Social Hour and Luisant Crowned Grand Champions at US Junior Hunter National Championship West Coast

Del Mar, Calif. – The 2016 US Junior Hunter National Championship West Coast came to a close on Tuesday, following two days of competition at the Del Mar Horse Park. Nearly 70 of the country’s top junior hunters headed to the championship to complete three phases in front of the judging panel of Michael Page, Bobbie Reber, and Jim Zulia over Joe Lombardo-designed Classic Round and Handy Round courses, which both counted for 40% of the overall score. The final 20% was earned in Tuesday’s Under Saddle phase. Giavanna Rinaldi and Social Hour posted the best overall score of the 3’6″ section to claim the 2016 Grand Champion title. In the 3’3″ section, Stella Buckingham and Luisant earned Grand Champion honors.

3’6″ Championship

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Giavanna Rinaldi and Social Hour 

(Captured Moment Photography)

Rinaldi (Wayne, Ill.) and Laura Strasburg’s Social Hour, a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding, earned the 2016 National title and the Monarch International Trophy donated by Show Circuit Magazine after scoring 104.40 in the Classic Round, 49.80 in the Under Saddle, and 101.60 in the Handy Round, to finish on an overall score of 255.80. The talented pair also earned the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 crown, taking home the Magic Word Perpetual Trophy donated by Karen Kay.

“Social Hour, also known as Oscar, performed his best both days and in all the classes. He felt amazing and jumped incredible,” Rinaldi said. “I feel like we really shined in the first round. He jumped super; he’s such a smooth horse to ride and we really clicked this week. He flatted very well too and got a good ribbon. He’s the perfect hunter ride; he’s smooth, jumps beautifully, and is very careful. I’d like to thank Laura Strasburg for letting me ride him and Bridgeport Farm as well.”

“Everything went beautifully these past two days,” said Social Hour’s trainer John Bragg. “Social Hour and Giavanna [Rinaldi] rose to the occasion. It was exciting for us all, including Brooke [Morin] and Laura [Strasburg].”

Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) and Dogwood Hill LLC’s Illusion scored the Reserve Overall Grand Champion title with a score of 251.80. Iwasaki and the 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding earned scores of 100.40, 49.60, and 101.80 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively. The pair also posted the best score of the Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under section, taking home the Huntover Farm Perpetual Trophy donated by Huntover Farm.

Gabriella Cinquini (Dana Point, Calif.) and John Bragg’s West Street posted the top score in the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under section, securing the Escort Me In Perpetual Trophy donated by Shalanno Farms. Cinquini and the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding finished on an overall total of 244.60 after receiving scores of 100.40 in the Classic Round, 47.80 in the Under Saddle Round, and 96.40 in the Handy Rounds. Cinquini’s Flirt, a 15-year-old Warmblood gelding, was catch-ridden by Rinaldi to top honors in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 section with a total score of 251.60, earning the River Edge Farm Perpetual Trophy donated by River Edge Farm. The pair scored 95.60, 50.40, and 105.60 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively.

The Best Overall Mare was Laura Wasserman’s Verdana, ridden by Katherine Dash (Yarrow Point, Wash.). The 2005 Holsteiner mare received the Small Collection Perpetual Trophy donated by Elizabeth A. Reilly after finishing with an overall score of 217.60. The trophy recognizes the overall top placing mare to honor Iwasaki & Reilly’s talented, dependable mare, Small Collection, who excelled in the junior hunter ring, won tricolor ribbons at numerous horse shows, and was the Small Junior Hunter 15 & Under Reserve National Champion in the 2011 US Junior Hunter National Championship West Coast.

3’3″ Championship

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Stella Buckingham and Luisant (Captured Moment Photography)

Buckingham (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Q of E Farms, LLC’s Luisant had top performances in the 3’3″ Section A on their way to earning Overall Grand Champion honors. Buckingham and the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding collected scores of 85.20 in the Classic Round, 50.40 in the Under Saddle Round, and 104.40 in Handy Round to finish on an overall total of 240.00.

“My horse was amazing. I was nervous both days, but especially Monday [for the Classic Round] because neither of us had been out on the Grand Prix field. It was so big, but we got going and he jumped it perfectly which gave me confidence,” Buckingham explained. “In the hack, he had his ears forward and was listening to me and looking beautiful. I was happy but surprised that we did so well since it was such a big class. I learned the handy course then walked it with my trainer Katie [Gardner], and she wanted me to take all the inside turns. She said, ‘You can turn to the inside if you want to win, or go around if you want a safe, smooth round.’ I wanted to win so I took the inside turns. I was nervous again after waiting around all day but got in there and got going; the nerves faded away by fence three and we had a great round.”

Grace Pearson (Seattle, Wash.) partnered with Highland Horses LLC’s 13-year-old Warmblood gelding, Cambiaso, to earn the Reserve Overall Grand Champion in the 3’3″ section as well as the top score in the 3’3″ Section B. The pair scored 97.60, 47.40, and 93.80 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively, to finish on an overall total of 238.80.

In addition to the championship, the USHJA Hunterdon Equitation Cup Classic -West Coast took place for the first time. Kayla Lott (Camrillo, Calif.) won the inaugural title with Elvenstar Farm’s Vancouver, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding.

Find out more information about the US Junior Hunter National Championships.