The 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships brought 145 hopeful entries to the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park, with Tuesday’s round of competition serving as the first of three phases for the 3’ and 3’3” exhibitors. A former overall champion in the event, Hunt Tosh navigated Douglas Wheeler’s Bordeaux to a masterful trip to capture the early lead ahead of the lofty field, ultimately capturing the blue ribbon and the lion’s share of the day’s prize money. The duo will aim to maintain that momentum headed into Wednesday’s second phase in order to earn a slot in the top 30 that will ride in Thursday’s championship round.
Riding 62nd in the order of go as one of the final horse-and-athlete pairs at the 3’ height, Tosh and Bordeaux were chasing Christopher Payne and Moore Park, owned by Still Water Farm, LLC, as the early front runners with cumulative marks of 259.50 from the three panels of judges.
Course designer Bobby Murphy presented a 9-fence track to competitors that offered two obstacles from which to choose as fence one, and the pattern proved to lend itself nicely to Tosh and the 4-year-old chestnut gelding as they pulled in impressive scores from the watchful eyes of the judges. The pair earned a total 272 points to catapult to the lead almost halfway through the class.
“I had a couple of horses before him, so I cruised a couple of times before I rode him, so that was nice,” shared Tosh. “He is very young and kind of inexperienced, but he has been great since we started him. He did his first show this winter in Florida and has only shown a couple of times, but every time he has been very straightforward and simple. I didn’t know going in today if in this environment in this big ring he would get lost, but he handled it all perfectly. He went great. [Bordeaux] is a quiet horse and very brave.”
More than 80 partners would take their turns around the ring in an attempt to usurp Tosh and Bordeaux as the leaders but, though a handful earned scores that broke the 260-point threshold, none would prove successful. Tosh and Bordeaux finished the afternoon as the only pair to break 270 points, and will return Wednesday with a narrow 4-point lead ahead of the next-closest competitors.
Regarding his plan for Wednesday, Tosh shared that he is hopeful their stellar performance will carry on throughout the competition. “I’m going to keep my fingers crossed! I have some other ones to ride tomorrow and I’ll definitely watch other rounds to see how the course rides. He is a very quiet horse and I [might] go kind of late in the day, so I’ll have to keep him prepared properly so that he isn’t too quiet. Hopefully we’ll have another great day!”
No stranger to the winner’s circle, Tosh is a veteran rider in the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships and won the inaugural event in 2013 aboard both Crisp and Casanova, tying himself for the top honors. This year, Bordeaux was the third of Tosh’s five rides of the day, four of which placed within the top 50 in Tuesday’s rankings. As if Tosh’s performance with Bordeaux was not impressive enough, the fact that the horse is only 4 years old certainly adds to their feat.
Courtney Lenkart and Lori Mathews’ Alisto nabbed the reserve spot with impressive marks of 268, followed by Patricia Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Endeavor in third position with 263.50 points. Three-time champion Scott Stewart and Samantha Schaefer, with the reins on Rivers Edge’s Everwonder and Take 3 LLC’s Trademark, respectively, are tied in the subsequent two slots with 263 points apiece.
The 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships will continue through Thursday. All competitors will return to the ring Wednesday for another chance at making the top thirty on the leaderboard, as those horses and riders will return for the third and final phase of competition with a blank slate Thursday to determine the 2018 Champion. The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will continue throughout the week, with the USHJA International Derby taking place Friday and Saturday, as well as two highlight grand prixs. The $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic will bring riders to the Rolex Stadium Friday evening, with the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix sponsored by Audi of Lexington taking place Sunday afternoon.
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Green Hunter Incentive – Round I
1. Bordeaux / Hunt Tosh / Douglas Wheeler / 272.00
2. Alisto / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 268.00
3. Endeavor / Patricia Griffith / Callie Seaman / 263.50
4. Everwonder / Scott Stewart / Rivers Edge / 263.00
5. Trademark / Samantha Schaefer / Take 3 LLC / 263.00
6. Lion / Tara Metzner / Davlyn Farms / 262.50
7. Queen Celeste / Haylie Rolfe / Pony Lane Farm / 262.00
8. Noah / Sara Taylor / Ingrid Avera / 261.50
9. Sher Khan / Courtney Lenkart / Singha Farm, LLC / 260.00
10. Moore Park / Christopher Payne / Still Water Farm LLC / 259.50