Tampa, FL - The highlight event this Saturday evening at the Tampa Bay Classic was the $5,000 WCHR Handy Hunter Classic. The class began at 5 p.m. and was held in the Covered Arena at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The top professional, amateur, and junior hunter riders turned out to participate. Samantha Schaefer and Bishonen led the event from start to finish, taking home the top prize with a two round total score of 171.
The first week of the Tampa Equestrian Festival, the Tampa Bay Classic, is a World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) qualifying event. The WCHR is an awards program started by the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation. The awards are presented on both a national and regional level to Pony, Junior, Amateur, Professional, Adult and Children's hunter riders who accumulate the most points at WCHR designated horse shows throughout the year.
Keith Bollotte designed the courses for tonight's inaugural event. The first course began with a hand gallop to fence one, and then continued with a bending line. Riders then had to ride a second bending line off their eye, and trot fences at the beginning and end of the course. The 12 riders with the highest scores in round one returned for the second round. The course began with a trot fence. Then riders had an option for the turn to fence two, which they had to canter, and then they had to return to the trot for fence three.
"Tonight's courses were very inviting," commented Schaefer. "Sometimes they set these handy classes and they are really made for equitation horses. Tonight's course was not spooky and I really enjoyed it."
Schaefer led the class from start to finish with Bishonen, owned by Mariana Wade. They were the second pair to enter the ring during the first round, and after a flawless trip the judges awarded them a score of 86. Schaefer's score topped the leader board going into round two, and earned them the right to go last.
"For the first round I wanted to go smooth and calm," noted Schaefer. "I just wanted to get in there and let the horse jump well. The first round was more about going nice and letting the horses jump well, then round two was where we had to be handy."
In the second place position after the first round was Schaefer's other mount Garfield, owned by K & S Show Service. They received a score of 85 going into the second round. Schaefer opted to make smoother turns and avoid the inside turns during the second round, which earned them a score of 81 for a two round total of 166 that held up for the fourth place ribbon.
When Schaefer entered the second round with Bishonen she was decided to be more aggressive, taking two of the more difficult inside options. The choice paid off and a score of 85 was announced for the second round, giving the pair a two round total of 171 and the winning title.
"During the second round I was just going to go smooth with Garfield," explained Schaefer. "I did nice turns but I didn't go crazy. Then with Bishonen Don [Stewart] said, 'If you want to win you have to go inside,' so I went inside two places and it worked out. It was a situation where it was either going to work out or it wasn't and I got lucky."
Tonight's second and third place awards were both presented to Taylor Ann Adams. During the first round she rode Chrystalle, owned by Meridian Farm, to a score of 84, which stood in the fourth position. The pair made the difficult inside turns during the second round and received a second round score of 83, for a two round total of 167 and the third place honors.
Adam's second mount, Rio's Splash, owned by Sarah Robin, held the third place position going into the second round after receiving a first round score of 84.5. Having already successfully completed the handy options with Chrystalle, Adams was able to easily guide Rio's Splash through the difficult course. The judges awarded the pair a score of 84, and with a two round total of 168.5 Adams and Rio's Splash took home the second place prize.
Schaefer was thrilled with her win during tonight's exciting class. "Bishonen is really easy and you can always count on him," she said. "His owner is an amateur and she shows him as well, so he is very straightforward. I started showing him towards the middle of the year last year and I showed him through Indoors."
Garfield is a Second Year Green Hunter that Schafer also shows in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunter division. "He's a young horse and she did really well tonight," she smiled. "He's really scopey, so if you get him in the vicinity of the jump he always works it out, which is nice. He's young but he knows his job and he tries to win every time."
After their stay at the Tampa Equestrian Festival, Bishonen and Garfield will travel to the Devon Horse Show to compete in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunter division.
The Tampa Bay Classic will come to a close tomorrow, and on Tuesday the Tournament of Champions will get underway. Tomorrow's highlight event is the $50,000 Grand Prix of Florida CSI-W, which will be held at noon in the Covered Arena. The final highlight of the Tampa Equestrian Festival will be the $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm on Saturday, April 10, at Raymond James Stadium.
For more information about the Tampa Equestrian Festival please visit www.stadiumjumping.com.
Class 200, $5,000 WCHR HANDY HUNTER CLASSIC
Order Entry # Horse Name Rider Name Owner Score Score 2 Total Score
1 205 BISHONEN SAMANTHA SCHAEFER MARIANA WADE 86.000 85.000 171.000
2 242 RIO'S SPLASH TAYLOR ANN ADAMS SARAH ROBIN 84.500 84.000 168.500
3 232 CHRYSTALLE TAYLOR ANN ADAMS MERIDIAN FARM 84.000 83.000 167.000
4 336 GARFIELD SAMANTHA SCHAEFER K & S SHOW SERVICE 85.000 81.000 166.000
5 295 MARQUIS LEE CESERY LEE CESERY 83.000 80.000 163.000
6 238 TERRAPIN STATION MEG O'MARA ABBY O'MARA 77.000 84.000 161.000
7 48 MAJESTIC AMANDA STEEGE TONY ARENA 74.000 81.000 155.000
8 79 REVEILLE PORTER ALLEN PORTER ALLEN 72.000 82.000 154.000
9 331 WALK AWAY MEG O'MARA DONALD STEWART 78.000 72.000 150.000
10 344 JUST ABOUT PERFECT LANDRIE FOLSOM LANDRIE FOLSOM 69.000 75.000 144.000
11 86 EASTWOOD SHAWN CASADY KELLY TROPIN 70.000 45.000 115.000
12 68 ATREJU LANE MOORE LANE MOORE 68.000 40.000 108.000
Photo Credit: Samantha Schaefer and Bishonen took home the blue ribbon during the inaugural $5,000 WCHR Handy Hunter Classic at the Tampa Bay Classic. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.