Hunters from Both Coasts Crowned Champions at Capital Challenge

Twelve professional hunter champions were named on Tuesday, October 1, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD, which continues through Sunday, October 6, at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center.

Earning the first championship of the day inside the Show Place Arena were Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, and Gabriel, owned by JT Farm. Colvin, 22, and the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding won two Green Conformation Hunter over-fences classes and finished second in the handy before ultimately claiming the Green Conformation Hunter division championship, sponsored by Joie Gatlin – Morley Abey Show Jumping Inc.

Victoria Colvin and Gabriel, owned by JT Farm. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

“All of his rounds were very consistent; he didn’t get anything lower than an 84 or 85,” said Colvin, who first rode the gelding a year ago at Capital Challenge. “It’s neat to see how he’s come along since last year. This is like a one-year anniversary.”

Throughout much of the summer, Gabriel shows with owner Ellen Toon in the Amateur-Owner Hunters – which Toon will contest with the gelding at Capital Challenge as well – but Colvin enjoys the opportunity to compete Gabriel at Capital Challenge.

“It’s a nice show, and everybody – East Coast, West Coast – comes together to compete here,” said Colvin, who noted that she has been competing at the horse show for more than 12 years. “I was here in the ponies; I showed here in the junior hunters when I was nine.”

Finishing behind Colvin and Gabriel as the Green Conformation Hunter reserve champions were Erica Quinn of Royal Palm Beach, FL, and Turner, owned by Penelope Ayers.

Colvin and Gabriel also finished as the reserve champions in the Green Hunter 3’6″ Section B, sponsored by Lee Sadrian and the Kellogg Family. There it was Jeff Gogul of Wilmington, OH, who rode to the division championship aboard Maverick, owned by Roberts Stables, LLC, after winning two of the division’s over-fences classes and finishing third in both an over-fences class and the under saddle.

In Section A of the Green Hunter 3’6″, sponsored by Peter Pletcher and PJP Farm, John French of Mill Creek, WA, and San Marco, owned by Ann Russo, claimed the championship.

John French and Ann Russo’s San Marco. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

“Nothing fazed him,” said French of the eight-year-old Selle Français gelding that topped two over-fences classes and finished third in the handy. “[In] the first class he jumped high; he was a little impressed, but we don’t ever get to practice indoors so you don’t really know what to expect. Then I knew he was going to be good the whole time!

“He is simple; he’s not spooky,” continued French, a four-time winner of the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Finals at Capital Challenge. “I really like his kind of ride. He just wants you to leave him alone in front of the jumps. I never have to worry about picking him up. You don’t need to leg him too much to the jump. You just leave it up to him.”

With the win in the Green Hunter 3’6″ Section A handy, a third-place finish in the under saddle, and an additional third place over fences, the division reserve championship was presented to Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL, and Love Note, owned by Richard Prant.

Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, and Scott Stewart. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Stewart continued his highly successful day with championship titles in both the High Performance Hunters, sponsored by Take the High Road LLC, and the High Performance Conformation Hunters, sponsored by Hidden Hollow LLC and Ginny Edwards.

In the High Performance Hunters, Stewart rode Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, to the top tricolor honor after claiming wins in both the handy and the under saddle and two second-place finishes over fences. With a score of 94.5 for their handy round, Stewart and the 12-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding also received the highest score of the day.

Scott Stewart and Private Life, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Stewart’s second championship came aboard Private Life, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker. Stewart and the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding proved untouchable, sweeping all three of the High Performance Conformation Hunter over-fences classes.

Finishing as the reserve champions in the High Performance Hunters and High Performance Conformation Hunters, respectively, were Stewart and Cameo, owned by Parker, and Christopher Payne and Fibonacci, owned by Still Water Farm LLC.

In the Green Hunter 3’9″, sponsored by Lannie Lipson, the championship went to Sandra Ferrell of Belair, PA, and Moonshot, owned by Stephanie Bulger. The duo won both an over-fences and the under-saddle class, as well as finishing second and fifth over fences, on their way to the championship.

“When we bought him, we knew he would have the scope to jump mountains, so there were no surprises that he handled the second year just as well as he did his first year,” said Ferrell of the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding that she began riding a year and a half ago. “He is a very confident horse. He knows his job. For the past 48 hours he’s been in a zone to win. He has been so fun.

“He’s just a great horse, and he will go on to do the 4′,” continued Ferrell about the 16-hand gelding. “He’s got so much scope, and he’s a little horse. It’s been a great two days for us. It is the only horse we brought, so we came, and we conquered!”

Finishing as the reserve champions behind Ferrell and Moonshot were last year’s WCHR Professional Challenge winners, Amanda Steege and Lafitte de Muze, owned by Cheryl Olsten.

In addition to the six 3’6″ – 4′ professional hunter divisions, Tuesday’s competition also included six Green Hunter 3′ and 3’3″ divisions, that collectively welcomed more than 140 entries.

The Green Hunter 3’ and 3’3″ division champions included:

  • Green Hunter 3′ Colts & Geldings, sponsored by Boggs Hill/Mr. and Mrs. Tim Goguen
    • Champion: Ravello, ridden by Liza Boyd and owned by Finally Farm, Inc.
    • Reserve Champion: Sandstone, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Dr. Betsee Parker
  • Green Hunter 3′ Mares, sponsored by Penelope Ayers
    • Champion: Waverly, ridden by Holly Orlando and owned by Privet Farm, LLC.
    • Reserve Champion: Mayflower, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Dr. Betsee Parker
  • Green Hunter 3’3″ Section A, sponsored by Hunt Tosh, Inc.
    • Champion: Blink, ridden by Jennifer Bauersachs and owned by Lee Kellogg Sadrian
    • Reserve Champion: Bordeaux, ridden by Hunt Tosh and owned by Dr. Betsee Parker
  • Green Hunter 3’3″ Section B, sponsored by Hunt Tosh, Inc.
    • Champion: Commentary, ridden by Julie Curtin and owned by Amy Squier Perez
    • Reserve Champion: Tufton Avenue, ridden by Katie Cooper and owned by Caves Farm LLC
  • Green Hunter 3′,6 and Under, sponsored by Jennifer & Roger Smith
    • Champion: Canyon, ridden by Patricia Griffith and owned by Lexi Maounis
    • Reserve Champion: Silver Lining, ridden by Patricia Griffith and owned by Callie Seaman
  • Green Hunter 3′, 7 & Over, sponsored by David Belford & Christopher Payne, New Hope LLC
    • Champion: Quiet Time, ridden by John French and owned by Ann Russo
    • Reserve Champion: Normandy, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Dr. Betsee Parker

The Challenge Horse Show continues through Sunday, October 6. Highlights of Wednesday’s competition include the $25,000 North American Green Hunter Championship during the day-time session, and both the $5,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Developing Pro Challenge and $30,00 WCHR Pro Challenge during the evening session.