Competition on Saturday at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival once again saw junior and amateur hunter riders vying for a championship title amongst the steep competition at the show’s WCHR Hunter Week. Classes ran throughout the day leading up to the special “Saturday Night Lights” event, the $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular.
Leading off competition in the International Arena, Augusta Iwasaki and Small Occasion started the day by taking the champion title in the Palm Beach International Academy Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under 3’6“. Iwasaki also took the reserve champion title with her other mount Wheels Up, a 11-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lordanos x Lisboa) owned by Vantage Point Equine Corp.
Augusta Iwasaki and Small Occasion. Photo © Sportfot.
“Occasion was really, really good. In the first round we had a little bit of a hard rub, but in the handy and today she was amazing, so I’m very happy with her,” said Iwasaki of her nine-year-old Holsteiner mare (Cosido x T-Cosmea). “She’s a bit sassy. I’ve had her for over a year now, and I just love her so much. My goal is to do well in the Spectacular; that would be really nice.”
The Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under 3’6” champion ribbon went to Mimi Gochman and Evermore. “Yesterday the first two rounds were very good and we were second in both; he also won the hack, which helped,” said Gochman of her rides on her partner, a nine-year-old Bavarian gelding (Empire x Daphne). “Today I was a little off and I had a swap in the two stride, but all around he was wonderful. I think it’s harder to ride in the International Arena because it’s such a big field, and you have to gauge the gallop to decide where you slow down and where you move up.
Mimi Gochman and Evermore. Photo © Sportfot.
“He’s always really good and reliable,” continued Gochman. “My goal is to qualify for indoors and for Devon, and my plan is to just be consistent and keep him happy. I trust him, and he trusts me so we’re good friends.”
Lindsay Maxwell and High Society started off the morning in the Grand Hunter Ring by capturing the championship in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’6”. “I’ve had High Society since May of last year. He was doing the jumpers, and we brought him over to the hunter ring. He took to it beautifully,” said Maxwell of her 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diarado x Chance For Ever). “He hasn’t even been doing the hunters for a year yet, so I really just wanted to go consistently and put in solid rounds this week.
Lindsay Maxwell and High Society. Photo © Sportfot.
“The courses were great, the jumps were beautiful, and I’m thrilled with how he went. He stepped up every time I asked him to and jumped beautifully, and I couldn’t be happier with the horse. I can’t say enough good things about him,” continued Maxwell. “Blue [High Society] is a very kind horse, he’s a total gentleman, and can definitely be a ham in the barn. He loves attention, and the [Equine Elixirs] Tidbit treats are definitely his favorite.”
Already a famous name in the hunter sport, Catch Me and Becky Gochman secured another champion ribbon as the pair dominated the Hunt Limited Amateur-Owner 36 & Over 3’6” division. Gochman and the Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Casiro I x Wonne I) earned a top-three placing in three of the four division classes. The reserve championship went to the pair of Clementina Brown and Eagle.
Becky Gochman and Catch Me. Photo © Sportfot.
Catch Me has been famous in the hunter rings under the guidance of the Gochman family and trainer, Scott Stewart. “My week was a little up and down, so it was nice to come back and have a championship in this division because it is full of very experienced horses and riders,” Gochman commented. “I just went in there and relaxed a lot more, and I felt like he tried extra hard today to make up for having a rail yesterday. In this division we are all pretty seasoned riders, but we enjoy what we do so much that the competition is fun.”
Jordan Allen and Kind of Blue received the champion honors in the Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 3’6”. “Kind Of Blue has been not only this week, but throughout the whole circuit, just the most incredible hunter ever. Yesterday we were second in the first class and then he won the handy and the under saddle,” said Allen of her partner, an eight-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Bravour x Caresse Tau) owned by Float On Equestrian LLC.
Jordan Allen and Kind of Blue. Photo © Sportfot.
“I’m really excited for [the Spectacular], and right now that’s my biggest goal. I’m hoping to have two consistent rounds tonight, and then just consistent weeks following,” said Allen of her goals with Kind of Blue. “I ride a lot of different horses, but I’ve ridden him for a while so we really have a relationship. When I come to the ring, he knows it’s time for work, and we get along really well when I go to the farm. I love riding him, and I’m so lucky.”
The Small Junior Hunter 16-17 3’6” division championship went to the 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding, O’Ryan, with rider Maggie Hill. The gelding is owned by Stella Styslinger, leased by Hill, and the pair train under the supervision of top hunter rider, Liza Boyd.
Maggie Hill and O’Ryan. Photo © Sportfot.
“O’Ryan is a total professional that has been consistently champion this entire season,” Hill said. “He has shown three of the six weeks so far and was champion each week because he really just knows his job so well.”
“I’m very much looking forward to the Hunter Spectacular with him; it is a little bit nerve-wracking because there are more people watching, but it’s fun to be under the lights,” she added. “I have all my trust in him and his experience, so I know he will be amazing and he can hold my hand a little bit throughout the night.”