2010 Leading Lady Rider Kelly Farmer nearly broke Scott Stewart's 8 consecutive year winning streak today in the Dixon Oval. When it was all said and done Stewart's margin of victory over Farmer was a single point. Farmer was champion in the First Year Green Working Hunters on Taken, and Reserve Champion in both the Second Year Green Working Hunters on Bases Loaded and the Regular Conformation Hunters on Timber Ridge, and had the highest scoring round of the competition to date, a 94 on one of her two Regular Working Hunter rides, Rosalynn.
Farmer, who started coming to Devon when she was riding in the pony division said, "To be Leading Lady Hunter Rider is a great honor. It's a beautiful trophy, and to have my name on there with the people who are already on there is a pleasure. This means so much." When asked about the high scores over the past few days Farmer responded, "I'm not surprised, that's how it's supposed to be at a show like this. I think it's great when the horses go well enough for the judges to be able to give those kinds of scores. It's great for the horses, the crowd, everyone. It brings you up. Rosalynn got a huge score this afternoon, and I was thrilled with her."
The First Year Green Hunter Champion Taken was also ridden by Farmer, "He is 7 years old, his first show as a hunter in this country was week 8 at Palm Beach. He didn't do the Pre-Green division; he did nothing in this country. He's a freak, he's little, but when you get on him, he doesn't feel little. You pick up the trot and he's got a spring and a lightness about him that makes you feel like you could point him toward that grandstand and he would jump over it." Maggie Jayne Captures the Regular Conformation Hunter Championship
Maggie Jayne rode both the Regular Conformation Hunter Champion Early Applause and the Leading Mare in the Hunter Division Francesca. This was Jayne's second year at Devon with Early Applause and Francesca, but she also rode Devon newcomers Bella Blue, Red Sky, Namesake, and her Open Jumpers Lucille and Thomas Edison, which will bring her back to the jumper division for the first time as a professional.
Maggie Jayne Captures the Regular Conformation Hunter Championship
Jayne describes Early Applause, "He does really well under pressure and spooky conditions. The more people, the happier he is. He likes to be the center of attention. Francesca loves strutting her stuff, and she did really well here. She showed last week in the Juniors with Madeline Thatcher, so she's a little tired, but she got better as the days went on. I'm going to do them all in the Derby on Sunday. We have 7 in it, so my brother is going to ride Red Sky."
Scott Stewart Wins the Leading Hunter Rider Award for the Eighth Consecutive Year
Stewart has been coming to Devon since 1988 and every year since then qualifying his horses and riders for Devon has been a goal for both Stewart and partner Ken Berkley. "I love the environment here with one main hunter ring that is more of a showcase than all of the other horse shows we go to throughout the year. All the tradition, the old trophies, it just seems like one of the few horse shows left that is that special." Stewart goes on to say how much he looks forward to showing at Devon every year, "For me it's like the first big show of the year. Florida has really nice classes, but it's so many weeks it gets a little watered down, and no one gets to really watch the First Year horses like they used to. But this is one of the shows that all of the best of the best come to, and it's in one ring, and you see this year how that makes the competition better." In the Regular Working Hunters today for example, the top three horses had scores in the 90's.
Stewart goes on to say how much it still means to him to win at Devon even after 8 consecutive years of being named the Leading Hunter Rider, "Since it's one of the most competitive horse shows of the year, if you can win here it says a lot about your horses."
One of those horses was the Grand Hunter Champion Premiere, ridden by Stewart's River's Edge Partner Ken Berkley. The beautiful bay gelding who was the Green Conformation Hunter Champion has an interesting background. It turns out that Stewart was looking at European horse internet sites late one night, and wanted to see more. His only form of communication with the seller was via email. After he and Berkley saw two videos, with fingers crossed they wired the money to a man that no one seemed to know anything about. The horse arrived as promised, and the rest is history...
Amazingly, Stewart who owns many of his own horses has never been champion at Devon on them. Junior Rider Victoria Colvin rode several of Stewart owned horses to championship titles during junior week, and just when it looked like that trend would be broken with Way Cool leading the Second Year Green Working Hunter Division, on championship day it was Dr. Betsee Parker's name next to the word owner on the scoreboard, having purchased the beautiful chestnut during Devon.
A major contributor to Stewart's Leading Hunter Rider point total was Summer Place. Showing in two divisions, the athletic gray gelding garnered both the First Year Green Reserve Championship as well as the Regular Working Hunter Championship. Summer's owner Glen Senk of Fashion Farm was thrilled with his horse's performance noting that prior to Devon he had only competed in 8 shows.
Stewart and Berkley have been doing double duty of late. Berkley has a string of hunters to ride in addition to his jumpers, Wamika, Amore Mio, and Carlos Boy who he competed on in the most recent World Cup in Geneva, and who he will be riding in Thursday night's Grand Prix. Consequently, Stewart has ventured into the jumper ring riding Ax-cent in the 7 and 8 year old jumpers finishing 11th on Ax-cent to Berkley's 3rd on Amore Mio and 6th on Wamika. The class was won by Ramiro Quintana on Optima D'Orient.
Photos: Regular Working Hunter Reserve Champion- Rosalynn & Kelly Farmer, 1st Year Green Working Hunter Champion- Taken & Kelly Farmer, Bases Loaded & Kelly Farmer 2nd Year Green Working Reserve Champion, Early Applause & Maggie Jayne Regular Conformation Hunter Champion, Leading Mare - Francesca & Maggie Jayne, Leading Hunter Rider Scott Stewart, Grand Hunter Champion- Premiere, , 2nd Year Green Working Hunter Champion-Way Cool, Scott Stewart, & New Owner Dr. Betsee Parker, 7 & 8 Yr Old Jumper Winner-Optima D'Orient & Ramiro Quintana