Capital Challenge Horse Show Brings Out the Best In Hunters

Sandy Ferrell and Fifty Shades. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography
Sandy Ferrell and Fifty Shades. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography

Upper Marlboro, MD – September 30, 2014 – Honoring the best hunters in the country, eight championships were awarded today at the Capital Challenge Horse Show presented by The Gochman Family. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, runs through Sunday, October 5.

The professional hunters will wrap up their divisions tomorrow. The highlight classes of the week for the professional hunter riders are the $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge on Wednesday, October 2, and the $5,000 WCHR Professional Finals, presented by the John R. Ingram Fund, for the top six hunter riders in the country on Friday, October 3.

The championship in the Second Year Green Working Hunters went to Fifty Shades, ridden by Sandy Ferrell for owner Meredith Lipke. They started out with first and second places over fences and were fourth under saddle. Returning today, they won another jumping class. Loyalty, ridden by Scott Stewart for Fashion Farm, was the reserve champion. They were first, second, and third over fences.

Ferrell, who went back to ride for trainer Louise Serio at Derbydown in April this year, got the ride on Fifty Shades, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Cassini I, by “luck and out of the goodness of Louise's and Meredith's hearts,” Ferrell said. “Louise said, 'Hey, why don't you ride Big?' Big is his barn name, as you can imagine, because he's so tall. I said okay!”

Capital Challenge was only the fourth hunter competition for Fifty Shades, who had to start in the Second Year Green division due to his previous jumper career. “He's amazing. He can jump so much higher than that. I wanted the jumps to be three feet higher!” Ferrell exclaimed. “He has a beautiful mouth. He's so big and so scopey that you never have to worry about very much, other than just getting his eye on the jump. He loves the ride where you keep your leg, and when you get to the jump, just take your leg off and drop the reins, and he does the rest. As a rider, that's an incredible feeling. Four (shows) is not a lot, and to have won this in this sort of competition is great.”

Hunt Tosh and Queen Lattifa. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography
Hunt Tosh and Queen Lattifa. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography

The High Performance Hunter championship, sponsored by Rendezvous Farm/Sherre Sims, went to Queen Lattifa, a 12-year-old Westphalian mare owned by Douglas Wheeler and ridden by Hunt Tosh. Tosh and Queen Lattifa received two firsts and two thirds over fences and third under saddle. Point Being, ridden by Kelley Farmer for Glefke & Kensel LLC, was first and second over fences for the reserve championship.  

Since their championship at Capital Challenge last year in the Second Year Green Hunters and a run of tricolors at indoors, Tosh said that Queen Lattifa has shown sparingly. She won the handy hunter class at the Devon Horse Show and competed a handful of times this summer, all in preparation for this year's indoor circuit.

“We got her ready for here. When you call on her and ask her to try, she's just wonderful,” Tosh stated. “The fact that she was champion here last year, to see if you can come back and do that in the four-foot as well, is fun. She goes beautifully inside; I think that really suits her well. I enjoy her inside, she rides nice. I think her jump at four feet is even better. She's scopey. You can build big jumps, and she just tries harder.”

Small Affair returned to Capital Challenge to collect yet another championship with rider John French in the Performance Hunter 3'6” division. The 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Elf D'Or owned by Lyn Pedersen won yesterday's over fences class and was fourth under saddle. Come Monday, ridden by Tara Metzner for owner Davlyn Farms, won today's over fences class for the reserve championship.

Small Affair is no stranger to the winner's circle at Capital Challenge, having accrued division championships and three victories in the WCHR Pro Challenge. “I think this is his show. He always does amazing here,” French said with a smile. “It's always great to have a horse you know so well. The first day I brought a bunch of babies, and I was like, 'I don't even know if I know how to ride.' Then when I get on Small Affair, I was like, 'Ok, I got it.' I go in there knowing that every time he can do it, and he's going to put in the best he can do. It's nice to go in the ring with that sort of confidence. It makes you ride better when you're not worried about anything.”

Hunt Tosh and Troubadour. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography
Hunt Tosh and Troubadour. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography

The Future of Hunters
Hunt Tosh had a banner day at Capital Challenge with four championships. Along with Queen Lattifa, he won three of the five Future Hunter divisions.

In the Future Hunter Colts & Geldings division, sponsored by Tim & Kelly Goguen/Boggs Hill, Tosh took the championship ribbon with Troubadour, a six-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Canturano owned by Kenneth Wheeler Jr. They won both over fences classes today and were third over fences on Monday. The reserve champion was Cruciani, ridden by Kenneth Berkley for Rivers Edge, who was first and third over fences.

Tosh and Wheeler found Troubadour in February through Tommy Serio, and the elegant gelding had not shown before this year. He quickly settled into winning championships in the Pre-Green division. Tosh said that now things are starting to come together for the talented horse.

“He's big, and he's starting to really come into his own and grow up. Mentally, he's always been really good, but strength-wise he's starting to be ready,” he described. “He's very simple and a sweet horse to be around. He's a little bit of a pet. He walked in here this morning as the first or second horse in and won both classes; it was really exciting.”

The Future Hunter 6 & Over division, sponsored by Chris Payne, David Belford – New Hope LLC & Susan Moriconi, awarded the championship to Valhalla, the second young horse piloted to a championship by Tosh. Owned by Douglas Wheeler, the six-year-old Baden-Wurttemberg gelding by Diamono Hit was first and fourth today over fences and second under saddle. Blue Monday, ridden by Louise Serio for Dr. Suzanne Smith, was reserve champion after placing first and second over fences.

Tosh gave credit to his owners, Douglas and Kenneth Wheeler Jr., for purchasing young horses and having the patience to let him bring them along to the top levels. “They enjoy having young ones and watching them come along,” he said. “The Wheeler family is awesome to have young horses, support me, and believe in them, and wait for them to turn into superstars. It's nice that they're so patient to see them come along and what they'll turn into.”

Hunt Tosh and Valhalla. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography
Hunt Tosh and Valhalla. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography

Valhalla was imported this past January by Emil Spadone and hasn't shown as much as his barnmates. He showed some greenness yesterday, so Tosh was pleased that he returned to winning in today's classes. “It's neat to see them this time of year, to see them peak and start to enjoy their jobs. He was a little green yesterday and came back and got an 89 today,” he affirmed. “He has a beautiful canter; he's a really good mover. He's probably our greenest one. I think he's going to be really nice, but he has the least amount of mileage. We're glad he was good on the right day.”

In the Future Hunter 3'3” division, it all came down to the under saddle to determine the champion. With a victory in the class, Douglas Wheeler's Gotham garnered the championship with Tosh once again in the irons. The division had 41 entries and was sponsored by Hunt Tosh Inc. Gotham, a six-year-old Holsteiner gelding, finished first, third, and fifth over fences. Scott Stewart and Stephanie Danhakl's Enough Said were reserve champions after placing first and second over fences.

Hunt Tosh and Gotham. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography
Hunt Tosh and Gotham. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography

“Gotham was great yesterday with a very high score in the first class (91.5), and he was beautiful again today but had a little stumble (jumping), so I was nervous when it came down to the hack,” Tosh said. “It was the first time pulling his shoes for the hack, so I'm glad that worked out! I'm really excited; he's a great horse. He's a blast to ride, very simple, very straightforward.”

Tosh is thrilled to have young champion horses at Capital Challenge. “To be champion at this horse show, where they call it the Future Hunters, it really does showcase what hopefully our First, Second, and Regular division winners are going to be one day. To have horses that start out here and to see superstars come out of the Future Hunters at Capital Challenge is really exciting,” he remarked.

The Future Hunter Mares division championship, sponsored by Penelope Ayers & Ravens Wood Farm, went to the nine-year-old Breeze, ridden by Havens Schatt for John Yozell. They won both over fences classes yesterday and were fourth jumping today, along with a sixth in the under saddle. Scott Stewart and La Bonita, owned by David Gochman, were reserve champions. They placed second, second, and third over fences and were second under saddle.

Schatt has ridden Breeze for two years since importing her from Europe. The mare kept growing and growing, eventually becoming too big for owner, amateur Debbie Perkins, so Breeze was then purchased by new owner Yozell.

It has taken some time for Schatt and Breeze to click, having had to work through health issues and figuring out how to blend their incongruent sizes. “She is a big, German girl,” Schatt laughed, “and she didn’t always have the same ideas that I had. I am very small, and she is very big, so it always created a big problem.”

Breeze with owner John Yozell, sponsor Penelope Ayers, Havens Schatt, and groom Misael Navarro. Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Breeze with owner John Yozell, sponsor Penelope Ayers, Havens Schatt, and groom Misael Navarro. Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

What also challenged Schatt when working with Breeze is how her demeanor changed from quiet and calm at the barn to worried at the ring. Breeze also developed white spots on her body, and they weren't going away. Schatt spoke to several vets, and eventually when there was no change, she and vet Dr. Haynes Stevens took a hair sample from her mane and sent it for testing. It turned out that Breeze had major vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and after being on a supplement, her entire attitude changed.

“She's now just mellow and easy,” Schatt said. “As soon as we started her on that (the supplement), that is when her attitude changed and we could start training because she could understand and not get frantic. Her white spots went away. I really learned something; when you know there is something not right, keep looking and figure it out.”

After solving her health issue, Breeze and Schatt have clicked, and it has been championship ribbons ever since.

Champion in the Future Hunter 5 & Under division, sponsored by Randy Johnson & Greener Pastures Equine, was Celebration, ridden by Scott Stewart for Dr. Betsee Parker. They won two over fences classes and the under saddle for the top tricolor ribbon. Stewart was also reserve champion on Rivers Edge's Wish, who was first, second, and third over fences.

Scott Stewart and Celebration. Photo © The Book LLC.
Scott Stewart and Celebration. Photo © The Book LLC.

Celebration is a five-year-old Baden-Wurttemberg gelding by Dedication, one of Stewart's and Parker's most successful horses. Celebration was purchased as a four-year-old, after Stewart went looking for Dedication's one crop of babies in Europe. He came to the U.S. last fall, but did not show until this June. They had a solid showing at the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program Championship.

Stewart said, “He is an easy version of Dedication. Dedication could sometimes be a little quirky, but Celebration is really laid-back and easy. There is a lot of Thoroughbred in (Celebration), on his mother's side. I think he's a more Thoroughbred-y version of Dedication. He had a little mistake in the first class, but then he won the second class. I was so surprised that he was so unflappable. In the hack, a lot of them were nervous for the first time indoors, but he was so quiet and easy. He just has a good brain.”

The grooms of today's champions also received special prizes. They include:

Second Year Green Working Hunter: Fifty Shades/Efrain Robollo
High Performance Working Hunter: Queen Lattifa/Jose Gutierrez
Performance Working Hunter 3'6”: Small Affair/Horacio Morales
Future Hunter Colts & Geldings: Troubadour/Gelacio Buenaventura
Future Hunter 6 & Over: Valhalla/Eduardo Gonzales
Future Hunter Mares: Breeze/Misael Navarro
Future Hunter 5 & Under: Celebration/Adan Alvarez
Future Hunter 3'3”: Gotham/Gelacio Buenaventura

Competition for the professional hunters continues tomorrow with championships for two sections of the First Year Green Working Hunters, Green Conformation, and Regular Conformation. The Amateur-Owner Hunters begin their competition as well.

During the day, the Future Hunters will return for head-to-head competition in the $25,000 Future Hunter North American Championship, and the Grand Future Hunter Champion will be crowned. The best under saddle horses will compete in the World Champion Senior Hunter Under Saddle class. In the late afternoon, the first rounds of the WCHR Professional Challenge and WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge will be held. An awards ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m., which leads into the final rounds for the two Challenge classes in the evening session.

Additional highlights of the Capital Challenge Horse Show will include the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup (two rounds held on Oct. 3-4), the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals (Oct. 3), and the WCHR Professional Finals (Oct. 3).

For full results, more information, or to watch the live webcast, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org. Like the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook and on Twitter @capchallenge and Instagram @capitalchallengehorseshow. For behind-the-scenes photos, videos, and more!

In its 21st year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year's show will take place on September 27-October 5.

Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country's best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.




GET THE LATEST NEWS DELIVERED TO YOUR MAILBOX