More than 40 horse-and-rider combinations competed against each other for the champion and reserve champion ribbons in the FarmVet Performance Hunter 3’3” division during Week 8 of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival. Held in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Thursday, Christopher Payne of Cincinnati, OH, was awarded the division’s champion ribbon.
Payne was aboard Susan Moriconi’s six-year-old Holsteiner gelding Holden On, (Casall x No Lady) a horse that is fairly new to the Performance Hunter division. Despite a lack of experience, the gelding racked up two firsts, two seconds, and one fifth to catapult to the top of the leaderboard in the competitive division.
Christopher Payne and Holden Out. Photo © Sportfot
“He really should be in the pre-greens with his level of experience because he really hasn’t had much mileage, but because of the time we let him have off after his 3 & 4-year-old year, he is no longer eligible,” Payne explained.
“He’s only competed at this level a few times, and it was an impressive course especially because it was in the Grand Hunter ring today,” he continued. “He has really handled everything well despite his lack of experience, and he’s super athletic with lots of scope. A course like today’s where he can really lope around and produce a big effort over the jumps is definitely well-suited to him.”
Payne was most surprised to secure the victory because of the sheer number of experienced hunter horses his young horse was up against.
“It was a crazy large class,” said Payne. “There were a lot of very seasoned horses entered so it was extremely competitive.”
The reserve championship was awarded to Argentus and Jimmy Torano of Wellington, FL. Torano rode the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Argentinus x Agenda) for the ownership of Isalou, Inc. The pair took home two first places ribbons as well as two thirds to secure their reserve champion title.