The final day of WCHR Hunter Week at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival came to a close on Sunday, February 17, with top junior and amateur hunter riders returning for one final day of special competition. Well-braided horses and riders in shadbellies once again took to the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center as the day kicked off with the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic.
As one of the largest classes of Hunter Week, the classic saw more than 70 top hunter combinations contest for a chance to make the top-12 callback for the second round of competition. Coco Fath of Fairfield, CT, and Akinda were late in the order of go for the first round, but rocketed right to the top of the leaderboard with a top score of 89.00 points for their effort. While 11 of the class’s best-scoring riders returned before Fath to contest the second course, none could overcome Fath and the Hillside Farm LLC’s 13-year-old Warmblood mare. The team’s second round score of 81.00 points gave them a combined total of 170.00 points which was 2.5 points higher than second place winner Ava Lindsay and Fabricio 23.
Coco Fath and Akinda. Photo © Sportfot.
“To me the course looked really nice and simple enough, but it had some parts where there was room for error,” Fath explained. “My plan was just to keep her very calm and slow; because she is a mare she is sometimes a little bit fussy in the head, so I have to really focus on keeping her relaxed.”
Fath and Akinda have had a long partnership and were previously showing together in the competitive junior hunter divisions before Fath aged out of junior status.
“Around the same time I aged out, she was out of showing for a little while with a minor injury so I just hoped to have nice rounds, but I didn’t go out there expecting to win anything,” she continued. “Today could not have gone better, and it was amazing to be able to compete against this level of hunter horses and riders, especially here in the International Arena.”
The second and final class to be held in the International Arena on Sunday was the $5,000 WCHR Junior Classic 3’3” which was held as a california split format with 51 horse-and-rider combinations taking the field. This time, the top 24 pairs returned to the ring for a second test to decide the top 12 placings for both Section A and Section B. With scores of 86.00 and 85.5 combining to a total of 171.5, Brenna Magness of West Chester, PA, and Hey King entered the arena one last time to receive their ribbon as the winners of Section A.
Magness has been paired with the Redfield Farm’s seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding for the past six months and has been nothing but impressed with the young horse’s work ethic. “He’s amazing. I don’t even know how to describe how wonderful he is for his age,” she enthused. “I was completely shocked when they said I was winning after the first round and still am now.
Brenna Magness and Hey King. Photo © Sportfot.
“I really just wanted to have a nice, clean round and get around the course well since he is young and this is a huge ring,” Magness continued. “There were a couple of jumps that several of the very experienced horses were shying at that worried me, but I prepared myself for anything and he ended up handling it all incredibly well.”
Hannah Hoch of Whitefish Bay, WI, and Clear Sailing, a 12-year-old Warmblood mare, received the Section B top placing after accumulating scores of 85.5 and 85.00 for a total of 170.5 points. Hoch and the Hannah Hoch LLC’s mare were also champion earlier in the week of Section A in the Junior Hunter 3’3” 15 & Under division.
Hannah Hoch and Clear Sailing. Photo © Sportfot.
“I loved the course. It was very left lead-oriented and my mare prefers her left lead, so I think that was definitely an advantage for us,” Hoch commented. “She really loves her job, so I just focused on planning my track and maintaining my pace through the bending lines which are easy to get stuck in.”
Young riders were also given an opportunity to take home a classic win and prize money with the running of the NAL Children’s Classic 14 & Under as well as the NAL Children’s Classic 15-17. Pony riders donned their best hunter attire for the Children’s Large Pony Hunter Classic and the Children’s Small/Medium Pony Hunter Classic, as well as the Florida Classic for Small, Medium, and Large Pony Hunter divisions.
$2,500 NAL Children’s 14 & Under Classic
Tessa Downey, Hoopla
86, 88, 174
$2,500 NAL Children’s 15-17 Classic
Kertis, Rachel Momrow Darby
85, 88, 173
$2,500 Children’s Small/Medium Pony Hunter Classic
DRF Princess Peach, Allison Coleman
85, 84, 169
$2,500 Children’s Large Pony Hunter Classic
Stanmore’s New Hope, Alexandra Lynn Willner
78, 84, 162
$2,500 Florida Small Pony Classic
iParty, Alexa Anne Lignelli
86, 83, 169
$2,500 Florida Medium Pony Classic
Mind Your Step, Hannah Famulak
79, 87, 166
$2,500 Florida Large Pony Classic
Pokerface, Cecelia Perry
87, 88, 175