Lexington, KY - July 25, 2012 - As the sun began to set on the Kentucky Horse Park, the final work-off of the USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic got underway. The prestigious championship prize was only a test away from being revealed, and four riders were vying for the top honors. It came down to Meredith Darst, Lillie Keenan, Hasbrouck Donovan and Genevieve Zock as they completed the final event of the long-awaited 2012 USHJA East Coast Junior Hunter Finals.
Sixty-two riders showed over the first-round course, showcasing their equitation skills with a classic flare. The riders with the top 15 scores returned for the handy round, and the top four returned to the ring aboard one another's mounts to complete the final test. Genevieve Zock rose in the ranks, placing consistently high scores, and completing a picture-perfect final test. She took the championship prize with Confession, leading the victory gallop in the Rolex Stadium.
"I have only competed in the Hunterdon Cup once before, it was back in 2008 with my horse Caprice," Zock recalls. "It was so fun being in the stadium, it was awesome being able to gallop around the ring."
Today's first round got underway at 3 p.m. in the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. Sixty-two participants competed on a course designed by Bobby Murphy, fences, bending lines, and the USHJA wall fence. Riders qualified with a score of 81 and above were called back for the handy round, which included several of the same fences, added obstacles, different lines, inside turns and options.
In the classic hunter round Merdith Darst aboard Copyright, owned by Lochmoor Stables, scored a modest 82.75 but it was the handy round that she proved her worth with a score of 89 to join the top four ranks in the final test. Darst mounted Hasbrouck Donovan's horse Drake, showing her equatation credibility in the final round of the competition with a score of 83 for a total of 254.75, and the fourth place ribbon overall.
Lillie Keenan came out of the in gate with a bang, commanding the crowd's attention as she guided Monterrey, owned by Chansonette Farm LLC, through the handy course, clearing all competitors' first-round scores with the elite score of 91. With a target on her back, Keenan entered into the final test in the first place position with sights on the championship title only one wild card course away. Aboard Meredith Darst's Copyright, Keenan delivered an elegant ride to receive a score of 83, which proved good enough for the third place overall score of 261.50.
Genevieve Zock had an admirable score of 90 during the first round with Confession, and together they earned an 88 during the handy round to enter into the test in the second place position. For the final feat Zock switched steeds with Keenan's Monterrey, riding to victory with a score of 90 and a grand total of 268.00 points, winning Champion of the Hunterdon Cup.
"The first round I was relaxed, and he is so scopey and adjustable that I felt I would be able to do any stride or any distance-he is amazing," Zock described about her performance. "The second round I was a little more nervous, which I don't normally get, so it was definitely different to have to check myself. The moment the final test came up, I was definitely doing some breathing exercises, but once I started going I was good."
Hasbrouck Donovan riding Drake, owned by Donald Stewart, took a first round score of 86.50 and a second round score of 87, treading on the heels of the top contenders going into the final test. During the work-off she rode Darst's Copyright and once again laid down a good trip for a score of 88.50 and a total of 262, three points shy of owning the title, and placing second overall.
"I thought I did well, and I thought I redeemed myself with some things from the first round to the second round," Donovan remarked. "My horse was awesome the whole way through, he was very consistent."
The 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals has come to an end, but the Kentucky Summer Horse Show has only just begun. The show will run through Sunday, July 29, 2012. Tomorrow the professional hunter divisions will come to a close, and championships will be awarded in the Stonelea Arena. Spectators and exhibitors can also look forward to the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic tomorrow night in the Rolex Stadium at 7 pm.
For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
To access results for the 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals please visit www.equestrianlive.com.
2012 USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic Results
Rank Number Horse Rider Nation Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Final
1 229 SCARSDALE, NY GENEVIEVE ZOCK 90.00 88.00 90.00 268.00
2 288 GAINESVILLE, FL HASBROUCK DONOVAN 86.50 87.00 88.50 262.00
3 308 NEW YORK, NY LILLIE KEENAN 91.00 87.50 83.00 261.50
4 327 LEBANON, OH MEREDITH DARST 82.75 89.00 83.00 254.75
5 177 LOXAHATCHEE, FL VICTORIA COLVIN 88.00 83.00
6 259 WELLINGTON, FL KELCIE BROPHY 85.00 85.00
7 279 LUTHERVILLE, MD BARBARA ANN MERRYMAN 81.25 84.00
8 218 BARRINGTON, IL ABIGAIL MCARDLE 82.50 82.00
9 220 CARMEL, IN KALVIN DOBBS 83.00 80.00
10 270 ANN ARBOR, MI LIZZIE VANDERWALDE 84.00 77.00
Photo Credit: Genevieve Zock won the 2012 USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic at the Kentucky Horse Park. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.