Tough Competition for Profession and Future Hunter Championships at Capital Challenge Horse Show

Queen Lattifa and Hunt Tosh. Photo copyright Shawn McMillen Photography.
Queen Lattifa and Hunt Tosh. Photo copyright Shawn McMillen Photography.

Upper Marlboro, MD – October 1, 2013 – Nine championships were awarded today at the Capital Challenge Horse Show presented by The Gochman Family, honoring the best hunters in the country. Along with the Second Year Green Working and High Performance Hunter divisions, championships were given in six Future Hunter divisions and the Performance Hunters 3'6”. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, runs through Sunday, October 6. Don't forget, you can watch all of the champions' jumping rounds by clicking on the “Individual Rounds” button at www.capitalchallenge.org.

The professional hunters will wrap up their divisions tomorrow. The highlight classes of the week for the professional hunter riders are the $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, sponsored by Pony Lane Farm, on Wednesday, October 2, and the $5,000 WCHR Professional Finals, presented by the John R. Ingram Fund, for the top six hunter riders in the country on Friday, October 4.

In the Show Place Arena, the first championship awarded went to Queen Lattifa, ridden by Hunt Tosh for Kenneth and Douglas Wheeler. The pair received two firsts and two seconds over fences and were sixth in the under saddle. John French and Oscany, Inc.'s Small Celebration picked up the reserve championships after a first, third, and fourth over fences and a win under saddle.

Tosh, of Milton, GA, has a new ride in Queen Lattifa, an 11-year-old Westphalian mare, and this was their fourth show together. After winning a championship at the Devon Horse Show, Kenneth Wheeler “fell in love with her,” Tosh said. He added with a smile, “(He) spontaneously bought her without me ever riding her. He came to me and said, 'We have a new horse!' He saw her and had to have her.”

Tosh described, “She's a great horse. She's careful and super brave. You can walk in any ring and she'll go out and put in a great effort. She's really fun to ride (and) is a beautiful jumper. She's good about turning back and jumping. She's really scopey, which gives you a little extra room to make an error. She's been really good.”

Everly and Scott Stewart. Photo copyright Shawn McMillen Photography.
Everly and Scott Stewart. Photo copyright Shawn McMillen Photography.

The High Performance Hunter championship went to Everly, ridden by Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL, for Dr. Betsee Parker. They won three over fences classes as well as the under saddle class. Another Dr. Betsee Parker-owned horse, Lonestar, won the reserve championship with Hunt Tosh. They received three second places as well as a fourth over fences and were fourth under saddle.

Everly was previously owned by Spy Coast Farm, and she competed in the 1.50m jumpers with grand prix rider Shane Sweetnam. The nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Malito de Reves has settled perfectly into her new hunter role, Stewart said. “The first week in Kentucky she maybe jumped too high in the in and outs, but at the Hampton Classic she had 92s in every round. She's the easiest horse,” he said.

The pair were Grand Hunter Champions at the Hampton Classic, and this is only her third show as a hunter. “She's unbelievable. The scope is easy. She's quite quiet and she took to it so easy. It was amazing,” Stewart expressed.

Victoria Colvin and Way Cool. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.
Victoria Colvin and Way Cool. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.

The Performance Hunter 3'6” division, sponsored by Nicole Kane/South Shore Farms, was swept by Victoria Colvin, who rode Dr. Betsee Parker's Way Cool to the championship (they won both over fences classes) and Dr. Parker's Ovation to reserve champion honors after two fourths over fences and the win under saddle.

Jocelyn Martin and Knob Creek. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.
Jocelyn Martin and Knob Creek. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.

Future Hunters Show Their Potential
The Future Hunter Thoroughbred division, sponsored by Take 2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program, was added to this year's schedule and saw a solid group of competitors. The champion was Knob Creek, a seven-year-old gelding by Run Softly, ridden by Jocelyn Martin and owned by Dana Nifosi of Alexandria, VA.

The path to their victory was marked by injury and accidents in the three years that Nifosi has owned him, so being able to come home with a champion ribbon at Capital Challenge was something very special. For Nifosi, who has a full-time job as a federal attorney, even the opportunity to see her horse in the show ring brought tears to her eyes. “I was literally in tears when he went around yesterday. Yesterday he just sparkled. I was like, 'Oh my God, that's my horse?'”

Nifosi is on furlough from her government job, and not only did she get to see her horse show, she got to ride him in the under saddle class. Calling him “the most accident-prone horse” and “usually kick-along quiet,” Nifosi was proud of her project horse. She asked Martin to ride him after her trainer, Katie Huber, suffered a broken hip in the spring. “Fingers crossed we're on our way to good health. That's why we're even more delighted that he could step up and be mature. Jocelyn did a fantastic job,” she said. While he was not sure of the jumbotron in the Show Place Arena during his championship presentation, Nifosi commented, “I think he's going to be an ideal amateur horse, jumbotron notwithstanding!”

Willow CBF and Phillip Cillis. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.
Willow CBF and Phillip Cillis. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.

The Future Hunter Mares division, sponsored by Penelope Ayres and Ravenswood Farm, pinned the championship ribbon on the bridle of Willow CBF. Willow and rider Phillip Cillis, who took the reins for owner Julie Hancock, placed first, fourth, and fifth over fences and was second under saddle. Kelley Farmer and Connotation, owned by Larry Glefke and Dr. Kenneth Garber, were the reserve champions. They placed first over fences and third under saddle.

Cillis and Hancock found Willow CBF, a five-year-old Hanoverian mare by ES Widmark, in November at a dressage barn and started in the Pre-Green Hunters in April. “She just moved really well. We had seen her free jump, and she jumped really well and soft and nice,” Cillis remembered. “She had such a great temperament and we were hoping she'd make up to an amateur horse, but already as a Pre-Green horse she's also doing the low Amateurs with Julie. She's got the best brain.”

While Cillis worked for Hap Hansen for 20 years and had brought equitation riders to Capital Challenge before, it had been “years and years” since he showed here last. “We had a fun one and we thought, 'Let's do it!'” he said.

Coming all the way from San Diego, CA, Cillis remarked, “We just didn't have any expectations, so it couldn't be more fun. It was so worth it!” Hancock added, “It's such a thrill to be in this level of competition and to see the quality of horses that were here. I would have been happy to have had a ribbon. To end up like this is a fairy tale.”

Brady Mitchell and Sutton Place. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.
Brady Mitchell and Sutton Place. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.

The Future Hunter 5 & Under division, sponsored by Randy Johnson and Greener Pastures Equine, had a championship performance from the talented Sutton Place, ridden by Brady Mitchell for KJ Robinson LLC. They won two over fences classes for the tricolor. Hunt Tosh rode Crimson Tide for Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Wheeler for the reserve championship after they were first, third, and fourth over fences and sixth in the under saddle.

Sutton Place, a five-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Valentino, was “very, very green” when Mitchell started riding him in March, with no real show career. He now does double duty with Mitchell and in the Adult Hunters with Katie Robinson. “Katie rides just as good as some of the professionals. We're able to buy special horses like this and she rides him beautifully,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that Sutton Place's best attribute is his stunning jump. “He tries to jump a '10' every time he leaves the ground. He's very, very careful, but the interesting thing about him is not only is he careful, he's dead brave. You could aim him at a ring of fire. He would jump it very high, but he would always jump it,” he laughed. “We like everything about him. He's fun in the barn, he's brave, he's easy to ride. He's one of our favorites.”

Coming from Canada, Mitchell had not had the chance to ride at Capital Challenge before this year. He has worked for Heritage Farm for two years. “(Andre Dignelli has) provided me a lot of opportunity to show at nice places like this, which I'm very, very grateful for. I've always wanted to show here, so this is special for me to be champion in my first time showing here,” he related.

Havens Schatt and Kaepernick. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.
Havens Schatt and Kaepernick. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.

The Future Hunter Colts & Geldings division, sponsored by Boggs Hill, was the first to finish today, and it was Havens Schatt on Debbie Perkins' Kaepernick who brought home the top tricolor. The pair was first, third, and third over fences and fifth under saddle. The reserve championship went to Cracker Jack, ridden by Morgan Thomas for Norgan, Inc. They placed first and second over fences.

Schatt brought Kaepernick into the barn from Europe in November, but he did not show until this past March. They had early success in Florida, and then he took time to get used to other show rings. They placed sixth in the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program Championship. The handsome bay gelding just turned six in September, and he wasn't broke until he was four years old. “He's come really far, quick,” Schatt said. “I'm really proud of him because he really is just like a baby. He's still green; he's either too up[hill] or down[hill]. At Blowing Rock it all clicked and I was able to get him to take the bit and take me to the jump. Before it was like riding a boat. Here, he's decided he can man up!”

Schatt, who now resides in Lexington, KY, has been very successful in the Future Hunters in the past few years with such horses as Bacardi and Sons Souci. “The Future Hunters are where it all begins,” she pointed out. “If there's not anybody to train those horses, get them broke, and bring them along, there are no horses for the amateurs or juniors. For me, it's really, really important. I try to put my focus on this show. I use a lot of the other shows for training. It's really special to me to have one that always wins here.”

Hunt Tosh and Crisp. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.
Hunt Tosh and Crisp. Photo copyright Parker/The Book LLC.

The championship in the Future Hunter 6 Year Old & Over division, sponsored by David Belford, Chris Payne, and Susan Moriconi, went to Crisp, ridden by Hunt Tosh for Kenneth Wheeler and Douglas Wheeler. They placed first in two over fences classes and second under saddle. The reserve championship was awarded to Classical and Scott Stewart who received first, fifth, and sixth place ribbons.

Crisp, a seven-year-old Warmblood gelding by Carinjo, gained nationwide recognition after he won the  USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program Championship. Tosh has only been riding Crisp since August, and the horse showed very lightly before that with Terry Brown. Tosh and the Wheelers had been interested in him all year. Tosh remarked, “We kept asking about him. When she said I could have him, I snagged him as fast I could. He doesn't have a lot of mileage, but he's been quite good when we've asked him to go in big venues. I love him. He's a beautiful picture and a fantastic jumper. He's very elegant going around, a really pretty horse. He tries to win. He's got good range and he studies the jumps. I'm really excited about him.”

For Tosh, the the opportunity to work with owners like the Wheelers is special. “It really means a lot that they want to develop horses and bring along young horses,” he agreed. “I think it's a bit of tradition with their family; their father and mother always did that. They really enjoy it I think, especially to have a young one like that and to kind of see what they can do. They're very excited about him. They are very supportive of me and I'm very appreciative of what they both do for me.”

The Future Hunter 3'3” championship, sponsored by Hunt & Mandy Tosh and Christa & Michael Endicott, went to Q, ridden by Peter Pletcher of Magnolia, TX, for Susan Baker. They won two over fences classes and were fourth in the under saddle. Truman and Chris Payne, who rode for Maypine Farm, were the reserve champions with a win over fences and the under saddle victory.

 Peter Pletcher and Q. Photo © Parker/The Book LLC.
Peter Pletcher and Q. Photo © Parker/The Book LLC.

Q, a seven-year-old Warmblood gelding by Quite Easy, changed careers from the jumper ring in March when Baker and Pletcher saw him. He has learned his job, but Pletcher said it does still take a class to get in the groove. “The first day he jumped the first jump and was so happy that he did about 30 lead changes after it. I stayed in and then he got a pair of 89s (in the second class). He doesn't want to be bad; he's just happy with himself. You can't really get mad at him for that,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher praised his “amazing gallop” as well. He added, “He acts much older than he is. He doesn't spook. He's really straightforward. It might take him one round to get used to the place, but he's pretty fun and right on.”

Competition for the professional hunters continues tomorrow with championships for two sections of the First Year Green Working Hunters, Green Conformation, and Regular Conformation. The Amateur-Owner Hunters begin their competition as well.

During the day, the Future Hunters will return for head-to-head competition in the $20,000 Added Future Hunter North American Championship, and the Grand Future Hunter Champion will be crowned. The best under saddle horses will compete in the World Champion Senior Hunter Under Saddle class. In the late afternoon, the first rounds of the WCHR Professional Challenge and WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge will be held. An awards ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m., which leads into the final rounds for the two Challenge classes in the evening session.

Highlights of the Capital Challenge Horse Show will include the World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Developing Pro Challenge (Oct. 2), Future Hunter North American Championship (Oct. 2), the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup (two rounds held on Oct. 4-5), the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals (Oct. 4), and the WCHR Professional Finals (Oct. 4).

For full results, more information, or to watch the SmartPak live webcast, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org.




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