Lexington, Ky. – July 31, 2019 – Professional hunters wrapped up Wednesday during the Kentucky Summer Classic at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Grand Hunter Championship, presented by Visse Wedell, is awarded to the competitors with the most points accumulated in the Green 3’6” Hunter, Green 3’9” Hunter, Green Conformation Hunter, High Performance Conformation Hunter and the High Performance Working Hunter divisions. Similar to last week, there was a tie for Grand Hunter Championship title. Jeff Gogul with Roberts Stables LLC’s Maverick alongside Jimmy Torano aboard Amethyst Equestrian Consulting LLC’s California both earned 44 points in their respective divisions to tie for the prestigious prize.
Maverick, a 6-year-old black Warmblood gelding, began his performances this week with a third place and first place in the over fences rounds of the Green 3’6” Hunters, as well as taking the top prize in the under saddle. Gogul and Maverick returned Wednesday to win both of the over fences classes, including the challenging handy round to add up to 44 total points earning the champion ribbon in the competitive Green 3’6” Hunter division and taking the lead for the Grand Hunter Championship.
As impressive at his young age is his limited show record. Maverick only did two horse shows in the United States after being imported before moving up the 3’6” divisions. He has since earned several championships is Green 3’6” Hunters and the Green Conformation Hunters with Gogul. A junior hunter hopeful for owner Sophia Roberts, the young gelding will continue gaining experience at the 3’6” level and the International Hunter Derbies as well, with the High Performance divisions being their ultimate goal.
Torano and California both made the trek from the jumpers to the hunters to claim the championship ribbon of the High Performance Working Hunter division with 44 points, tying Gogul and Maverick for the Grand Hunter Champion award. California also earned a third place in his first over fences round of the week on Tuesday and came back to win the second over fences and the under saddle class. The duo rode to top scores on Wednesday, winning the over fences and the handy to clinch to the High Performance Working Hunter Champion title.
Another new contender in the hunter ring, California has recently made the change from doing the grand prix events with Rodrigo Pessoa to competing in the hunter divisions and International Hunter Derbies with Torano in Florida this year. The 10-year-old bay German Warmblood has already had impressive placings with Torano in the irons. He was second at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair in the $25,000 International Hunter Derby and the $10,000 International Hunter Derby at Tryon Spring 3. With grand prix experience under Pessoa, California took to the 3’6” hunter divisions easily and quickly moved up to the High Performance Hunters with Torano. The pair will compete during USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals in August.
The Stonelea Ring will kick-off Thursday with the Large Junior 16-17 Hunter division and will continue with the Junior Hunters throughout the day and will conclude with the Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3″ Medal.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE:
Jimmy Torano – Co-Grand Hunter Champion with California
On his horse:
“California is a horse that hasn’t been doing the hunters for very long. He belongs to Rodrigo Pessoa and he was doing him in the grand prixs. Then mid-circuit we talked and decided to give him a try in the hunters and he’s been good. He won right off the bat in Palm Beach, he was second in the derby at the Devon Horse Show, he was second in the derby at Tryon – he’s won some nice classes! We brought him here to get ready for [International Hunter] Derby Finals in a couple weeks and he went really nicely.”
On adjusting from the jumpers to the hunters:
“He’s very careful. He does the 4’ easily because he did the grand prixs. He’s still has to understand the hunter program little by little. The nice thing is that he’s naturally quiet, so that part is really good. Every once in a while, he’ll over jump a jump just from being used to doing the grand prixs. But the nice thing is that he’s nice and quiet.
On what’s next for him horse:
“He’ll sit this next week out during Pony Finals, maybe get some turn out here in Kentucky and then gear up for the [International Hunter] Derby Finals and hopefully that will be a good week for him.”
On his long term goals with California:
“Rodrigo has him to sell so hopefully the way he keeps going in the hunters as well as derby finals, ideally is to try to get him sold.”
Jeff Gogul – Co-Grand Hunter Champion with Maverick
“He was awesome today. He rode beautiful in the handy. Last week, we had a little bobble at the trot jump and knocked it down, so we practiced that and made sure he was in front of my leg and he was excellent today in the handy. He’s super fun to ride. He has such an amazing gallop and a beautiful mouth. He’s just 6 years old. He wasn’t imported until late last summer so we did one show here in September in the 3’3” and one show indoors at World Equestrian Center in November at 3’3” and he stepped right into 3’6”. He’s really super brave – endless stride and scope. I can always count on him.”
On what’s next for Maverick:
“He’s done one International Hunter Derby and a couple National Derbies out on the grass in Wellington and was a little green in the handy round at that point, but was winning the first rounds. Ultimately he’s a 4’ horse and a horse for Sophia Roberts as a Junior Hunter in another year possibly. There’s no question of the 4’ for him, it’s super easy, so we’re looking to get some derby mileage.”
On showing at the Kentucky Summer Classic
“We love it here. You can’t really ask for more. It’s a great town and a second home for us.”