AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular Features Top Show Hunters

AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular Features Top Show Hunters

January 10, 2003 -- Wellington, Florida -- On February 15, 2003 theseventh annual American Hunter-Jumper Foundation (AHJF) Hunter ClassicSpectacular will be featured under the lights in Wellington, FL.Started in 1997, the Hunter Classic has become the class to be in forhunter riders. This event features the amateur, junior and professionalchampion and reserve champion show hunter horses and riders who havequalified from preliminary competitions held during the weeklong WinterEquestrian Festival, February 12-15.

The AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular is a target event for many hunterriders. ?I can tell you riders scramble to get into this class,?explains Geoff Teall, AHJF President.

The event takes place at night in the large grassy International Arenaand attracts a huge spectator attendance both on the grass ledgessurrounding the arena and at the tented dinner, which is the AHJF?smajor annual fundraiser. The arena is lower than where the spectatorsare seated offering viewers a great chance to see the competition.There is no charge to come through the gates. So, everyone is welcometo come and enjoy the evening.

The show hunters that qualify are scored by eight judges. This year AnnBraswell, Robert Braswell, Karen Healey, Randy Henry, Mark Jungherr,Randy Mullens, Tammy Provost, and Steve Wall will judge the horses overa course designed by Michael Rheinheimer. The judges will be lookingfor style and a horse which can carry a rider smoothly, comfortably andsafely over a course of natural style jumps. The horses should be bothelegant and agile as they negotiate obstacles similar to thoseencountered on a foxhunt.

?It?s more nerve wracking than building a jumper course,? explainsRheinheimer. ?You don?t care in the jumpers if something isdistracting. In the hunters everything needs to be symmetrical and whatthey see on the backside of the fence as they are jumping dictates howthey jump. It?s all about trying to get them to jump well.?

Up to 26 riders will qualify to compete in this prestigious competitionas well as last year?s winner Emily Williams, who rode Strapless tofirst place honors in both 2001 and 2002; Peter Pletcher, who was the2002 Chronicle of the Horse Professional World Champion Hunter Rider;Louise Serio, who won the 2002 WCHR Professional Challenge Class; KaraHofstetter, 2002 WCHR Amateur-Owner National Champion and Charlie Jayne,winner of the 2002 WCHR Junior National Championship. Jayne placedseventh in 2000 on Little Lion and twelfth in 2002 aboard In Sync.Serio was second in 2002 on Dream Date and fifth on Red Panda. She wasseventh in 2001 on Red Panda, who she also claimed top honors with inthe inaugural Legacy Cup that same year. These riders will be able tocompete on any horse they choose but must compete at the height forwhich the combination is eligible in this no entry fee class. Allentrants must be current members of the AHJF.

Party Planner guru Mason Phelps, Jr. and co-chair Beverly Lake Wilkeswill create the festivities for the evening for some 360 guests underthe all new party tent, now called ?The Jockey Club.? The goal will beto make the event enjoyable, profitable and comfortable, with only tworows of tables (covered with blue tablecloths with white rosecenterpieces), so that everyone in the tent will have an excellent view.A buffet dinner will be catered for the enjoyment of the AHJF patrons.Front row tables are $3500 and second row tables are $2500. With itsnew face lift (new window boxes, wainscoting and chair railings,chandeliers, wall sconces and more), being in ?The Jockey Club? will beextra special. For table reservations call the Winter EquestrianFestival Special Events Office ? 561-753-3389, Fax 561-753-3386 or emailSJIpressoffice@aol.com.

For the riders, this major competition gives them a chance to win wellearned money in front of a huge crowd and in a setting that is festive,glamorous and welcoming. The winner will also be presented with a TadCoffin Performance Saddle, the Dark Continent Perpetual Trophy courtesyof Jim Green, a cooler and a custom jacket by Personalized Products.

The AHJF was formed to further the development of the sport of showhunter competition by providing a national office to organize,coordinate and support hunter rider and show jumping equestriancompetition. Programs of the AHJF include the World Championship HunterRider Awards, the AHJF Emergency Relief Fund, AHJF Educational Programs,the AHJF BSA Inc. 401k and Profit Sharing Plan and the Legacy Cup.

For information about the Hunter Classic contact the AHJF at 335Lancaster Street, West Boylston, MA 01583-0369, call 508-835-8813, fax508-835-6125, for point standings go towww.ryegate.com/AHJF/2002/stand/standing.htm, or emailAHJF@aol.com.