Upper Marlboro, MD – October 5, 2012 – The best six hunter riders in the country this year – Peter Pletcher, Scott Stewart, Elizabeth Boyd, Kelley Farmer, Hunt Tosh, and John French – competed in the WCHR Professional Finals sponsored by the John R. Ingram Fund. The head-to-head unique competition saw Scott Stewart ride four different horses for his fifth win, the most of any rider in the 19 year history of the class. In the afternoon session, Annie Finch was honored as the winner of the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals sponsored by ARIAT International. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center, will run through Sunday, October 7.
It was a great night for Stewart, who led the class from the very start when he rode his horse VIP Z to a score of 91.33. In the second round, he and Winnetou had another fantastic round and the judges rewarded them with a score of 90. The third round had Stewart up on Capilan 2, and he received his highest score of the night, a 91.66. The final round was a handy hunter class, and Stewart rode Savvy to another high score of 90. Stewart finished with a total of 362.99, almost eight more points that the second-placed rider, Peter Pletcher.
Pletcher brought his new junior hunter horse Savvy to the competition, and they scored an 81.33 after an unfortunate rail. His second ride on CR Carolato II scored an 88.66, and his third ride was on Sander, who helped him score a 90.5. Pletcher excelled in the handy hunter class, scoring a 94.33 on equitation horse VIP Z.
Pletcher said, “It was excellent to get to ride with these guys and girls. The horses were probably the best they’ve been.” He noted that he knew VIP Z could handle the tricky inside turn he did in the handy course because he saw Victoria Colvin accomplish it during Equitation Weekend. Pletcher brought Savvy to this class because he felt that the horse has “a great attitude, excellent personality, and he always tries.” He added, “He’s a good hunter choice. I thought it would be nice to have more of a hunter type for the class.”
John French brought Sander who was named the Best Horse. They scored an 89.66 to start out French’s night, and French went on to have a 90.66 on VIP Z, an 89.16 on Winnetou, and an 84.33 on Capilan 2 for a total of 353.81 and third place.
“I was really happy with the horse that I brought and that he ended up winning the high score horse,” French remarked. “Even if I didn’t win, it was good he won. I’ve done a few derbies on him. He wasn’t supposed to come to this show; he came two days ago and he’s doing the Children’s Hunters here. I knew he would be a great horse for the class. I said to his owner before, ‘He’s probably going to get leading horse.’ Afterward I saw her and she said, ‘You called that one.’”
Elizabeth Boyd of Camden, SC, finished in fourth place with a total of 346.33. She received scores of 84 (Winnetou), 86 (Capilan 2), 86 (Savvy), and 90.33 (CR Carolato II).
She said, “This class was good quality and they were great courses. Everybody did a great job and it was fun to be a part of it.” Boyd noted that Winnetou has not had as much hunter experience after moving from the jumper ring, but that he was “cute and a good boy.” She added, “It was nice of them to let me use him.”
Fifth place went to Hunt Tosh, who received scores of 87.33 (CR Carolato II), 90.66 (Sander), 83 (VIP Z), and 82 (Winnetou) for a total of 346.33.
Tosh noted that while all of the riders are very serious during the week, this night class lets them have a good time. In the handy class, he said he “had nothing to lose,” so he tried an inside turn that no one else attempted. It didn’t quite work for Tosh, but he had fun in the class nevertheless.
Of the horse he brought, he noted, “He behaved for everyone. He was fun to ride.”
Kelley Farmer finished up in sixth place after her horse Red Sky was replaced after her round. She scored a 35 in the first round after Red Sky had a refusal and looked uncomfortable in the ring. The WCHR Appeal Committee for the show decided that Farmer would have to keep her score since it was her horse that she brought for the class, but replaced Red Sky with the alternate horse, Capilan 2.
Farmer rebounded for her final three rounds, scoring 83.33 (Savvy), 90 (CR Carolato II), and 90.66 (Sander) for a total of 298.99.
Farmer explained of the situation, “He felt like he hit himself or stung himself. I wouldn’t have walked in the ring if he didn’t feel great. He showed here this week. He can be a little quirky, but that had nothing to do with it. He warmed up perfectly. From the first jump, I knew something was wrong, and I didn’t know if he was going to level out. He obviously didn’t; the more he jumped, the worse it felt.”
The Chair of USHJA WCHR Committee, Geoff Teall, also explained, “This is the procedure and why we have an alternate horse in case something went wrong. We ultimately made the right decision. We want it to be even for everybody. It was not an easy choice, but we made the right choice.” Teall noted that this was the third time in the 19-year history of the class that the alternate horse was needed.
Stewart won his first WCHR Professional Finals in 1998, and then again in 1999, 2003, and 2010. He expressed, “It’s always an honor to be in the group of top riders. This was probably the most relaxed I’ve been. I had a really good week here, so it was really just a nice, fun class to do.”
For his win tonight in the WCHR Professional Finals, Stewart was presented with the “All the Way” trophy. The Far West Farms Perpetual Trophy donated by the Karazissis Family was given to Sander as the Best Horse.
All of the riders thanked the owners for letting them use their horses in the WCHR Professional Finals. The horses in tonight’s class were:
Annie Finch Clinches Second Finals Win
Annie Finch of Rancho Santa Fe, CA, and W.C. Swing, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding by Guidam, led the victory gallop for the second time this week in the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals. Just five days ago, Finch won the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals. Finch beat 28 other riders in the competitive class by scoring 87.45 in the first round and an 85.4 in the second round for a total of 172.85. Elysse Ruschmeyer and Metro finished second with a total of 168.05, while while Quinn Traendly and Parcheesi were third with 165.8.
After her win last weekend, Finch felt nervous today. “We waited all week because I don’t do the hunters,” she explained. My mom and I had the best time, hanging out and watching everyone. Then there was pressure, everyone’s saying, ‘You won last week so you’re going to win this week.’”
Finch remarked, “I don’t ever think I’m going to win, I just think I don’t want to make a mistake. My goal has always been to fit in, I really have a hard time watching other people. I’m always like, ‘Oh you’re so good, what am I doing here?’ I’m just trying to go around!”
Her plan for today’s second round course changed when they decided to leave a stride out in the last line, which was a bending seven or direct six strides to a one-stride combination. Finch urged “Swing” down the line and he made it look easy. “My horse is so good, whatever you ask him to do, he‘ll do,” Finch said. “We could do eight or five (strides). I just do what my trainer (Chance Arakelian) tells me to do. He says slice it this way to that way, land left but don’t swap. The horse is amazing—he won those rounds. Last weekend was good, but he helped me out a lot today.”
Finch has ridden Swing for two years, and the talented horse has plenty of experience in the equitation ring – he won the USEF Talent Search Finals – West twice, plus numerous other classes.
Of her win, she said, “I said my goal is to have a good time, since this is my first time here! I’m still in shock from last weekend!”
Earlier in the afternoon, Debbie Kelly and Say What, owned by Rodney Bross, were victorious in the WCHR Adult Amateur Finals.
Round 1 of the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup sponsored by Kate Considine/Willow Brook Stables kicked off this afternoon with a speed class. Victoria Colvin and Monsieur du Reverdy were the fastest to win in 65.682 seconds. Second place went to Alexandra Crown and Starnato in 70.200 seconds, while Vivian Yowan and Coral Z were third in 73.509 seconds. The jumpers will return tomorrow night for their final round, the $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup.
The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues tomorrow with championships for the 16-17 sections of the junior hunters, the pony hunters, the Children’s Pony Hunters, the WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge, and the final round for the junior/amateur-owner jumpers.
Final Results: WCHR Professional Finals
2 PETER PLETCHER
3 JOHN FRENCH
4 ELIZABETH BOYD
5 WINNETOU HUNT TOSH
6 KELLEY FARMER
Final Results: ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals
2 METRO ELYSSE RUSCHMEYER
3 PARCHEESI QUINN TRAENDLY
4 LOGAN SARAH FLINK
5 LEONETTI STEPHANIE GOODSON
6 LIGHTNING APRIL WEHLE
7 LION KING ASHLEY TICE
8 ROSSO ROSSINI MIRANDA SCARPONE
9 LINDEGARDENS LOR ALEXA BAYKO
10 SPYGLASS AMY COOPER
About Capital Challenge
Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.
Photos © Shawn McMillen Photography – www.shawnmcmillen.com, and © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. These photos may only be used in relation to this press release and with full photo credit.