Upper Marlboro, MD – The Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by World Equestrian Center, spotlighted Amateur-Owner and Adult Hunter riders with the naming of the division champions and overall grand champions on Thursday, October 5. Competition at the Capital Challenge Horse Show continues at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center through Sunday, October 9.
Becky Gochman of Palm Beach, FL, and Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, earned the Amateur-Owner 36 and Over 3’6” Hunter Championship before also ultimately claiming the Grand Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Championship. The Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Championship went to Lindsay Maxwell of Beverly Hills, CA, and Belgravia, who also took home the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3” Hunter Championship.
With scores of 88.50, 89, and 90, Gochman and Catch Me, a ten-year-old Holsteiner gelding, claimed victories in all three of the Amateur-Owner 36 and Over 3’6” Hunter over fences classes, and swept the division with victory in the under saddle to take the championship title, sponsored by Betty and Ernie Oare. Having topped all four classes also meant that Gochman and Catch Me earned the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter title, sponsored by Troy Hendricks and Kimber-View Stables, and the Best Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Rider award, also sponsored by Betty and Ernie Oare. The duo’s score of 90 earned them the EMO Best Amateur-Owner 3’6” Trip of the Show, sponsored by the EMO Agency.
“I joke now that he’s just my big pony or my special unicorn,” said Gochman of the gelding that she started competing earlier this year. “He’s amazing. I can’t say enough kind words about him. When I take him in the ring and we start trotting, he just tries to go around extra smoothly even at the trot, and I know that he wants to do it. I know that he is wanting to win. He is very intelligent, much like my horse Sambalino was. They are very similar in the way they have the intelligence to want to do well at the horse shows. It’s fun for him, and it shows.”
In addition to being a competitor at Capital Challenge, Gochman and her family have been long-time supporters of the horse show.
“Capital Challenge has always been one of my favorite horse shows because it celebrates the hunter discipline, which I love so much,” said Gochman. “I’ve really had a chance to see my kids grow here from ponies to doing the equitation this past weekend. I feel like it’s a real family show; everybody decorates, there are snacks, and fun, and breakfasts. With all the WCHR programs, they really make it a special event.”
Finishing behind Gochman as the reserve champions in the Amateur-Owner 36 and Over 3’6” Hunter division were John Ingram and Airport 48, owned by John and Stephanie Ingram.
In the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’6” Hunters, sponsored by Penny, Bridget, and Samantha Hallman and Merrylegs South, the championship went to Stephanie Danhakl of Pacific Palisades, CA, and her own First Light. The division reserve championship was presented to Lindsey Roberts of Kingwood, TX, and Bozeman.
Lindsay Maxwell and Belgravia, Maxwell’s own nine-year-old warmblood gelding, topped the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3” Hunter Handy Stake and finished second in the division’s two additional over fences classes before clinching the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3” Championship, and ultimately the Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Championship, sponsored by Doug and Missy Luczak Smith. Maxwell, 27, also received the Best Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Rider award, sponsored by David Pelligrini and Spring Mill Farm.
“I’m trying to stifle a smile over every jump when I jump him,” said Maxwell of Belgravia, a horse she purchased just two months ago. “He was so fun today in the handy. We cantered in, and as soon as we cantered straight to an oxer, he knew it was a handy. I landed, and he was so excited. He was waiting for me to tell him what to do. It was cute. I’m lucky that I’ve learned him quickly, and he’s learned me quickly.”
Having purchased Belgravia – known as “Prince” in the barn – so recently, Maxwell did not have the opportunity to qualify the gelding for any of the other indoor horse shows that follow Capital Challenge, so she was grateful to get into Capital Challenge based on the show’s first-come, first-served basis and to not be wait-listed for the popular event.
“I’ve always loved being here and competing here,” said Maxwell, who also operates the non-profit Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund. “It’s the kick-off to the indoor season so it’s nice to come here and see where you stack up. For the horses going to the other shows, it kind of helps dictate hopefully how the rest of indoors is going to go.”
The reserve championship in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3” Hunters went to Martha Ingram of Nashville, TN, and Lyons Creek Bellini.
In the Amateur-Owner 36 and Over 3’3” Hunters, the championship was presented to Virginia Fout of Los Angeles, CA, and Carma. Lee Kellogg Sadrian of Summit, NJ, and Comex Gold finished with the reserve championship. Earning the EMO Best Amateur-Owner 3’3” Trip of the Show, sponsored by the EMO Agency, was Kaitlin Porath of Charlotte, NC, and Breaux with a score of 90.
The wins in the featured $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’6” Challenge and $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3” Challenge went to Lee Kellogg Sadrian and Sochi and Martha Ingram on Lyons Creek Bellini, respectively.
Jef Lauwers Lands Adult Amateur Hunter Grand Championship
The Grand Adult Amateur Hunter Championship, sponsored by Steve Martines, went to Jef Lauwers of Magnolia, TX, and Sutherland, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Peter Pletcher, trainer at PJP Farm.
Lauwers, who is competing at the Capital Challenge Horse Show for the first time after moving to the U.S. from Belgium a year ago, topped two of the over fences classes and finished third under saddle before taking the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunter division championship.
“I was really looking forward to doing well in this show,” said Lauwers, who recently married Pletcher. “But I was getting nervous; I was not really thinking about the grand champion. I was just thinking about having two good rounds in the jumping, and I knew he would do okay in the under saddle. It was fun; it was a good day for the whole PJP team.”
While riding as a teenager in Belgium, Lauwers focused primarily on jumper mounts, and he only become more familiar with the hunters after meeting Pletcher in Wellington, FL.
“I like the hunters a lot. I think it’s really pretty, and it’s really nice to see the horses show and perform and jump their heart out beautifully,” Lauwers said. “That was a part of the sport that really got me.”
Lauwers’s winning mount, Sutherland, was originally a part of PJP Farm under the ownership of Lindsay Holstead, and when it came time for her to sell the gelding, she hated to part with him, so Pletcher purchased the mount, keeping him in the PJP barn.
“It was a wedding gift actually; Peter bought him as sort of a wedding gift for us,” Lauwers said. “It’s really fun to share this with Peter and to be close to our customers and the grooms and everyone. It’s really a blessing.”
Taking the reserve championship behind Lauwers and Sutherland were Martha Ingram and Antinori.
Earning the championship in the Adult Amateur 36-50 Hunters were Milissa Summer of Rancho Mission Viejo, CA, and Top Shelf, while Dawn Fogel of Louisville, KY, and Story Teller took the reserve.
In the Adult Amateur 51 and Over Hunters, the championship went to James Anderson of New York, NY, and Forever, and Jennifer Smith of Wellington, FL, rode Ocean Mist to the reserve championship.
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