Wellington, FL - December 2, 2013 - For the last two years, Molly Ashe Cawley and Kennzo have kicked off the holiday season by earning a bit of an early Christmas present. On Sunday afternoon, that holiday gift came in the form of their second consecutive victory in the $15,000 Holiday & Horses USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Ashe not only won the derby aboard Kennzo, but she also finished third in the class with Original Du Rietz, earned ribbons in the open jumpers aboard Carissimo and helped coach Norfield Stables LLC rider Francesca Dildabanian to the Large Pony Hunter Championship.
Thanks to their numerous wins, the Holiday & Horses Show marked a fantastic start to the holiday season for the Newtown, CT based Norfield Stables LLC, at which Ashe trains alongside Timmy Kees and her husband Chris Cawley.
The $15,000 Holiday & Horses USHJA International Hunter Derby also marked Kennzo's first time in the show ring since the Hampton Classic Horse Show in August.
"He hasn't done anything since then - well, clearly he's done a lot of eating. He's fat as a house. He should be the poster child for Jenny Craig," joked Ashe. "But he's really cool that way. You're able to just sort of pull him out of the field and go right out there, and he's so on it."
Kennzo, owned by Kristen Abbatiello-Neff, and Ashe were undoubtedly both on it from the get-go on Sunday. Their efforts over the first round classic hunter course, designed by Jason Shelley, shot them straight to the top of the leaderboard. Scores of 88 from the first judging panel and 87 from the second panel, plus four high option bonus points added to each score, gave them a total first round score of 183.
That score put Ashe and Kennzo in the top spot to return for the second round. Ashe also returned in the third place position aboard Elisee Browchuck's Original Du Rietz, affectionately known as "Ritzy."
"Ritzy, my boy! I have to say, I'm very proud of him," Ashe said of Originial Du Rietz. "He marched right out there. He hasn't done anything since [The Hampton Classic Horse Show] either, and he laid it down right from round one. He handled it better than people might have thought at the beginning. As the class went on, you started to say 'oh, he's darn good.'"
Ritzy cemented the third place finish with judges' scores of 80 and 85 in the second round for a total second round score of 184, including handy bonus and high option points.
With riders returning in reverse order of their first round standings, it came down to Ashe on Kennzo and Kelley Farmer on Skorekeeper, owned by Larry Glefke.
Farmer and Skorekeeper earned impressive scores of 87 and 87.5 for a second round total of 200.5 and an overall grand total of 374, leaving it all up to Ashe and Kennzo. "I felt like I had to just not mess it up, instead of trying to scratch and claw my way ahead of somebody," Ashe explained.
Far from messing it up, Ashe and Kennzo turned in a beautiful trip, earning them a grand total, two-round score of 382 and ensuring them the win. "I was very happy with both of them (Kennzo and Original du Rietz)," Ashe concluded. "Kennzo goes in the ring, and he knows what to do. He is so much fun. He's so scopey, and he has a great jump. He's really turned into such a great show horse. He really knows his job now, and he's all business every time."
While Ashe earned her win in the Mogavero Ring, nearby in Ring 7, young Norfield Stables LLC rider Francesca Dildabanian was doing some winning of her own. The young competitor from New York, NY, and her own large pony, Pride, earned three blue ribbons over fences and the top call in the Large Pony Hunter Model before being named the Large Pony Hunter division champions.
"Pride was a green this past year, and he's come a really long way," Dildabanian explained. "He's just naturally a really sweet pony. He's really cooperative and pretty laid back."
Dildabanian continued: "I've been riding with Molly for about a year now, and I love it. It's nice to have such a good relationship with your trainer. It's almost as if she's a second mom to me. She's really inspirational in how she rides. It makes you want to ride that way."
Dildabanian plans to continue showing Pride in the Large Pony Hunters throughout the winter season, as well as competing in the Children's Jumpers and equitation divisions. She and much of the Norfield Stables team will look to continue their successful 2013 show year at the upcoming Equestrian Sport Productions Holiday Horse Show Series.