Lexington, Kentucky - In its third year, the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship has reached record numbers with 160 horse and rider combinations vying for the coveted 2015 championship title. It was Scott Stewart who topped the field on the open day, showing Rivers Edge's Evermore to the pinnacle of the placings for the opening round of competition.
The 6-year-old Warmblood gelding has been under Stewart's wing for three years, training and preparing for the chance to shine in the Stonelea Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. Stewart shows the gelding sparingly, only three times during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, but he has shined every time he has entered the competition ring. It did not surprise Stewart that Evermore has lived up to his potential, especially since his sire is none other than Empire, the stallion that Stewart showed to the top of the Green Conformation leader board across the nation for the Gochman family.
"I bought him [Evermore] when he was 2 years old in Europe, and then I left him over there until he was three, after which he came to the States," Stewart explained. "He's really easy, he's always been easy. I think he was champion his first time in Florida. This summer we've just been riding him and keeping him working. We saved him for this. He really rides like a made-up horse." Stewart continued, "He's pretty straight-forward. For as inexperienced as he is, he is really direct and always goes straight. He's not spooky and has a great lead change. He's really simple."
Stewart, who last year won the annual USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship with Remarkable, has already secured himself a good spot for the second round, held Wednesday. He hopes to keep other domineering riders at bay as he aims to duplicate his success from 2014. "I feel good, hopefully we can stay in the top 30, you never want to fall out of that, that's the major thing," Stewart emphasized. "Hopefully we'll stay fresh enough to do that. He was really interested today, so he should be pretty much the same tomorrow."
The pair will have stiff competition going into the remainder of the three-day championship event, with a slew of top riders hot on his heels, and a target firmly set on his back. Tracy Fenney currently sits in the second place with MTM Personalized, owned by MTM Farm based in Flower Mound, Texas, with only a 1.75-point differential.
Fenney began showing the 7-year-old grey Warmblood only recently, when a partner in Europe sent the gelding to Fenney and Michael McCormick. They considered showing him in the First Year Green Working Hunters since he has enough mileage, but they decided that it would be best to gain some experience in the U.S. as a Pre-Green, and leave the First Year Green Working Hunters to his next owner. "He rides lovely, does great lead changes, has a great stride, and jumps really nicely," Fenney said of her mount. "There's not much really to work on with him."
Jennifer Alfano of Buffalo, New York, placed two mounts in the top 12, The Exchange in third and Castle in seventh, owned by SBS Farms and Sharon O'Neill, respectively. The Exchange took over the lead during the first half of the class, but it proved short lived as Stewart followed only three rides later with Evermore, and Fenney slid into second as the 134th in the order.
Hunt Tosh, the inaugural USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Champion returned to the competition with Largesse, owned by Cecil Wheeler and Kenny Wheeler of Keswick, Virginia, to follow behind Alfano in the fourth place. Fifth was awarded to Clever Conversation and Kelley Farmer, the busiest rider of the class, who showed nine horses with three earning spots in the top 12, including tying for the 11th place. Tim Goguen and Splendid captured the sixth place, and John French aboard Goodnight Moon rounded out the top eight.
The 2015 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship will continue on Wednesday with a second round, where all 160 horses will carry their scores from Tuesday forward and go again over fences to determine the top 30 to compete in the final round on Thursday. The final round will be a blank-slate format, putting all horses back onto an even playing field.
Jumper classes at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show also kick off tomorrow at the Kentucky Horse Park with the Young Jumper Classes beginning at 8 a.m. in Rolex Stadium. To learn more about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
USHJA PRE-GREEN INCENTIVE ROUND 1 RESULTS
Order Entry # Horse Name Rider Name Score
1 947 EVERMORE SCOTT STEWART 269.500
2 998 MTM PERSONALIZED TRACY FENNEY 267.750
3 181 THE EXCHANGE JENNIFER ALFANO 265.500
4 447 LARGESSE HUNT TOSH 264.250
5 1081 CLEVER CONVERSATION KELLEY FARMER 264.000
6 1439 SPLENDID TIM GOGUEN 263.000
7 187 CASTLE JENNIFER ALFANO 261.050
8 73 GOODNIGHT MOON JOHN FRENCH 259.250
9 1205 GRAND LUXE SANDY FERRELL 259.250
10 449 VALHALLA HUNT TOSH 258.750
11 1086 SILVER CHARM KELLEY FARMER 258.000
12 1080 SPEAK YOUR MIND KELLEY FARMER 258.000