Sweetnam and Goldmark Taste Sweet Victory as Grand Pony Hunter Champions

October 8, 2022 - Upper Marlboro, MD

Olivia Sweetnam and Goldmark in their winning presentation for Grand Champion Pony Hunter.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Olivia Sweetnam and Goldmark.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
JJ Torano and Paris Charm.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Kathryn Padilla and Heavenly Patch of Blue.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Charlotte Clivio was joined in her winning presentation of the $10,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Final by NAL representative Annette Longenecker, Emil Spadone of HorseFlight, Eleanor Kunsman, and Harriet Bunker.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Charlotte Clivio and WT Scorsese.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Stella Wasserman was joined in her winning presentation of the $10,000 Medium Junior/Amateur Classic by Diane Douglas, Carlos Sanchez, Haleigh Landrigan, Samantha Schaefer, and Alec Lawler.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Stella Wasserman and Clear Water.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Ponies stormed the Show Place Arena at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, on Saturday, October 8, at the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Olivia Sweetnam and Take 3 LLC’s Goldmark bested a field of more than 100 small, medium, and large ponies for the Grand Pony Hunter Champion title, sponsored by Pegasus Show Stable & The Endicott Family.

Sweetnam, of Wellington, Florida, piloted Goldmark to third place in the under saddle and conformation over fences classes, which took place in the outdoor arena on Friday, October 7, the first day of the Large Pony Hunter division. On Saturday in the indoor, the pair turned in two blue ribbon performances, scoring 88 and then 89 in the handy stake class. The 28-point total from their placings boosted them to the championship honors in the Large Pony Hunter division, sponsored by Laurel Crown Farms, and was also the most points earned of any Pony Hunter to claim the Grand Champion title.

“He felt great,” said Sweetnam of the seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. “He handled the atmosphere of the indoor ring just as well as outside. He was so perfect.”

Goldmark lives at Shadow Ridge Farm with trainers Samantha Schaefer and Kate Conover, and Sweetnam meets up with him at shows. They first got together when Goldmark was imported in the spring of 2021 and have had a winning partnership from the get-go.

“Right from the start he was a winner,” stated Sweetnam, who trains with her parents, Ali Sweetnam and Irish Olympian Shane Sweetnam, and the team at their Sweet Oak Farm in Wellington, Florida. “Every show we’ve gone to we’ve won classes. In all except one show we’ve been champion or reserve.  He’s just so amazing, and he really wants to do his best always. He’s such a good boy.”

This year’s division championship is a repeat of last year, when Sweetnam and Goldmark were also named champions. Last year, however, it wasn’t quite enough for the coveted Grand Championship title.

“I’ve been kind of knocking on the door for Grand,” explained the 14-year-old rider, who has been competing at Capital Challenge since she was just six years old. “Two years ago, I was champion and I missed Grand by a half-point. Then last year, I missed it by two points. This year it just feels really great to get it now.”

The Best Pony Rider Award, sponsored by Archibald Cox and Brookway Stables was awarded to Sweetnam for her Grand Pony Hunter Championship. For this honor Sweetnam was presented with The Kitty Borissoff Memorial Trophy, donated by her many friends.

In addition, Sweetnam was presented with the Tampa H.S. Trophy, donated by Dr. Suzanne Smith, for being champion of the Large Pony Hunters. The reserve championship in the division went to Ava Barnes aboard her own Prestige, repeating last year’s success. Barnes and Prestige also earned the Best EMO Pony Trip of the Show for their high score of 89.5 in the conformation over fences class.

The Medium Pony Hunter division championship, sponsored by Ox Ridge Riding & Racquet Club, was presented to JJ Torano and Paris Charm, owned by Megan D’Amico. Reserve champion was received by Kenzie Smith who rode GHF Hamptons LLC’s Empire’s Strikes Blue.

Kathryn Padilla earned The Harper Taskier Wright Memorial Trophy, given in memory of Harper by her loving parents Michael and Alexandra Borisoff Wright, friends, and family whose lives she touched, for her championship in the Small Pony Hunters with Heavenly Patch of Blue. The reserve championship of the Small Pony Hunter division, sponsored by Cheryl Olsten, was Ella Tarumianz with Sprucedale Inc.’s So Enchanted.

Also sponsored by Cheryl Olsten, The Bright Star Award was given to Eric “Rhys” Edson-Merlau for being the pony rider who spreads joy and positivity to their ponies and competitors, who may not be the winning rider, but makes every day brighter for all those who come in contact with them.

Vivian Golden won the $2,500 World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Pony Challenge, sponsored by Sweet Oak Farm, with Brixton, owned by Betsee Parker, and Sweetnam and Goldmark picked up another top placing, finishing in reserve.

Elle Boyd was presented with the Stewart-Warner Cup for pony riders, which is given in memory of Laurie Gilbert Stewart and Mary Warner Brown by Donald E. Stewart, Jr. and Louise W. Serio.

Clivio and WT Scorsese Score Big in the NAL Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Final

Charlotte Clivio of Miami, Florida, and her own WT Scorsese bested a field of 31 competitors to take top honors in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Final, presented by HorseFlight.

Fourteen riders produced a clear first round to qualify for the jump-off over a course designed by Ken Krome. Clivio and WT Scorsese stopped the clock at 29.349 seconds to take the win. Campbell Brown of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and MMK Equestrian LLC’s Diamond finished second with a time of 29.557 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Katie Triantos of McLean, Virginia, and her own Casilla, after they stopped the timers at 30.855 seconds.

“The course was really nice for my horse,” explained Clivio. “He has a big stride, so it was really just about keeping him together. He is almost 18 hands, so being in that small indoor arena I had to keep him managed and together, but it worked out in my favor.”

Clivio was one of the last three riders to return for the jump-off and felt the pressure with several quick and clear rounds ahead of her.

“I knew that a few had gone clear, and it was a fast jump-off,” commented Clivio. “Last year I did the [NAL] Children’s Jumper Final and I went a little safe. I think this year I wanted to give it my all. It’s my last junior year, so I just decided to leave it all out there.”

Clivio has been paired with the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding for two and a half years. The duo started their partnership showing in the meter jumpers and have moved all the way up to the Low Junior Jumper division.

“Tiffany Morrissey and Maggie Gould give their all into what we do,” said Clivio of her trainers at East Wind Farm. “They work so hard day in and day out keeping the horses fit and keeping me working at my best. Once it comes all together, it’s really nice.”

Brown was awarded the Best Low Junior Jumper Rider, sponsored by Bunker Show Stables. Laurel MacAllister was named the Best Low Amateur Jumper Rider.

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.

Wasserman and Clear Water Make It Rain in $10,000 1.30-1.35m Medium Junior/Amateur Classic

The $10,000 1.30-1.35m Medium Junior/Amateur Classic, sponsored by Turnham Green, closed out the evening competition, with 15 starting horse-and-rider combinations. Eight managed to jump clear to advance to the jump-off, where Stella Wasserman, of Los Angeles, California, and Karen O’Connor’s Clear Water turned in an electrifying performance, victoriously crossing the timers in 29.655 seconds.

“I thought the course was great,” commented Wasserman of the Ken Krome-designed track. “I thought it all rode really nicely. The jump-off was super fun. My horse is a very good turner, so it was nice for me to do that, because that’s where he excels, so I thought I could really show that off today.”

Clear Water has a decorated history, with success in the eventing world as well as wins up to the international jumping CSI5* level. Wasserman just picked up the ride on the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Clearway x Come On only a few months ago, but knew he was “the one” from the moment she first sat on him.

“It’s so nice to be able to sit on a horse with that much experience, because you can always put your trust in them and have faith that they’re going to put their best foot forward,” explained Wasserman. “It’s amazing to have a partner that is so accomplished and has done this so many times. He’s just a really lovely horse, so it’s so great to do this all with him.”

For her awards presentation, Wasserman’s team excitedly ran in to join her, and the talented junior rider emphasized their contribution to her success.

“Shadow Ridge is amazing,” she expressed. “They always support me in everything I do and accomplish, and they always have the horses looking ready and prepared to go in the ring. It’s so nice to be confident in my team and how they’re going to back me up every day.”

At the end of the night, with medals around her neck, Wasserman’s smile said it all.

“It’s very exciting to win this class, because obviously Capital Challenge makes it feel very special under the lights and with all the presentation,” she said. “I’m very grateful to be able to do compete here.”

It was a strong showing from the West Coast riders, as Skylar Wireman, of Bonsall, California, and Shayne Berridge Wireman’s Coolio 23 raced through the timers in 29.762 seconds for second place. Sterling Malnik of Ocean Ridge, Florida, finished in a time of 33.667 seconds with her own Galliano VM for third.

For her win in the $10,000 1.30-1.35m Medium Junior/Amateur Classic, sponsored by Turnham Green, Wasserman was presented with The Remy Martin Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres & Melanie Wright, as well as The Congressional Cup. She was also named the Best Medium Junior Jumper Rider, sponsored by Rosemont Farm.

Stella Propp, of New York, New York, was awarded the Best Medium Amateur Jumper Rider honors.

Click here for full results of the $10,000 Medium Junior/Amateur Classic, sponsored by Turnham Green

Competition for the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show will conclude on Sunday, October 9, with the $5,000 WCHR Junior 3’6” Challenge, sponsored by Nicole Lyvere & Finally Home Farm, the $2,500 WCHR Junior 3’3” Challenge, sponsored by Noelle Wolf Stables LLC, and the $1,500 WCHR Children’s Challenge, sponsored by Stephanie Bulger & MeadowView. The final Junior Hunter and Children’s Hunter champions will also be crowned on Sunday.