The 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show continued on Monday, October 3, at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The day concluded with all eyes on the Show Place Arena as Isabella Fioretti of Marietta, Georgia, guided Counselor over two beautiful rounds for the top overall score of 172.75 in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Children’s Hunter Finals, presented by Charles Ancona.
“I’m really excited to be here,” expressed Fioretti. “This is my first time coming to Capital Challenge and my first time being in a final like this, so it’s really surreal to win. Coming here was definitely more about having a good first experience, so I did not expect to win and I’m definitely still a little bit in shock.”
Thirty riders qualified for this year-end final by accumulating points in the NAL Children’s Hunter competitions throughout the year. After the first round, the top 12 returned in reverse order, where Fioretti was carrying the high first-round score of 86. Her second-round mark of 86.75 from judges Patrick Rodes and Tammy Provost sealed the deal for the win.
“I was incredibly nervous today, especially for my second round,” admitted Fioretti. “I felt a lot of pressure since I was coming back on top. Everyone in this class is a great rider, so I really tried not to make any mistakes and be consistent.”
Fioretti has been paired with “Calvin,” Arden Stromnes’s 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding,
for about a year and knew she could rely on him in the amplified atmosphere.
“We’ve worked really hard to get here, and there were a lot of bumps along the way,” explained Fioretti. “Calvin is just perfect. He’s super friendly and so good-hearted. When I get on him, I’m never scared or worried. He takes care of me all the time, and I trust him completely.”
In addition to her appreciation for her mount, Fioretti, who is 15 years old, was quick to credit the team around her for the evening’s success.
“The courses tonight were great, especially with what we practiced at home. Our trainer sets great courses to prepare us for the shows,” noted Fioretti, who trains with top professional hunter rider Michael Britt-Leon at Windsor Stables in Alpharetta, Georgia.
She continued, “I love everyone on the team. We have a great friend group, and the grooms and everyone who make this possible are just amazing.”
It was a good night for the Windsor Stables team with barnmate Ansley Sparks of Decatur, Georgia, and Spectre 007 earning a total score of 170.50 for the third-place honors. Alexa Anastasio of Wayne, Illinois, and Legacy jumped to the reserve championship title with a final score of 172.00.
Click here for full results of the NAL Children’s Hunter Finals
The North American League Finals are the culmination of the NAL’s year-long Series that includes classes at hundreds of horse shows across the United States and Canada. The NAL offers year-long series in five divisions: Children’s Hunter, presented by Charles Ancona; Adult Hunter; Children’s Jumper, presented by EquiFit; Adult Jumper, presented by SmartPak; and Low Junior/Amateur Jumper, presented by HorseFlight. The NAL series conclude with year-end finals for those who accumulated the most points in their divisions over the course of the season.
The 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show proceeds on Tuesday, October 4, with several professional hunter division champions being awarded throughout the day. Tuesday’s schedule also features the $10,000 NAL Adult Hunter Finals, and competition continues through October 9.