Matt Williams Went “All In” to Win the $10,000 Gambler’s Choice

Harrisburg, PA – October 19, 2011 – Matt Williams of Australia and Watch Me VD Mangelaar went “all in” to win the $10,000 Open Jumper Gambler’s Choice class, sponsored by Beshore, Owen, Thomas Group of Morgan Stanley, at the 66th annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Wednesday evening.

The Gambler’s Choice is an exciting class where each jump is assigned a point value from 10 to 120 and each rider sets his own course to accumulate the most points.  Once the rider completes the course they have the additional choice of jumping the Joker fence for 200 bonus points, or the “All In Double-or-Nothing” fence, which is set at five feet, six inches, the highest obstacle on course.  As the name implies, if the All In Double-or-Nothing fence is jumped successfully, the point total is doubled, if it is knocked down, the rider receives no score. 

As the fifth competitor in the field of 24, Williams was only the second rider to take the chance on the Double-or-Nothing fence.  Jonathan McCrea of Ireland and Victor E tried just prior to Williams, but knocked it down for a zero score.  Much to the delight of the crowd, Williams was successful and jumped into the lead.  

“My plan was to go in and jump the big fences, whatever got in the way, really,” said Williams.  “I thought the big fence looked like nice, so I decided give it a try.  I was cooling the horse off so I didn’t see the rest of the riders jump.  When I got back to the in-gate I found out that I was still on top so I was happy.”

It became apparent after Williams scored 1540 points that the rest of the field would need to take a chance on the big fence in order to win.  Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil nearly unseated Williams blazing around the course on HH Palouchin and racking up 840 points, which would have taken the lead if doubled.  However, they failed to clear the Double-or-Nothing fence and received no score.  Charlie Jayne of Elgin, IL was twenty points shy of the win scoring 1520 on Chill RZ for second place.   

Wednesday night was also Western Night and the crowd was treated to Barrel Racing and Pole Bending Invitational Competitions sponsored by W&L Sales, Susan and Stephen Symons.  Kim Zeamer of Quarryville, PA won the Barrel Racing class on Designed in Lace racing around the barrels in 16.384 seconds. Colleen Hershey and Hobby’s Shootn The Moon just missed for second place in a time of 16.483.  Zeamer was beaming.  “It was so exciting!” said Zeamer.  “My whole family was here to watch me.  They never come to horse shows because they would have to travel too far, but this show was close to home.”

Todd Feaser of Newville, PA won the Invitational Pole Bending for the second consecutive year, this time riding Absolutely Hobby.  Feaser was surprised by his victory.  “This is his first season so I didn’t think we would win,” said Feaser.  “Once he got used to the crowd, he was great.  I have to try hard to keep up with Fallon.” Fallon is Feaser’s six-year-old daughter who demonstrated barrel racing and pole bending for the audience prior to the class.  She was pleased with her dad’s victory.    

Competition at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg continues through October 22 with Saturday’s featured event, the $75,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix de Penn National.

In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the PNHS offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia.  

General admission for through Friday, October 21, is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.  General admission for Saturday, October 22, is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. As always, children under 6 are admitted free in general admission seating. Convenient parking is also free.

The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proud of its tradition of supporting equine and youth programs. The show benefits the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.  Details are available at the horse show’s website at or by calling the horse show office at 717-770-0222.

Photo:  Matt Williams of Australia and Watch Me VD Mangelaar win the $10,000 Gambler’s Choice  (Al Cook Photo)