Sophie Gochman Awarded Grand Pony Hunter Championship Aboard Love Me Tender

October 3, 2015 - Upper Marlboro, MD

Sophie Gochman and Love Me Tender.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Sophie Gochman and Love Me Tender in their award presentation after winning 2015 Grand Champion Pony Hunter honors.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Mimi Gochman and Storyteller.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Mimi Gochman and Storyteller in their presentation ceremony.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Farah Rizvi and Trillville.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Farah Rizvi and Trillville in their presentation ceremony.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Danielle Torano and Herault.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Cloe Hymowitz and Romance de Kerliven.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Danielle Torano and Herault in their presentation ceremony.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Rizvi Captures $2,500 WCHR Pony Challenge; Danielle Torano and Herault Rise to the Occasion in Final Round of $10,000 North American Jr./AO Jumper Challenge

Talented ponies ruled the roost today at Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) presented by Well Placed Smile, with Small, Medium, and Large pony divisions honoring their respective champion and reserve combinations for top performances. Sophie Gochman of New York, New York, captured the prestigious Grand Champion Pony Hunter aboard Love Me Tender owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, Virginia, while Farah Rizvi of Greenwich, Connecticut, and Trillville, owned by Peacock Ridge LLC, were victorious in the $2,500 WCHR Pony Challenge. Danielle Torano of Wellington, FL, and Herault topped the final round of the $10,000 North American Jr./AO Jumper Challenge presented by Johnson Horse Transportation.

Competing in the Small Pony Hunter division aboard Love Me Tender, Sophie Gochman earned the division’s championship title, going on to collect the highest award of the day, the Grand Champion Pony Hunter for her collective rides aboard the 2004 Welsh Pony mare. Gochman, who is 12 years old, earned two first places and a second place finish, alongside a fourth and sixth place to earn overall Grand Champion Pony honors at the 2015 Capital Challenge Horse Show. She also followed herself as reserve champion in the division aboard another Dr. Betsee Parker owned mount, Bit of Love.

Gochman was awarded with the Harper Taskier Wright Memorial Trophy presented to the rider of the Small Pony Hunter Champion, as well as the VanderMoore Designs Trophy donated by VanderMoore Designs. Adding to her memorable day, Gochman also collected the Best Pony Rider Award sponsored by Archie Cox and Brookway Stables. Gochman, alongside sister Mimi Gochman, and Clare Campbell were simultaneously awarded with the EMO Trip of the Show for the Pony division presented by Sue Bopp and EMO Agency for their tied high score of 89.00. Campbell was recognized for her style throughout the week, earning the Stewart Warner Cup presented by Donald Stewart and Louise Serio.

“It’s so exciting. I never expected to win Grand Champion at Capital Challenge. It’s such a competitive show and all of the riders are so good. It feels like such an accomplishment,” Gochman remarked.

Love Me Tender, known in the barn as Princess, is quite the diva and continually lives up to her name, but according to Gochman, she will do anything you ask of her in the ring. The duo proved their talent with incredible consistency throughout the two days of pony competition, which was filled with many of the best young competitors in the country.

“She’s a little princess and can be sassy sometimes. She has a really nice long stride though and she has very solid lead changes. She’s just perfect,” smiled Gochman. “Yesterday when we got the 89 outdoors in the rain was a good moment for me because it was a little bit harder to ride in the rain but she does really well outdoors.”

The Gochman family has continued to support and sponsor Capital Challenge Horse Show throughout the years and the competition holds a special place in their hearts. Sophie related saying, “It’s a great facility here and I always think it is a challenge to go from outdoors to indoors and there are so many competitors that you always have to be on your toes.”

Gochman wished to thank her team and trainers for helping to prepare her throughout the week as they continue to make her a better rider. She said, “I’d really like to thank Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley, and Amanda Derbyshire for all of their help this week and to Betsee for letting me ride Princess. I also have to thank my parents for supporting me and Princess’ groom Luis for taking such good care of her.”

Mimi Gochman, the younger sister of Sophie at eleven years old, also collected top honors today as she was crowned champion of the Large Pony Hunter division aboard Storyteller owned by Fair Play Farm. The beautiful chestnut gelding went wonderfully for Gochman throughout the week and she was excited to earn the tricolor for the division.

“It was really fun today and I’m so excited. It’s a great honor to champion a division here because it’s really competitive and it’s one of the top indoor shows, which makes it really special,” she explained. “Story is a very calm pony and he has a great stride and a fun jump. He’s very easy to turn so I think handy rounds are his forte and he loves all of the classes we do.”

The grounds at Capital Challenge have seen immense rainfall this week, but as competition continued on, so did the riding and Gochman was one of only few who may have been happy to be riding in the rain this week. She recalled, “Yesterday he got an 89 outside and I was really proud of him because he is what my dad calls a ‘mudder’ and he just loves the mud! He jumped great and he always tries his best for me.”

Both of the Gochman girls commented on the importance of the show on their schedule each year and described how it helps them to prepare for the other indoors that are approaching in the fall season.

“Capital Challenge is just challenging,” said Mimi Gochman. “There are so many great ponies here and it’s seems to be a little bit cold every time so they always seem a little fresh. It’s good to ride in the indoor ring though because there are so many lights and banners and you have to get used to that with all of the other shows too.”

Paralleling her sister, Mimi quickly thanked her team, parents, and Fair Play Farm for their support throughout the week, “I would like to thank Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley, Amanda Derbyshire, Kate and Terrance for being my trainers and helping me to ride this week. I also want to thank Fair Play Farm for giving me the ride on Story for this week and Gustavo Hernandez my groom who takes care of him.”

Emma Kurtz of Hudson, OH, and All My Love, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, followed Mimi Gochman with reserve honors in the Large Pony Hunter division.

The day of sisterly success continued at Capital Challenge as Zayna Rizvi took top honors in the Medium Pony Hunter aboard Swingtown, owned by Peacock Ridge LLC before her older sister Farah would ultimately be crowned in the WCHR Pony Challenge only a few classes later. Sophie Gochman collected reserve champion honors for the division aboard Truly Noble owned by Pegasus Show Stable Inc.

Rizvi Captures $2,500 WCHR Pony Challenge

Farah Rizvi rode a beautiful round in the $2,500 WCHR Pony Challenge, piloting Trillville to top honors in the class, which boasted 26 entries. Rizvi finished on a score of 87.66, while Kathryn McCarthy of New Canaan, CT, and Canterbrook Prince Charming  placed second with a score of 84.33, while Adam Edgar of Leesburg, VA, and One More Time, completed the top three with a score of 83.58.

“It feels really good to win this class and I’m really happy with it. I think it was fun to come down the last line and be like ‘Yay I had a good round!’” she exclaimed.

Piloting Trillville to a solid trip in her first WCHR Challenge win, Rizvi made the most of her ride on the 2004 New Forest Pony gelding, who’s lovingly known around the barn as Trill. The duo mastered the tough course and Rizvi left the ring with an ear-to-ear smile.

“He’s a really good boy and he really likes jumping. He’s usually pretty good but in the jog he always tries to bite me but I know that he doesn’t mean to,” she said as she explained the personality of the silky bay Trill. “We’ve had him for two years but we leased him last year so this is my first year riding him.”

Rizvi was another young rider who recognized the importance and competitiveness of Capital Challenge, as she pointed out that the show is an important step on the road to Harrisburg and Washington International Horse Show, “I like having the indoor and the outdoor rings and it’s a very hard show because of all of the riders. I really like the Hamptons and Washington, Harrisburg, and here. They are my favorites.”

Working throughout the year with goal of competing in the WCHR class, Rizvi commented that she set the goal early in the season, “I did want to do this class and I really like classic kind of things, you know they’re really fun, and you get to wear your shadbelly.”

Dabbling in several equestrian disciplines, Rizvi chose to forgo competing in the pony divisions last year and focused on showing her Children’s Hunter mount and her Children’s Jumper horse. She also began to follow in her mother’s footsteps and tried her hand at dressage, which she truly enjoyed.

“I did do some dressage last spring in Florida,” she confirmed. “My pony is off this week and he’s back next week so we’ll start to do more and I’m actually going to try and do the FEI Pony divisions this year in Wellington.”

Danielle Torano and Herault Rise to the Occasion in Final Round of $10,000 North American Jr./AO Jumper Challenge

Danielle Torano of Wellington, Florida, and Herault sped to the finish of the $10,000 North American Jr./AO Jumper Challenge presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, which attracted 26 entries, as the duo stopped the jump-off timers in 36.902 seconds for the win. Cloe Hymowitz of Bridgehampton, NY, and Romance De Kerliven finished in second with a time of 37.803 seconds while Torano piloted her second mount into the top three as Callas 2 was just a few milliseconds slower than Hymowitz with a time of 37.895 seconds for third. The class saw nine entries move forward to the jump-off round.

Torano, who hadn’t initially planned to compete at Capital Challenge this year, found herself in the award ceremony with two young horses primed for the top levels of the sport. Herault, a 2007 Warmblood gelding, just recently stepped up to the big leagues, contesting a few grand prixs at the Vermont Summer Festival, while Callas 2, a 2007 Warmblood mare, has the scope and steadiness to excel in the larger classes.

“I’ve had Herault for a little over a year. We bought him as a seven-year-old and we started to move him up this year. Callas 2 is also eight but I feel like I can go faster with her because she’s so careful and scopey so I wasn’t sure how I was going to beat my own time on him, but when I talked to Jimmy [Torano] he gave me a few areas that I could possibly shave off time,” she said explaining her strategy for the jump-off. “When I looked back at the scoreboard once I finished I couldn’t believe that I had gone faster than my first ride!”

Torano has had a number of successful upper level talents throughout the years and these two young horses seem to be ready for a successful grand prix debut during the winter circuit.

“I’m really proud of him today because he proved to me that when I ask for more he’s willing to go there. I decided to do both of them here because they’re young and haven’t had much experience showing indoors with us so it was a good prep run for both of them before Harrisburg next week,” Torano said.

Riding in less than favorable weather before the class, Torano admitted that riding in the rain is her absolute least favorite thing to do and she was proud that she was able to pilot both horses to respectable finishes aside from the outdoor conditions.

“I’m soaking wet and I absolutely hate riding in the rain but it was completely worth it and paid off,” she laughed. In terms of her mental preparation for riding two very different horses so close together in the order, Torano detailed the uniqueness of each ride, “Herault is a full-brother to a horse that I used to have, Vancouver, who I did in the really big grand prix classes and he rides very similarly so I’m comfortable with him. It’s like putting on an old glove. Callas 2 is a little bit more difficult for me though because she’s so careful. In my mind I get a little ahead of myself and feel like I have to make sure we get there perfectly every time because she is so scopey and careful.”

JET Stables will head to Harrisburg next, where Torano will finish her fall campaign and give the horses a rest before the winter season. She explained, “After Harrisburg we’ll call it a day in terms of the fall schedule. I am very conservative with my horses and want to make sure that I know them as best as possible before we do any of the bigger classes, but I know Jimmy already has some plans for WEF with these two, so we’ll probably see them doing some of the bigger grand prix classes during the circuit.”

Regularly traveling to compete at Capital Challenge Horse Show, JET Stables continues to bring students and clients to The Show Place Arena, as it has been an important stop on the seasonal schedule for both Jimmy, as head trainer, and Danielle, a rider, every year. Torano noted, “It was a super week and even though the weather was a downer, it was completely worth it, especially when you do well in the ring. We had a really fun week and a lot of Jimmy’s students did very well so it was great.”

Final Results for the $10,000 North American Jr./AO Jumper Challenge: 

1. HERAULT, 2007 Warmblood gelding by Heartbreaker
DANIELLE TORANO, Wellington, FL, Danielle Torano: 0/0/36.902

2. ROMANCE DE KERLIVEN, 2005 Selle Francais mare by Calvaro Z x Herinys L’enchante
CLOE HYMOWITZ, Bridgehampton, NY, Rose Hill Farm: 0/0/37.803

3. CALLAS 2, 2007 Warmblood mare
DANIELLE TORANO, Wellington, FL, Danielle Torano: 0/0/37.895

4. BARITCHOU DBT, 2001 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Kannan x Ulla de St Gatein
CLOE HYMOWITZ, Bridgehampton, NY, Rose Hill Farm: 0/0/39.426

5. ALI BABA B, 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Al Pacino x Galandra Z
OLIVIA DOREY, Sudbury, MA, Olivia Dorey: 0/4/36.035

6. FAEMES VAN T POELZELHOF, 2005 Warmblood mare by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Parco
CALLIE SEAMAN, Greenwich, CT, Callie Seaman: 0/4/38..653

7. ECHO D, 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Orlando x Nistria de Lauzelle
LACEY GILBERTSON, Lake Forest, IL, Seabrooke LLC: 0/4/38.667

8. UNIQUE, 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Cantos x Patricia
MACKENZIE MCGEHEE, Jacksonville, FL, Mackenzie McGehee:0/4/38.942

Tomorrow concludes the final day of the 2015 Capital Challenge Horse Show, showcasing Junior Hunter riders and Children's Hunter competition. For more information on Capital Challenge Horse Show and to view a full show schedule, please visit or follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. 

The entire show will be live streamed via CCHS Live Webcast, which can be found at

About Capital Challenge Horse Show

In its 22nd year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year’s show will take place on September 26-October 4. In addition to several prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.