Lexington, KY - August 12, 2014 - The second annual 2014 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship kicked off with an opening round Tuesday at the Kentucky Horse Park. While there were many new riders and horses competing in the round, it was the championship's 2013 winner, Hunt Tosh, who took top honors in the opening class, showing the field of 130 how it is done aboard the Douglas Wheeler entry Gotham.
The 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding is a new mount for Tosh, but the two have clearly already found their rhythm; the pair recently captured the tricolor in the 3'3" Pre-Green Incentive class at the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show (N.C.) before coming to Kentucky.
Gotham is quickly becoming a favorite for Tosh. "He's a very straightforward horse, very brave with so much scope and plenty of range," Tosh said. "Today, going so late in the order, I wasn't sure what Gotham was going to do because I don't know him that well yet, but he jumped phenomenally. It was just a really fun ride on a great horse."
Tosh, who last year won the inaugural Pre-Green Incentive class in a tie with two of his mounts, Crisp and Casanova, has already placed himself in a good spot for tomorrow's second round. He is a big fan of the Pre-Green Incentive program, and predicts this year it will be an even bigger hit than last year.
"It's a great event because the whole horse show really comes out to see all these fabulous young horses. Obviously the money gives it a bigger feel too, but anything that showcases the young hunters and gets people involved and interested is an awesome thing," Tosh said.
He hopes to continue his success tomorrow, planning to do the exact same thing in the ring to keep the tough competition at bay, applauding Scott Stewart, who led before Gotham went in, for putting in a great ride. "I saw trip after trip completed by very nice horses that went well. It was tough today and overall very awesome to compete in this atmosphere and on this horse," Tosh said.
Tosh may have taken top honors in Tuesday's opening round, but right on his heels was a whole herd of mounts piloted by Scott Stewart. Stewart placed four of the seven horses he rode in the class in the top twelve, picking up second, third, fourth and seventh place.
As evident by the results, Stewart certainly has an eye for picking young horses. "For me they have to be a nice mover and just sort of an attractive looking horse," said Stewart, explaining his methodology for selecting young talent. "Then overall obviously is their jumping style and their mind, just to make sure they're relaxed and quiet."
Stewart's top placed horse in the class, Celebration, shares more than a barn with one of the other top hunter's in Stewart's care. "My second place horse is actually by Dedication, that's his baby," Stewart explained.
Dedication was another young horse Stewart brought up the ranks through the green divisions.
Celebration looks just like his sire (who has since been gelded), but is still working on logging as much ring time. "This is only his third show, he did [Fairfield County Hunt Club] and one week of Michigan [Horse Shows By The Bay]," Stewart explained. "He's only 5 years old."
Stewarts third placed horse Remarkable is really just that; the 7-year-old gelding has a very unique marking on his left front leg and chest. When paired with his picturesque form over fences, the horse makes for quite an eye catching sight.
"I think most people passed on him because of that," Stewart said of the marking. Stewart recounted that a lot of people saw the horse on video last year and may have been put off by his unusual coloring. "On the video you couldn't really tell how pretty he was," Stewart said. "I think if we didn't go to Europe to see him, we probably wouldn't have bought him. We saw him in person, and we bought him right away.
Stewart is not entirely sure where the coloring comes from, but he suspects it has to do with the gelding's sire, Lordanos. "A lot of Lordanos' [offspring] have a lot of white, like Golden Rule my working horse has a lot of high white legs," Stewart explained. "Some of them have a lot of white, so it's somewhere in there!"
This is Stewart's first year competing in the Pre-Green Incentive program, and so far he is enjoying the experience. "I thinks it's great for everyone to bring out there nice young horses, and the prize money is super," Stewart said. The opening round alone offered $43,852.50 in cash prizes and paid out to 27th place.
The 2014 USHJA Pre Green Incentive championship will continue on Wednesday with a second round, where all 130 horses will carry their scores from Tuesday forward and go again over fences to determine the top thirty to compete in the final round on Thursday. The final round will be a blank slate format, putting all horses back onto an even playing field.
Jumper classes at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show also kick off tomorrow at the Kentucky Horse Park with the 5-year-old Jumpers beginning at 8 a.m. in Rolex Stadium. To learn more about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.