Few people have had as much success in the hunter ring as Scott Stewart, but being able to come to the prestigious Devon Horse Show and secure this year’s Devon Grand Hunter Championship and Devon Leading Hunter Rider Award with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Private Life was as rewarding as ever for the renowned hunter rider and trainer.
For the fourteenth time in his career, Stewart accumulated the most points to capture the highly-coveted Devon Leading Hunter Rider Award and the Helen Hope Montgomery Scott Perpetual Trophy, despite having two broken ribs from a recent fall. Stewart relied heavily on his team at River’s Edge to prepare the horses so they would be able to perform at their best at the iconic venue.
“I tried to ride in the morning during Junior Weekend and I couldn’t really,” Stewart shared. “I had to rely on everyone else to get my horses ready. I literally didn’t ride until Monday, which was a little rough, but I got through it. I decided I was going to try to ride the first day and see how it went.”
Stewart and the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding took home the Devon Grand Hunter Championship as well as the Fourth Sally Deaver Murray Memorial Challenge Trophy on Wednesday after winning the championship tricolor in the High Performance Conformation Hunter division with 42 points. Finishing up as reserve champion with 24 points was another one of Stewart’s mounts, Lucador, also owned by Dr. Parker.
Stewart and Ken Berkley acquired Private Life from Morgan Ward who purchased him as a 4-year-old at a Dutch auction. After a solid start in the Pre-Green Hunters, Stewart sold him to Dr. Parker and then began showing him in the First Year Green Hunter division.
“He’s awesome,” Stewart said of the gelding. “He’s just 7 and he always tries to win. He’s really the most straightforward horse, from the beginning. Even last year, I think he was champion here and all of indoors as a 6-year-old. He’s just the same everyday. He’s a blast to ride.”
In the High Performance Working Hunters, it was Becky Gochman’s Catch Me ridden by Stewart who rode to the top of the scoreboard with 38 points, while reserve champion honors were awarded to Kensel LLC’s Mindful and Holly Shepherd with 26 points. River’s Edge groom Fernando Bonilla was also honored in the Dixon Oval with the Devon Leading Groom Award.
Next up on the schedule for Stewart and Private Life is the Upperville Colt and Horse Show in Upperville, Virginia, before a break and then they will venture to Bridgehampton, New York for the Hampton Classic Horse Show at the end of August.
Additional awards included the Leading Mare Award and the “Bunty” Sellers Perpetual Trophy which was presented to Bridget Martell’s Nina, ridden by Louise Serio. The Lady Leading Rider award and the Tarad Hill Perpetual Trophy was earned by Holly Shepherd.
Competition will resume in the Dixon Oval on Thursday morning at 8 a.m. with the $35,000 Main Line Challenge prior to the day’s hunter highlight event starting at 12 p.m., the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.