Harrisburg, PA - Victoria Watters of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Eye Remember Rio were the best in both rounds of the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Adult Hunter Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by Cavalor. Their two-round combined score of 172 points set them apart from the field, 7.5 points ahead of second place finishers French Kiss and Tina Furey.
Returning last in the order for round two, Watters was the favorite to win after her outstanding first round performance with a score of 87 points. A former NAL Adult Hunter Finals winner in 2007, today she landed after the final fence in round two with a smile on her face as she circled and exited the ring. That smile was awarded with a winning score of 85 points, the best of the round.
"I knew I had it! I was so nervous coming into this and it's stupid-why do we do this?" she said with a grin afterwards. "I've finished in the ribbons before and the year I won my goal was to win. Today I saw some nice alpaca coats at the shops and I told myself if I won I would take the prize money and go shopping with Ann Thornbury (who assisted her training)."
The mother of two sons, Watters held nothing back in her praise of her bay gelding Rio. "He is amazing and loves this ring. I have low vision and in this ring I feel like I can see like everyone. The rails are still blurry, but the new footing and lights help," she added.
Second placed French Kiss and Tina Furey of Connecticut finished with a combined score of 164.5 with 82 and 82.5 scores.
The NAL offers a year-long series in six divisions - Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter presented by Cavalor, Children's Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The series includes classes held at hundreds of horse show across the United States and Canada.
Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, most riders join in hopes of earning a trip to Harrisburg. The 2010-2011 NAL qualifying period began on September 1, 2010 and runs through August 31, 2011.
Historically, the NAL has only offered one Final in Harrisburg. The addition of the West Coast Finals, taking place in November 2011 during the Las Vegas National Horse Show at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will help make the NAL a truly national series.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS) continues through Saturday evening, October 23 and the finale, the $75,000 Grand Prix de Penn National. General admission for Saturday is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. As always, children under 6 are admitted free in general admission seating. Convenient parking is also free.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proud of its tradition of supporting equine and youth programs. The show benefits the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Details are available at the horse show's website at www.panational.org or by calling the horse show office at 717-770-0222.
PhotoCredits: Victoria Watters and Eye Remember Rio (Al Cook Photo)
North American League Adult Hunter Finals, presented by Cavalor, winner Victoria Watters and Eye Remember Rio with presenters Cavalor Northeast Regional Manager Mickey Kear and NAL Marketing Director Marty Bauman (Al Cook Photo)