Kingston and Jazz Johnson Merton Crowned Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions at 2011 Capital Challenge Horse
Fri Oct 07, 2011
Music Street and Evans Thomas Win Grand Adult Hunter Championship for Second Year in a Row, Pratt and Shane Victorious in $10,000 Children’s/Adult Jumper Challenge
In a day full of amateur competition, the Capital Challenge Horse Show awarded seven championships and two grand championships. Jazz Johnson Merton of Pottersville, NJ, won the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship aboard Kingston. The Grand Adult Amateur Hunter Champions were Music Street and Lindsey Evans Thomas. The evening session hosted the $10,000 Children’s/Adult Jumper Challenge sponsored by Jan Agardy Metzer and Sea Shore Partners LLC. Kaley Pratt and Shane were the fastest in the jump-off for the win.
The remaining highlight class of the week for the professional hunter riders is the $7,500 WCHR Professional Finals, presented by the John R. Ingram Fund, for the top six hunter riders in the country on Friday, October 7. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George's Equestrian Center, will run through Sunday, October 9.
Johnson Merton and Kingston were champions in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters sponsored by The Hallman Family and MerryLegs South. They won two over fences classes and were fifth in another, and they added a fifth in the under saddle class for the top tricolor. The reserve champion was Thoughtful, ridden and owned by Keri Guanciale. They placed second and fourth over fences and won the under saddle class.
This was the first time that Johnson Merton and Kingston have been champions at the Capital Challenge, but they have stepped into the winner's circle before. They have been champion and reserve champion at the Devon Horse Show, and they were named champions at the Washington International Horse Show.
Johnson Merton acknowledged, “It feels pretty good. He's such a great horse. I make mistakes all the time and he saves me. He's 15, but he still jumps well enough to get me around and cover up for any faults that I have.”
The pair had not shown indoors since the WIHS last year, and Johnson Merton admitted that she was “a little nervous.” She had no need to worry though, saying, “It went well despite it having been a long time.”
She described Kingston as “very adjustable and pretty straightforward.” She added with a smile, “He's very opinionated though. He has to have his sugar before he goes in the in-gate and his routine is very strict.”
For their top placings, they were also named the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions, which is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Will Roberts. They were presented with the Dr. Harold M.S. Smith Trophy donated by Dr. Suzanne Smith and Dr. Peter Craig. Johnson Merton was named the Best Amateur-Owner Rider, whose award is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare. They were presented The So Many Ways Challenge Trophy donated by Karen Kramer.
Elizabeth Faraci of Annapolis, MD, rode her horse Paramour to the championship in the Amateur-Owner 3'3” Hunters despite two fairly big obstacles. “He's five years old, and we just moved up to the 3'3” at the Hampton Classic. I'm seven months pregnant too, so the stars really had to align!” she laughed.
In spite of his young age and relative inexperience, Paramour performed like a veteran. “I would have been more confident in the Adults, but he went in the indoor and marched around and didn't care at all. I was so proud of him,” Faraci said.
Faraci and Paramour won two over fences classes and were fifth under saddle. The reserve championship went to Zazou and Darby Toben, who won the under saddle class and were third, third, and fifth over fences.
Faraci and Paramour were the circuit champions in the Adult Hunters at the Winter Equestrian Festival, and she believes that it is that he is “super easy and always tries his best.” She said, “I can't say enough about him. He's an absolute sweetheart and super friendly. He loves treats and to give you kisses. He's always so calm and friendly.”
This is the first time that Faraci has been champion at Capital Challenge. “It feels wonderful and couldn't be better!” she said.
Heidi Kane of Newport Beach, CA, rode Sin City to the championship in the Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter 3'3” division, which is sponsored by Wood Run Farm and The Tredennick Family and Woodland Way Inc. Kane and Sin City, a nine-year-old gelding by Libero, were first over fences and second under saddle to capture the championship. Tivoli and Lyn Pedersen finished with third under saddle and second over fences for the reserve championship.
Kane has owned Sin City for two years, and they have had a successful partnership including the reserve circuit championship at HITS Thermal and a reserve championship at the Menlo Charity Horse Show.
Last year, they showed in the Adult Hunters at Capital Challenge, but Kane is excited that there is now a 3'3” division. “I love this division. It's really good for people that are in between horses or something like that. It's nice that you get to jog. I'm so glad that they split into age groups, thank you Capital Challenge!” she expressed.
“He's a sweet horse and does everything I tell him,” she said with a smile. “He's usually the hack winner, which helps a lot for points! He's a lovely horse.”
This is their first championship at Capital Challenge, and Kane noted, “It feels awesome to win here and I'm really proud because my daughter is my trainer. She's been a good trainer for me. It's been a family effort and it feels good.”
The Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter division championship, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare, went to Rock Steady, ridden by Katie Robinson for KJ Robinson LLC. They won the handy hunter class, were second in the under saddle, and placed fourth over fences. Reserve champions Ellen Toon and Invincible were first, second, and fifth over fences. For her score of 90, Toon won the EMO Amateur Trip of the Show sponsored by EMO Agency Inc.
Toon and Invincible also picked up the win in the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'6” Challenge, sponsored by Greener Pastures Equine and Randy Johnson. Second place in the class went to Lumiere and Jane Gaston, due to a tiebreak when they both received scores of 86. Jessica Zienkievicz and Optimized were third.
Victory in the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'3” Challenge went to Daryl Portela and Winner. Wind Dancer, ridden by Laura Lee Montross, was second. Sarah Sturges and One Shot finished third.
The In Disguise WCHR Amateur-Owner Trainer Award, donated by Jim and Ellen Toon/JT Farm, was presented to Larry Glefke as the trainer of the WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'6” National Champion, Jane Gaston. It was their second win in a row.
Adults Shine in the Outdoor Ring
Lindsey Evans Thomas of Annapolis, MD, makes a point of showing at Capital Challenge each year and when she does, she makes it count. Riding Krista Weisman’s Music Street, Thomas repeated their 2011 performance collecting the championship in the 36-50 Adult Amateur division as well as the Grand Champion honors and the leading rider award. She said, “My goal is always to get here and to show in the WCHR Challenge class. It is something I work towards all year long. The Weismans are very gracious to offer up the ride, and I am quick to accept that offer because it is quite special.”
Evans Thomas and Music Street won both over fences classes and were third in the under saddle class. The reserve champion in the division was Tripoli, ridden by Robin Swinderman for Cismont Manor Farm. They placed third over fences and won the under saddle.
For their great performances, Evans Thomas and Music Street were named the Grand Adult Amateur Hunter Champions and presented with The Equus Entries Challenge Trophy. Evans Thomas' trainer, Scott Stewart, was awarded The Gail Knieriem Memorial Trophy donated by Lynley Reilly and Randy Johnson. Evans Thomas was named the Best Adult Amateur Rider. They also won the EMO Adult Amateur Trip of the Show.
Thomas most recently competed at the Middleburg Classic with Music Street, earning the reserve champion and winning the inaugural hunter derby. It was a good lead in to the Capital Challenge and gave her the momentum she needed.
Winning at the Capital Challenge means a great deal to Thomas since she doesn’t get to show that often. Thomas only rode in four or five shows this year. Juggling work, family and riding can be difficult. Thomas only gets to ride two to three times a week. She was happy she could make it come together.
She said, “To win here, frankly, if you get a ribbon to be recognized at this horse show with this quality of horses and riders is unbelievable to me.”
With the hopes of just simply having a good round, Chelsea Samuels, 21, traveled from her home in La Canada, CA, with trainer Archie Cox to compete in the 18-35 Adult Amateur Hunter division sponsored by Lainie Wimberly and Brigadoon Show Stables. Samuels did more than just that, she rode her 11-year-old Brandenburg gelding Brooklyn to the championship. Out of a field of 39 riders Samuels collected a fifth and a first over fences and a fourth under saddle to earn the tricolor. The reserve champion was Taken, ridden and owned by Nancy Amling. They won an over fences class.
Three years ago was the last time Samuels made the trip east to Capital Challenge. She showed in the small and large junior hunters but was less than successful. She said, “It was a comedy of errors. My one horse would just come to the ring and do his job, but instead he was so stiff in the mouth and I kept making mistakes everywhere. The next morning I came early so I could ride him in the morning, (but) it turned out he had a tooth infection.”
She continued, “My other horse stopped at the trot jump and started eating it. My third horse was coming back from an injury. It was awful. I promised myself that I was never going to come back since it was such a long way from home to have things go that bad.”
But Samuels was banking on the fact that Brooklyn is so good. She said, “Brooklyn is so consistent that we just crossed out fingers and prayed that nothing out of the ordinary would happen. I knew he would be good otherwise.”
The young rider, a senior at UC Santa Barbara, describes Brooklyn as very easy, so much so that she had to get accustomed to doing less in order to figure him out. She said, “He has a lovely rhythm. If you get on the right canter, the jumps just present themselves. In the beginning I was trying to overdo it and once I stopped riding so technical it all went better.”
Samuels and Brooklyn will compete in Friday’s WCHR Adult Amateur Finals.
In the Adult Amateur 51 and over division Margaret Taylor rode Quality Control to a first over fences and a first in the under saddle, earning enough points to be pinned champion. Quality Control is an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood that was also shown by trainer Tommy Serio in the Regular Conformation Hunter division. Exposure and Alexandra Zell were the reserve champions by placing first over fences and sixth in the under saddle.
“This is our biggest win,” said Taylor adding, “A lot of my friends I haven’t seen in 20 years came to watch so maybe they were good luck.”
The big, 17.3 hand gelding is no stranger to leading the victory gallop. He and Taylor were recently pinned champion at the Middleburg Classic while Serio collected the championship and grand hunter championship at the same show. Taylor has owned Quality Control for three years but has recently seen a maturity in him that seems to be granting him consistent success. She said, “He’s quieter and settled. He’s in his routine.”
It's a Fast Finish for Children’s/Adult Jumpers
The winner of the $10,000 Children’s/Adult Jumper Challenge was Kaley Pratt of Gainesville, FL, with Shane, owned by Hillary Simpson. Out of a class of 63 entries and 18 in the jump-off, Pratt and Shane were able to fly through the jump-off course with no faults in a time of 33.159 seconds for the win. Katherine Edgell and Miss Kitty finished second in 33.663 seconds. Melissa Woodson rode Who's My Girl? to third in 36.150 seconds.
Pratt has been leasing Shane for two and a half years, and it's their close partnership that has led to a phenomenal year, with the pair winning at HITS Ocala, Lexington (VA), Country Heir, and the Vermont Summer Festival.
“We've come a long way together. We just know each other so well,” Pratt acknowledged. “I know now that I can count on him. When I sit down and come out of a turn, I trust that he'll go for me. We've just built a really strong partnership.”
When asked where she might have been faster, Pratt replied, “I think in the first turn we were faster, and we stuck with the six (strides) to the next jump. We had a nice slice back to the liverpool, and it was just footspeed the rest of the way.”
While Pratt has won many classes this year, her win here is special. “This is the biggest class I've ever won. I've always looked at the Capital Challenge as one of the most prestigious horse shows, so it feels really great to win here,” she said.
The Capital Challenge continues tomorrow with the start of the junior and pony hunters and will host the WCHR Adult Amateur Finals, the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals, and the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup Round 1. The evening session includes one of the highlight classes of the week, the WCHR Professional Finals.
For full results, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org and for live scoring please visit www.equestrianlive.com. If you can’t attend the Capital Challenge Horse Show, remember you can log on to www.equestriansport.tv to see all the action live.
Final Results: $10,000 Children’s/Adult Jumper Challenge
1 SHANE KALEY PRATT: 0/0/33.159
2 MISS KITTY KATHERINE EDGELL: 0/0/33.663
3 WHO'S MY GIRL? MELISSA WOODSON: 0/0/36.150
4 PISTOL T.J. O'MARA: 0/0/36.298
5 SPRING HEELED JACK MELISSA WOODSON: 0/0/38.395
6 ANIQUE CLOE HYMOWITZ: 0/0/41.671
7 SERVAL ALEXANDRA CROWN: 0/4/35.671
8 KIMBERLITE NATHANIEL BRITELL: 0/4/35.776
9 AMORE MIO ALEXANDRA CROWN: 0/4/37.558
10 PEACE VICKI LOWELL: 0/4/39.379
11 CAMPESINO GILLIAN KELLEY: 0/7/50.157
12 BACKLASH KRISTEN BERIAN: 0/8/37.600
In its 18th 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 takes place on October 1-9.
Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. In addition to these 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.
For more information, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org or visit the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook!
Photo Credit: Photos © James Leslie Parker/The Book LLC and Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. These photos may only be used in relation to this press release and with full photo credit.