Liz Atkins and Niro 8 Ride Away Victorious in 1.35m Open Jumpers at Chicago Festival of the Horse

Holly Shepherd and Maggie Jayne Earn Back-to-Back Tricolor Wins at Chicago Festival of the Horse    

 

Wayne, Ill. – August 3, 2016 – Practice makes perfect, and for Liz Atkins and Niro 8, practice went completely as planned. The duo has big plans for the week of competition ahead in the SmartPak Grand Prix Arena, and their preparation included a victory in 1.35m Open Jumpers on Wednesday.

Before the 15-year-old stallion entered the ring, Holly Shepherd and Copycat had just set the time to beat at 37.816 seconds. Atkins and Niro 8 produced an errorless first round, but was one second slower than Shepherd and her Argentine Warmblood.

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Liz Atkins and Niro 8 

After a few sharp turns and long strides in the jump-off, Atkins and her bay Trakehner crossed the finish line in 36.731 seconds to secure the win.

“He’s a stallion and, honestly, needs an ego boost on the first day of any horse show,” Atkins said about her grand prix contender. “I have to do a warm-up class or he acts like a 7-year-old. He rides like a speed horse and doesn’t have a lot of natural scope. He’s not a real 1.50m grand prix horse, but he’s enough of an athlete and has enough heart to be competitive.”

The two have been working together for three years and typically compete at the grand prix level, that is, after they’ve gone around a warm-up class or two.

“He’s 15 this year, but he doesn’t know that and we don’t tell him,” Atkins laughed. “I wish every horse at my barn had the try that this horse has. If every horse at the barn had this much heart, I would have a horse in the Olympics.”

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Liz Atkins and Niro 8

The local duo plan to compete in the $25,000 Welcome Stake on Thursday, Aug. 4, as well as the $75,000 Grand Prix on Saturday, Aug. 6. In their minds, it’s home turf.

“This is home for us,” Atkins explained. “All my horses know this ring. We’re here about four times a year. Lamplight is such a nice facility, and Nina has done such a great job making improvements and making it better than it was when she bought it. Plus, it’s 30 minutes away from my barn and I get to go home and sleep in my bed every night.”

Prior to the 1.35m division, competitors navigated around a difficult Leopoldo Palacios-designed course in the 1.30m Open Jumpers. Clocking in a time of 39.745 seconds was Stefanie Collier and Andolin. The pair was the last to enter the ring and, after a double clear jump-off, clocked in eight seconds faster than the previous leader.

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Stefanie Collier and Andolin

“I think the course rode really active from the get go,” Collier said. “Leopoldo always builds that way, though. I always find that he wants the riders to really ride in the beginning of the course. That’s what I felt made it tough, but this horse has a lot of blood. Some riders need to push for that, but he has it naturally and it makes him ideal for a course like this.”

The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood has been working and competing with Collier for about a year and a half. The two train in Sheridan, Indiana, at Collier’s Lane Farm, but often compete at Lamplight Equestrian Center.

“We show here every summer,” Collier shared. “I’ve been coming since I was a kid. It’s a nice facility with nice rings. They always bring in good course designers, and the people are nice. They’ve done a good job of making the show really exhibitor oriented.”

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Stefanie Collier and Andolin

Atkins and Carletta had the only other double clear round of the 1.30m division and rode away with the red ribbon after locking in a time of 47.815 seconds.

Isabelle Potts and Angelica Allegro were two of three riders to compete in the jump-off of the 1.25m Open Jumper division. Although Allegro and her mount Vespringt had the faster time (42.271 seconds), an unfortunate rail sent Potts and Bariton 40 atop the leaderboard. The pair finished double clear in the jump-off in 43.607 seconds to take the win.

Lamplight Equestrian Center and the Chicago Festival of the Horse will be hosting the $25,000 Welcome Stake on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 4 p.m. in the SmartPak Grand Prix Arena.

Holly Shepherd and Maggie Jayne Earn Back-to-Back Tricolor Wins at Chicago Festival of the Horse

 

 

Familiar faces rode into the winner’s circle at the Chicago Festival of the Horse in the professional hunter divisions. Maggie Jayne and Holly Shepherd earned themselves back-to-back tricolors to continue their winning streak during Lamplight’s World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week.

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Holly Shepherd and Longstreet win champion in the Conformation Hunter division at the Chicago Festival of the Horse

 

Shepherd entered the ring in the Conformation Hunter division riding three different mounts: Longstreet, Zoso and HJ Noteworthy. Just last week, Shepherd nabbed the championship in the division aboard Zoso as well as the reserve riding Longstreet. This week she continued dominating, earning champion on Longstreet and the reserve with Zoso.

 

“They were super!” Shepherd said of her horses. “As a matter of fact, the judge said that it was a really fun class to watch. They all went really well. They were all 80 and above, which is always nice.”

Shepherd earned an 84 for her handy round on Longstreet to win the class, navigating her way through the tight turns and the trot fence. She took home the second place in the handy aboard HJ Noteworthy with a score of 83 and rounded out the top three with a score of 80 riding Zoso.

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Holly Shepherd and Longstreet

 

Of her handy rounds, Shepherd commented, “They’re all really happy turning and jumping so that’s the good news. Zoso had a big lesson Tuesday on how to turn because he’s kind of slow to do that, and he really stepped up to the plate and did that well. My derby horses were perfect today in the handy. For derby week, it’s a good thing!”

Shepherd will be competing Longstreet and HJ Noteworthy in Sunday’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and has yet to decide if Zoso will compete. She explained, “I’ve got Zoso, but he’s never done the derby. HJ Noteworthy and Longstreet for sure will. They’re both really good and comfortable out there so I’m looking forward to it!”

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Holly Shepherd and Zoso

 

Another exceptional rider to watch during this Sunday’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby will be Maggie Jayne riding both Color Pearlz and Frosted Blue. During Wednesday’s First Year Green Working Hunter division, Jayne took home the champion and reserve aboard Color Pearlz and Frosted Blue, respectively.

Color Pearlz only started competing in the hunter divisions last month, but has already earned two tricolor ribbons in the First Year division while competing at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Just last week, Color Pearlz earned the reserve champion, and received three firsts and two seconds to clinch this week’s championship ribbon.

“She’s super scopey and brave and just learning the hunter thing,” Jayne said of Color Pearlz. “She was the best and most consistent she’s been this week; she was super!”

Frosted Blue, owned by Alex Jayne, also earned his second tricolor in the First Years with Jayne after receiving a first, two seconds, a third and a sixth in the class. During Week One of the Chicago Festival of the Horse, Jayne and Frosted Blue earned the champion, and took home the reserve champion ribbon this week.

Of the 6-year-old gelding, Jayne said, “Every time he just keeps getting better and better! He’s really easygoing, quiet and fun to ride.”

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Maggie Jayne’s Color Pearlz

 

Jayne is looking forward to competing in the derby on her two horses this weekend. She said, “The spookier the jumps are, the better, and they’re both just so brave. I think they’re both going to be good in the Grand Prix Ring. They both did the derby in June in there and were good so I’m excited!”

In the Second Year/High Performance division, it was Rachel Johnson aboard Alex McNally’s For Adventure that rode to win the tricolor championship. Johnson and For Adventure’s earnings totaled two first place ribbons, two seconds and a third to clinch the championship.

Of the horse, she said, “He’s such a sweet horse! He is the easiest horse in the barn and is incredibly consistent. He comes out the same every single day, at home or at the horse show, and every horse show he’s done, he comes out almost every single time with a tricolor.”

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Rachel Johnson and For Adventure

 

Johnson and For Adventure won their handy round after receiving a score of 85. She commented on the handy round, saying, “He’s a great handy horse. He’s super fun because he can do all of the turns and you can kind of lay the reins down and gallop. The handy gets his attention a little bit more, and he jumps up a little higher and harder. He’s one of the most fun that I’ve done!”

Competition at the Chicago Festival of the Horse continues Thursday beginning at 8 a.m. For more information on Lamplight Equestrian Center’s Chicago Festival of the Horse Equifest show series, please visit www.lamplightequestriancenter.com. A downloadable prize list is accessible online.