Halifax, MA - June 23, 2013 - The Plymouth Rock Hunter/Jumper Classic ended today with the much-anticipated $10,000 Fieldstone 3'3" Hunter Derby and both the Child and Adult Hunter Classics. The derby has always been both a competitor and crowd favorite at the Fieldstone Show Park in Halifax, MA, and today's class was no exception. Riding to two impressive scores and the blue ribbon in the derby were Emily Bickford and KEC Kool Kat. Sarah Tyndall and Jack Black were not far behind, riding to the second place honors. Rebecca Clawson and Freeport captured the blue ribbon in the $1,500 Adult Hunter Classic, while Elise Albertini and Educated Guess took the victory in the $1,500 Children's Hunter Classic.
Phil DeVita of Apopka, FL, designed the flowing hunter courses today in the all-grass Grand Prix field. He created a course where riders were able to work off of their eye, rather than being constricted by the technicalities, and his derby course was evocative of a traditional hunt field, beautifully set with natural foliage. The first round started over an inviting vertical going away from the in-gate, followed by a rollback to an oxer and then a sweeping turn to a birch vertical headed toward the gate. From there, horses and riders rode a bending track to a two-stride combination and took a left turn to a vertical by the judge's gazebo on the far side of the field. Riders had the option to take a higher fence, and add a bonus point to their total score. After, they continued through the grob, where they were met with a natural vertical, they were then continued forward to a vertical near the stonewall, bending to another set of option fences in the corner. Riders finished with a vertical option up the center of the field to a jump on the table, and ended over a brick oxer by the in-gate.
The field was alive with hunter action and anticipation as 17 horse and rider combinations took their turn at the first round course. Only the top 12 riders would continue into the second round, and from start to finish the first round course demanded excellence from horse and rider alike.
Eventual winner Emily Bickford remarked, "I really liked the course, and how everything flowed off of your eye. I like it so much better that way, instead of being stuck with a specific number. "
Jennifer Tate was the second rider in the order to take on the course, and her finesse with Cavallino, owned by Barbara Kravetz of Sharon, MA, made the pair truly shine. They posted a score of 85, and chose to take all four available options for the final first-round total of 89 points. It seemed as though Tate had the win in her hands, but the handy round added anticipation as riders wondered who would come out on the top today.
It was Bickford's round that truly caused the crowd to sit on the edge of their seats. It took eight horse and rider combinations until Tate's score of 89 was put to the test. Bickford entered the ring aboard her KEC Kool Kat, and the pair took a leap of faith as they completed the opening course. KEC Kool Kat is only a 5-year-old, and Bickford was unsure of how well he would handle the derby at such a green stage of his career. Her anxiousness proved futile as they completed a flowing first round course with ease, riding to the score of 88 points.
"I didn't know how he was going to react through the grob or the bank," Bickford stated. "It is always fun when they add in those natural elements. He has shown a lot through the week, so I was a little nervous about him rubbing the jumps, but he woke up just enough. With him being green I have to focus on keeping him straight, but he was able to really move in this large field, it was a great fit for him."
The handy round course began with the same first vertical leading to the oxer-rollback seen in the first round, but this time it was followed by a trot jump bending to a two-stride combination. From there, riders had to make a tight left turn toward the two option fences set in the corner, followed by a sweeping turn to the two option jumps in the center of the field. They continued to the single vertical on the table, and ended over the brick oxer options by the in-gate.
Sarah Tyndall and Jack Black, owned by Kim Kolloff of Stow, MA, entered the ring and left absolutely nothing to chance during the handy round. Tyndall laid down an exemplary handy course, showcasing Jack Black's handy ability. She set the high-score round, and it seemed as though it would stand unyielding.
"He is a great horse, he can be a little spooky, but after you jump him over some crazy stuff he usually gets in the right frame of mind," Tyndall said. "He's fun. You just keep squeezing and galloping, and he'll go for it. He jumped in great form and was really smooth out there. He was great to ride today."
Tyndall's score stood steadfast as each pair put out their best, but fell shy of the top tier. It wasn't until Emily Bickford and KEC Kool Kat took their turn at the course that the possibility of defeat seemed plausible.
"He has such a good ride," Bickford said of KEC Kool Kat. "From the first time I sat on him, I loved the way he went. He has such a soft mouth, and is so responsive and brave. His jump has gotten so nice, slow and round. We have been working with one another since December, and he has really come along. He is a special horse."
The bay gelding strode into the derby field and seemed to awaken while riding atop the grass. Although Bickford chose to avoid a risky jump up the table, which several others riders chose to complete in an attempt to showcase their horse's handiness, she still impressed the judges with a tight turn from obstacle one to two. Bickford also guided KEC Kool Kat to a smooth trot jump, and opened up their gait for the final fence with a strong hand gallop.
The scores were tabulated, and Bickford took the lead from Tyndall with scores a final score of 90 points in the handy round, opting for three of the four options, earning a final score of 178 points.
"I was a little worried about the inside turn, because he is inexperienced, bit it turned out really nice," Bickford explained of her handy round. "We do a lot of trot jumps at home, with all of my horses, and his trot jump was great. He landed beautifully on all of his leads, and he didn't glance once at any of the jumps. I am really impressed with him."
"This was his first derby ever, and he did great," Bickford exclaimed. "He came over from Ireland with my other horse that won in the spring. KEC Farm in the south of Ireland is well-known for breeding famous grand prix horses, we thought he might be a good equitation horse, but after today, I think he is going to make a great hunter. He is going to have a long career ahead of him."
There was only one horse and rider that could possibly knock Bickford out of the pinnacle of the standings-Jennifer Tate and Cavallino. They began with a beautiful and flowing round, and it seemed as though they may steal the victory away from Bickford with their picturesque ride. They completed an effortless trot fence, and moved forward through the two-stride. It was the "thump" heard across the field, as Tate completed the line-the rail from the first obstacle had fallen to the ground, securing Bickford's victory.
Bickford was awarded the first place award for her fantastic round with KEC Kool Kat, while Tyndall and Black Jack picked up the second place. Anna Pavlov and her own Adelante earned the third place ribbon, and Katie Eppinger and KEC Felix took the fourth place position. Eppinger was also the champion in the Junior Hunter division today, and adding the fourth place ribbon to her accomplishments at only 14 years old was a wonderful way to continue her success for the week. Anna Sroczynski and Emm III Thunderball took the fifth place, while Sophia Lathrop and Castell rounded out the top six with their two-round score of 160 points.
"It's been great to be back at Fieldstone. I love showing here, and we will definitely be back in August," Bickford concluded. "I would love to do the 3'6" derby they have here, but we are going to make sure that KEC Kool Kat is not overworked in his first year and is brought up correctly. Who knows, I may have a different horse to compete on, all of my horses are for sale, so anything could happen."
Earlier in the day, the Adult Amateur and Children's Hunter riders were given the opportunity to compete on the derby field in the $1,500 Adult Amateur Hunter Classic and $1,500 Children's Hunter Classic.
All competitors completed the first round of their classic in the Main Hunter Ring during yesterday's competition before advancing to the grass field for their second and final round today. For many, it was their first time competing on the grass at this competition, and they were not given an opportunity to warm up on the field over the fences they would face in their classic round. However, the competitors stepped up to the challenge and turned in many beautiful trips out on the greenery.
First to show on the grass were the Adult Hunters, where Rebecca Clawson of Halifax, MA and Freeport took the win in the $1,500 Adult Hunter Classic. Clawson and Freeport received a score of 82 in the first round of the classic yesterday morning, and then bested their own high score with an 84 in the second round for a combined score of 166. Leslie Prinz rode Kim Sieurin's Valentine to a second place finish. Rounding out the top three was Hope Floats, an entry ridden and owned by Laura Shook-Blandin from Worcester, MA.
"Going into the second round today, I was just planning on being smooth and giving him a good ride and have him jump nice and high up off the jumps," Clawson said. "I just wanted to be consistent, nice and smooth. I definitely think we accomplished our goal to do well and stay consistent today; he's been great all week, and he's just been jumping really well and listening. I think it was an overall feeling of success out there on the field today; he just excelled in every part of the course, and he was just really good. We head to Lake Placid for two weeks, and I am really excited to see how he excels in the Adult Hunters there. Then we will come back to Fieldstone in August to do the derby and this classic again."
Following the Adults, the Children's riders took their turn in the $1,500 Children's Hunter Classic. Finishing on top for the second year in a row was Elise Albertini and Educated Guess. The New Boston, NH native piloted her own horse to a score of 80 in the first round, followed by a 78 in the second round for a 158 total. Kianna Taylor was awarded with the second place honors on Monica Rauschenbach's Sinatra, an entry out of Newburgh, NY. Merle Beach of Vergennes, VT, was rewarded with the third place award aboard Cosa Nostra.
"I think we found the first jump a little bit long, but then we eventually got the right pace for the rest and he just ended up finishing well," Albertini commented. "I definitely thought we stood out in the two-stride and he jumped the Fieldstone jump very well. We did the 2'9" Derby a couple days ago just to get him out in the field, and he likes it out here a lot so just letting him do his thing out here was just the best way. 'Pedro' is a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood, I've had him for three years and he is just awesome. You definitely have to be strong to ride him. We go to Vermont Summer Festival and I hope to come back to Fieldstone in August."
The Plymouth Rock Hunter/Jumper Classic came to a close today, but the August Summer Showcase is quickly approaching August 14-24 with two weeks of top tier competition at the Fieldstone Show Park. The competition is sure to be fierce as the spring and summer champions return to defend their titles, and newcomers rise to the challenge. For more information on Stadium Jumping and the approaching Summer Showcase I and II Horse Show, please visit www.showfieldstone.com. You can also follow the Fieldstone Horse Shows on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fieldstone.equestrian.
$10,000 FIELDSTONE 3'3" HUNTER DERBY RESULTS
NUMBER HORSE RIDER SCORE
239 EKEC KOOL KAT MILY BICKFORD 178.000
229 JACK BLACK SARAH TYNDALL 174.000
444 ADELANTE ANNA PAVLOV 173.000
529 KEC FELIX KATIE EPPINGER 169.000
146 EMM III THUNDERBALL ANNA SROCZYNSKI 163.000
172 CASTELL SOPHIA LOTHROP 160.000
230 HUCKLEBERRY FINN SARAH TYNDALL 159.000
528 PHANTOM RHIAN MURPHY 158.000
296 CLEAR SKIES RINDY DOMINGUEZ 150.000
526 PACINO ANNA REA 148.000
163 CAVALLINO JENNIFER TATE 137.000
414 CALANDA JENNIFER RITUCCI 129.000