Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 16, 2017 – Competition in the International Arena could not best hunter rider extraordinaire, Scott Stewart, who took home both the championship and reserve championship ribbons in the Green Hunter 3’6” division on Luster and Wonderly, respectively. The sixth week of showing not only marks the halfway point of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit, but it also means the arrival of World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Hunter Week.
During Hunter Week, hunter horses and riders take center stage in the International Arena to try to qualify for the opportunity to show in the $100,000 Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular under the lights on Saturday evening.
Stewart could not be outdone in the Green Hunter 3’6” division that took place on Wednesday and Thursday morning. Stewart, who piloted three of the 25 entries, expertly directed Luster, owned by Rivers Edge Farm, to clinch the title and earn a spot in Saturday night’s feature class.
Luster rose to first-place in the under-saddle class, before coming back to dominate the handy round, receiving an impressive score of 90 from judges Sissy Wickes and Phoebe Sheets. The course, designed by Patrick Rodes, featured two trot jumps and a bending line riding home to the in gate, which proved no challenge for the seven-year-old Westphalian gelding. He was awarded an 86 over-fences which landed them in second-place.
“This is his fourth horse show doing the First Year Green Hunter division. He’s been champion or reserve almost every week,” Stewart said. “He’s just turning seven. He showed in the Pre-Greens with me as well. He’s been great. He’s a really good jumper.
Wonderly, a 2009 Brandenburger owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, also garnered attention with Stewart in the irons. The chestnut gelding placed third in the hack on Wednesday morning. He then swept the stake round, scoring an 87. A few trips later, Wonderly proved his rideability as he navigated the handy round earning a score of 86, helping him to secure the reserve championship honors.
When asked about Wonderly, Stewart said, “He has done quite well the past few years and today he did great, too. This is only his fourth time showing this year and he’s been great. He was really brave out there in the International Ring.”
In 2016, Stewart guided Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horses LLC, to victory in the $100,000 Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. While it was Catch Me’s first time in the class, Stewart had been vying for the prize for years but was unable to win until he rode Catch Me.
Riders are limited to only two entries on Saturday night in the $100,000 Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. For Stewart, it is still up in the air as to which one of his hunters he will ride in addition to Catch Me.
“I’m not sure yet. The second one is probably between Luster, Fun, or Private Life. We’ll see,” Stewart said with a hopeful smile.
Hunter competition will resume on Friday morning, beginning with the Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division in the International Arena. The $100,000 Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular will take place on Saturday evening at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, starting at 6:30 p.m.