Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 15, 2019 – The finale of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship took place at the Kentucky Horse Park on Thursday afternoon, with champions crowned in both the 3’/3’3” and 3’6”/3’9” sections. After leading the first two days of riding, Scott Stewart held onto his top placings to capture the win in the 3’/3” section with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Sandstone, while Sara Taylor and Ingrid Avera’s Noah emerged victorious over the larger fences to clinch the 2019 title for the 3’6”/3’9” group.
Starting on equal footing with a blank slate, horse-and-rider pairs were offered one final opportunity to showcase their abilities over Bobby Murphy’s 11-effort course, which featured one option fence near the end of the track. Riding fourth in the order of go in the 3’3” section, Nick Haness and Reese’s, owned by Gail Ellis, set the initial standard for the championship round with scores of 84, 85 and 87 for a total 256 points to take the early lead. After 21 competitors, fence heights were bumped down to the 3’ height, with Haness still holding the leading position.
It wasn’t long until Stewart entered the ring aboard Sandstone to jump to the lead following a standout round that was awarded scores of 85.5, 86 and 88 to earn a total 259.5 points. Stewart and the 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding effortlessly made their way around the course, utilizing Sandstone’s jumping style to nab the highest scores of the section. With Stewart’s victory, he brings his total win tally at the flagship green hunter event to four, after winning the championship in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Following Stewart’s round a few trips later, Chris Payne and Northernside LLC’s Solitude entered the ring ready to challenge his score. Although Payne and the 7-year-old gelding put in a near flawless round, they fell just short of Stewart’s tally with a total of 258.75 points. Payne and Solitude ended the day with reserve champion honors. Stewart also claimed third place aboard Dr. Betsee Parker’s Mayflower with a total score of 257.25. Ultimately capturing fourth place was Haness and Gail Ellis’ Reese’s with 256 points, followed by Jeff Gogul and Roberts Stables LLC’s Count Me In in fifth position with a total score of 253.50.
Later in the day, the 3’6”/3’9” section took to the ring for their second and final round of competition. With their singular qualifying round taking place earlier in the day, the top 30 horse-and-rider combinations returned to the ring to vie for the top honors, this time in a handy round format. Murphy’s track presented challengers with two three-sectioned option fences that could be jumped in either direction and a trot jump, as well as asked for a hand gallop to the final effort. Throughout the class, only four duos competed over the 3’9” obstacles, with the rest contesting the course at the 3’6” height.
Second in the order out of the returning 30, Amanda Steege and Cheryl Olsten’s Lafitte De Muze served as the early pathfinders with scores of 84, 87, 88 for a composite score of 259 to take the early lead. Steege and Lafitte De Muze’s score would hold for the first half of the class, but was ultimately surpassed by Taylor and the 9-year-old Warmblood, Noah, who turned in an exemplary performance to the tune of scores of 88, 90 and 91 for cumulative marks of 269, the highest score in one class over the entire championship from either division. Though the latter half of the teams tried to usurp the leaders’ from their status, none were able to match their efforts, solidifying Taylor and Noah as the 2019 victors in the 3’6”/3’9” section.
With a total score of 260.75, Patricia Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Diamante earned the reserve honors, while Steege and Lafitte De Muze finished in third position in the standings. Fourth place was claimed by Courtney Lenkart aboard Lori Mathews’ Alisto boasting a score of 258, and Liza Boyd rode Who’s It, owned by Bridget Hallman, to fifth place with 255.80 points.
Hunter action will continue at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show throughout the week, with the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships taking place Friday and Saturday, concluding Sunday with the USHJA National Hunter Derby.
Scott Stewart – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’/3’3” champion
“It is great. He was really good all week and they were all so close. Sandstone is a little more experienced [than Mayflower] and he is pretty steady about everything. I saw the horses starting to spook at [fence two] so I made sure to walk by that one. He rode really nicely and I thought he was good. [This year] he is a little physically stronger. Last year we didn’t have very long to prepare so he wasn’t as physically fit. He is definitely a little better condition this year.”
On the differences between Sandstone and Mayflower:
“Mayflower is pretty young, she is 5 years old, and this is only her fifth or sixth time showing but she has such a good brain. She is so steady about everything. They both have kind of the same brain. Sandstone has only shown three times this year as well, but he did a little more last year. Mayflower is really stridey and scopey, and I think it will probably be better for her to do the 3’6” fences. She’s just a little bit greener about it all.”
On preparing his horses for the championship:
“The last horse show Sandstone did was Kentucky Spring, and the last show Mayflower did was Upperville [Colt & Horse Show]. They both had five or six weeks off. At home I set up this course the weeks coming up to it so they’re pretty well-rehearsed about what we have to do here.
Chris Payne – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’/3’3” reserve champion
On his reaction to placing in reserve:
“It’s been a good day so far! I thought he was really good today. I was a little nervous because he felt really quiet schooling. As he got in there, it just kind of lifted him up enough to jump nicely. He just came over this winter and really didn’t show at all until May. He has a great brain and a nice natural jump.”
Sara Taylor – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’6”/3’9” champion
On her reaction to winning:
“I couldn’t speak for a long time because I was so excited. It feels amazing. It just flowed all the way around. He was with me every step of the way and it was almost like he was having just as much fun as I was. I really liked the course, but I was really lucky to be on Noah.”
“He is like a little jumping bean. He is always right there with me and he is so consistent anywhere I take him. He always tries his whole heart out. I can put his owner on him – she is going to do the adult hunters on him next year, but she lessons on him and then I can come here and do this and he is just always there. He is a really good horse.”
On her history with Noah:
“I think this is my third year with him. He was third in this championship in the 3’3” last year. I think he would be a great derby horse. It was so nice for Ingrid [Avera] to be patient and let me have this year to myself, so I owe it to her to let her go and do the adult hunters. She is going to kill it. We got him from Emil [Spadone] a couple of years ago, and he was a hot jumping bean. Going to shows, he started to calm down. We did the 3’, then we took our time and did the 3’3” and then kept taking our time. Ingrid [Avera] was really onboard with that. I think if it had gone another way, we wouldn’t have gotten the outcome that we got.”
Patricia Griffith – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’6”/3’9” reserve champion
On her reaction to placing in reserve:
“It’s great. It’s a great place to showcase a horse and sometimes you walk in and it goes your way and sometimes they can get green, especially with the hour and the shadows. My horse almost felt like he knew where he was going, so he was dialed in. It worked out.”
On the Green Hunter Incentive Program:
“It for sure reinvented the hunters a bit, and it needed that. Now there are goals and things, not just waiting for the horse to mature enough to jump 3’6” or maybe it never gets that far. It can really excel at that height and showcase itself. It’s a great program.”
Amanda Steege – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’6”/3’9” third place
On her reaction to placing in third:
“I was so proud of Lafitte. Everybody is so sick of hearing me say how proud I am of him, but he was great out there. Lafitte is going to do Derby Finals tomorrow. For Patricia and I, both of our horses are doing Derby Finals and it is their first Derby Finals. I think it was a really good preparation for us. This was Lafitte’s first class this week so I was happy to get to practice coming out a little later in the day and going straight into the handy.”
On the Green Hunter Incentive Program:
“It’s so exciting, and it’s really exciting to come here year after year and see how the class is growing. I think the committee wanted this to be so that clients wanted to buy us young horses to develop, and it’s succeeding. Everybody wants to have one and show here, so that’s really exciting.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Green Hunter Incentive – 3’/3’3” Championship Round
1. Sandstone / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 259.50
2. Solitude / Christopher Payne / Northernside LLC / 258.75
3. Mayflower / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 257.25
4. Reese’s / Nick Haness / Gail Ellis / 256
5. Count Me In / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables, LLC / 253.50
6. Monte Carlo / Maria Rasmussen / Maya Grove / 250
7. Someday / Laena Romond / Rachel Suna Britchkow / 248
8. Gratitude / Christopher Payne / Stillwater Farm LLC / 247
9. Deluxe / Courtney Lenkart / Wesley Clingman / 247
10. Testify / Kelley Farmer / D L Glefke & Oakmont Stables LLC / 245
Green Hunter Incentive – 3’6”/3’9” Championship Round
1. Noah / Sara Taylor / Ingrid Avera / 269
2. Diamante / Patricia Griffith / Callie Seaman / 260.75
3. Lafitte De Muze / Amanda Steege / Cheryl Olsten / 259
4. Alisto / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 258
5. Who’s It / Elizabeth Boyd / Bridget Hallman / 255.80
6. Consent / Kelley Farmer / D L Glefke & Kent Farrington, LLC / 255.15
7. Cassico / Julie Curtin / Rebekah Warren / 251
8. Maverick / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables, LLC / 250.75
9. Private I / Michael Britt-leon / Kelly Sims / 249.50
10. Love Note / Scott Stewart / Richard Prant / 248.50
For more information on the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship, please click here.
For more information on the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, please click here.