Lexington, KY - August 14, 2013 - The USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program is in its inaugural year, and based on the huge horse and rider turnout, large spectator draw and beautiful hunter rounds today at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, it is already an overwhelming success. Thus far, it has also proved to be particularly successful for Hunt Tosh. The USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program Championship opened with two rounds of competition today at the Kentucky Horse Park, and it was Tosh who earned the top call in both of the rounds.
To earn the first place award in the first round, Tosh bested an impressive field of 107 horses aboard Casanova, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA. With two panels of judges scoring each trip, Tosh and Casanova earned scores of 88 and 86.25 for a combined 174.25. Tosh also rode to the second place position in the first round with scores of 87 and 86.5 for a 173.5 total aboard Crisp, owned by Douglas and Kenneth Wheeler of Keswick, VA. It was Crisp who then returned to top the leaderboard in the second round with scores of 88.5 and 87 for a combined score of 175.5.
"Crisp is a new horse for us," Tosh said of the 6-year-old. "We're quite excited about him, and I think he's going to be a lot of fun. He's very careful, and he's beautiful going across the ground. I didn't know if coming into this atmosphere would make him a little nervous, but he was great. He went beautifully today so we're very happy with him."
Tosh and Crisp's two top two finishes also put them at the top of the day's overall leaderboard with a combined two-round score of 349. Throughout today's preliminary rounds of competition, riders were vying for a spot within the top 30, which would then allow them to move on to tomorrow evening's final championship round.
While Tosh took the top two spots in round one and the first place honor in round two, the second place award in round two went to Peter Pletcher and Lucador. Pletcher and Lucador also finished in fifth in the first round class, putting them in the second place position overall with a two-round score of 343.05. Lucador is 5-year-old Oldenburg out of Lord Pezi and owned by Sagamore Farm Inc.
"He's an amazing horse," Pletcher said. "Brian and Sophie Walker asked me to show him for them when we were in Florida, and we had a great, great circuit there. I told them, 'We really need to put him in the incentive program because he's an amazing horse.' So they did it, and he's been great. He's such a beautiful jumper and a beautiful mover."
Pletcher, Tosh and the other top 30 riders returning tomorrow for the championship will have their score slate wiped clean, as day one scores do not carry over. However, the first day scores did have high value and payback today. 25 percent of the total prize money awarded throughout the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championships went to the top finishers in the first round, and 25 percent went to the top finishers in the second round, with over $9,000 presented to the winner of each round. The remaining 50 percent of the lucrative prize money will be presented to the overall top finishers following the championship round, which kicks off tomorrow evening at 5 p.m. in the Stonelea Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park.
"This program is absolutely great for the sport," Tosh said. "Anything we can do to get involved and help support the hunters coming along is great. This gives an added reason to have Pre-Green horses, and it gives you added incentive to bring them to the horse shows and try and earn their entry fees back and maybe even make a little money."
Pletcher also commented: "I think this program is such a great thing, It's great for the owners, the business and the buying and selling of the Pre-Green horses."
The USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program Championships conclude tomorrow, and the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships officially get underway on Friday, August 16 at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
Another hunter highlight at this week's Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will be the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby on Sunday, August 18. In addition to being the week's premier hunter competition, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show offers top jumper competition throughout the week, attracting top riders from across the country. This week jumper highlights include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic on Friday, August 16 and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix on Sunday, August 18.
For more information on the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show and all of the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
To learn more about the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program and the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship Finals visit www.ushja.org.