Libbie Gordon and Evelyn Walker Take First Hunter Championships at Pony Finals

Libbie Gordon and Childs Play Hot Topic

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 9, 2017 – The first two champions of the week were crowned at the prestigious 2017 USEF Pony Finals Wednesday, with Libbie Gordon and Mia Albelo’s Childs Play Hot Topic victorious in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, and Evelyn Walker and Captain Crunch maintaining their lead and earning the top spot on the podium ahead of the rest of the Small Green Pony Hunter field.

Entering the final jumping phase of competition in fourth position in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, the 14-year-old Libbie, who rides as a 13-year-old, and “Hottie” had stiff competition ahead of them. The pair from North Carolina sat a mere two points behind Claire Campbell and Brighton, owned by Maher Family, LLC, the leaders of the class after the model and hack.

Libbie Gordon & Childs Play Hot Topic 2017 #PonyFinals

Libbie Gordon and Childs Play Hot Topic win the Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship at USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm! This is her fifth #PonyFinals and her first overall win. "It still hasn't sunk in yet," she said "but it feels awesome!" #JoinTheJoy Watch #PonyFinals:

Posted by USEF Network on Wednesday, August 9, 2017

“I’ve been riding her since the beginning of the year, the middle of WEF, so not too long,” said Libbie of her mount. “We leased her for the year. She is one of the sweetest ponies ever – she has a great personality to ride and in the barn. She is a mare, so she likes her personal space. Her barn name is Hottie and she acts like one, but everyone loves her. She just wants to help you out a lot, and that’s what makes her really special. She wants to win as much as everyone else does and that really helps us out a lot.”

Rising to the challenge by laying down a stellar over fences round, Gordon and the pony managed to not only best the three pairs sitting ahead of them, but earned the third-highest over fences score of 253.10 in a division with nearly 140 entries. Gordon and Childs Play Hot Topic ultimately separated themselves from their competitors with cumulative marks on 1016.64, one of only three pony-rider pairs to break the 1000-point threshold.

“It feels really good. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m really excited” said Libbie. “This is my fifth year at Pony Finals, and I have been doing the ponies for six or seven years, but this is my first win at Pony Finals. It feels amazing.”

Libbie Gordon and Childs Play Hot Topic

The reserve championship for the division was claimed by Baylee McKeever and Tantallon Co-Captain, owned by Cecelia D’Amore, who finished the day with a score of 1007.41, trailed closely by Alliyah Antoniadis aboard Maggie Huffman’s Touch The Sun, who made the jump to third place overall from the 17th position after one of the highest-scoring over fences trips of the afternoon. Minty Mellon and Tamara Mellon’s Del Ray concluded the competition in fourth place, up from 28th place to begin the day, and Gabrielle Sokolow and Kingston, owned by Ava Peck, rounded out the top five.

Evelyn Walker and Captain Crunch

In the Small Green Pony Hunter division, California-based Walker and her own Captain Crunch entered the day as the clear leaders, more than 16 points ahead of the next-closest competitor, and that early lead proved helpful in maintaining their status at the head of the herd. As the last to ride in the over fences class, Walker needed a score of 230.85 or better to solidify herself as the division champion ahead of Augusta Iwaskai and Bibby Hill’s Thinking Out Loud, and the pair delivered with marks of 234.50 from the judges panel for a total score of 988.40 to capture the tricolor.

Evelyn Walker & Captain Crunch Small Green Pony Over Fences

Evelyn Walker and Captain Crunch claim the Small Green Hunter Pony Championship title at the USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm! One of the first people she wanted to give special thanks to was her groom Jorge Huerta. #JoinTheJoy Watch all of #PonyFinals:

Posted by USEF Network on Wednesday, August 9, 2017

“I just wanted [the jumping trip] to go smoothly, and he is a Green, so I didn’t have super high expectations, I just wanted to have fun, “said Evelyn. “I was definitely nervous, but I kept my focus and I went in there and he was great. We trust each other so it went well.”

Iwasaki and Thinking Out Loud finished the day as reserve champions with a total score of 981.10, followed by Caroline Olsen and Lynne Dow’s Farmore Charismatic. With the highest-scoring over fences trip, Taylor Kraft and Silver Dragon, owned by Damchu Stables, LLC, jumped from 15th to claim the fourth position, and Lauren Reid navigated Ramble On Farm’s Smoke Tree Starlet to an overall fifth place finish.

Evelyn Walker and Captain Crunch

Both Gordon and Walker will return to the Walnut Ring later this week with hopes of claiming another championship. Gordon will ride in the Large Greens, Medium Greens and Regular Medium Pony Hunters, each yet to begin. Walker and her own Sir Lukas already showcased themselves successfully in the model and hack in the Small Regular Pony Hunters, and will return for the jumping portion of competition Thursday sitting in fourth position overall.

The 2017 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, will continue through Sunday, Aug. 13. The nation’s best young pony riders will be tested in Small, Medium and Large classes of both Regular Hunter and Green Hunter divisions in the Walnut Ring, and the Alltech Arena will play host to Pony Jumper competition Thursday through Saturday. Sunday’s feature will be the Pony Medal Finals, one of the week’s highlight events.

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score

Small Regular Pony Hunters Model
1. Baylee Mckeever / Roll Call / Ava Berman / 262.2002. Parker Peacock / Glenhaven Astoria / 256.500
3. Ashley Lamers / In A Dream / Ashley Lamers / 255.500
4. Samantha Takacs/ Benjamin Buttons / Erika Luter / 254.500
5. Alexa Karet / Falling Moon Huckleberry / Richard Cunkle / 253.400
6. Savonna Adell / Smitten / Joe Currais / 253.250
7. Reilly Gogul / Brownland’s Mr. Mack / Sofia Roberts, LLC / 252.750
8. Avery Franke / Farmore Imagination / Avery Franke / 252.600
9. Abigail Gordon / Farmore State Of The Art / Abigail Gordon / 252.000
10. Evelyn Walker / Sir Lukas / Evelyn Walker / 251.600

Small Regular Pony Hunters Under Saddle
1. Maddie Tosh / Love Me Tender / Betsee Parker / 263.500
2. Elise Stephens / So Enchanted / Rendezvous Farm / 261.410
3. Ella Bikoff / Rico Suave / Ponies & Palms Show Stables LLC / 258.970
4. Calder Trotz / Brownland Miss Kimmy / Calder Trotz / 258.950
5. Evelyn Walker / Sir Lukas / Evelyn Walker / 257.6106. Samantha Takacs 257.570
7. Izzy Beisel/ Weebiscuit / Izzy Beisel / 257.060
8. Helen Ryan / Clovermeade Semper Fi / Wendy Brayman / 256.770
9. Jessie Spade / With Applause / Jessie Spade / 255.590
10. Amira Kettaneh / High Hopes Hollywood / Leigh Kettaneh / 254.820

Large Regular Pony Hunters Over Fences
1. Chandler Wilks / Valentino / Ashley Vail-Aycox / 256.500
2. Elle Gibbs / Woodlands Misty Rain / Aldridge Equestrian, LLC / 253.250
3. Libbie Gordon / Childs Play Hot Topic / Mia Albelo / 253.100
4. Alliyah Antoniadis / Touch The Sun / Maggie Huffman / 252.750
5. Minty Mellon / Del Ray / Tamara Mellon / 252.600
6. Caroline Signorino / Riveting / Signorino Family Farm LLC / 251.250
7. Jenna Drago / Rivaldo / Rivers Edge / 249.000
8. Baylee Mckeever / Tantallon Co-Captain / Cecilia D’amore / 248.320
9. Caroline Mirts / Entourage / Yandell Family Farm, LLC / 247.650
10. Alexa Leong / Candy Crush / Alexa Leong / 246.600

Small Green Pony Hunters Over Fences
1. Taylor Kraft / Silver Dragon / Damchu Stables, LLC / 242.000
2. Augusta Iwasaki / Thinking Out Loud / Bibby Hill / 239.000
3. Caroline Olsen / Farmore Charismatic / Lynne Dow / 237.000
4. Evelyn Walker / Captain Crunch / Evelyn Walker / 234.500
5. Marissa Santaniello / Bed Head Ned / Marissa Santaniello / 226.500
6. Lauren Reid / Smoke Tree Starlet / Ramble On Farm / 226.000
7. Jared Hersh / John Darling / Lyric Lefkowitz-Hersh / 224.000
8. Isabella Bertozzi / Brighton Up / Lynn Derose / 222.000
9. Elizabeth Cram / May-B Tango / Amber Asbell-jackson / 221.250
10. Brianna Fosnaugh / Hershey’s Blue Dixie Danube / Kimberly Brunson / 217.000

For more information on the 2017 USEF Pony Finals, please click here.