Wellington, FL - The second week of competition concluded today at the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. All eyes were on the Pony Hunters at the South Grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center today.
Meredith Darst added another tricolor to her list of accolades with the championship win in the Gotham North Small Pony Hunters on Hillcrest's Blue Gem Stone. Darst and Hillcrest's Blue Gem Stone, who is owned by Lochmoor Stables, won the first class over fences yesterday and claimed the first and second places over fences today to secure the championship.
Today's handy hunter course included several roll backs, an in-and-out, and a trot fence, but "there weren't very many places to be handy. It was pretty straightforward," Darst noted after winning the class.
Darst calls Lebanon, OH, home, but she resides in Wellington during the 12-week circuit. The 12-year-old Darst is in sixth grade, but studies with a private tutor during the circuit to allow her to pursue her equestrian endeavors. Between school and riding, Darst stays very busy, but she likes to swim and play tennis in her free time.
Darst is always in high demand at the horse show, and her feet never seem to stay on the ground for too long, since she shows about 11 ponies and horses per weekend. It is no surprise that she is such a popular catch rider, seeing as her talents range from the Small Pony Hunters to the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under division, in which Darst was reserve champion on All Seasons Farm's In The Black today.
When Darst rides Hillcrest's Blue Gem Stone, she trains with Richard Cunkle and Rob Coluccio. She very much enjoys riding Hillcrest's Blue Gem Stone, whom she says is "a lot of fun and is really easy."
Darst has already been awarded several tricolors in the first two weeks of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, and she says her goal is to "continue to be successful" in the remaining weeks of circuit.
Other winners this weekend in the Small Pony Hunters included Star Command, ridden by Alden Price and owned by Christa Carson, as well as Ballou, who was ridden by Daisy Farish and is owned by Victoria Colvin. Ballou and Farish were also awarded the reserve championship in the Small Pony Hunter division.
Hunter competition will continue next week during week three of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs from January 27-31.
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.
Photo Credit: Meredith Darst won the Gotham North Small Pony Hunter Championship on Hillcrest's Blue Gem Stone. Photo © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc.