The Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS) debuted two new classes Wednesday with the $25,000 Champion of Champions Winners’ Stake and $25,000 Green 3′ & 3’3″ Winners’ Stake. Open to competitors who previously placed in the top four of a hunter over-fences class, resulting in an impressive entry list, the Stakes offered another opportunity for top hunters to show off their very best.
Riding to the win with a score of 92 in the $25,000 Champion of Champions Winners’ Stake was Jeff Gogul and Roberts Stables LLC’s Just Ask. This win was the culmination of a stellar competition for the pair, which included several blue ribbons and the tri-color in the High Performance Conformation Hunter division.
Jeff Gogul and Just Ask (c) Al Cook Photography
“He (Just Ask) gave me a ride today that is a ride I’ll remember for a long time, for the rest of my life really. He was just spectacular. I just had to stay out of his way and let him do his job, and he just went beautifully,” Gogul said of the 10-year-old Warmblood. “It’s a great match for me. His canter is amazing, his jump is amazing, he’s careful. For sure we trust one another.”
The win is that much sweeter given that Gogul has produced this horse from the start. Gogul is the only person to have shown “JT” since he was imported about three years ago. Moving quickly through the levels, Just Ask was Grand Champion Hunter at PNHS last year.
“He loves this ring. He just seems to get better and better here,” Gogul said. “This is a great venue. I have always loved riding in this ring. For the hunters to be able to compete for a bigger check is amazing whenever you have that opportunity. It’s so nice for the owners. I can’t be more grateful. None of this would be possible without the Roberts family … and our whole team of people. The main goal is always to do right by the horses and for everybody to have a good time, and we certainly had that this week.”
Maria Rasmussen and Business Time (c) Al Cook Photography
Taking home top honors in the $25,000 Green 3′ & 3’3″ Winners’ Stake was Maria Rasmussen aboard Maya Grove’s Business Time, earning a score of 91. Rasmussen and the 7-year-old Swedish Warmblood also won Tuesday’s Green Hunter 3’3″ Over Fences and Green Hunter 3’3″ Under Saddle classes.
“We bought him (Business Time) in May. He’s been just fun and quiet and known his job from the get-go. He’s a little bit green but it’s always been really easy and fun for him,” Rasmussen said. “This is his first real experience with indoors. He was good, he handled it well. When he jumped a good trip yesterday and he won, he still spooked a little at the end of the ring. He walked out today like he’s been here for a year.”
Topping off Tuesday’s special win in the Grand Green Hunter Championship, Stephanie Bulger’s Moonshot was awarded the PNHS Grand Hunter Championship and the Beaufort Hunt Perpetual Trophy. Bulger received the Grand Hunter Championship Owner’s Award, while Karen Caristo earned the Grand Hunter Trainer’s Award and the Jack Stedding Memorial Perpetual Trophy. Peter Luyckx accepted the Grooms Award for his care of the 10-year-old Holsteiner.
“We purchased him in the middle of Florida last year (2018) from Courtney and Scott Langford,” explained Moonshot’s rider Sandra Ferrell, who earned the Elizabeth M. Solter Memorial Perpetual Trophy as this year’s Leading Hunter Rider. “It just happened I wasn’t showing Hemingway one week, and I went down to watch the first years, and I saw this gray horse go around and thought ‘Shoot, if Hemingway doesn’t win, this horse is the winner.’ And I went back to Team Meadowview, and I was like ‘Guys, I think we need to buy this horse, because if Hemingway makes (even the tiniest) mistake, this horse will beat us.”
In addition to these winners, Carleton Brooks was champion of the Green Conformation Hunter division and recipient of the Wild Air Farms Challenge Trophy aboard Balmoral’s Pritchard Hill. Jeff Gogul picked up the Green Hunter 3′ Championship and PNHS Green Hunter 3′ Perpetual Trophy with Roberts Stables LLC’s Graciano, who also finished second just one point behind the winner in the $25,000 Green 3′ & 3’3″ Winners’ Stake. Nick Haness piloted West Coast Equine Partners LLC’s Crowd Pleaser to victory in the Green Hunter 3’3″ Championship.