Hunters Claim Center Stage During Opening Day of National Horse Show
LEXINGTON, (Phelps) – The historic Alltech National Horse Show got underway today at the Alltech Arena, part of the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Today, the professional hunter divisions took center stage as they began competing for top honors during their over fences and handy classes. Elizabeth Boyd had winning rounds aboard Casallo in the Regular Conformation Hunters, while Scott Stewart and Enjoy led the First Year Green Working Hunter division. Chris Payne and Jennifer Alfano also took home winning honors as the horse show began its week along series of events, while 14-year-old Victoria Colvin captured two blue ribbons in the Second Year Green Working Hunters with Inclusive.
The Regular Conformation Hunters presented by Dr. Betsee Parker and Huntland kicked things off this morning, where Elizabeth Boyd and Casallo, owned by Erin McGuire of Cornelius, NC, proved to be a dominating force. They scored the blue ribbon in both over fences classes and placed second in the model for an early lead in the division.
“Casallo was awesome,” smiled McGuire. “I am happy with how he went; he was jumping high and kicking up. The courses rode well and Liza rode great, as always.
The handy round didn’t trick the horses, which is what I liked about it. It was as handy as you made it and it rode really nicely.”
Although Casallo was very successful at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, he had to skip the Washington International Horse Show due to an abscess. “We need to say a huge thank you to the vets,” commented trainer Jack Towell. “The vets helped the horse get through that: Dr. Steve Cole at Harrisburg and Dr. Jeff Whitworth at home. The horses’ muscles get sore from compensating with the abscess, so a really good vet here named Dr. Diane Schiereck did muscle relaxation and got him feeling really good. Those aren’t training issues; those are veterinary issues. It’s not just trainers anymore, you need to have a good staff of vets and we do. Without those vets this horse would not have been winning those classes today.”
Next in the ring to show was the Green Conformation Hunters presented by Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Wheeler. This time the blue ribbon in the first over fences class went to Scott Stewart aboard Beholden, owned by Fashion Farm of New York, NY.
Stewart commented on his rounds with Beholden in the Green Conformation Hunters. “Beholden was good. In the first class he went really well, but in the handy I got a little lost coming down one of the lines,” Stewart explained. “He was still really good. He’s a little bit green. This ring is also so much bigger than at Washington last week, so it was a little different for them.”
In the handy round Chris Payne and Lugano, owned by Susan Moriconi of St. Louis, MO, stepped up for the winning honors after an excellent performance in the ring. “Lugano is a wonderful horse,” said Payne. “This is his first year of showing, so it’s his first time indoors, but he’s very professional. He goes straight in the ring and does his job. I thought the handy was nice. It had a nice flow to it and a couple tight turns you could do to be handy.”
Payne added, “The National Horse Show is great, I love it. They’ve done an amazing job with the facility to get ready for this show. It looks fantastic and it’s a great place to compete.”
In the First Year Green Working Hunters, presented by Ms. Caroline Moran, Scott Stewart rode to the top of the placings, having two blue ribbons pinned to the bridle of Enjoy, owned by Rose Hill Farm of Bridgehampton, NY. Enjoy is a six-year-old gelding, which Stewart has been working diligently with to build experience.
“Enjoy was awesome,” Stewart smiled. “I was worried, because he had shown so much already, but he was the best he’s been. A lot of the other horses were spooky, so I think it kept his attention a little bit-he was right on, they were probably my two best trips on him.”
It came down to Stewart’s protégé, the young Victoria
Colvin in the Second Year Green Working Hunters presented by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Oare and Ms. Patricis Adikes-Hill. Colvin has been building an extensive resume throughout her time with Stewart, earning top awards at prestigious shows in the junior and professional hunter divisions, as well as the jumpers. Today, Colvin faced going into contention with Stewart as they vied for the blue ribbons. Colvin swept the first day of classes with Inclusive, owed by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA. Colvin also rode to the second place ribbon with Listen, also owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, in the handy with Colleen Acosta and Now How Z, owned by Kelly Joyner of Southlake, TX.
“It’s fun to be able to show against Scott, it’s a fun feeling, and I guess that I see a lot of my own riding in his-it’s a very relaxed style that we both have,” Colvin explained. “It’s interesting, especially doing a professional division, it is entirely different than showing in the Junior Hunters. It’s amazing when you win, they have so much more experience, and it just means that much more.”
The final division of the day involved an intricately designed handy round in the High Performance Hunters, presented by the Thatcher Family. Each rider could choose the options that best suited their mount. Elizabeth Boyd and Quatrain, owned by Janet Peterson and Finally Farm of Landrum, SC, proved to be the best for the blue ribbon prize.
Jennifer Alfano rode to the second place award in the handy round aboard Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms, Inc. of Buffalo, NY, as well as picking up the third place ribbon with Miss Lucy, owned by Helen Lenahan of Buffalo, NY. Alfano also took the first place ribbon with Miss Lucy during the opening round. Boyd took the second place ribbon in the first round, with Stewart and Garfield taking third.
“Miss Lucy has been so consistent all through Washington and here in the first class, she has just been unbelievable,” Alfano described. “She is really stepping up for it. No matter what ring you go in she is just one of those horses that aims to please. She tries so hard to be good at everything. She is perfect.”
“I liked all of the courses all day. I thought it was fun. I made a plan and stuck to it with both horses and it worked out for me. It was interesting to be able to make your own course, and choose so many different options that fit to your mold,” Alfano concluded. “As always, this horse show is a success.”
Today’s hunter competition set up a fantastic six-day competition for the top horse and rider combinations from across the country. The Alltech National Horse Show, 129th Edition will continue with the start of the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions, and the professional hunter divisions will award championship and reserve championship honors to the top finishers, tomorrow. For more information about the event, please visit www.nhs.org.