Lexington KY - August 5, 2012 -It was the championship day for the Adult Amateur Divisions at the Kentucky Summer Classic. Riders and their top mounts approached the Stonelea Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park for the final day of the show, examining the courses as they prepared. The Adult Amateurs did not disappoint as they vied for the top honors in their respective divisions, but it was Leigh Cofer and Breaking News who really shined in the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunter division, also riding to the high scoring NAL/WIHS Adult Hunter Classic second round score, and the winning title.
The clouds sat precariously over the Kentucky Horse Park, offering shade and a cool breeze from the usual hot midsummer day, as the NAL/WIHS Adult Hunter Classic got underway. Today's courses were designed by Danny Moore, and offered competitors the perfect opportunities to showcase their mounts to the best of their abilities. Each round was made up of natural obstacles set with enhancing foliage to accent the birch, brick and stone obstacles that challenged the teams. The track was set with an opening oxer leading riders through a vertical-vertical-oxer combination on the inside. The serpentine progressed with a steady seven-stride outside line and an inside turn over a standalone oxer to finish with the vertical-oxer outside line.
The top scoring horse and rider combinations of the Adult Amateur Hunter divisions approached the Stonelea Arena with trepidation as they progressed into the battle for the best, and the winning title. Julie Holzberger and Pure Giving posted the impressive first round score of 84, moving into the Classic in the first place position with a target on her back. An unfortunate rub on the oxer in the outside line lost the duo their dominating lead.
With only two left to compete, the anticipation was evident. Mindy Wurzburg and Overseas had posted the highest second round score to this point in the competition, impressing the judges and earning their nod with a score of 83. Combined with her first round score of 81 points, Wurzburg led the class with an overall score of 164 points. Although it looked as though Wurzburg had posted an unsurpassable standard, last to go Leigh Cofer and Breaking News rose to the top, edging out Wurzburg with a one-point difference.
"He is probably the sweetest horse, both in the ring and on the ground," Cofer explained. "He was tired and it was the end of the day but he went in and was really good, he was really on today. He is a really easy ride, he just kind of knows his job now-he is such a good boy."
Cofer's success was apparent from the beginning of the day until the end, snatching up the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunter Championship with Breaking News, owned by Fit To Print Farm of Woodstock, GA. They posted two consistent rounds over fences, taking home the blue ribbon prize in each. They laid down beautiful rounds during Saturday's over fences, as well, also earning the first place finish and a clear road to the championship.
"The jumps are always so pretty here, and I thought the course rode beautifully," Cofer described. "I have been showing him for three years, and we imported him young and green-he hadn't done too much."
Cofer continued, "Kelci Crenshaw also shows him during the week in the professional divisions. She does a great job preparing him, and he loves the program. He was spectacular this whole show, and he is just really coming into his own."
Elizabeth Morgan of Cincinnati, OH, and As Always rode to the reserve championship honors, earning straight seconds during today's over fences, as well as the third place finish in the under saddle.
During the Adult Amateur 36-49 Hunters, local Dawn Fogley of Lexington, KY, piloted her recently purchased mount, Tripoli, to three first place finishes over fences throughout the course of the division, as well as the first place finish in the under saddle. It was Stacey Arani and Bolero, owned by Marigot Farm of Dover, MA, who stood for the reserve champion presentation shot.
"He went great and gave me every chance to ride him and he went around well," Fogley remarked. "This is a three-foot division, and it is nice when they go in the main hunter ring, which allows you to go forward and work with a little more pace, I love that."
Fogley continued to describe her relationship with the 7-year-old Tripoli, "I showed him in Florida, and then we purchased him shortly after. He was the perfect fit for me, and we have been doing great and proving consistent in the middle adult amateur divisions. I would love for him to stay consistent and have him keep going successfully at the level he has been going at."
Prior to the Classic, the Adult Amateur 50 and Older Hunter division saw competitors return for day two of competition. Everest with Susan Stanley of Delray Beach, FL, in the irons claimed the top finishes in the over fences today, as well as the first place award for their efforts in the over fences, yesterday. Camille McNeill of Memphis, TN, claimed the reserve championship tricolor aboard Tuckahoe for their second and third place finishes today in the over fences.
"He's so smart and he catches on," Stanley explained. "He's a little spooky but it makes him really look at the fences, and it has him jumping a beautiful jump.
He has this really great attitude but and he's a really good boy that wants to do well. He's going to be a really great horse for me in the future. He's still a little green, but he has come a long way in such a short period of time."
"I love Kentucky, I love it because there are so many places to ride. We take the horses out in the field, and make them go up and down the obstacles, just for them to look at them. They just love it out here. We always have fun and that is what makes this all worth it," Stanley concluded.
The Kentucky Summer Classic concluded today, but the exciting hunter action will return to the Kentucky Horse Park with the continuance of the 2012 Kentucky Summer Series August 15-19 with the commencement of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. The week is a World Championship Hunter Rider event, with the top hunter riders competing for qualifying points and the show will host the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Photo Credit: Leigh Cofer and Breaking News made headlines with their NAL/WIHS Adult Hunter Classic victory at the Kentucky Summer Classic. Photo By: Ashley N. Williams/PMG.