Wellington, Fla. – Feb 15, 2018 – World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week at the Winter Equestrian Festival is well underway, and spectators watched as two of the sport’s most well-known athletes did what they do best. Kelley Farmer and Scott Stewart laid down flawless rounds to claim the championship tricolor in their respective divisions on Thursday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Farmer piloted a new mount, Shameless, to the win in the Green Hunter 3’9” division. The division, which took place over two days, started on Wednesday in the International Arena. Hunter riders had their chance to take center stage as they prepare for this Saturday evening’s highlight event, the annual $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular.
Farmer explained that she has only been riding the 8-year-old gelding for three weeks, and the horse came from accomplished show jumper, Todd Minikus. One of the Lane Change Farm amateur riders, Aizlynn Radwanski, recently purchased him.
Despite not knowing the horse well, Farmer was able to pull off an outstanding performance in the stake round, claiming a score of 90 from the judges. The new pair also nabbed an 82 in the handy as well as an 83 over-fences, which puts them in a good place going into Saturday’s night class.
On the heels of Farmer and Shameless was Callie Seaman’s Chicago, ridden by Patricia Griffith, who walked away with the reserve championship title.
Scott Stewart was aboard two of Dr. Betsee Parker’s horses, Lucador and Private Life, to capture the champion and reserve champion titles in the High Performance Conformation Hunters earlier in the day. Stewart is also the reigning $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular winner, having won it the last two years aboard David Gochman’s Catch Me.
The bay geldings went head-to-head throughout the division, but ultimately it was Lucador who was awarded the championship cooler.
Both horses proved that they are in peak form as the weekend approaches. Lucador secured a 90 in the stake class and won the under saddle, while Private Life earned a 90 in the stake and topped the model.
While Dr. Betsee Parker acknowledged that both horses are vastly different from each other, she praised the team at River’s Edge for being able to get the best out of both horses. She said that it is a true testament to Stewart and the rest of the River’s Edge team, including his fellow trainers Ken Berkley, Richard Slocum and the riders, barn managers, veterinarians, farriers, and grooms.
The $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at WEF, and is sure to bring fierce competition and entertainment for both hunter and jumper enthusiasts alike.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kelley Farmer – Green Hunter 3’9” champion
On how she got the ride on Shameless:
“We haven’t had him for very long. This is literally our third week with him. Todd Minikus sent him to us. He did a little bit of hunters. We’ve done a lot of business with Todd. He called and said, ‘I have a really nice horse.’ So, I got him four days before Week 4 and he was reserve champion that week. Then, he walked in that field and won the derby. Last week, he was champion in both divisions. Then, Aizlynn [Radwanski] bought him, and he went to Ocala and he won the first round of the derby and then I kind of messed up in the handy, but it was all rider error. Yesterday, he was really good out there, even though I made a few mistakes.”
On Shameless’ personality:
“He is a lovely, lovely horse. He’s scopey, he’s stridey, he’s brave, he’s beautiful to ride. He just goes in that rubber snaffle. Anything I ask him to do, he does. He has gotten better and better every week. I can’t say enough about him.”
Dr. Betsee Parker – owner of Lucador and Private Life, High Performance Conformation Hunter champion and reserve champion
“Lucador has been one of our main stays for several years. We bought him when he was a 4-year-old. He was a pre-green horse and at the time Peter Pletcher had beautifully produced. He caught my eye at the Pre-Green Incentive Finals in Kentucky and I insisted that we buy him.”
On Lucador’s progression:
“It was kind of a hard learning curve at first with him. Then, he shocked us and he went forward, like someone who went from being a ‘C’ student to an ‘A-‘ student. Neither of us expected that, and then he remained in the ‘A’ student position. The thing with him is that he’s a difficult, complicated, sensitive horse and he has lots of strong opinions. A lot of times he lets Scott know that he doesn’t agree with something, and then we get some jollity in the ring. In a way, it’s a mark of a very great performer.”
On what Dr. Betsee Parker likes about Lucador:
“What I liked about the horse when we first got him and what caught my eye was that he’s a hyper-extender. He’s able to move through the full-range in his joints better than most horses, which is why you get the flipping toe in the trot and canter. He is no different than a human athlete. He seemed appropriate for this division and that’s why we did it. He’s been very consistent. He’s still in his prime.”
On Private Life:
“He’s such a dear-hearted, good horse that really anyone can ride. He will just take them around. There are no issues with him, no prep, nothing. He just goes to the ring, and he goes in a very cheerful way. He never argues, so it’s quite refreshing to Lucador.”
On how Lucador and Private Life are different:
“They’re totally diametrically opposed. Lucador is a real piece of work, but [Private Life] is very easy to maintain, to prep, never complains, and he is good on the ground. They’re both very different horses, but I think it really shows what tremendous producers Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley are. Horses who are completely different can end up with the same results. They’re very different individuals. I have to make a pitch about the training riders at River’s Edge because Samantha Darling and the other riders produce them exquisitely, and so does Richard Slocum and my farm manager, Nancy Hall. They are there at the ring ready to go. It is every single one of those people and the grooms and farriers that produce these horses. I can’t say enough about that.”