Articles: Press Release
Strapless Shows Her Style Again In 2004 AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular
Mason Phelps, Jr. of Phelps Media Group, Inc. at 561.753.3389 or at
WELLINGTON, FL - February 23, 2004 - For the fourth straight year,
Strapless took her rider to the victory circle, this time with her owner
Clara Lindner in the irons. For the past three years it had been Emily
Williams who claimed the winning ribbon but now it was Clara's turn on
February 21, 2004, in the ninth annual American Hunter-Jumper Foundation
Hunter Classic Spectacular in Wellington, Florida.
"I couldn't believe it happened. I still can't believe it happened.
It's weird it was me up there. I'm so used to it being Emily,"
commented the 18-year-old who resides in Cincinnati, OH, a sparkle in
her eyes, a smile on her face and warmth in her heart. She'd done what
she thought couldn't be done.
"I wasn't nervous going into the first round," she continued, "because I
didn't think it was humanly possible to win again."
"I may be the most thrilled out of the whole group, especially for
Clara," commented her trainer, Tom Wright, of Cincinnati, OH. "This is
the most amazing thing that could have happened, having that mare do it
There were a record number in this two-round class of 33 of the nation's
top horses and riders. All had to qualify throughout the weeklong
hunter classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Williams was 20th in
the first round and her score of 90.5 put her second to 33-year-old
Tammy Provost, Zionsville, IN, riding Tommy Bahama.
Strapless Rises To The Challenge And Reclaims Her Lead
Coming back for the second round of eight qualified riders, Lindner was
a little nervous. Now she knew it was "humanly possible" for her to win
"I knew I had to be bold in order to win," explained Lindner, who didn't
have to worry. It was as though Strapless knew just what she had to do
to claim the victory. "She knows when it's a big class. She loves the
crowd and she loves galloping around. She was right on. She's
A large part of the aura of this class is the fact that the horses can
gallop around in a huge arena. Course Designer Kenny Krome took
advantage of the space the Internationale Arena afforded him.
"Nowadays the rings are all so rectangular that it sort of forces you
into a figure 8 pattern," explained Krome. "But that huge field is like
having a whole empty canvas to paint your course on."
As a result Krome "set an old style hunt course which did not have all
the lines set at a particular distance. I added a lot of wide open
galloping with some interesting turns to try to get away from the basic
figure 8 course."
First to return in the second round was Ken Smith, of Wellington, FL, on
Carmen, who totaled 85.75, for a two round total of 172.612. Then
Chopard and Scott Stewart, of Flemington, NJ, who in 2003 claimed the
title of Monarch International Show Circuit Magazine World Champion
Hunter Rider, scored 88.750 (175.125). Next rider to go, St. Nick and
Caroline Moran, who resides both in North Salem, NY, and Wellington, FL,
had the lowest score of the eight (70/157.5). Miracle with Alex
Skiffington, of Wellington, FL, on board scored 87.5 (175.5). Lucky
Strike and Brianne Goutal, New York, NY, had 88 (176.125). Then Addison
Phillips, New York, NY, came in on Who's On First and when she scored
91.5 (181.312) it was clear that the two remaining horses would have to
rise to the challenge.
And so it was Lindner's turn. Her score of 91 gave the High Score of
the day to Addison but her two round total of 181.5 meant last rider to
go, Provost, and Tommy Bahama would have to be brilliant. They were
good but not good enough to take over the lead (88.625/179.625) and they
finished third behind Strapless and Who's On First.
In actuality, this was a brilliant round for Tammy who had only been
matched with Tommy Bahama, a six-year-old, 16-hand, brown Belgian
Warmblood gelding, for less than three months.
"I was so proud. I couldn't ask for more of her," commented Joe Norick,
Tammy's trainer who had found the horse in Holland.
And Tammy was beaming. "He's like riding a big pony," she said of her
mount. "He's smooth, he's brave and he's a great jumper."
What The AHJF Hunter Classic Is All About
This class has become like the Holy Grail for hunter riders and it is
because of the AHJF that this wonderful night competing under the lights
in the beautifully decorated Internationale Arena over an immaculate
course watched by thousands of spectators took place. Those sitting
around the field or in the Jockey Club tent enjoying the AHJF
fundraising dinner while watching the competition were able to
appreciate just how far the hunters have come since the start of this
class in 1997.
"It's the best horses in the country all in one class," explained
Lindner, who had also won the class in 1999 aboard High Hearts. "The
first time I didn't know what to think of it. " Now Lindner realizes
when you win this class it puts you at a whole new level. "This has
built my confidence so much."
"We have an amazing group of horses here and we really want to show off
their jumping ability and it really is the horses that show their stuff
more than the riders under the lights," added Krome.
"This continues to be the best class of the year. I have to hand it to
the AHJF," noted Wright.
"These are the best competitors from around the country. It's the best
of the best," commented announcer Brian Lookabill. "As an announcer it
is not too difficult to give them this spotlight."
Thanks To The American Hunter-Jumper Foundation
The AHJF was formed in 1992 because of the need to support and reward
hunter riders and horses. It is a member-supported non-profit
organization. The AHJF was formed to further the development of the
sport of show hunter competition by providing a national office to
organize, coordinate and support hunter rider and show jumping
equestrian competition. Programs of the AHJF include the World
Championship Hunter Rider Awards, the AHJF Emergency Relief Fund, AHJF
Educational Programs, the AHJF 401k and Profit Sharing Plan, the Legacy
Cup and the AHJF/Dover Saddlery Junior Hunter Challenge. The Hunter
Classic is a major fundraiser for the AHJF and its programs.
And so a big thank you goes to the AHJF from Strapless and Lindner and
all the other riders who competed in a setting that can only be
described as picture perfect. For her win, Lindner claimed a check for
$12,000 out of a total purse of $48,500, a Tad Coffin Performance
saddle, the Dark Continent Perpetual Trophy courtesy of Jim Green, a
custom jacket by Personalized Products and a cooler donated by Grazing
Field's Farm, Inc.
Board member Kavar Kerr described it the best when she noted, "This
class is one of a kind. You have all week to qualify. You are riding
in the International Arena and you are riding at night under the lights.
It only happens once a year. We are in Palm Beach. The uniqueness of
the class really brings out the competitiveness of everybody. There are
only so many that can go in it. And everybody wants to be the one that
gets in and wins."
For information about the Hunter Classic, the AHJF or its programs,
contact the AHJF at 335 Lancaster Street, West Boylston, MA 01583-0369,
call 508-835-8813, fax 508-835-6125 or email email@example.com