Lexington, KY - Saturday was another hot and humid day at the Kentucky Horse Park as junior riders competed in day five of 2010 United States Equestrian Federation Pony Finals National Championships. The Large Pony Hunter over fences class started out this morning's competition with 102 entries to compete over Bobby Murphy's course in the Walnut Arena. Riders competed in reverse order of the point standings after the model and under saddle phases.
During the class, Victoria Colvin and For The Laughter, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, were able to maintain their lead in the overall standings. They were the winners of yesterday's model phase, and then went on to win today's over fences phase with a score 263. The duos combined total was 1032, earning them the Overall Large Pony Hunter Grand Championship.
The Overall Large Pony Hunter Reserve Grand Championship was awarded to Victoria Press and Midnight Hour, owned by Porter Allen of Boerne, TX. The pair jumped from 13th in the overall standings to second after placing second during the over fences phase with a score of 255, for an overall total of 994.5. Also moving up in the overall standings was Emma Kennedy and Cassius Clay, owned by Dana Rizzo and Nona Garson of Wall, NJ. The duo were originally 11th in the overall standings, but after placing fifth in the over fences phase with a score of 250.25 they took home the third place honors in the overall standings with a total of 986.5 points.
This evening, Colvin and For The Laughter were presented with the International Jumping Derby Perpetual Trophy and a $500 gift certificate from Oakcroft for their incredible efforts this week. With the high score 1032, the pair won the Grand Hunter Pony Championship for the second year in a row. Colvin has had a banner week at this year's Pony Finals, having won the Overall Green Grand Hunter Pony Championship with Seven Steps.
"It's so exciting to win this award two years in a row," smiled Colvin. "I don't really get nervous anymore so I don't really feel the pressure of going last or winning two years in a row."
Colvin added, "My first year he was winning coming in to the over fences round but we didn't have a great trip. Last year he was awesome and it's fun to win here again after another great week! I've been coming to Pony Finals since I was eight years old and it's something I look forward to each year."
During the year, Colvin competes under the tutelage of Scott Stewart and when she is aboard Dr. Parker's ponies she receives training from Richard Cunkle and Rob Coluccio. Colvin will compete next at the Indoor competitions this fall.
Receiving the Reserve Grand Hunter Pony Championship was Meredith Darst and Elation, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA. Darst and Elation were the Small Pony Hunter Grand Champions and their score of 1027 earned them the reserve champion title.
This afternoon, Emma Kennedy had another top finish with Cassius Clay by winning during the Top Ten Stake, presented by Dr. Betsee Parker. The top ten riders from each division were invited to compete over a second course in the Walnut Arena. Kennedy and Cassius Clay had a beautiful course and received a score of 261 to earn the blue ribbon prize.
""It feels amazing to win this class," exclaimed Kennedy. " I've never won anything like this before at Pony Finals so this is really special. He's just a great pony and I'm so excited; it's a great way to end Pony Finals!"
The last event today was the Pony Jumper Individual Finals where Sydney Shulman managed to conquer the competition with her fourth clear round aboard Set Sail, owned by Back Country Farm. The pair earned the USEF Individual Pony Jumper Gold Medal and led the final victory gallop. Alicia Hall and Luigi won the Silver Medal after only incurring one time fault throughout the competition. The Bronze Medal went to Rachel Fleszar and Valley Girl, who had four faults going into tonight's Finals and laid down a clear trip.
"It feels great to go clear all three nights and to win the team competition and the individual," expressed Schulman. " This is my second year to win so that's amazing! I ride best under pressure so I liked having to go last. I think that made me want it more and ride better. I just love this pony and he was perfect this whole weekend!"
The Pony Jumpers also had the opportunity to participate in today's Farewell Class, where Ashley Foster scored the blue ribbon aboard Will Kennedy's Only Option with a double clear effort in 37.805 seconds. Kamile Marcussen and Autumn Sunrise also left all the jumps up during the jump-off for the second place prize after crossing the finish line in 44.340 seconds. Peter Droogmans and Sky Miles had the fastest jump-off round in 34.998, but an unfortunate rail earned them the third place honors.
Tomorrow marks the final day of competition at the 2010 USEF Pony Finals. Riders will have the opportunity to showcase their talents during the EquiSport Insurance/USEF Pony Medal Finals. After the first round of competition, the top 30 riders will return to the ring to complete a second course and determine the winner.
For more information about the 2010 USEF Pony Finals please visit www.usef.org.
Photo Credit: Victoria Colvin won the Grand Hunter Pony Championship for the second year in a row aboard For The Laughter at the 2010 USEF Pony Finals. Photo By: Alyson Sanderford/PMG.