Wednesday morning at the 136th annual National Horse Show brought top hunter horse-and-rider combinations to the Alltech Arena of the Kentucky Horse Park. As the oldest indoor horse show in the United States, the National Horse Show has earned a permanent spot on the calendars of many elite professionals and amateurs who make the trip from far and wide to vie for the titles and perpetual trophies up for grabs each year. Following Tuesday’s start to the hunter divisions, the first round of championship honors were awarded for the 2019 National Horse Show on Wednesday.
Of the contenders, it was Dr. Betsee Parker’s Lucador, piloted by Scott Stewart, who received the Grand Champion Professional Hunter title. Stewart also went on to claim the Leading Hunter Rider trophy for his 13th time, while Becky Gochman and Catch Me earned the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter trophy, walking away with the iconic black cooler embroidered with the National Horse Show historic emblem.
Photo by Phelps Media Group
Stewart and Lucador have a long standing history of excellence together. After years of accumulating tricolor ribbons across the nation, the pair earned their final Grand Champion Professional Hunter title in their last show together. Stewart and the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding earned their points in the High-Performance Hunter division, taking top three placings in all of the over fences classes and first in the under saddle class over the course of the two days, resulting in their championship honors in the division. Lucador’s name is already etched on the Grand Champion Hunter Trophy four times, adding his name once again to the coveted centerpiece in 2019 for the fifth time. The talented horse will go on to compete in the Junior 3’3” Hunters 15 and Under with Maddie Tosh, a transition that is bittersweet for Stewart as their successful partnership comes to a close.
During the awards ceremony, Stewart was once again invited back to the arena for the Meralex Farm Leading Hunter Rider Award for the Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy. Phenomenally, this was Stewart’s thirteenth time placing his name on the Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy, which was originally donated by Mr. and the late Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler. The well-known hunter rider accumulated his points towards the trophy with a whopping seven horses, including Everwonder, Cabrio, Critics’ Choice, Lucador, Private Life, Catch Me and Cameo.
Photo by Phelps Media Group
Also returning competitors to the National Horse Show, Gochman and Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, clinched the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter title for the “Ruxton & Scot To Do” Challenge Trophy. The pair made a clean sweep in the Amateur Owner 3’6” Hunter 36+ division, winning every single class for a perfect 40 points. This is Gochman and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding’s second year in a row securing the Ellen Van Dyke-donated trophy. With “Snoopy,” Gochman has found much success in the Amateur divisions across the country, most recently taking Grand Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Champion at the Washington International Horse show.