he’s given 110 percent. After Friday’s rounds, everyone was like, ‘Who is that? Where did he come from?’ People knew him in California, but he hasn’t really been in the limelight that I know of. He kind of came on to the scene and really made a splash. It was very exciting, and I’m super grateful!”
Finishing as the reserve champions in the Green Conformation Hunter and Green Hunter 3’9” divisions were In Writing, ridden by Steven Gregorio and owned by Sterling Malnik, and Private I, ridden by Michael Britt – Leon and owned by Kelly Sims, respectively.
Not to be stopped at two championships, Coluccio also topped the Green Hunter 3’6” division riding Guggenheim, an 11-year-old warmblood gelding owned by the Lignelli Family. The pair finished first, second, and fourth over fences and second under saddle before being presented with the top honor for the Green Hunter 3’6” division. The reserve championship went to Trademark, ridden by Samantha Schaefer and owned by Take 3 LLC.
In the High Performance Hunter division, the championship went to Cassandra Kahle and Monday Balous. The duo topped last year’s $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge and returned to Capital Challenge this year to continue their winning ways. With Kahle in the irons, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Redfield Farm claimed the win under saddle and two wins and a fourth-place finish over fences.
The reserve championship in the High Performance Hunters was awarded to Schaefer and In the Know, owned by Madeline Schaefer.
In the High Performance Conformation Hunters, it was Tim Goguen and Category who went home with the top honor. The 12-year-old warmblood gelding, owned by Camille Leblond, earned two wins and a third place over fences and fourth in the under saddle.
Category has spent the last several years competing with his owner, but prior to that it was Goguen who had the ride on the gelding.
“I had him maybe four or five years ago,” explained Goguen, who just resumed the ride on Category now that the gelding is offered for sale. “I showed him in the First Years. It’s so fun to get him back. I haven’t ridden him in a long time, but he’s just a great horse. I was really glad to get him back – really lucky actually. It was a lot of fun.
“Capital Challenge is one of the biggest hunter horse shows that we have; it’s always a treat to be champion or reserve here,” said Goguen. “It’s kind of an odd year, but just to be able to have these events and keep going is great. I think Capital Challenge has done a great job of being able to use this [World Equestrian Center] facility.”
Finishing in reserve in the High Performance Conformation Hunters was High Society, ridden by Coluccio and owned by Alexa Elle Lignelli.
In addition to the five 3'6" – 4' professional hunter divisions, Tuesday’s competition also included five Green Hunter 3' and 3'3" divisions.
The Green Hunter 3’ and 3'3" division champions included:
- Green Hunter 3' Colts & Geldings, sponsored by Boggs Hill/Mr. and Mrs. Tim Goguen
Champion: Cascatero, ridden by Cassandra Kahle and owned by Redfield Farm
Reserve Champion: Rarity, ridden by Kelley Farmer and owned by David Glefke & Kelley Farmer
- Green Hunter 3' & 3’3” Mares, sponsored by Penelope Ayers
Champion: Ever So Often, ridden by Kate Conover and owned by Ava Peck
Reserve Champion: Heavenly, ridden by Marisa Metzger and owned by Laurie Jueneman
- Green Hunter 3'3", sponsored by Hunt Tosh, Inc.
Champion: Unprecedented, ridden by Geoffrey Hesslink and owned by Shadowfax Equestrian, LLC
Reserve Champion: Captain America, ridden by Courtney Lenkart and owned by Lori Mathews
- Green Hunter 3', 6 and Under, sponsored by Jennifer & Roger Smith
Champion: Caso 2, ridden by Marisa Metzger and owned by Elizabeth Simpson
Reserve Champion: Side Hustle, ridden by Courtney Lenkart and owned by La Primera Hacienda, L P
- Green Hunter 3', 7 & Over, sponsored by David Belford & Christopher Payne, New Hope LLC
Champion: Jordan, ridden by Erica Quinn and owned by Gentry Beresford
Reserve Champion: Cornucopia, ridden by Abby Jorgensen and owned by Isabella David
The day culminated with the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Hunter Under Saddle, with the win going to Suede ridden by Hillary Johnson and owned by Copper Fox LLC.
Competition at the Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Wednesday with the day’s competition highlights including the $25,000 North American Green Hunter Championship during the day-time session, and both the $5,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Developing Pro Challenge and $25,000 WCHR Pro Challenge during the evening session.
About the Capital Challenge Horse Show
Now in its 27th year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by the World Equestrian Center, sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter and equitation competition. Held each autumn, the 2020 edition of the Capital Challenge Horse Show continues through October 4 at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, OH. The 10 days of competition will include prestigious equitation events, jumper divisions, the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Finals, the $25,000 3’ and 3’3” Green Hunter North American Championships, and more, with many of the country’s best horses and riders competing in junior, amateur, and professional divisions. Learn more at www.CapitalChallenge.com.