The final phase of riding for both the 3’/3’3” and 3’6”/3’9” divisions of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship took place Thursday afternoon, bringing back eligible exhibitors to the Walnut Ring for one final time around the course and a shot at the greatest purse of the three-day competition. Patricia Griffith and Endeavor added to their two previous performances with an uncatchable score in the 3’/3’3” competition to ride away with the victory, while Sandy Ferrell and Hemingway followed suit with the highest score of the entire competition to emerge as the inaugural winners of the 3’6”/3’9” section.
Entering the ring just slightly more than halfway through the order in the 18th slot, Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Endeavor were up against the leading score at the time of 263, earned by Sara Taylor and Ingrid Avera’s Noah who rode eight trips earlier. Displaying an excellent show of precision and consistency, Griffith and the 9-year-old bay gelding made their way smoothly around Bobby Murphy’s 11-fence track at the 3’3” height to the tune of scores of 88, 88.5 and 88.5 for a cumulative 265 points from the judges to takeover the top spot on the leaderboard.
“The first thing we noticed about him was that he really exhibits all the qualities of a true hunter,” Griffith shared regarding Endeavor. “He has beautiful movement, he is still, his ears are forward, he jumps – he is really just the epitome of a hunter. He was doing Pre-Greens and had done the First Years one time, and that was where I noticed him at Old Salem. We saw him and his owner, Callie [Seaman], got on him in the pouring rain and jumped four jumps and was like, ‘I’ll take him!’ She knows right away usually if she likes them.”
The talented pair were chased by their subsequent counterparts, and although a handful would lay down solid performance to earn scores in the high 80s, ultimately none could catch them on the scorecard, solidifying Griffith and Endeavor as the blue ribbon and biggest prize money winners of the afternoon in their section.
“I think that before this, there weren’t as many people buying these young hunters. Now they have something to look forward to and a goal. Before this great class, you just had normal run of the mill shows. This is such a great thing to have. You can gear horses towards this,” Griffith said of the class.
One of the last to ride and Wednesday’s class winner, Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM First Dibs jumped their way into the reserve spot with a total tally of 264.50, just half of a point behind Griffith and Endeavor. Fenney and MTM First Dibs edged out the 2019 champions in terms of prize money by just a few hundred dollars thanks to their top rankings in each of the three phases.
Though Taylor and Noah were bumped from the top of the podium, the duo maintained a top finish to finish with the bronze medal, trailed by three-time champion Scott Stewart with Rivers Edge’s Everwonder in fourth position. Kim Buzby, in the saddle aboard Catherine Cox’s Final Cut, took fifth position.
Earlier in the morning, the first round of the two-phase 3’6”/3’9” section of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship determined the top 30 finishers out of the 42 original entries that would return for a stake at more prize money and the top honors. Over the first course, Hunt Tosh rode Ceil Wheeler’s Bastogne to the high score of 268, followed by Ferrell with the reins aboard Stephanie Bulger’s Hemingway with marks of 265 from the three panels of judges.
Though the second round operated with riders returning with a blank slate, Tosh and Ferrell, along with other top contenders Stewart, Liza Boyd and Katherine Newman, among others, had already once proved their horses’ prowess in the ring to earn a favorable reputation headed into the grand finale.
Unlike the prior class, more entries opted for the smaller fences in the final class of the day, with only five pairs electing to tackle the 3’9” obstacles and the rest preferring the 3’6” height. One of the first horse-and-athlete combinations to maneuver the course, Kelley Farmer and Aizlynn Radwanski’s Shameless set the bar high with a score of 264, the same score that had earned Fenney’s reserve placing only a few minutes before.
Farmer’s lead would not hold long though, as Ferrell and Hemingway entered the show ring as the 11th in the order of go, laying down a textbook trip to earn scores of 90, 92 and 93 for a composite score of 275 points, the highest of both height sections across all three days. Ferrell and Hemingway waited out their peers, and in the end were awarded with the rosette and the greatest stake of the pot.
“It was so fun!” exclaimed Ferrell. “It was a beautiful ring, a beautiful night, and Bobby Murphy did really nice courses. The horses went really well and jumped great. I think we are really blessed to be here with such amazing animals.”
Farmer and Shameless remained unsurpassed by any other exhibitors to clinch the reserve championship honors, while Stewart tied himself aboard two mount owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, Private Life and Harvard Hall. Liza Boyd showcased Maggie Hill’s Tradition to the next-highest score on the scorecard to round out the top five.
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Green Hunter Incentive – 3’/3’3” Championship Round
1. Endeavor / Patricia Griffith / Callie Seaman / 265.00
2. MTM First Dibs / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 264.50
3. Noah / Sara Taylor / Ingrid Avera / 263.00
4. Everwonder / Scott Stewart / Rivers Edge / 259.50
5. Final Cut / Kim Buzby / Catharine Cox / 255.00
6. Alisto / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 255.00
7. Like Always / Victoria Colvin / Jana Rodes / 252.50
8. Moore Park / Christopher Payne / Still Water Farm LLC / 252.00
9. Cover / David Connors / Carol Stillwell / 250.50
10. Baby Balou / Scott Stewart / Rivers Edge / 249.00
Green Hunter Incentive – 3’6”/3’9” Championship Round
1. Hemingway / Sandy Ferrell / Stephanie Bulger / 275.00
2. Shameless / Kelley Farmer / Aizlynn Radwanski / 264.00
3. Private Life / Scott Stewart / Dr Betsee Parker / 259.00
4. Harvard Hall / Scott Stewart / Dr Betsee Parker / 259.00
5. Tradition / Elizabeth Boyd / Maggie Hill / 256.00
6. Dandelion / Katherine Newman / Allwyn Court & Dandelion Group / 254.00
7. High Society / Geoffrey Hesslink / Lindsay Maxwell / 254.00
8. Diatendro / Havens Schatt / Kelley Corrigan / 253.50
9. Small Occasion / Jamie Taylor / Iwasaki & Reilly / 250.50
10. Last Light / Phoebe De Mott / Marla Parente / 250.00