Gladstone, N.J. – Aug. 13, 2018 – Monmouth at the Team, presented by Precise Buildings, kicked off at historic Hamilton Farm, headquarters of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation. Pony and junior riders had the honor to compete in the same arena where some of the greats of the sport once trained. Rain didn’t stop the action and the footing held up and drained quickly.
Sisters Sophia and Mia Chimenti (Far Hills, New Jersey) each won a medal class, Sophia in the Marshall & Sterling Children’s Large Pony Medal and Mia won the Taylor Harris Medal. Sophia, 13, has competed at Monmouth at the Team for the past three years. With her pony, Bel of the Ball (Isabel), she set herself apart from the competition by following the advice of her trainer, Michael Dowling from Windham Hill.
“There were a lot of opportunities to do tighter turns to really make myself stand out,” Sophia said. “We took the inside turns and we executed them almost perfectly and I think that’s what set us apart.”
Sophia describes Isabel as reliable. “She’s never refused a jump and she just has a fun personality,” she said.
When Mia rode Chocolat 15 (Jerry), owned by Doris Leventhal, the New Jersey skies opened up with a summer-soaking rain. She was prepared with a strategy to deal with the weather.
“You need to add more leg,” she said. “I decided to opt for the inside turn off of the green oxer which none of the other riders did. I think that set my trip apart. I’m very proud with how we finished.”
Mia is 15 and competes Jerry in both the 3’ equitation and the hunter classes. The pair will be back Tuesday to compete in the Children’s Hunters.
The win in the Taylor Harris Medal and top finishes in the Sore No More Medal and the NJPHA Mini Medal, clinched the reserve championship of the 3’ Equitation division for the older Chimenti sister. The championship was awarded to her friend Dylan Bentley, who had top-three finishes in all of the 3’ equitation classes.
Bentley (Far Hills, New Jersey), 14, who rides with Redfield Farm was reserve champion of the division in 2017, She is currently in the top 20 in the Taylor Harris Medal standings and hopes to qualify for the finals.
Bentley’s partner, her own Focto, is an 8-year-old KWPN gelding who she says does his best and is always there for her. She credited the Redfield Farm team for keeping her focused despite the rain.
“I really love this show,” Bentley said. “The fences always look so beautiful, the courses are always great. I love the opportunity to ride in a ring like this, like the Dixon Oval. It’s cool to be a part of history.”
Cara McFadden (Long Valley, New Jersey) had a great day at Monmouth at the Team. The 15-year old and Enrique, owned by Craig Phillips, won the NJPHA Mini Medal. “It was very rainy but my horse is a trooper and he’ll go through anything. I said to my trainer, ‘Now it’s just for fun.’ It was pouring rain and we went in and we had fun and we had the best round!”
Earlier in the day, 14-year-old Naomi Dachis (Franklin Lakes, New Jersey) and her own Instant Gratification, an imported German pony, earned the championship of the Large Children’s Pony Hunters. Dachis rides with Jolene and Brian Cash and their Hidden Acres Farm.
“She’s been doing the Children’s Pony Hunters for just under a year competitively,” Jolene said. “She works hard, she listens well and she has fun. She loves it.”
Jolene and Brian met in Ireland where they fox hunted and competed in show jumping. “We’re a husband-and-wife team, and our kids ride,” she said. “I used to teach under my dad, and we’ve been doing it together for about seven years now."
In the 3’6” equitation, Lauren Lindner nabbed the ASPCA Maclay division aboard Goofy Van Overis, owned by Jenny Booth. Only her third time aboard him, she worked on keeping him balanced and focused. Lindner considers herself a jumper rider but trainer Emil Spadone often gives her the ride on various equitation mounts. Lindner and her family come to Monmouth at the Team every year.
“It’s always social,” Lindner said. “My dad loves it. Everyone comes because they love the show even if they don’t compete.”
“Despite the rain, it was a great day” said Monmouth at the Team co-owner, Tucker Ericson. “I can’t say enough about the drainage and the footing. We’re looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Monmouth at the Team returns Tuesday for another full day of hunter competition at Hamilton Farm. The feature class of the day is the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Eastern Hay and Grain.