Lexington, KY - August 10, 2013 - Daisy Farish capped an outstanding week at the 2013 United States Equestrian Federation Pony Finals by claiming the Grand Pony Hunter Championship with Sassafras Creek. Farish and Sassafras Creek, owned by Redfield Farm of Califon, NJ, were awarded the Medium Pony Hunter Championship on Thursday, and none of the small or large ponies could match their impressive total score of 1035.5, which earned them the Grand title and the International Jumping Derby Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mason Phelps, Jr.
Emma Kurtz and Westside came the closest to besting Farish and Sassafras Creek, as they took home the Large Pony Hunter Championship with a cumulative total of 1020.9 after collecting scores of 86.85, 83 and 80.85 in today's Large Pony Hunter Over Fences class. Their division winning efforts also earned them the Reserve Grand Pony Hunter Championship.
"I have never been grand or reserve grand at Pony Finals, and before this week I had only been champion once," Farish said. "So my second time being champion and being grand means a lot to me. It may be my last Pony Finals, so that makes it even better." Farish continued, "Sassy has her name for a reason. She is a princess. She likes everything to be her way. When it is, she is just a really great, easy pony. There are no tricks to her. She's very simple."
Farish worked with trainer Patricia Griffith of Heritage Farm to prepare for Pony Finals. "I think Heritage and Patricia really helped me because they helped my confidence," Farish said. "I showed four ponies this week, and Patricia has helped me with every one of them."
Griffith added, "We monopolized our main ring at home, which they never let us use for the ponies because it's the biggest sand ring. We took all the horse jumps out and made it a pony explosion! I had our carpenter make us all these little jumps, and we saved them all so that when they walked in the ring they'd never seen any of those fences." Griffith's efforts with Farish and Sassafras Creek, or simply "Sassy," earned her the Emerson Burr Perpetual Trophy, donated by the 2000 Hunter Pony Committee, and presented to the trainer of the Overall Grand Pony Hunter Champion.
Reserve Grand Pony Hunter Champions Kurtz and Westside, who was recently purchased by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, took the third place ribbon in today's over fences class, the final phase of the Large Pony Hunters. Their strong finish clinched their Large Pony Hunter Championship title and the Reserve Grand Champion award. "He was really good," Kurtz said after their round. "Going by the end, he got a little nervous, but he was awesome other than that. He's really fun, and he's pretty easy. His jump is so smooth."
Kurtz, like Farish, has had a series of impressive results at Pony Finals this year, including winning both the Grand and Reserve Grand Green Pony Hunter Championship titles with Yes It's True and Show Me Love, respectively. Westside, trained by Scott Stewart, is a relatively new ride for Kurtz, and the pair is working to develop a partnership in both the hunter and equitation rings. "Scott and I are like a couple of Indian chiefs. We get to pow-wowing, and we kind of have fun because we come up with the best ideas when the two of us work together," said Dr. Betsee Parker. "We didn't have a medal pony at the national level for our two new young riders, Emma Kurtz and Taylor St Jacques, and we really wanted to support them with a real top-flight medal pony for the next year."
With that idea in mind, Parker purchased Westside this week with the goal of providing a top equitation horse for Kurtz and St Jacques. The win in the Large Pony Hunters came as an unexpected bonus. "He really surprised us," Parker said. "Westside just really did his thing today. We were pretty excited."
First place over fences, along with the Large Pony Hunter Reserve Championship, went to Aleece Jarman and her own Valentino. Jarman, of Pace, FL, earned scores of 87.2, 83.5 and 84.5. Isabel Ryan of Locust Valley, NY, and her own Woodlands Misty Rain finished second over fences on scores of 86.5, 80.75 and 84.5.
This year's Hunter Pony Championships, presented by Sallee Horse Vans, concluded with the Under Saddle Champion Class, which brought back top finishers from all of the week's under saddle classes to square off for the title. Judges gradually narrowed down the field of 23 until the top 10 combinations remained in the ring. They began pinning the class, calling horses into the middle one by one until it was a head-to-head competition between Dr. Betsee Parker's Enjoy the Laughter, ridden by Taylor St Jacques, and Addison Piper's Goldfish, ridden by Isabella Di Benedetto. St Jacques was finally named the winner, making it two in a row for Enjoy the Laughter, who took last year's title with Cloe Hymowitz aboard.
An afternoon awards ceremony was held in the Alltech Arena to recognize the week's best performers in the hunter divisions. The High Score State Team Award went to the Florida team comprised of Kurtz and Westside, Jarman and Valentino, and Bernadette Chungunco and Donald Stewart's Steal the Crowd. They received the International Challenge Trophy.
The Buttons 'n' Bows Sportsmanship Trophy, donated by Mr. R. Bates Newton in memory of Maxine Best, was awarded to 8-year-old Hagen Hall of Thompson Station, TN. Blue on Blue, ridden by Sarah Boston and owned by Chloe D. Reid LLC, received the Betsy Fishback Memorial Trophy, given to the best turned out hunter pony. Kurtz was recognized for her achievements with the Mindy Darst Perpetual Trophy, awarded to the equestrian athlete with potential to become a top professional in the future.
The USEF Pony Finals conclude Sunday with a shift in focus to equitation, as the nation's best pony riders face off in the Pony Medal Finals.
For more information about the 2013 USEF Pony Finals, please visit www.usef.org.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Series, please visit www.KentuckyHorseShows.com.