Continuing a year of great success, Amanda Steege of Ocala, FL, and Lafitte de Muze captured the top prize in the $50,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, sponsored by The Gochman Family and Radwanski Enterprises, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) on Wednesday, October 3.
In the $5,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Developing Pro Challenge, sponsored by The John R. Ingram Fund, Karli Postel piloted Banksy to the win. Laena Romond and Traveller topped the $25,000 North American Green Hunter 3’ and 3’3” Championship, sponsored by The Wheeler Family. The three classes marked a highlight day of CCHS, which runs through Sunday, October 8, at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
With the biggest prize money of the week, the $50,000 WCHR Professional Challenge brought out 26 of the best horses and riders in the country to compete over two rounds. The Capital Challenge Horse Show doubled the prize money in this class from 2017, honoring the 25th anniversary of the show by adding another $25,000 to the total.
Steege piloted Lafitte de Muze to a score of 88.33 in the first round, which put them in fourth place. They returned in the second round to a score of 90.33 for a total of 178.66 and the win.
“Honestly, this whole year for me with Lafitte is about gaining experience, so I really didn’t feel very stressed out,” said Steege, who noted she has not had great success in the WCHR Pro Challenge in the past. “I just wanted to go in and try to give him a good experience. This is his first year being a hunter and definitely his first time showing indoors. I just tried to ride him the way that I normally would and not get overly stressed out about it. I wanted to try and show a little pace when I could, and I felt like he was ready to do it.”
Owned by Cheryl Olsten, Lafitte de Muze is a seven-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by the famous show jumper Darco and out of Everlychin de la Pomme, a former grand prix show jumper turned High Performance Hunter. Steege found the talented horse through her client, Lisa Arena Davis, and started riding him nearly one year ago. The pair have racked up impressive performances in 2018, including wins at the Winter Equestrian Festival, Lake Placid, and in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix.
“He’s such a pro,” said Steege. “I think Lafitte just thinks that this is how all horses do it. He loves it, and he does it, but I don’t think he thinks it’s any big deal.”
Second place in the $50,000 WCHR Pro Challenge went to Hannah Isop and Tracy Freels’s Red Ryder, who had a stellar second round score (the highest of the second round) of 91.33 added to a first round score of 86.66 for a total of 177.99. Liza Boyd and Tradition, owned by Maggie Hill, were third with scores of 86.16 and 87.16 for 173.32.
Steege has qualified for Friday night’s $10,000 WCHR Professional Finals, sponsored by Radwanski Enterprises, along with six-time winner Scott Stewart, four-time winner John French, winner Sandy Ferrell, Victoria Colvin, and Jenny Karazissis.
Earlier in the day, Steege and Lafitte de Muze also claimed the Grand Green Hunter 3’6” Championship, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters, and the Grand Green Hunter Championship, sponsored by Carleton and Traci Brooks of Balmoral.
The overall Grand Championship Hunter title, sponsored by RBS Farms, Inc., Rob Bielefeld, and Chrystal Knight, went to Fibonacci, ridden by Christopher Payne and owned by Still Water Farm LLC. For the win, Payne and Fibonacci were presented with the Janet Read & Margaret Hough Sabbatini Memorial Trophy, donated by the Goguen Family. Payne was awarded the Leading Hunter Rider Award, sponsored by the Gibson Family and The Shadyside Farm.
Karli Postel and Banksy Victorious in $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge
Making the trip from California for the second time in her riding career, Karli Postel (27) of Westlake Village, CA, will be taking home top honors from the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge. She and Banksy, an eight-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Grace Russo, were best out of 34 entries in the class.
Postel and Banksy went last in the first round order but went straight to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 90.66, the highest of the class. They followed that up with an 88.66 for a total of 179.32 and the win.
It was a redeeming return for Postel, who came to Capital Challenge last year and had a disappointing finish.
“It means a lot to me,” she said of this year’s victory. “Last year I worked really hard and came all the way here and I had a stop and lost the [WCHR National Developing Pro Champion] by eight points. I was really disappointed, but I think it was actually a blessing in disguise. I’ve gotten more experience and it’s made me walk into the ring today a lot more confident and more comfortable.”
Postel, who is a graduate from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, also credited Banksy, who was the Green Hunter 3’9” champion on Tuesday with John French.
“After having a great first round, I just felt comfortable and confident. Banksy is so rhythmical; he just kind of shows you right where you need to be,” she described. “I just had to look for the jumps and he did the work.”
Postel, who won the Ronnie Mutch Scholarship in 2007, is a working professional for top trainer Archie Cox. “It’s been an amazing last two years,” she said of her position at Brookway Stables. “I couldn’t imagine working for anyone else.”
Laena Romond and Traveller Top $25,000 North American Green Hunter 3’ and 3’3” Championship
The win in the $25,000 North American Green Hunter 3’ & 3’3” Championship, sponsored by The Wheeler Family, went to Traveller, ridden by Laena Romond and owned by Catherine Cowie.
Romond, of Somers, NY, and the seven-year-old warmblood gelding were among 33 of the best young horses in the country that qualified to compete in the championship based on their results in the six Green Hunter 3’ and 3’3” sections offered on Monday and Tuesday at the 2018 Capital Challenge Horse Show.
At the end of an opening round of competition, Romond and Traveller sat back in seventh place with an average score from the three judging panels of 86.66. Leading the class with an average score of 88.61 was Paper Trail, ridden by Kelley Farmer.
The top 12 entries then returned to jump a second course, over which Romond and Traveller would jump straight to the top of the leaderboard with a second-round average score of 91.33. Their 177.99 total score would secure them the victory, while second place with a total two-round score of 174.74 went to Scott Stewart and Sandstone, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker. Farmer and Paper Trail, owned by Derby Lane, LLC and D L Glefke, rounded out the top three with a score of 173.61.
For the win, Romond and Traveller were awarded the Beverly Brooks Solter Memorial Trophy, donated by Hilary Scheer Gerhardt and Zan Martin Dillon.
“It’s a little hard to find words; this week has really been like a dream with this horse,” said Romond who started riding Traveller in May of this year. “He didn’t put a foot wrong all week. He’s a blast to ride; he feels like he’s always trying to do everything right. He doesn’t really ever make a mistake. It’s a little hard to describe to win against this group of horses and riders, but I’m just so proud of the horse.
“This is an awesome showcase for the young horses,” continued Romond, who rides and trains out of Heritage Farm in Katonah, NY. “It’s a great chance to let the young horses shine in a nice ring and against the best competition.”
The Capital Challenge Horse Show also recognized the Grand Champion Hunter 3’ and 3’3” winner, presenting the title, sponsored by David Belford and Christopher Payne of New Hope LLC, to Hunt Tosh and Bordeaux, owned by Douglas Wheeler.
Competition at the 25th anniversary Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Thursday morning with the Amateur-Owner Hunter and Adult Amateur Hunter division championship awards. The evening session begins at 7 p.m. with the $10,000 Adult Amateur Jumper Classic, immediately followed by the $10,000 Children’s Jumper Classic.
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