East Dorset, Vermont - The Vermont Summer Festival proudly hosted four weeks of TAKE2 Thoroughbred competition, awarding championships to both hunter and jumper competitors. Held on Wednesday and Thursday of weeks two through five of the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT, the TAKE2 divisions hosted 3’ hunter competition and 1m jumper competition.
Top Honors was the first Thoroughbred to take home a division championship title, jumping to victory with owner-rider Linda Orton. Top Honors is a 16-year-old gelding by Thunder Rumble; he and Orton were profiled during the inaugural TAKE2 competition at the 2013 Vermont Summer Festival. The reserve TAKE2 hunter champion during week two was An American Soldier, owned by Sara O’Connell and ridden by David Wilbur.
In the jumper ring, it was Sundown and Cassidy Niblo who were crowned TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumper division champions during week two of the Vermont Summer Festival. Niblo and Nicole Wright’s 18-year-old Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding were the second pair to showcase the athletic breed’s longevity, competing successfully in good company even as the horse nears his second decade. Reserve champion for week two’s TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumper division was October Solera, owned and ridden by Alexandra Kunzle.
Following four weeks of competition, Sundown went on to earn the circuit championship title for the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumpers. When asked what the secret was to Sundown’s incredible longevity, Wright simply attributed her horses’ long careers, including that of Sundown’s, with ample turn-out and an easy schedule. Another of her Thoroughbreds is still competing at age 26; Wright keeps them happy by focusing on flatwork and not over-jumping.
Sundown has been a highly valuable horse for Wright, whose En-Rite operates out of Bedford, NY. Sundown has taught multitudes of clients how to ride and has jumped to winning rounds in the hunter, equitation, and jumper rings.
“I love that Thoroughbreds are always game,” said Wright. “I really like that they’re always willing to try and are very consistent horses. My Thoroughbreds have all been very successful.”
An American Soldier jumped to the top of the leaderboard during week three’s TAKE2 Throughbred Hunter classes, capturing the division championship that week with Wilbur. An American Soldier is a 9-year-old gelding of unknown breeding. Reserve champion was St. Stephen with Bridget Gregory in the irons for owner Maureen Gregory.
It was Prudence Anderson’s Wesley who earned the jumper championship title during week three’s TAKE2 competition. Ian Silitch rode the eight-year-old gelding by Globalized to the top finish. Reserve champion in the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumpers was Sparrow, owned by McKenzie Meserve and ridden by Maura Tubridy.
St. Stephen and Bridget Gregory took their turn in the winner’s circle during week four, bringing home the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter division championship before going on to earn the circuit championship in the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunters. St. Stephen is a seven-year-old gelding of unknown breeding owned by Maureen Gregory. Top Honors earned the reserve championship title with Linda Orton.
Mai Tai took home the TAKE2 jumper division championship with Hunter Ralston during week four of the Vermont Summer Festival. Mai Tai is a seven-year-old gelding of unknown breeding owned by Gina Gates. Reserve championship honors went to Wesley and Ian Silitch.
Christmas came early for Secret Santa and Jeffrey Ayres, who took home the final TAKE2 Thoroughbred hunter division championship during week five. Secret Santa is a six-year-old Thoroughbred gelding by Fantasticat, owned by Dan and Cathy White and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGrinnes. Reserve champion was Gambole, owned and ridden by Leah Cruciani.
“Secret Santa is very classy, and he’s a very good mover and generally very quiet. If he has a good jumper round, he’s usually the clear winner,” said Ayres of his winning mount. “Thoroughbreds are a little more responsive are actually not as spooky as warmbloods. If you get them right, they’re great.”
Ayers, whose Equi-Ventures operation is based in Sellersville, PA, continued, “The prize money in the TAKE2 Thoroughbred divisions is fantastic. The prize money has been extremely lucrative, and makes me want to have a Thoroughbred in my barn every year to do the division. It’s always fun to show in Vermont; the fact that they offer this division is just an extra incentive to come each year.”
The sixth and final week of the Vermont Summer Festival began on Tuesday, August 3, and will continue through Sunday, August 10, offering a full schedule of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition.
The final class of the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake Series, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, will take place on Thursday, August 7, while the grand finale, the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix, takes place on Saturday, August 9, at 1 p.m. Hunter competition culminates in the $15,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Land Rover Experience, on the evening of Thursday, August 7.
Competition runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. Admission prices are $5 for adults, $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. 100% of the gate proceeds benefit area libraries, including Manchester Community Library.
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont. Known for its wide variety of area amenities including restaurants, outdoor activities, and lots and lots of shopping, Manchester-area businesses warmly welcome horse show competitors to the area each summer.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.Sundown and Cassidy Niblo earned the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumper circuit championship at the 2014 Vermont Summer Festival. Photograph by David Mullinix Photography