Upper Marlboro, MD – Oct. 4, 2017 – Professional hunter riders highlighted the schedule on Wednesday at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by World Equestrian Center. Tracy Fenney and MTM Outbid were victorious in the $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, sponsored by The Gochman Family. In the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, sponsored by the John R. Ingram Fund, Dominique Damico and Rockette took the top spot. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, runs through Sunday, October 8.
The $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge had 31 entries in the first round, which ran on Wednesday afternoon. Twelve returned for the second round in the evening session.
Fenney, of Flower Mound, TX, and MTM Outbid went tenth in the order and had a fantastic opening round. With an average score of 90, they sat in second place going into the night class. Fenney was happy that she did not have to go at the end of the class.
She explained, “I think that’s to my benefit, to watch one and then go get ready and do the course. The jumps are so beautiful, and they do such a wonderful job here [at Capital Challenge]. The grounds and everything is so nice; it just feels important to be here.”
Coming back for the second round later at night, Fenney said she was pleased not to be leading the class.
“I don’t like going last because that’s a lot of pressure,” she remarked, “so I was kind of glad Louise beat me in the first round. I was like ‘good, I don’t have to go very last,’ because I tend to screw up the second round.”
They were stellar in round two, receiving scores of 93, 93, and 95 for an average of 93.66 and a total of 183.66 for the win. For their victory, Fenney and MTM Outbid were presented with the Little Brook Trophy donated by Gary Duffy and Little Brook Farm.
Fenney has ridden MTM Outbid, a seven-year-old Warmblood gelding, for two years.
“He’s always been very brave at everything he does,” Fenney said. “Since he’s been a baby, we’ve really liked him. He’s just really easygoing and likes to do his job and likes to jump and does it easily. I don’t think there’s a jump he can’t jump.”
Louise Serio of Kennett Square, PA, and Kings Landing, owned by Meralex Farm, placed second with scores of 90.16 and 91.33 for a total of 181.49. Third place went to Elizabeth Boyd of Camden, SC, and O’Ryan, owned by Stella Styslinger. They received an 88.16 and 88.41 for a 176.57 total.
Riders for Friday’s $5,000 WCHR Professional Finals have been determined. Going head-to-head in the competition will be John French, Hunt Tosh, Scott Stewart, Victoria Colvin, Elizabeth Boyd, and Tracy Fenney.
Damico Makes Maiden Voyage Successful in $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge
In her first appearance in the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, Dominique Damico of Berwyn, PA, took the win on Rockette, a horse she owns with student Katie Williams.
In the first round, they had an average score of 87.33 and sat in second place. Returning for the second round in the evening session on Wednesday, they moved up for the win after fantastic scores of 91, 92, and 90 from the judges for an average of 91 and a total of 178.33.
Second place went to Erica Quinn on Celtic Fire, owned by CF Partners. They scored 88.25 and 89.66 for a total of 177.91. With double scores of 86 for a total of 172, Erin Hastings and LPF Woodford, owned by Thea Bitar, placed third.
Damico has been riding Rockette, a nine-year-old Warmblood mare that won the junior hunter championship at the Devon Horse Show in 2015, for three years. The 32-year-old trainer is based at Ramble On Farm, where she works with Seth Vallhonrat, who she credited for helping her with Rockette. Another helping hand for the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge was former winner Brian Feigus.
“One of my best friends, Brian Feigus, won it a few years ago, and he was at the gate helping me all week. It was particularly special to win it after him, and I’m just excited about the future,” she expressed.
“I know it sounds cliché, but this is my passion,” said Damico, who turned professional at the age of 18. “I’m so lucky to be able to do something I love so much, and I enjoy it. It doesn’t feel like you’re going to work every day. I’m really lucky to have a nice group of horses and people, and I’m really excited about that.”
Of her win, she stated, “I was ecstatic and super excited. It’s really, really a special moment. It is super exciting to compete at a venue like this and follow such big names and top professionals that have won this class. [To watch] the Pro Challenge right before is very motivating, and I think it’s a crucial part of a young professional’s career to be able to compete in a class like this and get used to the pressure. And you know, the stadium is exciting, and they do such a great job with this horse show. It’s one of my favorites.”
Hunt Tosh and Lights Out Shine Brightly in $25,000 North American Green Hunter 3’ & 3’3” Championship
The win in the $25,000 North American Green Hunter 3’ & 3’3” Championship, sponsored by The Wheeler Family and Radwanski Enterprises, went to Lights Out, ridden by Hunt Tosh and owned by Ceil Wheeler.
Tosh, of Milton, GA, and the six-year-old bay gelding by Lights On earned the win from a field of 33 of the best young horses in the country, qualifying to compete in the championship based on their results in the six Green Hunter 3’ and 3’3” sections offered at the 2017 Capital Challenge Horse Show.
Lights Out earned an average score from three judges of 88.33 in the first round to move into the second place position. The top 12 entries then returned to jump a second course, and Tosh and Lights Out jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a second-round score of 90.33 for a 178.66 total and the victory.
For the win, Tosh and Lights out were awarded the Beverly Brooks Solter Memorial Trophy, donated by Hilary Scheer Gerhardt and Zan Martin Dillon.
“To end up the year here with the win is very special,” said Tosh, now a three-time winner of the championship. “If you look at the past horses who have won this class, they’ve gone on to have great careers. It’s fun to look at the list. I’ve been lucky to win it a couple of times. You get a great group of horses for this class. Hopefully that means Lights Out will have a great career as well.”
Finishing in second behind Lights Out was the 2017 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship winner, Playbook, ridden by Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL. Stewart, himself a six-time winner of the class, and the seven-year-old chestnut Warmblood gelding, owned by Fashion Farm, earned a first round average score of 88.50 to lead the class, and they almost duplicated their efforts in the second round for a score of 88.66 and a two-round total of 177.16.
Stewart also finished in third with scores of 88 and 73.66 for a 161.66 total aboard Status, a six-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Alexa Weisman.
“Scott is always such a tough competitor,” Tosh said. “His horse went beautifully both rounds. It kind of came down to the judges at that point.
“I was really thrilled with how my horse went. You couldn’t ask any more out of him,” Tosh said of Lights Out, whose appearance at Capital Challenge marked his first time competing indoors with Tosh since being purchased by the Wheelers in late 2016. “That horse has a beautiful way of going – the way he carries himself. He’s very scopey; the jump is easy for him. He jumped high, gave me loft, and went beautifully everywhere. He was very green to begin with, and he’s been making great progress.”
Sandy Ferrell of Bel Air, MD, and Hemingway, owned by Stephanie Bulger, were presented with the Sidelines Magazine Style Award.