2017 Devon Fall Classic Awards Seven Horse of the Year Jumper Championships

Devon, PA – September 17, 2017 – Sunday marked the fourth and final day of competition in the Dixon Oval at the 2017 Devon Fall Classic, offering jumper riders one final chance at the blue ribbon and the prize money. With every class acting as the Zone 2 Horse of the Year Jumper Championship, qualified horses and riders had an added incentive to strive for the lead spot in the victory gallop. With the fences at their highest holes of the day, Susan Decone and DeLucia claimed the $3,000 High Adult Amateur Jumper win, while Julianna Empie and Baroness De La Luz navigated their way to the head of the leaderboard in the $3,000 High Children’s Jumpers. Virginia Doebler and En-Esben had reason to celebrate as the leading pair in the $1,500 Low Adult Amateur Jumpers, and so too did Skylar McKenna and Venturesome, the victorious pair in the $1,500 Low Children’s Jumpers.
Susan Decone and DeLucia
One of the largest classes of the day, the $3,000 High Adult Amateur Jumpers brought a substantial field of qualifiers to the ring, and with plenty of talent to go around, a quick and careful ride in the first phase was imperative for a chance to earn a respectable place in the standings. With an even 10 in the jump-off, a top placing was not guaranteed simply by keeping all the rails up. Barbara Rochford and Laura Chapot’s Chili Pepper were first back in the ring, and they took advantage of their status by riding to a clear jump-off trip in a quick 35.968 seconds, setting a high standard for the following competitors.
With two mounts in the jump-off, Hope Batchelor, DVM took to the ring with her first to ride in the final round, and she and her own Orlando managed to clear the course in the faster time of 34.584 seconds to take the lead. Decone and DeLucia, owned by Portsmouth Farm, LLC, entered the ring midway through the order of go, and ultimately separated themselves from the pack by nearly one and a half seconds in the jump-off, riding to a double clean and clear trip in 33.161 seconds to command an impressive lead.
Susan Decone and DeLucia
Three subsequent competitors tried their hands at the jump-off track, but fell victim to dropped rails or slow times. With one final shot to claim the lead, Dr. Batchelor continued her swift riding in the irons aboard her second mount, Ciola, as the last to go, but the pair could not contend with the leading time, crossing the timers a few seconds too slow in 37.499 seconds, solidifying Decone and DeLucia as the $3,000 High Adult Amateur Jumper class winners. Dr. Batchelor and Orlando’s time held as the second-best of the class to earn them the reserve spot, and Darian Smith with the ride on his own Aymar De La Rose managed to leapfrog Rochford and Chili Pepper to claim third position with their time of 35.917 seconds.
Julianna Empie and Baroness De La Luz
In the $3,000 High Children’s Jumpers, Julianna Empie and her own Baroness De La Luz emerged as the clear leaders with the only double clean and clear ride of the class. Of the field of horses and riders, only three pairs managed to keep all the rails up in the first go-around, making for a small jump-off. As the first to return for their second trip, Alexis DiPasqua and Reba Dean, owned by Steven DiPasqua, did not have the advantage of watching how the course rode, and ended up dropping a rail to end on a 4-fault score. The second to go with only one qualifier to ride after, Empie made the decision to ride a slightly more conservative round in an attempt to keep all the rails up and take the lead, which she managed brilliantly aboard Baroness De La Luz, sweeping through the shortened track in 35.984 seconds.
Owner-rider Luke Sassi and Casco Junior now had to keep all the rails up for a shot at the majority stake of the pot, and it appeared that they were going to surpass Empie and Baroness De La Luz until the back rail of the final oxer came down. Sassi had time on his side, breaking the beam in 35.667 seconds just barely ahead of the early leader, but the 4 faults against him would push him to second position overall. DiPasqua and Reba Dean finished in third position with their jump-off time of 36.128 seconds. All told, the three horse-and-rider combos made for a very consistent jump-off, with all three times separated by only half of a second.
Julianna Empie and Baroness De La Luz
Earlier in the morning in the $1,500 Low Adult Amateur Jumpers, Doebler and her own En-Esben bested a field of nearly 30 contenders to claim the champion spot after a competitive 13-horse jump-off. One of the first to ride, Stephanie Montero-Beita and her own Black Lake Sabina set a quick standard for the jump-off with another clear round in a time of 31.231 seconds. The lead changed hands soon enough though, as Dr. Batchelor and her own Carolina Z improved upon Montero-Beita and her mount’s time by nearly two seconds, crossing the timers in 29.549 seconds. In an impressive display of riding, Doebler and En-Esben managed to cut another second off of the leading time, navigating course designer Paul Jewell’s track fault-free in 28.540 seconds to claim the lead with only a handful of competitors left to ride.
As the final pair to jump off, Lindsey Brown and Shannondale Presto, owned by North Ridge Farms, LLC, were the last entrants with a shot at usurping the leaders, and though they came very close with a quick double clear ride, they crossed the timers a hair too slow in 28.716 seconds, only tenths of a second off the winning pace. With their time Brown and Shannondale Presto claimed the second position behind Doebler and En-Esben, and Batchelor and Carolina Z retained the third place status.
Virginia Doebler and En-Esben
In the $1,500 Low Children’s Jumpers, a large field of young riders vied for the championship honors, but a series of unfortunate knockdowns in the first round put many pairs out of contention, with only six duos qualifying for a spot in the jump-off. As the first to go, Grace Bendl and her own Vodette rode to the early lead, leaving all the fences intact and crossing the finish line in 31.300 seconds, but their lead would not hold long, as owner-rider Caroline Blank and Visionary soon surpassed them with their quicker clean time of 30.676 seconds. Three more riders tackled the course in an attempt to take the lead, but two accumulated faults against them and one tripped the timer too slowly.
McKenna and Venturesome, owned by Dorothy Matz, saved the best for last, riding a smooth jump-off trip to top the field with a double clear effort in a time of 29.617 seconds, edging out Blank and Visionary’s time of 30.676 seconds. Blank and Venturesome finished the day in the reserve position, followed by Bendl and Vodette in third place.
Skylar McKenna and Venturesome
Three more horses and riders added an accolade to their names throughout the day, riding to the top of the leaderboard in their respective classes. Robert Matz and Quinta, owned by Dorothy Matz, rode the only clean and clear trip in 68.025 seconds to sweep the $5,000 Low Junior Jumpers, with the $5,000 Low Amateur-Owner Jumper victory claimed by Erika Christie and her own Fantastique, who rode to a quick jump-off time of 29.122 seconds. The ever-speedy pony riders navigated their mounts around the track for a shot at the $1,500 purse in the Pony Jumpers, with owner-rider Alice Nolen-Walston and Wishlea Star Dasher tripping the timers quicker than the rest of the pack in a fast 27.523 seconds to nab the victory.
Sunday’s competition concluded the 2017 Devon Fall Classic, with plenty of champions crowned throughout four days of jumping. The week may be over, but horses and riders can look forward to next year’s 2018 spring and fall shows to be held at the famed Devon Showgrounds.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Susan Decone – $3,000 High Adult Amateur Jumper champion
On DeLucia:
“I purchased her when she was turning 6 years old and she is 12 [years old] now and we have done almost everything together during that time. As a typical mare you can’t tell her anything, but she gets out there and really does try hard for me. I love that she has her own engine.”
On showing at the Devon Fall Classic:
“I really like the one ring here at the Fall Classic. Most of the other shows we attend throughout the year are crazy with seven or eight rings showing all at once, so it is really refreshing to come here and be able to have a relaxed yet competitive environment.”
Julianna Empie – $3,000 High Children’s Jumper champion
On winning the High Children’s Jumper Championship:
“I feel awesome! [Baroness De La Luze] was amazing and she helped me out so much on course. I am really happy with how she went today.”
On her plan for the jump-off:
“Going into the jump-off, since there were only a couple double clears, I wanted to be fast but also consistent. I decided to ride a little more conservative because the girl ahead of me in the jump-off had the rail. I didn’t want to be too crazy but I also didn’t want to leave the door too far open for whoever was coming in the ring after me. [Baroness De La Luz] is very quick and small, so I know that I can take tighter turns and it isn’t a big deal for her.”
On her relationship with and plans for Baroness De La Luz:
“I have had her since she was 3 years old and she is 6 years old now, so still young. We know each other really well. She is going to get a big break now, since she is only 6-years-old and she has had such a great year, I think that she deserves some down time. Next year, I hope to compete in the Junior divisions. I think she has more scope and I am looking forward to moving up with her.”
Virginia Doebler – $1,500 Low Adult Amateur Jumper champion
On her horse, En-Esben:
“Ben is 8 years old and I just got him in March of 2017 and he is my horse of a lifetime! My trainers, Rick and Cindy McGrath, found him through a friend and he has been my horse of a lifetime. I had really bad fall and I was out for three weeks and I wasn’t looking for a horse when Ben came in, seemingly from heaven. He does everything I ask him and more and we are a really good team.” 
On her plan on course:
“My plan was to sit up as tall as McLain Ward and just ride the jumps one at a time and do our best!”
On Showing at Devon:
“I started riding later in life, as an adult, and I always thought that Devon was the pinnacle, that there was nothing better than being able to show in the Dixon Oval. It is surreal to be able to win here.”
Skylar McKenna – $1,500 Low Children’s Jumper champion
On her reaction to winning:
“I feel pretty good, I feel grateful [to have won]. This is my first jumper show and also my first show on this horse. The jumpers are fun. I was given a really good opportunity to ride him, and I just took up on it.”
On Venturesome:
“The horse needed to get out because he is going to be sold, so I got the ride on him. He’s so fun and gives you a really good feeling around the course.”  
On her plan for the jump-off:
“I just wanted to make sure not to waste too much time but also to give a good strong ride so that we could keep all the rails up.”
RESULTS
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / JO Time
$3,000 High Adult Amateur Jumpers
1. Susan Decone / DeLucia / Portsmouth Farm, LLC / 0 / 0 / 33.161
2. Hope Batchelor, DVM / Orlando / Hope Batchelor, DVM / 0 / 0 / 34.584
3. Darian Smith / Aymar De La Rose / Darian Smith / 0 / 0 / 35.917
4. Barbara Rochford / Chili Pepper / Laura Chapot / 0 / 0 / 35.968
5. Hope Batchelor, DVM / Ciola / Hope Batchelor, DVM / 0 / 0 / 37.499
$3,000 High Children’s Jumpers
1. Julianna Empie / Baroness De La Luz / Julianna Empie / 0 / 0 / 35.984
2. Luke Sassi / Casco Junior / Luke Sassi / 0 / 4 / 35.667
3. Alexis C DiPasqua / Reba Dean / Steven DiPasqua / 0 / 4 / 36.128
4. Kailey Fuchs / Co Pilot / Kailey Fuchs / 8 / 61.995
5. Corina Grzib / Corelli / Corina Grzib / 10 / 76.830
$1,500 Low Adult Amateur Jumpers
1. Virginia Doebler / En-Esben / Virginia Doebler / 0 / 0 / 28.540
2. Lindsey Brown / Shannondale Presto / North Ridge Farms, LLC / 0 / 0 / 28.716
3. Hope Batchelor, DVM / Carolina Z / Hope Batchelor, DVM / 0 / 0 / 29.549
4. Julie Chang / Conejo-Van / Julie Chang / 0 / 0 / 29.913
5. Stephanie Montero-Beita / Black Lake Sabina / Stephanie Montero-Beita / 0 / 0 / 31.231
$1,500 Low Children’s Jumpers
1. Skylar McKenna / Venturesome / Dorothy Matz / 0 / 0 / 29.617
2. Caroline Blank / Visionary / Caroline Blank / 0 / 0 / 30.676
3. Grace Bendl / Vodette / Grace Bendl / 0 / 0 / 31.300
4. Abigail Jay / La Jovena Vendetta / Ann Scher / 0 / 0 / 33.408
5. Morgan Webster / Excentriek / Morgan Webster / 0 / 4 / 37.380
For more information on the 2017 Devon Fall Classic, please click here.