Ponies stormed The Show Place Arena at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, on Saturday, October 7, during the 30th anniversary of the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Currie Cooper, 12, of Point Clear, AL, and Paris Charm bested a field of more than 100 small, medium, and large ponies for the Grand Pony Hunter Champion title, sponsored by Pegasus Show Stable and The Endicott Family, receiving the VanderMoore Designs Trophy.
Riding in just her fourth show with “Paris” and in her Capital Challenge debut, Cooper impressed the judges over both days of competition. On Friday in the Outdoor Arena, Cooper piloted the 15-year-old Welsh Pony mare by Halifax to the high score of 89.50 in the conformation over fences class, earning the Best EMO Pony Trip of the Show, to kick off the division. They then strutted to the top of the under saddle class, picking up their second blue ribbon of the day. Cooper and Paris kept their hot streak alive into Saturday’s deciding day of competition, notching a third-place finish over fences with a score of 86.50, and a final win in the handy with a score of 88.75. Their stellar results propelled them to the Medium Pony Hunter division championship, sponsored by Ox Ridge Riding & Racquet Club, and ultimately the overall Grand Pony Hunter Champion title.
“I thought my rounds were really good,” reflected Cooper, who trains with Richard Cunkle along with the team at JET Show Stables. “I was really happy I found all my distances, especially in the handy when I made some really sharp turns.”
While Paris is still a relatively new mount for Cooper, the flashy liver chestnut is no stranger to the winner’s circle at Capital Challenge, having claimed the Medium Pony Hunter division championship in 2022 with owner JJ Torano. Now, Torano has stepped into a more supportive role helping his pony to shine with a new partner in Cooper.
“JJ rides Paris a lot, and he’s really supportive and gives me tips,” shared Cooper. “She’s really fun and easy. She gives me a lot of confidence. She’s really sweet, but she’s a little bit skittish, so we give her tons of treats.”
The Best Pony Rider Award, sponsored by Archibald Cox and Brookway Stables, was awarded to Cooper for her Grand Pony Hunter Championship. For this honor, Cooper was presented with The Kitty Borissoff Memorial Trophy, donated by her many friends.
Reserve champion in the Medium Pony Hunter division was received by Katherine Mercer, 12, of Wellington, FL, who rode Goldhills As You Like It, a 15-year-old Welsh Pony mare by Gayfields Call the Cops owned by Frog Pond Stables.
Finley Baras, 12, of Bedford, NY, 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 her own Spring Fling, an eight-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare by Charmsley Cormac. The reserve championship of the Small Pony Hunter division, sponsored by Cheryl Olsten, was Logan Baras, 9, of Bedford, NY, with Reagan Jarrett’s Dream Big, a nine-year-old Welsh Pony mare by Tradalebelleman.
Emi Richard, 13, of Middlefield, CT, was presented with the Tampa Horse Show Trophy, donated by Dr. Suzanne Smith, for being champion of the Large Pony Hunters aboard Tresoro, a nine-year-old Dutch Riding Pony by FS Champion de Luxe owned by Gray Neville. The reserve championship in the division went to Vivian Golden, 14, of Wyomissing, PA, aboard Betsee Parker’s Brixton, a 13-year-old Dutch Riding Pony by Charivari.
Richard also won the $2,500 World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Pony Challenge, sponsored by Sweet Oak Farm, with Prestige, a 12-year-old Belgian Riding Pony by Ive van de Delthoeve owned by Swede Ventures LLC.
Colin Shippam, 13, of Philadelphia, PA, 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.
Additional champions were awarded as follows:
Small Junior Hunter 16-17
Sponsored by Three Ships LLC
Champion: Babylon, ridden by Ariana Marnell and owned by Marnell Sport Horses
Large Junior Hunter 16-17
Sponsored by Beacon Hill Show Stables
Champion: Drumroll, ridden by Caroline Signorino and owned by Meridian Farm LLC
Children’s Hunter Pony
Sponsored by DFG Stables
Champion: Sahara, ridden and owned by Taylor Silvius
Hailey Guidry and Byzone Mail Deliver the Win in the $10,000 North American League Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Final
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