Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 10, 2018 – The penultimate day of hunter competition concluded Friday at the Kentucky Horse Park with two new 2018 USEF Pony Finals champions hoisting their titles. In the Medium Green Pony Hunters, Samantha Takacs and Galianna extended their day one lead to secure the overall championship and the Grand Green Pony Hunter rosette, while Grace Debney and Lafayette Park led the victory gallop and took home the final green pony division championship in the Large Green Pony Hunters in addition to the Grand Reserve Green Pony Hunter title.
Beginning the day as the early leaders and the last to ride over fences out of 72 entries, Takacs and Kim Wolf’s Galianna needed 236 points to surpass Cecelia Jackson and Northwind Marywn, the current leading pair, as they entered the ring for their over fences ride. A steady stream of solid performances throughout the class kept the top of the leaderboard close, but luckily Takacs and the dappled dark bay pony had finished the first two phases of competition with a 16-point lead, easing some of the pressure. Pulling in scores of 84, 85 and 87 from the judges panel for a total 256 points after a first-rate trip, the 13-year-old rider and Galianna earned the over fences blue ribbon and boosted their cumulative two-day score to 1,040.02, claiming the division title and Grand Green Hunter Pony championship as the highest scoring of the three size-based Green divisions.
Takacs and Galianna, affectionately known as “Adele” or “Deli Sandwich,” are newfound partners, with the young rider only just getting the reins on the mare one short week ago. When California-based Gabrielle Sokolow was not able to attend the 2018 USEF Pony Finals with trainer Corinne Bevins, New Jersey-based Takacs stepped in to take over the ride. Though their time together was scant, the combined talent of the rider and pony proved to be the perfect match, earning top marks in all three phases.
Jackson and Susan McDade’s Northwind Marwyn finished in the reserve position with 1,000.50 points, the only other pair to break the 1,000-point threshold, closely followed by owner-rider Lola Head and Goldhills As You Like It in third position overall. Kierstin Antoniadis and Elizabeth Garcia’s Blank Check finished fourth in the standings, while Alexa Lignelli and The Lignelli Family’s EMC Entourage rounded out the top five placings.
Concluding the afternoon was the Large Green Pony Hunters, comprised of a pack of 81 pony-and-rider combinations vying for the top spot. Riding fifth-to-last in the order of go, 14-year-old Debney and Temple Equestrian, LLC’s Lafayette Park executed a near flawless trip over the 10-fence track to usurp the sitting class leaders, Kierstin Antoniadis and Winter Tietjen’s Pokerface, who leapfrogged from 20th position to the top of the field with a 259-point over fences score. The remaining four contenders each navigated satisfactory rounds, but were unsuccessful at matching the finess shown by Debney and “Jake,” who ultimately finished in the top spot overall with 1,018.85 points and second in the over fences portion of competition. With their composite score, Debney and Lafayette Park secured the Grand Reserve Green Pony Hunter tricolor.
Debney is hot off a standout performance at the Devon Horse Show with the famous pony, Storyteller, who she piloted to the Large Pony Hunter Championship, the Grand Pony Hunter title, and the Best Child Rider on a Pony title in May. With her win Friday, Debney can add another accolade to her mounting trophy case.
The only other duo to hit 1,000 points, Antoniadis and Pokerface finished in the reserve position with 1,005.03 points, trailed by Isabella Griffin and her own Heaven’s Gift with the bronze. Owner-rider Jessica West and Stoneledge Just My Style captured fourth place, while Takacs added another top placing to her repertoire with fifth position aboard Rendezvous Farm’s Small Romance.
In the Medium Regular Pony Hunters, the last hunter division of the week, Toblerone carried Ava Berman to the forefront of the standings after two strong showings in the model and the hack. Narrowly missing first place by less than half of a point in the model, Berman and Sofia Baiker’s Toblerone secured the divisional lead with a ninth place finish under saddle, propelling them to the top of the overall scorecard with total marks of 519.55. The leading pair will return Saturday for the over fences phase neck-and-neck with Caroline Signorino and Newhaven’s Magnum, Signorino Family Farm LLC, who currently sit just one point off the lead in the reserve spot.
The 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, will continue through Sunday, Aug. 12. With only the Medium Regular Pony Hunter champion left to crown, competition in the Walnut Ring will conclude Saturday, while the Alltech Arena will play host to the Pony Jumper Individual Final on Saturday. Sunday’s feature will be the Pony Medal Finals, one of the week’s highlight events.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Samantha Takacs – Medium Green Pony Hunter champion
On her reaction to winning:
“I’m really excited! This is my first time winning here so it’s really exciting.”
“She’s just such a good girl. She’ll do whatever you ask her to do and she’s just really fun to ride. [I’ve been riding her] since last week. Gabrielle Sokolow was riding her in California, but she couldn’t make it so I got to do it. She’s really sweet, she’s playful and she’s a really good girl. She was just so good and did everything I told her to do.”
Corinne Bevis – Trainer to Samantha Takacs
On Samantha Takacs riding the pony:
“I train the pony. She lives with us in California and Gabrielle [Sokolow] has been riding her and, unfortunately, she wasn’t able to come – she had some other horse shows, so Samantha’s mom and I got connected through a mutual friend. We were talking about ponies and we needed a jockey and she had one. Clearly it was a good choice!”
On her reaction to Galianna winning:
“It was great. I’m not going to lie, I got a little bit emotional. It was pretty exciting to watch her go out there, especially because she doesn’t know the pony that well. I knew the pony was very brave and she would do whatever you asked her to do, but not having a long history with the pony, you don’t always know what’s best. Samantha made really, really smart decisions. She did such a good job and I couldn’t have asked for her to do anything any different.”
Grace Debney – Large Green Pony Hunter champion
On her reaction to winning:
“I think it’s really special, especially on this pony because I actually took him home for a while and trained on him with my home trainer. It feels really special to be able to train on him myself and have him end up like this. It feels really good.”
On Lafayette Park:
“He is 12 years old, so an older Green. He was doing short stirrup for a while because he is just so perfect. He was doing the lower levels, and I think the old owner and her granddaughter had him for a while, so he ended up being a Green. He is so fun, he has the best gallop and never changes his pace, which really helps out a lot. He is super brave. If he ever has a moment where he is a little spooky, I just tell him that he is fine and he is totally over it. He is the sweetest thing ever and always does a good job. He always checks to make sure he did a good job after a ride.”
On her plan over the jumps:
“I definitely didn’t want to ride last, because I hate that. I just wanted to go in with no pressure because he has been so good this whole year. I was going to be so proud of him either way. [Since I have done so well this year] it kind of takes the pressure of a little bit at the bigger shows because I was already happy with how we have done this year.”
On her preparation for Pony Finals:
“We worked on collecting because he wasn’t so good at that. We practically practiced chipping in case it happened at the show. We fattened him up for Pony Finals and I worked on getting a lot of muscle on him. I was pretty much the groom for him, which has been a really good experience for me. You really get to know their personality when you are with them every day.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Medium Regular Pony Hunters Model
1. Editor’s Note / Rose Campbell / Maher Family LLC / 259.22
2. Toblerone / Ava Berman / Sofia Baiker / 259.12
3. Heart To Forget / Juliette Propp / Aquitaine Equine / 254.74
4. V.H. Paris Fox / Gianna Siegler / Gianna Siegler / 254.01
5. Leon / Claire Campbell / Maher Family LLC / 253.34
6. Find The Love / Rebecca Love / Vanessa Mazzoli / 251.41
7. Anisette / Tessa Downey / Tessa Downey / 250.81
8. Newhaven’s Magnum / Caroline Signorino / Signorino Family Farm LLC / 250.32
9. Charmer / Lauren Gregson / Danielle Torano / 249.180
10. Carousel / Peyten Seltzer / Peyten Seltzer / 248.940
Medium Regular Pony Hunters Under Saddle
1. Smallwood Mystic / Maddie Tosh / Peacock Ridge, LLC / 269.30
2. Newhaven’s Magnum / Caroline Signorino / Signorino Family Farm, LLC / 268.12
3. Cleverist / Samantha Takacs / Ellie Sadrian / 266.84
4. Anisette / Tessa Downey / Tessa Downey / 266.33
5. Bedford Falls / Elise Stephens / Rendezvous Farm / 263.59
6. Ledoux / Peyton Addington / Peyton Addington / 262.18
7. Finesse RF / Kat Fuqua / Kat Fuqua / 261.25
8. Radiance / Allison Coleman / Allison Coleman / 260.59
9. Toblerone / Ava Berman / Sofia Baiker / 260.43
10. Treasure Hunt / Hannah Famulak / Donald Stewart / 260.40
Medium Green Pony Hunters Over Fences
1. Galianna / Samantha Takacs / Kim Wolf / 256.00
2. Goldhills As You Like It / Lola Head / Lola Head / 253.00
3. Northwind Marwyn / Cecelia Jackson / Susan McDade / 252.00
4. Emc Entourage / Alexa Lignelli / The Lignelli Family / 252.00
5. Last Look / Gigi Phillips / Andrea Guzinski / 244.50
6. Blank Check / Kierstin Antoniadis / Elizabeth Garcia / 239.00
7. West Side / Lilly Anthes / Michelle Anthes and Kimberlee Beeson / 233.00
8. Waikoloa Bay / Sara Bender / Sara Bender / 229.50
9. Shining Star / Aedan Mooney / Aedan Mooney / 226.75
10. Galloway Joe / Josephine Rose / Jennifer Edwards / 222.00
Large Green Pony Hunters Over Fences
1. Pokerface / Kierstin Antoniadis / Winter Tietjen / 259.00
2. Lafayette Park / Grace Debney / Temple Equestrian LLC / 253.00
3. Stoneledge Just My Style / Jessica West / Jessica West / 245.00
4. Royal Treasure / Nicole Golia / Catrine Golia / 245.00
5. Ladylike / Alliyah Antoniadis / Stefanie Mazer / 242.00
6. Etch-a-Sketch / Brooke Brombach / Stephen Borders / 241.50
7. Keepin’ My Word / Madison Cozart / Madison Cozart / 241.00
8. Heaven’s Gift / Isabella Griffin / Isabella Griffin / 234.75
9. Al Schoponi / Grayson Hutchins / Grayson Hutchins / 234.00
10. Small Romance / Samantha Takacs / Rendezvous Farm / 232.25
For more information on the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, please click here.