Warrenton, VA - The chestnut filly with the large blaze was the best in the west - with judges then determining Ooh Ah the 2011 Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF National Hunter Breeding Champion. Ooh Ah (Nob Hill x Holy Cow by Fire Jade), bred and owned by Leslie Nelson and handled by John Ducharme, is an 18-month-old Thoroughbred cross.
She competed against several dozen other horses in Southern California at the Del Mar Horse Park on August 31, with the Best Young Horse and Reserve Best Young Horse that day going on to challenge the East Coast victors for the title of National Best Young Horse. "I really didn't think this day would ever come," Nelson said. "I was in such a state a of shock."
It's not that Nelson isn't used to winning West Coast. With Ooh Ah, it was her third West Coast victory. But the overall Grand Champion trophy was always just out of reach. But not this time, not with Ooh Ah, known around the barn as Josie. "This time, the stars aligned," Nelson said. "She is without a doubt the quietest, nicest, most uncomplicated filly. She's just really simple." Simple enough - and perfect enough - to get the top votes of judges on both coasts.
Reserve Champion was the Oldenburg filly Rendezvous, bred, owned, and handled by Sue Lightner, who was also awarded the Ted Feiger Memorial Trophy for leading handler. Rendezvous (Ragtime x Misty view by Star Choice) also is familiar with the spotlight - winning the Reserve Champion Best Young Horse West Coast title in 2010.
The judges then traveled across the country to the historic Warrenton Horse Show in Warrenton, VA, on September 3. The entrants on the East Coast each took their turn standing up and showing the judges what made them worthy of the title of Best Young Horse East Coast.
The top horse: The Oldenburg colt Porte Fino (Westporte x Wajimego by Mr. Redoy) bred by Melissa Mihalevich, co-owned by Alexis Von Zimmer, and handled by Bucky Reynolds.
The Reserve Best Young Horse East Coast was True North, a chestnut Oldenburg filly (Cabardino x Hanna by Tavistock) bred and owned by Diana Dodge of Nokomis Farm and handled by Oliver Brown. Brown also was the Leading Handler East Coast and was awarded the Belcort Farm Perpetual Trophy.
But it was Ooh Ah who was the Overall Grand Champion of both coasts. And owner Nelson was awarded the Dave Kelley Perpetual Trophy donated by Nokomis Farm.
The Overall Reserve Grand Champion was Porte Fino.
Photos: Ooh Ah, 2011 Best Young Horse West Coast and Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF National Hunter Breeding Champion. Photo: Maria Morgan; Porte Fino, 2011 Best Young Horse East Coast. Photo: www.susanmcarter.com.