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Wellington, Florida, Winter Horse Shows

Becky Gochman and Sambalino Leave Nothing to Chance, Scoring A/O Championship

Amateur-Owner 36 and Over Championship awarded to Carol Hoffman and Avenue Blue

Kerri Salter

Reporting from Wellington, Florida, Winter Horse Shows
Saturday, January 21, 2012 :: Posted 06:30:55 PM EST

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© Kerri Salter: Becky Gochman and Sambalino
Becky Gochman and Sambalino took home the championship in the Amateur-Owner Hunters -Over 35 division at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Wellington, FL  - January 21, 2012 – The best Amateur-Owner horse and rider combinations competed for top honors today in their respective divisions in the E.R. Mische Hunter ring at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Today concluded the Amateur-Owner Hunter-Over 35 and the Amateur Owner 3”3’-36 and Over as the judges named the champions. The competition was fierce as the riders took their turn at the challenging course.

The duo that took control over the two-day period in the Amatuer-Owner Over 35 Hunters was Becky Gochman and Sambalino. The two worked their way through the demanding course, earning an 86 during the first class and a grand total of 92 in the stake. Their high score set a new bar for the other rider and horse combinations, a score which no one else was able to beat. Gochman came away with the championship, praising her competitors for a rigorous two days of competition.

© Sportfot: Becky Gochman and Sambalino
Becky Gochman and Sambalino

“The competition was so hard out there and my fellow riders were so good,” commented Gochman. “I think that on the days that Sambalino really wants to do it, he works extra hard and puts in the special effort.”

The team earned second place in the undersaddle yesterday, and combined with their two second place ribbons and the first place ribbon over fences won the championship just ahead of Katie Robinson and Lady O.

Although the competition was grueling, the reserve championship was awarded to Robinson and Lady O for their efforts. The pair earned high scores once again today, including the score of 86 points in the stake class.
© Sportfot: Katie Robinson and Lady O
 Katie Robinson and Lady O

The course proved challenging to some riders, while others seemed unfazed by the impressive fences course designer Philip DeVita created. DeVita wanted the course to be testing, but not too difficult for the horses. “I try to make the jumps inviting for the horses,” explained DeVita. “I try to make the tracks flow and look presentable so we get the horses jumping nicely. It is my job to create the course with a strong presentation, and allow the horses to show everything they got, while the judges do their job.”

Gochman applauded the work of DeVita. “The courses both days were amazing, they were challenging and interesting. They made us work hard and think about everything, and it was a blast out there.”

Later in the day, the Amateur-Owner Hunters 3’3”- 36 and Over saw intense competition between some of the nation’s best horse and rider combinations. Carol Hoffman exhibited Avenue Blue, eventually riding to the division’s championship. It was Gochman who once again rode to top honors, eventually earning the reserve championship just behind Hoffman with her mount World Time.
© Sportfot: Carol Hoffman and Avenue Blue
Carol Hoffman and Avenue Blue

“We were all riding up to each other,” noted Gochman as she stroked her horse’s neck. “The riders were all just riding really well.”

Hoffman came out on top with strong rounds, earning the blue ribbon in both the over fences and the undersaddle. She was very proud of how her horse handled the course. Hoffman left the arena this afternoon with scores of 81.5 and 80.5 in her two rounds. “He’s just my horse of a lifetime,” beamed Hoffman. “He does everything well.”

Gochman earned the blue ribbon in her first round of the afternoon with a high score of 87 points aboard World Time, and combined with her second place ribbon in the stake, claimed the reserve championship for the division.
© Sportfot: Becky Gochman and World Time
Becky Gochman and World Time

“The weather was beautiful this week and the course was wonderful,” Gochman concluded. “The riders were all really riding, and the horses were just spectacular in the Amateur-Owners.”

Tomorrow marks the conclusion of WEF 2, ending an exciting week of hunter action. The Junior divisions are at the top of the list for its final day as the divisions come to a close and the champion is named.

 Photos courtesy of SportFot and Kerri Salter

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