New York, NY-November 3, 2001- GG Valentine, owned by Barbara Kearney and shown by Jennifer Alfano, was crowned the victor in the $100,000 NHS Hunter Championship at the 118th National Horse Show (NHS) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Valentine was tenth coming into the evening's competition, but received the highest score in both rounds to secure top honors. Owner Kearney was in disbelief.
"She put the exclamation point at the end of the sentence tonight," said Kearney. "I still cannot believe it. I am so thrilled." Rider Alfano agreed. "I don't think there will be a better day than this. She's such a special horse and she really likes her job. She rose to the occasion."
Strapless, owned by Clara Lindner and ridden by Emily Williams, was Reserve Champion.
Paige Rassas and her horse Chica Bay won the $15,000 Amateur-Owner Jumper class with the fastest clear round in the event narrowly defeating Vanessa Stevenson and Fortunato. Rassas had a time of 58.32 seconds to Stevenson's 57.63. Rassas felt riding last was the key to the victory.
"It was a definite advantage to go last," said Rassas. "There was not too much pressure because there was only one clear so my plan was just to go medium speed and put in a clean round."
The $15,000 BET on Jazz Junior Jumper event was won by Georgina Bloomberg riding her gelding Husker Du going slightly faster than the only other clean pair in the class, Dignified ridden by Evan Coluccio and owned by Ashmont Farm Ltd. The victory surprised Bloomberg.
"I didn't think we went that fast," said Bloomberg. " I didn't realize we won until it was announced."
The prestigious NHS "Good Hands" Equitation Championship Final was won by Sarah Thordsen of Waukesha, WI, riding her horse CF First Light of Dawn. The 16-year-old high school junior, who hopes to become a pediatrician, showed remarkable composure on her first try at the Garden. "I wasn't scared, I was excited," said Thordsen. "I felt lucky to be here."
The National Horse Show, America's oldest indoor horse show and the most prestigious year-end championship show, continues on Sunday with the nation' s top horses and riders in the $150,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of New York and the National Horse Sports Foundation Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner Series Final, the BET on Jazz Junior Jumper Grand Prix and the Maclay National Championship for the ASPCA Horsemanship Classes. Tickets range from $15 to $75 and are available at the box office. This year's National Horse Show benefits the New York City Parks Enforcement Patrol and Auxiliary Mounted Unit.