Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 2, 2018 – The National Horse Show debuted a brand new competition on Friday evening in the Alltech Arena: the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic. Similar to the world famous horse show, now in its 135th year, the sport of hunters is deeply rooted in tradition and history, and the National Horse Show was pleased to showcase the grace and beauty of the nation’s top hunter horses and riders in its 2018 event at the Kentucky Horse Park, where the inaugural prize went to Scott Stewart and Lucador. The pair’s top score also earned Stewart a one-year lease of an Audi from Audi of Lexington, presented by Samuel A. B. Boone, as well as the lion’s share of the Leading Professional Hunter Rider Bonus.
The pair stayed true to their winning ways as Stewart, of River’s Edge Farm in Flemington, New Jersey, and Wellington, Florida, secured the coveted Leading Hunter Rider Award for the 12th time in his career on Wednesday at the National Horse Show, while Lucador, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, earned his fourth career and second consecutive Grand Champion Professional Hunter title.
Horse-and-rider combinations awarded championships or reserve championships in their respective hunter divisions earlier in the week were eligible to compete in Friday’s $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic, with participants competing at the respective height (3’6”, 3’9” or 4’) of the section from which they qualified.
The class, which counted towards Horse of the Year points, consisted of two rounds, with the top 12 returning for a second round from low to high score within their respective heights of 3’6” and 3’9”, with no 4’ entries earning a spot in the second phase. The final average score from round one was added to the final average score from round two to determine the overall total final score and winner.
Under the watchful eyes of two panels of judges consisting of James Clapperton, Daniel Robertshaw, Walter T. Kees and Chance Arakelian, Friday’s first round course, designed by Bobby Murphy, welcomed 32 horses and riders to demonstrate their style and athleticism over obstacles composed of a variety of natural elements.
Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM Outbid led the way after the first round with a score of 89, but Stewart followed close behind with the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding and a score of 87.25.
Returning for the second round, the top 12 combinations were tested once more in the handy phase of competition. An unfortunate bobble in round two caused Fenney to slip down into 10th place in the final standings, which left the top spot open for Stewart as the final entry in the class. Stewart stayed consistent and impressed the judges with another solid performance to finish round two with a score of 87.5 for a total combined score of 174.75.
Finishing behind Stewart and taking home reserve honors was Kentucky native Havens Schatt, from Georgetown, Kentucky, and Diatendro, owned by Kelley Corrigan. The pair finished the first round in fourth place with a score of 85 and received a score of 86.5 in round two for a total score of 171.50.
Rounding out the top three was Amanda Steege of Ocala, Florida, and Zara, owned by Frances Moppett, who were awarded scores of 86 and 84.5 for a cumulative tally of 170.5. Steege and Stewart were the only two entries to qualify two mounts in the handy round. Stewart also rode Dr. Parker’s Private Life to an 11th place finish, while Steege piloted Cheryl Olsten’s Lafitte de Muze to seventh place.
Earlier in the day in the junior ranks, Jordan Allen and Ramble On Farm’s Rockette had reason to celebrate as the best-performing junior pair out of nearly 60 exhibitors. Thanks to consistently high-scoring rounds, the duo accumulated more points than any other competitors across the four junior divisions comprised of small and large hunters split by age groups, and were rewarded with the title of Grand Junior 3’6” Champions and the Huntland Perpetual Cup. Even more impressive was the fact that Allen only first sat on the horse Thursday, the same day they took to the show ring and earned top ribbons.
Over the course of the two days of competition, Rockette garnered first place in the under saddle and stake classes and third place in the over fences and handy classes to secure championship honors in the Gochman Family Large Junior 16–17 Hunter division, in addition to the Cantitoe Farm Challenge Trophy. Adding another accolade to their growing collection, Allen and Rockette also earned the “Inclusive” Perpetual Cup, chosen by the judges as the best performers of the group from both the Large Junior 15 and Under Hunter and Large Junior 16–17 Hunter stake classes.
Hunter action will conclude at the National Horse Show on Saturday, with the final champions of the week being crowned in the Junior 3’3” Hunter divisions. Sunday will feature the prestigious ASPCA Maclay National Championship, which pits top junior equitation riders against one another for a chance at the coveted title.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Scott Stewart – $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic champion
On the class:
“I think it was great and I would like to thank Jennifer [Burger], Mason [Phelps] and everybody involved. It was really exciting. To end the indoor circuit with such a great class like this has never been done before. It was something to look forward to and hopefully we will keep doing it in the future.”
On riding two horses in the class:
“I was excited to have two horses — horses I know really well — and I was pretty confident coming in. I was really happy with my first rounds and then I had a little mistake in the second round with my first horse. I’m not really sure what happened actually, so that sort of shook me up a little bit. Lucador was actually not my first choice for this class because he’s not the best at handy rounds; he gets a little playful usually. He held it together tonight. He tried a couple of times, but we got it done.”
Havens Schatt – Second place
On the stallion, Diatendro:
“He handled it amazingly, as he has handled everything we have put in front of him this year. He only got out of quarantine at the end of January and his first show was at the end of February. He went right at it. His first derby, he won and he did Derby Finals and was definitely a little impressed but the next day he was third. He is hard to handle on the ground but he is just a dream. He has great balance and is brave. Even going to the first jump in the handy, he was thinking, ‘Where are we going and what are we doing?’ As soon as he saw the first jump he was right on. He has an appointment on Tuesday to get castrated. His owner wants to show him next year. He was a breeding stallion in Europe for three years, that was his job. He did some jumper shows, but not many. He has a very hard time focusing on things. I have a feeling after tonight’s class we might have another discussion about that. He is pretty special. If we give him one more year of doing derbies and the Second Years maybe he will come around. It’s a very hard decision because he’s beautiful and he’s really well bred. I’m glad I ended up with him.”
On the course:
“I thought the course was great. I think all of the riders, with this being the first year, weren’t really sure what to expect. Some of the first few combinations to go were juniors and some were amateurs, and the course still rode really nicely. It made for a beautiful class.”
Amanda Steege – Third place
On riding two horses in the class:
“I was thrilled to have two horses to show tonight and even more thrilled to have two horses in the second round. Both of my horses are First Year Green horses, and all of this is new to them, so I was really just excited for the experience of that. I picked this show to come to because of this class in addition to the fact that I think this venue is the most horse-friendly of the venues and they do a great job with the jumps. When I started to plan out my fall, in particular for Lafitte de Muze, I wanted to do Capital Challenge and pick one other show. The fact that they were having this $50,000 class helped me make that decision. That is a horse that I’m hoping to do derbies and Derby Finals with in the future so, for him, I felt it was important to do a class like this that has atmosphere and is at night.”
“This was a fantastic week for Zara. She was reserve champion in the Green Conformation, she won a class in that division, and she was second to Lafitte de Muze in the Green 3’6” stake class. Doing this night class was the first experience for her in any type of high-atmosphere event so I was beyond thrilled with her.”
Jennifer Burger – National Horse Show president
On her reaction to the class:
“It went beyond my expectations. The riders were magnificent, it was a beautiful course and the horses were spectacular. I felt that the riders made it a priority [to compete] in this class, which just increases the honor to do something like this when you feel that coming back. I’m thrilled and I love the hunters. I could watch hunters go all day long — I do watch all day long!”
On the conception of the class and how it came to fruition:
“Mason [Phelps] and I were discussing it with some of the rest of the board this winter. We have our annual meeting in January down in Wellington, and we threw the idea out and everybody loved it. I think honoring the hunters at the National Horse Show with a signature class like this was well-deserved by all of these great riders and their horses and owners. That’s primarily what was behind it.”
Jordan Allen – Grand Junior 3’6” Hunter champion
On her riding experience and plans for the future:
“I started riding when I was 7 years old in Michigan and I have loved it ever since. I used to train with Kim Carey, who has done so much for me. I rode at Huntington Ridge Farm. I met Ashland Farms at a horse show originally, and now I train with them. I spend half of the year in Lexington, Kentucky, and half of the year in Wellington, Florida, with them. I’m on a gap year from school right now. I do hunters, equitation and jumpers, but hunters are my favorite. I’m going to go to South Carolina in the fall for school and ride on the team. I’m very excited. In the future, I would like to go to medical school to become an anesthesiologist, but the plan is to always ride and do this forever.”
On the team behind her success:
“I have to thank Ken and Emily Smith at Ashland Farms, Michael Murphy, Chrissie Kear, Leylan Gleeson, Liz Reilly, August Iwasaki and, of course, my parents. I am a working student at Ashland Farms, which I love more than anything else in the world. I have learned such discipline and time management — not just riding but taking care of the horses. Liz Reilly has done amazing things for me. She always has such incredible horses for me to ride and I respect her more than I can explain. I have such a good relationship with the family. I met them through Augusta [Iwasaki], who is one of my best friends. I was lucky to meet such cool people. I am also lucky to have Gabrielle Sokolow, who is leasing the horse from Kaitlyn Williams.”
$50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Total
1. Lucador / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 174.5
2. Diatendro / Havens Schatt / Kelley Corrigan / 171.5
3. Zara / Amanda Steege / Frances Moppett / 170.5
4. A Million Reasons / Emma Kurtz / Dr. Betsee Parker / 167.0
5. Tradition / Elizabeth Boyd / Maggie Hill / 165.5
6. Set To Music / Laura Sexton / Laura Sexton / 165.25
6. Lafitte de Muze / Amanda Steege / Cheryl Olsten / 162.25
8. Small Anecdote / Jamie Taylor / Iwasaki & Reilly / 161.5
9. Cascina / Lynn Seithel / Lynn Seithel / 156.0
10. MTM Outbid / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 153.0
11. Private Life / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 130.0
12. Rockette / Jordan Allen / Ramble On Farm / 83.5
For more information, please visit www.nhs.org.