Lexington, KY - August 14, 2014 -Through three rounds of the 2014 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, the horse at the top of the pack changed, but the rider stayed the same. Winning the first round and coming back on top in the final was Scott Stewart, capturing the championship with the most eye-catching of his seven mounts, Remarkable.
"I love young horses and bringing them along," Stewart said. "So I think this program is great because it really showcases them. All year long at other shows we go to, they're sort of in another ring, and no one gets to watch them. I think it's great for the sport and for people who want to buy young horses to keep them interested."
Stewart did not have much time to get acquainted with the uniquely colored gelding-he broke his collarbone in early July while competing at Horse Shows By The Bay in Traverse City, MI. "He just came over about two months ago. His first show was Michigan, and I only got to ride him one day, and then I broke," Stewart said with a smile. "So Amanda Derbyshire showed him."
Luckily Stewart recovered just in time to come to Lexington, his first show since the injury, and the trip was well worth the effort. His ride on Remarkable alone got him a check for $22,364.78 and a one year lease on a two horse trailer, courtesy of Sundowner Trailers.
"We own a lot of our own horses, Ken and I, so it's nice to bring them here and actually think you can make a little money, because that never happens," Stewart laughed.
Now the only issue is how to get his new trailer home. "The truck didn't come with it unfortunately," Stewart laughed. "I haven't figured that part out yet, but we could sure use one!"
Taking the reserve champion title was Laura Wasserman's entry, Boss, ridden by John French. According to French, the gelding started out his show career as a dressage horse in Europe before he was imported by Tammy Provost and found his place in the hunter ring.
French had complete faith in the young horse to handle the potentially spooky environment around the Stonelea Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park where spectators both on foot and in golf carts surrounded the arena for all thirty trips of Thursday's final round.
"He's definitely not spooky," French said. "He didn't really need to go in and walk around and see anything [during the course familiarization]. Maybe I walked them in the ring and walked them once around the outside to see all the banners, but I wasn't worried that he'd look at anything."
French and Stewart are in agreement on the success of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive program, and French in particular appreciates the way the program has adapted in just two years. "This year they really show cased [the championship], and it was in one ring not with the other pre-green division," French said of the program. "It was a great decision that they made, and people could really watch the horses.
There was just so much talk going around about each horse and who it was by, and where it came from," French continued. "It was great to see that much interest in the horses."
While French is obviously a fan of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program, it has taken the state he calls home a little longer to warm to the idea.
"This whole program started in Texas, and then it became national. California is a little bit slow, we had a hard time getting horse shows to have these classes at first," French explained, whose Waldenbrook Farm is based in California. "Really we only had two or three shows in California this year to qualify, so you had to go to those shows. I know you can get in without qualifying now, but hopefully people on the west coast will see what a success and how much interest is brought [by these classes], and show managers will start putting these classes in California," French continued.
French, like Stewart, said the prize money is a big draw, especially considering the costs of bringing horses from the west coast. "Coming from California we have to fly them, so winning money is great. People can see that it's worth it coming all the way from California. Even if you're not coming for the money, it's worth it," French said of the championship experience. "I think they've done a great job."
Hunter championship competition continues tomorrow with the start of the 2014 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals in the Rolex Stadium.
For more information on the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, including this week's Bluegrass Festival Horse Show visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.