October 6 -- Upper Marlboro, MD -- Scott Stewart's wide grin and dancing eyes said it all after he won the 2003 Monarch International's Show Circuit Magazine Professional World Championship Hunter Rider title on October 3rd during the eight-day Capital Challenge Horse Show at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. With this win he had set a record by claiming his third Professional WCHR title.
"I'm very excited. This is a great and fun class. It highlights the hunter riders and the industry," he commented, visibly showing how happy he was to have won it again.
In fact, Stewart won the class in 1998 and 1999 and in 2001 he placed second to Louise Serio and in 2002 second to Peter Pletcher.
The Challenge was sponsored by Carol & Gordon Stillwell, Stillwell Hansen, Inc. and Jack Schock and First Savings Mortgage Corporation, presented by the American Hunter Jumper Foundation (AHJF) and included a media sponsorship by Monarch International's Show Circuit Magazine.
"For my whole year I have this show as a goal," added Stewart. The American Hunter Jumper Foundation's support of the professionals has really helped give him and many of the hunter riders more recognition.
Stewart was one of four riders who had qualified for this final competition, including second place finisher Havens Schatt, Ocala, FL (who led the National Professional Standings with 1998 points); Stewart (1949 points), Flemington, NJ; defending champion Peter Pletcher (1811), Magnolia, TX and first time competitor Samantha Darling (1784) Ocala, FL.
The riders alternated on riding four different horses which they had not ridden before. These included Straight Talk, a 16.3 hand bay gelding owned by Jennie Hobs; Mr. Darci, a 9-year-old Warmblood gelding, owned by Samantha Stimell; Antiqua, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, owned by Holland Coffee and Sandra Willekes; and Crescendo, a 9-year-old, 16.2 hand liver chestnut Warmblood gelding, owned by Pine Hollow Stables and on loan by The Wetherill Family.
The riders were allowed to briefly warm-up on their first horse but for all subsequent rides they had to go directly to the 3'6" course in the ring. And while the fences were the same for all four courses, the order in which they were jumped changed each time.
The rounds were scored by five judges using the open numerical system. The four riders who qualified were being judged by Sue Ashe, Wellington, FL; Scott Hofstetter, Ocala, FL; Randy Mullins, Collierville, TN; Phillip Devita, Apopka, FL and Jeff Wirthman, Island Lake, IL.
A FIGHT TO THE END
Stewart earned his victory in one of the toughest classes ever. It wasn't until the very last round that Stewart took over the lead. "I was pretty relaxed," explained Stewart. "I had such a great week, that I would have been happy even if I came in fourth."
The class began with Schatt taking the early lead with a score of 90.8 (Stewart - 89.4, Darling - 84, Pletcher - 81.8). In the second round Stewart claimed the high score of 94 but when the scores of all the riders were combined it was still Schatt leading with 184.20 with Stewart close on her heals totaling 183.40 (Darling - 177.7 and Pletcher 172.4). In round three Darling took her turn when she earned the highest score of 92.8, but it was still Schatt leading the way with her cumulative score of 273.2 (Stewart 272.7, Darling 270.5, Pletcher 260.4).
Then the war was on in the final round. Schatt went first and put in such a brilliant round with a score of 95.2 that it appeared her final tally of 368.4 was unbeatable. Darling had another good round but not quite good enough to take over the lead as she scored 92.3 with a final total of 362.8. Even as Stewart entered the arena it seemed all but impossible that he could take over the lead. But in this class surprises never cease and when the scores went up on the screen the crowd gasped - 98 - 98 - 98 - 99 and 99 for a fourth round total of 98.4 and a cumulative total of 371.1. Stewart had taken over the lead by less than three points. The crowd cheered knowing that even with one more rider to go, Stewart had claimed the title. In fact there was no way that Pletcher could have taken over the lead. He totaled 92.8 and earned the lowest overall score of 353.2. But even as the last rider he was smiling. It had been a fun class and Pletcher knew that Stew
art had earned his victory.
BEFORE THE COMPETITION
Once the riders had qualified and before competing in the class the riders met with AHJF President Geoff Teall, Vice President Louise Serio and Show Manager Billy Glass to discuss strategy, the plan for the event and to express their thoughts about this innovative class.
"The spirit of the class is good competition and good fun," commented Billy Glass.
The riders look forward to this class. "I always want to get in," commented Stewart who was not feeling his best and admitted that he was "going to go to sleep" before returning for the evening competition.
The fact that Pletcher was the 2002 winner made him even more determined. "It would be great to win it again and I'm going to have even more incentive going into tonight," he commented. When asked why, Pletcher added, "because these are the top four riders of our business and we work hard to qualify for this class and it's a hard class to win and I want to win it twice. I think showing in the hunters is hard but when everyone gets together you really want to get out there and try." Even after the class Pletcher's enthusiasm did not diminish. "It is a great class to ride in with a lot of enthusiasm. It's the end all!"
Schatt is another staunch supporter. Schatt, who won the class in the 90s, commented, "I think it profiles the hunter riders and it's nice for the owners of the horses to know that they have nice enough horses to qualify to be ridden in this class." Schatt went on to talk about the media sponsorship by Show Circuit Magazine and the fact that horse shows should honor the winner of this class at other shows the way they recognize the jumper riders. "This is the best hunter rider in the country and it would be a nice thing for the other horse shows to announce this throughout the year when the winner competes. If they do it for the grand prix riders, why not do it for the World Champion Hunter Rider."
Commented Darling, "I'm just happy to be here and honored to be in it. In the beginning of the year I didn't set my goals on this class but once I got closer to the top in the standings I started to work towards it."
"The best thing about this class is it is totally different. There is nothing else like it in the hunters. People really love to watch it and the audience support is so great. We are asking the riders to do something they don't normally do. It's one of the few things in the sport of hunters that happens fast, is easy to follow, exciting to watch, and different from what the spectators normally see," added Teall, Wellington, FL.
"The riders are competing so hard to get into this class," commented Serio, Kennett Square, PA. "It's exciting to see them have such a great opportunity to go in a class like this. It is one of the few goals that you can have that shows off the riders and their skills. It's less about the horses and more about the riders."
AMERICAN HUNTER-JUMPER FOUNDATION
It was the AHJF that started the trend towards innovation in hunters beginning back when it was founded in 1992 by Louise Serio, Geoff Teall and Kavar Kerr. At that time it had 400 members and four designated member shows in each of five regions. Today the AHJF has 1,000 members and 48 designated shows in 8 regions.
The AHJF was created for the purpose of rewarding the hunter riders who are often overlooked when compared to the jumpers. Beyond the awards program, the AHJF also has an Emergency Relief Fund, the Retired Equine Placement Service, and a BSA 401(k) Profit Sharing Plan. It works towards educating spectators and encourages grass-roots organizations. The AHJF is a non-profit, member and sponsor-supported organization.
The AHJF also sponsors a few more featured events throughout the year, including the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular of Palm Beach (February 21, 2004), which is done as an Add-Back competition with $12,000 going to the winner.
At the Capital Challenge the Professional Championship honors were part of an overall World Championship Hunter Rider Awards Program, which included junior, professional, amateur-owner, adult amateur, children's and pony hunter riders. The program was established by the AHJF to recognize and reward excellence among hunter riders. In order to qualify, a rider's top four WCHR shows plus their performance at the Capital Challenge determined the ultimate champions. A number of special awards were given out as well. Betty Oare was the winner of the Old Springhouse Lifetime Achievement Award. The Jeffery Katz Memorial Award went to Pave, ridden by Schatts. Pave's owner, Caroline Moran, won the Rox Dene Award. The China Blue Hunter Challenge went to Chopard, ridden by Stewart. Bob Crandell won the Winter's Run Sportsmanship Award.
RISING TO THE TOP
This was the ninth year that the AHJF had hosted the Monarch International's Show Circuit Magazine Professional World Championship Hunter Rider finals. The winner not only received the trophy but also a Tad Coffin Performance Saddle, a saddle that Olympic Gold Medalist Coffin researched and designed himself which is based around the comfort of the horse. "That was my favorite class so far," commented Justin Kenney who presented the saddle. "I thought everyone rode great and it was fun to the very last jump."
Stewart also received a sponsorship from Monarch International's Show Circuit Magazine, which designates money to be used specifically to ensure coverage of both the championship and of Stewart as its winner. Press Link of America, an equine focused PR firm, handles that sponsorship.
A special thanks also goes to Capital Challenge co-managers Oliver Kennedy, Brookville, MD and Billy Glass, Bokeelia, FL, who truly showcase the event which is preceded by a light show and followed by a friends and exhibitors party.
For more information, the AHJF can be contacted at 335 Lancaster Street,
West Boylston, MA 01583-0369, 508-835-8813, fax: 508-835-6125, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For complete
results go to www.ryegate.com.
2003 PROFESSIONAL WCHR:
1. Scott Stewart (98.4, 89.3, 94, 89.4 = 371.1),
2. Havens Schatt (95.2, 89, 93.4, 90.8 = 368.4),
3. Samantha Darling (92.3, 92.8, 93.7, 84 = 362.8),
4. Peter Pletcher (92.8, 88, 90.6, 81.8 = 353.2)
AHJF OLD SPRINGHOUSE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Betty Oare
(Presented to a person who exemplifies great support and lifetime commitment to the sport of hunter and jumper competition.)
JEFFERY KATZ MEMORIAL AWARD: Pave, Havens Schatt (owner/Caroline Moran)
Total Points: 1998 (Jeffery Katz was a 38-year-old trainer from Chicago who was killed in a car accident in 1999. The award goes to the horse/rider combination that accumulates the most points in the 1st Year Green, 2nd Year Green, or Green Conformation Hunter Divisions at their best four WCHR shows, plus the divisions at the Capital Challenge.)
CHINA BLUE FARM WORKING HUNTER CHALLENGE AWARD: Chopard (rider/Scott Stewart, owner/Krista Weisman, trainer/Gary Duffy). The owner, rider and trainer each receive a check for $3,500 and the groom ( ) receives a check for $500. (1595 points
(Donated by Priscilla Tamkin and China Blue Farm, this award honors the horse and rider combination that accumulates the most points in either of the 4' hunter divisions at their best four WCHR shows, plus their divisions at the Capital Challenge.)
WINTER'S RUN SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD: Bob Crandell
(Sponsored by Tricia Bosley in memory of her mother Sylvia Hechter. The boot trophy is one of Sylvia's treasured Vogel boots which was bronzed and mounted on a walnut base. The purpose of the award is to encourage better sportsmanship throughout the entire horse show community.)
ROX DENE AWARD: Caroline Moran (owner of Pave who was ridden by Havens Schatt to 1998 points)
(Donated by Elaine and Chanda Boylen, this award is presented to the Owner of the WCHR High Score Horse ridden by a professional, which has accumulated the most points using the four best WCHR sanctioned shows plus the divisions at the Capital Challenge.)
FINAL RESULTS OF THE WCHR NATIONAL PROGRAM
1. Havens Schatt, Ocala, FL, 1998 pts.;
2. Scott Stewart, Flemington, NJ, 1949 pts.;
3. Peter Pletcher, Magnolia, TX, 1811 pts.;
4. Samantha Darling, Colts Neck, NJ, 1784 pts.
1. Elizabeth Coughlin, Lutherville, MD, 1482 pts.;
2. Charlie Jayne, Elgin, IL, 1412 pts.;
3. Nancy S. Amling, Palm Beach, FL, 1370 pts.;
4. Paige Johnson, The Plains, VA, 1320 pts.
1. Samantha Schaefer, Westminster, MD, 1384 pts.;
2. Alexandra Arute, Avon, CT, 1374 pts.;
3. Sofie Applegate, Atherton, CA, 1363 pts.;
4. Katherine Newman, Upperville, VA, 1285 pts.
1. Betty Oare, Warrenton, VA, 1645 pts.;
2. Caroline Moran, Bedford, NY, 1586 pts.;
3. Meghan Moran, Malvern, PA, 1423 pts.;
4. Barbara Swavely, Castle Rock, CO, 1373 pts.
FINAL RESULTS FOR REGIONAL STANDINGS
Professional: Patrick Spanton, Palos Verdes Estates, CA, 1430
Amateur-Owner: Katie Polk, Malibu, CA, 1085 pts.;
Junior: Karlyn Wilhelm, Moorpark, CA, 891 pts.;
Pony: Sofie Applegate, Atherton, CA, 1363 pts.;
Children: Kate Zucker, Pacific Palisades, CA, 1509 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Amy Brubaker, Pasadena, CA, 1638 pts..
Professional: Heidi Austin-Fish, Hebron, IL, 829 pts.;
Amateur-Owner: Leah Schwendeman, Belleville, IL, 864 pts.;
Junior: Charlie Jayne, Elgin, IL, 1162 pts.;
Pony: Stephanie Vijan, New Albany, OH, 822 pts.;
Children: Christy Russo, Miami, FL, 675 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Wendy H. Kraus Lewis, Willoughby Hills, OH, 921 pts.
Professional: Tracy Fenney, Flower Mound, TX, 1130 pts.;
Amateur-Owner: Therese Peck, Flower Mound, TX, 1055 pts.;
Bailey Anderson, Dallas, TX, 1026 pts.;
Pony: Lindsey George, Magnolia, TX, 994 pts.;
Children: Caroline Gibson, Magnolia, TX, 469 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Becky Gochman, Houston, TX, 750 pts..
Professional: Scott Stewart, Flemington, NJ, 1308 pts.;
Amateur-Owner: Mimi Tashjian, Greenwich, CT, 1044 pts.;
Junior: Caitlin Donovan, New York, NY, 1134 pts.;
Pony: Alexandra Arute, Farmington, CT, 1233 pts.;
Children: Molly Hay, Ridgefield, CT, 314 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Pamela Vance, Amenia, NY, 1111 pts..
Professional: Scott Hofstetter, Ocala, FL, 874 pts.;
Amateur-Owner: Lee Cesery, Jacksonville, FL, 639 pts.;
Junior: Jack Harden Towell, Camden, SC, 1200 pts.;
Pony: Julianna Fischer, Lake Worth, FL, 964 pts.;
Children: Jason DiGioacchino, Wellington, FL, 329 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Bruce Duchossois, Aiken, SC, 1259 pts.
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN: Professional: Paul Rohrbach, Elizabeth, CA, 1190
Amateur-Owner: Barbara Swavely, Castlerock, CO, 1195 pts.;
Junior: Kate Hart, Englewood, CO, 898 pts.;
Pony: Tommi Clark, Parker, CO, 723 pts.;
Children: A. Grace Van Dyke, Edwards, CO, 67 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Nancy James Shaw, Englewood, CO, 842 pts.
Professional: Jack Hammond, Sammamish, WA, 1093 pts.;
Amateur-Owner: Tracy Sully, Aldergrove, BC, Canada, 1057 pts.;
Junior: Betsy Christianson, Bothell, WA, 769 pts.;
Pony: Amanda Moore, Bothell, WA, 1130 pts.;
Children: Nicole Jones, Renton, WA, 1133 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Tamara Judy, Normandy Park, WA, 1040 pts.
Professional: Sandy Ferrell, Churchville, MD, 1149 pts.;
Amateur-Owner: Betty Oare, Warrenton, VA, 1145 pts.;
Junior: Elizabeth Coughlin, Lutherville, MD, 1279 pts.;
Pony: Nellie Ann Foosaner, Middleburg, VA, 1097 pts.;
Children: Taylor Brown, Palmyra, VA, 927 pts.;
Adult Amateur: Marianna Bishop, Charlottesville, VA, 1167 pts..
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