Lexington, Ky. — June 18, 2019 — Country Heir I & II resumed at the Kentucky Horse Park for another world-class week of hunter and jumper action. Competition kicked off Tuesday with Local Day and Equitation Day, sponsored by Ashland Farms. It was World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) week and the show featured a $40,000 USHJA National Derby, sponsored by Stal de Eyckenhoeve, the $30,000 USHJA International Derby plus two grand prix events; the $25,000 Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital Grand Prix and the $50,000 Country Heir II Grand Prix.
Summer Hill and Light Show Earn Another Victory Gallop for their win in the $50,000 Country Heir II Grand Prix.
In an impressive return to the Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington resident Summer Hill bested competition in the $50,000 Country Heir II Grand Prix.
Hill won her first grand prix with recent partner, Light Show, during the first week of Country Heir in the $40,000 Country Heir I Grand Prix.
“I’m really beyond words about it,” Hill commented on her second win in as many weeks. “I feel so incredibly lucky to have such a great horse to ride, a great team of people behind me and my sponsors to keep me dressed to win.”
Mauricio Garcia designed an efficient track that pared the 24 original entries down to five horse-and-rider combinations to return for the jump off. Those who contested the shortened track included Hill, Michelle Pia, Sharn Wordley, Samantha Mackenzie and Liza Finsness. Wordley and Any, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare (Aljano x Nina XI) finished the class in third place on the podium. Michelle Pia and Morgan Hill Partners’ Darius De La Ferme Rose set the time to beat and were the first double clear on 47.784 seconds.
Hill and Diane Masters’ 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Quasimodo Z x Predente) were the final pair to enter the arena and shaved more than five seconds off Pia’s time, while keeping the rails in place, to cross through the timers in 42.784 seconds.
“The jump off was a fast track,” Hill said. “There weren’t too many related distances so you could really gallop in the turns to make up time. My horse has a huge stride so I was able to leave out strides in the lines so that helped me as well.
“I think this course was pretty similar in difficulty level as last week. There were a few tests, the triple combination caused a few problems for people, but my horse has so much scope and stride that he got through it with ease.”
Peter Pletcher and Quintessential Earn the top prize in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center.
Country Heir II’s $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center, was the highlight Saturday afternoon. Thirty horse-and-rider combinations took to the Walnut arena for the first round. Of those original 30, the top 12 entries were called back in ascending order to contest the handy course, designed by Joseph Carnicom.
Peter Pletcher and Spruce Meadows’ Quintessential returned in the sixth place position with a round one score of 173.000 but produced an outstanding handy round to capture 204.000 points from the judges and rocket into the lead.
“Quintessential is just an incredibly easy horse with a great brain, and he always tries hard,” Pletcher said. “He’s very smooth and he’s a great horse to have in the handy rounds because he really does well with the rollbacks and tight turns.”
Pletcher credited his success to one inside turn.
“Both of the hunter derby courses today were challenging, and I thought the course designer did an excellent job of asking some difficult, but not impossible, questions,” he said. “After I watched several go, I decided to do a very tight inside turn from the trot jump to the next fence and that is where I think I got the most handy points.”
Kelley Farmer bested Greg Crolick by half a point for the second-place prize aboard the 7-year-old Westphalian gelding (Los Angeles x Fiones) Consent. The pair wrapped up with scores of 180.000 and 194.500 totaling 374.500, while Crolick and Renaud Farm, LLC’s Corallo Z landed on an even 374.000.
$40,000 USHJA National Derby, sponsored by Stal De Eyckenhoeve
The $40,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. sponsored by Stal De Eyckenhoeve, topped over 110 professional and junior/amateur riders. They contested Joseph Carnicom’s first-round course and 12 entries from each section advanced to the handy round.
After all second-round trips, Royal Palm Beach, Florida, resident Maria Rasmussen took the lead in the open division, earning a score of 181.500 points from judges Linda Andrisani and Kim Dorfman. Last week’s National Hunter Derby winner, Tiffany Morrissey, piloted Susannah Rose’s Baron Z to the winner’s circle, earning only half a point less than Rasmussen to secure the second place prize. A familiar face in many top hunter derby placings, Havens Schatt rounded out the top three with Cece Williamson’s 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Charisma x Perlina W), Clockwork.
“This was Connor’s first hunter derby, first handy class and first trot jump,” Rasmussen said. “He’s only 7 years old but he is already an old soul and a very natural talent.
“I thought the course today was beautiful. It rode very well and it really set all of the horses up to produce great jumps.”
$40,000 USHJA National Derby, sponsored by Stal De Eyckenhoeve
Successful junior athlete Jordan Allen piloted Susan Stanley’s Rainier to the win in the junior/amateur division after picking up a total score of 177.000. She and Susan Stanley’s 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding have only been paired since Country Heir I, but under the watchful eye of Ashland Farms’ Emily Smith, quickly found their footing.
“My first time with this horse was last week when we showed in the Junior Hunters and he was Champion,” Allen said. “He’s an incredible young horse and when we first got him into the farm, all I could think of was how great he would be in the future as a derby horse.”
Allen said that the handiness required in the second round was the only challenge that concerned her with the young horse, but that he tackled everything in stride.
“I especially loved the handy round course because the designer somehow managed to make the course handy even in such a big ring,” she said. “The last line in the handy course was exactly seven and a half strides which I thought was very interesting because it gave the riders the option to really open up to the final fence or to collect and do eight, but both tracks looked good. I went into it with no expectations. There were several difficult questions asked throughout the course, including a spooky roll-top and some large logs, but this horse is incredibly brave.”
The pair also secured the championship of the Large Junior Hunter division during Country Heir II.
Paige Beisel earned a score of 173.000 with Mr. & Mrs. David Beisel’s 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Salem, which landed them in second place while Erin Cummins and her own Seventh Heaven rounded out the top three in the junior/amateur section.
$10,000 USHJA Joey Darby Green Hunter Challenge
Hunter veteran Christopher Payne piloted Solitude, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Northside LLC’s, Solitude, to victory in the $10,000 Joe Darby Green Hunter Challenge. The challenge saw 27 of the top young horse and rider entries take to the Claiborne Ring Thursday and 12 took home ribbons. Richard Fancher and Frankie Stark’s 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Belgian Waffle, earned the reserve honors; while Courtney Lenkhart and Wesley Clingman’s Deluxe rounded out the top three.
“It was really special for me to win this class because as a kid, Joe Darby was the person who gave me my first catch ride,” Payne said. “He was an incredible horseman and this class does a wonderful job of keeping his passion for producing great young horses alive. I’m very honored to have won it today."
Payne said that Chris Sorensen called him about Solitude and said he had to come over and try him.
“He told me he was beautiful with tons of scope and just an absolutely amazing horse, which he doesn’t say very often,” Payne said. “So, I made the trip over and he was everything Chris said he would be, so we bought him.”
$25,000 Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital Grand Prix
Runner-up winner in last week’s $40,000 Country Heir I Grand Prix, Liza Finsness, stepped up with longtime partner Shiver to take top honors in Country Heir II’s $25,000 Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital Grand Prix Friday. A total of 28 entries signed on to contest Mauricio Garcia’s track but only five progressed to the shortened track. Sean Jobin and Stephanie Collier both fell victim to an unfortunate rail in the jump off which left Finsness, Sharn Wordley, and Maria Schaub to vie for placings on the podium.
Schaub and Evergate Stables LLC’s Gotico Di Ca’ San Giorgio were awarded third place honors as they came through with a clear round in a time of 40.267 seconds. Wordley then shaved roughly four seconds off Schaub’s time on Arnoud Dobber’s 11-year-old Holsteiner mare (Aljano x Nina XI), Any, to clock in at 36.578 seconds and secure second place. Finsness and her own 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Stakkato x Germina), however, couldn’t be caught as they blazed through the timers in a clean 35.722 seconds to earn the victory gallop.
WCHR Hunter Highlights
Sealing the deal with another hunter win at Country Heir II, Timothy Maddrix took the High Performance Hunters division championship aboard Salter Hydinger’s Anthem. He and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding picked up two firsts, two seconds, and a fourth to end the division on with 34.00 points. With 24.00 points, Reserve Champion went to Chaz Harpman and Cynthia Hallman’s Fig Street’s Duchess.
In the Green Conformation Hunters, Maria Rasmussen took both the Champion and Reserve Champion placings. She and Sunset View Farm LLC’s Namely totaled 46.00 overall points for the Champion title while Kristen Hammel’s Hobbs Lane logged in at 26.00 division points for reserve.
The Grand Hunter Champion placing went to Tim Goguen with Take the High Road, LLC’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Veron x Wisse) Style.
Annual Equitation Day, Sponsored by Ashland Farms
Equitation Day was graciously sponsored by Ken and Emily Smith of Ashland Farms. Ashland Farms’ own Spencer Toohill piloted Carlisle Castle to victory in the day’s ASPCA Maclay competition. The pair were followed by Alexander Alston and Alston Alliance, LLC’s Ecuador in second and Cayman Szegda with Grace Jordan’s Willem in third. The sponsoring farm also took home the blue ribbons in the THIS Children’s Medal and the top three placings in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. In the THIS Children’s Medal, Ryan Maloney executed the course on Sloan Lindemann-Barnett’s Henri HX in winning fashion, while in the Talent Search, Grady Lyman, Savannah Hemby, and Ryan Moloney took the top three consecutive placings.
Ashley Vogel rode to the champion title in the Open Equitation 3’ division with Kate Abaijan’s Lambada. The pair picked up two first places and a third to end the division with 20.00 points. There was a tie for the reserve championship between Texie Loyd with Showcase Limited’s Prophet and Portya Muenke with Briljant Z. Both riders totaled 12.00 points across the division to earn the split honors.
Country Heir I & II welcomes sponsor Classic Champions, Inc. and is grateful for their efforts to support the young jumper divisions in North America.
Classic Champions, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that brings European principles to course design for young jumpers. The goal of the organization is to focus on and facilitate the development of young jumpers to become the future stars of the sport. Classic Champions supports competition opportunities that are both sporting and educational.
Founded in 2015 by Cynthia Hampton, the Classic Champions Tour is tailored for 5, 6 and 7-year-old jumpers. Hampton, who lived in Paris for 20 years, was impressed by how the European riders and breeders educate their young jumpers. When she returned to the U.S., she was inspired to influence improvements in the young jumper divisions. Classic Champions, Inc., was founded with the desire to implement these European practices for the young jumper competition in North America. It features courses designed by experienced, specifically-trained designers targeted toward the younger, less experienced horses. Courses include features aimed at developing jumpers from an early age with adapted heights, types of fences, lines and turns in venues with top-notch footing.
Classic Champions Developing Jumper Tour is featured at the Kentucky Horse Park during the spring and summer of 2019 during Kentucky Horse Shows, Country Heir I & II, with a championship at the Kentucky National.
“I am so pleased with the collaborative efforts of the course designers at Country Heir I & II, Mauricio Garcia and Joe Carnicom,” Hampton said. “They are dedicated to providing an educational experience for the young jumpers so that they progress. The point is for these young horses to have a solid opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Hampton hopes that offering adapted classes will help to educate riders, trainers, breeders, course designers, judges and officials. It will help to build a viable structure to identify, select and educate future high-level equine athletes capable of distinguishing themselves both at home and on an international stage.
For more information, go to classicchampionsinc.com
On behalf of Frankie Stark and show managers, Tucker Ericson and J.P. Bordeleau, thank you to all Country Heir I & II sponsors, exhibitors, trainers, owners and families.
We look forward to seeing you in 2020 when the show returns to the Kentucky Horse Park for Country Heir I, June 3-7, Country Heir II, June 10-14. Equitation Day and Local Day June 9.