Upper Marlboro, MD – Talented ponies ruled the roost today at Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) presented by Well Placed Smile, with Small, Medium, and Large pony divisions honoring their respective champion and reserve combinations for top performances. Sophie Gochman of New York, NY, captured the prestigious Grand Champion Pony Hunter aboard Love Me Tender owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, while Farah Rizvi of Greenwich, CT, and Trillville, owned by Peacock Ridge LLC, were victorious in the $2,500 WCHR Pony Challenge. Danielle Torano of Wellington, FL, and Herault topped the final round of the $10,000 North American Jr./AO Jumper Challenge presented by Johnson Horse Transportation.
Competing in the Small Pony Hunter division aboard Love Me Tender, Sophie Gochman earned the division’s championship title, going on to collect the highest award of the day, the Grand Champion Pony Hunter for her collective rides aboard the 2004 Welsh Pony mare. Gochman, who is 12 years old, earned two first places and a second place finish, alongside a fourth and sixth place to earn overall Grand Champion Pony honors at the 2015 Capital Challenge Horse Show. She also followed herself as reserve champion in the division aboard another Dr. Betsee Parker owned mount, Bit of Love.
Gochman was awarded with the Harper Taskier Wright Memorial Trophy presented to the rider of the Small Pony Hunter Champion, as well as the VanderMoore Designs Trophy donated by VanderMoore Designs. Adding to her memorable day, Gochman also collected the Best Pony Rider Award sponsored by Archie Cox and Brookway Stables. Gochman, alongside sister Mimi Gochman, and Clare Campbell were simultaneously awarded with the EMO Trip of the Show for the Pony division presented by Sue Bopp and EMO Agency for their tied high score of 89.00. Campbell was recognized for her style throughout the week, earning the Stewart Warner Cup presented by Donald Stewart and Louise Serio.
“It’s so exciting. I never expected to win Grand Champion at Capital Challenge. It’s such a competitive show and all of the riders are so good. It feels like such an accomplishment,” Gochman remarked.
Love Me Tender, known in the barn as Princess, is quite the diva and continually lives up to her name, but according to Gochman, she will do anything you ask of her in the ring. The duo proved their talent with incredible consistency throughout the two days of pony competition, which was filled with many of the best young competitors in the country.
“She’s a little princess and can be sassy sometimes. She has a really nice long stride though and she has very solid lead changes. She’s just perfect,” smiled Gochman. “Yesterday when we got the 89 outdoors in the rain was a good moment for me because it was a little bit harder to ride in the rain but she does really well outdoors.”
The Gochman family has continued to support and sponsor Capital Challenge Horse Show throughout the years and the competition holds a special place in their hearts. Sophie related saying, “It’s a great facility here and I always think it is a challenge to go from outdoors to indoors and there are so many competitors that you always have to be on your toes.”
Gochman wished to thank her team and trainers for helping to prepare her throughout the week as they continue to make her a better rider. She said, “I’d really like to thank Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley, and Amanda Derbyshire for all of their help this week and to Betsee for letting me ride Princess. I also have to thank my parents for supporting me and Princess’ groom Luis for taking such good care of her.”
Mimi Gochman, the younger sister of Sophie at eleven years old, also collected top honors today as she was crowned champion of the Large Pony Hunter division aboard Storyteller owned by Fair Play Farm. The beautiful chestnut gelding went wonderfully for Gochman throughout the week and she was excited to earn the tricolor for the division.
“It was really fun today and I’m so excited. It’s a great honor to champion a division here because it’s really competitive and it’s one of the top indoor shows, which makes it really special,” she explained. “Story is a very calm pony and he has a great stride and a fun jump. He’s very easy to turn so I think handy rounds are his forte and he loves all of the classes we do.”
The grounds at Capital Challenge have seen immense rainfall this week, but as competition continued on, so did the riding and Gochman was one of only few who may have been happy to be riding in the rain this week. She recalled, “Yesterday he got an 89 outside and I was really proud of him because he is what my dad calls a ‘mudder’ and he just loves the mud! He jumped great and he always tries his best for me.”
Both of the Gochman girls commented on the importance of the show on their schedule each year and described how it helps them to prepare for the other indoors that are approaching in the fall season.
“Capital Challenge is just challenging,” said Mimi Gochman. “There are so many great ponies here and it’s seems to be a little bit cold every time so they always seem a little fresh. It’s good to ride in the indoor ring though because there are so many lights and banners and you have to get used to that with all of the other shows too.”
Paralleling her sister, Mimi quickly thanked her team, parents, and Fair Play Farm for their support throughout the week, “I would like to thank Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley, Amanda Derbyshire, Kate and Terrance for being my trainers and helping me to ride this week. I also want to thank Fair Play Farm for giving me the ride on Story for this week and Gustavo Hernandez my groom who takes care of him.”
Emma Kurtz of Hudson, OH, and All My Love, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, followed Mimi Gochman with reserve honors in the Large Pony Hunter division.
The day of sisterly success continued at Capital Challenge as Zayna Rizvi took top honors in the Medium Pony Hunter aboard Swingtown, owned by Peacock Ridge LLC before her older sister Farah would ultimately be crowned in the WCHR Pony Challenge only a few classes later. Sophie Gochman collected reserve champion honors for the division aboard Truly Noble owned by Pegasus Show Stable Inc.
For more information on Capital Challenge Horse Show and to view a full show schedule, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org