Devon, Pa. – June 1, 2019 – The Amateur Owner Hunter divisions wrapped up on Saturday at the Devon Horse Show and County Fair, with each section awarding the grand champion title to the athletes who accumulated the most points throughout two days of competition. The Devon Grand Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Champion was awarded to Becky Gochman and Catch Me, while the Devon Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Champion was presented to Stephanie Danhakl and Enough Said.
Gochman was also awarded the title of Grand Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Champion with her longtime and famed partner Catch Me, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding. The gelding, who has been made into a Breyer Horse Model, placed well throughout two days of competition to earn a total of 33 points. The pair’s first place finish in the $3,000 Amateur-Owner Over 36 3’6” Hunter Stake, presented by Lugano Diamonds, helped them seal their championship win.
The most emotional and meaningful win of the day for Gochman, however, was the presentation of the Sambalino Award to Catch Me. The award is presented to the hunter that, in the opinion of the judges, best models the classic hunter horse in movement, style and presence. The perpetual trophy was donated by Gochman herself in honor of her late partner Sambalino, a chestnut gelding who won countless amateur-owner awards but tragically passed away from colic in 2014. Gochman was incredibly moved to have the trophy awarded to Catch Me, another horse of a lifetime for her.
The Devon Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter Champion, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds, was presented to Danhakl and Enough Said, a 13-year-old Warmblood. The pair has been partnered together for six years and know each other well, which they demonstrated through consistent high placings over two days of competition. Danhakl scored a total of 32 points, after securing the Devon blue in two out of three over fences classes. Trained by Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley, and Nancy Ciesluk, Danhakl was well prepared to compete at the Devon Horse Show. Up next, Danhakl will head to the Upperville Colt & Horse Show.
Hunter competition at the 2019 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair has come to an end, after seeing the top junior, professional, and amateur athletes compete at the historic horse show over the course of two weeks. The final day in the Dixon Oval will see the breeding championship presentations, beginning with the Pennsylvania Bred Yearling Colts and Geldings at 8:00 AM.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Becky Gochman – Devon Grand Amateur Owner 3’3’’ Hunter Champion
On Catch Me:
“Catch Me was great. It was a little nail biting to the end, but he was consistent so he was able to pull off the championship. He has just been a dream horse. In the past three years I think I can count on one had the amount of times he hasn’t been champion or reserve. He has the loveliest and lightest personality. His barn name Snoopy fits him so well because he is so sweet in the barn. His jump, his movement, and everything is so amazing. He is a very dear friend to me at this point, I love him so much.”
On winning the Sambalino award:
“I think I gave away all of my ribbons and trophies from today, but I had to keep the ribbon that said ‘Sambalino’ on it because I still believe that Sambalino was my soulmate. He was very special to me in every way. I never thought that I would get another horse of that caliber, but Catch Me is that horse. Part of me always thanks Sambalino for that. I think he there in my heart and he helps me every bit of the way. I have his horseshoes above my doors in my home in Wellington, he is with me in every way. To win the Sambalino Trophy with Catch Me is very special.”
On giving her awards away to the crowd:
“At the Devon Horse Show, it’s so fun because there are so many different kinds of spectators. I feel like they love the Devon Horse Show. To be able to bring a smile to any of those people’s faces by letting them feel like they have a connection to the horses here is pure joy for me. There was a kid today that had a Breyer Horse of Snoopy and I signed it and she was able to give Snoopy treats. It’s special. I came here when I was 6 years old and I didn’t have a horse and Devon is partly why I’m so hooked on this. I like to try to give back as much as possible.”
Stephanie Danhakl – Devon Grand Amateur Owner 3’6’’ Hunter Champion
On Enough Said:
“He is 13 years old. I have had him for six years and this is our fifth Devon together, his fifth consecutive tricolor and his third time as Grand Champion. He is a real sweetheart. He has his own way of going and I don’t really have to do a whole lot. He is almost like a wind up toy – you get your pace going and every distance shows up perfectly. He is very careful, so I never worry about rails. He is a really sweet horse.
On winning the championship title:
“It means a lot to me. I just started training in Boston with Nancy Ciesluk, who helps me there. I train with Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley other times. Nancy’s son passed away three years ago from cancer and his birthday is today, so it means a lot that I could bring her this win today when she is feeling a little down. It is really exciting to have a horse for this long that is still going well and loving his job.”