October 8, 2022 – Upper Marlboro, MD – 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.
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