Day one of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show kicked off with the first round of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships. After 141 horse-and-rider combinations tried their hand at the 3’ and 3’3” heights during Tuesday’s competition, it was Scott Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Mayflower who stole the show with a score of 267 points to take the lead and the blue ribbon. Heading into Wednesday’s second phase of competition, the pair looks to earn a slot in the top 30 that will qualify to compete in Thursday’s championship round.
Scott Stewart and Mayflower. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Competing at the 3’ height, Stewart and the 5-year-old German Warmblood tackled Bobby Murphy’s 9-effort course with ease. Murphy, from Lexington, Kentucky, asked riders and their young horses to use the entirety of the Walnut Ring’s ample space, featuring a two-stride combination and an outside line with two track options, differing in strides. One of the last horse-and-rider pairs to go at the 3’ height as 68th in the order of go, Stewart’s high marks held onto the lead for the remainder of the day’s competition. Already a multiple-time winner of the event, Stewart is comfortable sitting at the head of the leaderboard.
Stewart and Dr. Parker have been working with the flashy grey mare since her 3-year-old year. With limited experience in the show ring, only previously showing briefly at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival, Kentucky Spring Horse Show and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, Mayflower is relatively new to hunter competition, but Stewart hopes to maintain consistency throughout the duration of the three-day championship.
Photo by Phelps Sports
Continuing to prove why he consistently dominates the hunter ranks, Stewart rode Dr. Parker’s Sandstone to second place with a score of 264, just three points shy of his winning mount. Christopher Payne navigated Stillwater Farm LLC’s Gratitude to a tie for second place, also with 264 points following the first round of riding. Fourth position was awarded to Holly Orlando and Waypoint Farm LLC’s Waverly with 262.50 points, while Courtney Lenkart and Lori Mathews’ Captain America rounded out the top five finishers with a score of 262.
The 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships will continue through Thursday. All 3’/3’3” 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 2019 Champion. Two rounds of 3’6”/3’9” competition will take place Thursday, as well.