Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 28, 2018 – The second day of the 2018 National Horse Show returned to the Kentucky Horse Park on Sunday, with exhibitors in the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship and Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship taking center stage. Adding his name as only the second champion of the prestigious class in as many years, Dominic Gibbs piloted Limitless to the top honors in the Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Equitation Championship, while Hannah Brown outshone the pack aboard Dimacho in the Taylor Harris NHS Adult Equitation Championships.
For 85 years, the National Horse Show has hosted the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, the most highly sought-after prize in equitation for the country’s top junior athletes. Added to the schedule in 2017, the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship gives riders who have dreams of becoming the next winner of the ASPCA Maclay National Championship the opportunity to hone their skills in the same ring as their 3’6″ counterparts. The Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship is now held annually the weekend before the National Horse Show in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park using the same format as the ASPCA Maclay National Championship with fences set at 3’3″ in height.
A familiar face in Kentucky, course designer Bobby Murphy challenged the original crop of 104 horse-and-rider combinations over his winding track that served to distinguish the frontrunners from the rest of the field. Whittled down to the highest-scoring 25 pairs, eligible competitors returned for a flat phase and a second trip over fences in front of the watchful eyes of the judges to determine the elite four that would test for the title.
Separated from their peers as the top performers, Blythe Goguen, Sophie Bluhm, Gibbs and Layla Kurbanov were each given one final opportunity to exhibit their skills. The abridged testing course challenged the four contenders to walk, canter fences one and two, then counter-canter fence three before transitioning to a trot for fence four, after which they were asked to halt and exit at a walk.
Proving his consistency and performing masterfully for the fourth time Sunday, Gibbs directed 8-year-old Limitless to a textbook trip that earned him the high marks of the day to secure the championship rosette. Gibbs, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, joins inaugural winner Jaden Porter as the newest name to be inscribed on the commemorative trophy, which is proudly displayed throughout the year at the Kentucky Horse Park Museum.
Bluhm and her own Quadro D’ Ag claimed the reserve honors, followed by Kurbanov and Olga Kurbanov’s Calberon B in third place. Goguen and Z Jappoo Sow, owned by Colette Cacciatore, rounded out the top four in the standings.
In its inaugural year as a National Horse Show class, the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship attracted a talented field of contenders each vying for the top prize. Like their junior counterparts, the adult entries in the equitation class aimed to showcase their talents over Murphy’s course during the preliminary round of competition in order to earn the advantage headed into the subsequent under saddle phase and final jumping round.
Maneuvering their way to the lead thanks to a series of strong performances, Brown and A. Brooke Farr’s Dimacho ultimately clinched the coveted rosette and the lead spot in the victory gallop. Brown hails from Manchester, Connecticut, and is already on a hot streak at the National Horse Show, having won the blue ribbon Saturday in the Adult Equitation over fences class in addition to the second place finish under saddle, also with Dimacho.
Jeanine Cash of Winthrop, Massachusetts earned the reserve honors with MTM Magnum, owned by Olivia Rubin, followed by Darby Mazzarisi of Chesterfield, New Jersey in third position aboard West Hill’s Resonate. Coincidentally, the three podium finishers in Sunday’s championship were also the top three in Saturday’s Adult Equitation over fences class, with Cash and Mazzarisi swapping spots.
Throughout the National Horse Show’s opening weekend, the hospitality in the Taylor Harris Club and Maxwell Place is courtesy of the World Equestrian Center. The exclusive and stylish Taylor Harris Club features an unbeatable view overlooking the Alltech Arena – perfect for equestrians, families and business professionals to enjoy the exciting competition in VIP fashion. Maxwell Place offers Riders’ Lounge hospitality with exciting food options, as well as a select number of premier boutique vendors. It is open to the public for shopping and dining throughout the horse show, with the Riders’ Lounge hospitality open during show hours.
The 2018 National Horse Show will pick up once more on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 8 a.m. in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park with the professional hunter divisions. A complete competition schedule can be found here.
Dominic Gibbs – Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship winner
On his reaction to winning:
“When they were calling us back for the best, I was very excited that I made it in. This is only my second National Medal Finals, so obviously I’m very happy to be here. I’ve done a lot of work with sports psychologists to keep my emotions in check throughout the competition because I really had a problem with nerves in the past. I have worked a lot lately on keeping those down and that really helped me today.”
“One of my favorite things about him is his color. He is 8 years old and still very dark grey, which I think helps me stick out. He also has a great temperament and is always very mellow. He doesn’t put up a fuss about a whole lot of things.”
On balancing riding with schoolwork:
“I go to a public high school and there is a really amazing program for athletes who are gone a lot. I do a half day at school and then I take a couple online classes. What I’ve done in the past is create a really good relationship with my teachers to keep up with the schoolwork and I try to get as much as I can done early. The rest I bring to the horse show with me.”
On the challenges of the course:
“I think one of the most challenging things was the bending line. You had to really know what step you were going to do and how you were going to execute the track and always be looking ahead.”
Sophie Bluhm – Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship reserve
On competing in the championship:
“This is my first time [at the National Horse Show]. I thought it was fantastic and I think this is the coolest event ever. I love that instead of jumping straight into the Maclay Finals there is something at 3’3” to ease everyone into it. I am so excited to be here.”
About riding with an injury:
“About two months ago I broke my wrist at a horse show. I made a mistake and fell off, so I have been riding for the past seven weeks with one hand, just doing little 2’ jumps. This was my first course at the horse show, so I really just wanted to get around well and have him with me the entire time. I’m really happy with the results.”
On Quadro D’ Ag:
“ ‘Dougie’ is one of the most fantastic horses that I have ever ridden! He is so solid, he is always on his game, and every time we go into the ring he is like ‘ Alright, let’s do this’. He is amazing, there is no backing down with him.”
On the challenges of the course:
“I think it was definitely a challenge to keep your horse in front of your leg and be consistent and on the track. I think you really had to use your track wisely to get the right number of strides to each fence.”
Kristin and Jim Hamel – Class sponsors
On sponsoring the class:
“We think that this whole class has been fabulous in the way that it is run. Everything is beautiful and the growth has been incredible. I can’t believe it has almost tripled in size. I’m really excited to see all these riders out there performing and doing well, and hopefully it continues to grow.”
On their Foundation’s mission:
“As you may be aware, we are also proud and happy sponsors of an academic program. I was pleased to hear the responses from the finalists regarding what they have to do academically to stay attuned. For us it is a great tie to be able to sponsor a program at a show like this as well as continue to provide an educational opportunity for students and athletes.
Hannah Brown – Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship winner
On her reaction to winning:
“I’ll try not to cry. I’m not like most riders here. I’ve never really had the opportunity to come to something like this, so it was great that I didn’t have to qualify and my trainer let me use her horse, who I have been showing at a couple finals for the past few years. He was amazing. I’m very emotional because I never would have been able to do this so it’s really nice.”
On the adult equitation championship:
“I think it is great. For adults, I don’t think we have a lot of opportunities. Personally, I am in a better financial place than I was when I was a kid because I have a job, so I am able to do more. It is great that we can come to a venue like this and compete at this level. When my trainer sent us the information about needing adults for the class, we jumped right on board. Three other girls from my barn came, so we all drove down together.”
Michael Taylor – Taylor Harris Insurance Services, class sponsor
On sponsoring the championship:
“It feels great. I’m very happy to be the inaugural sponsor. We are very happy to be associated with this. This is the inaugural class and we are looking forward to it developing over the next few years. From a business point of view, I’ve always had a strategy to sponsor juniors and the lower classes where people are coming into the sport, not that that is necessarily everyone here today. I’m always a great believer in trying to put back into something, and it is very nice to be able to give back to the sport.”
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner
Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship
1. Dominic Gibbs / Limitless / Erin R Gibbs
2. Sophie Bluhm / Quadro D’ Ag / Sophie Bluhm
3. Layla Kurbanov / Calberon B / Olga Kurbanov
4. Blythe Goguen / Z Jappoo Sow / Colette Cacciatore
5. Madison Nodalenco / Quiere / Morgan Dickerson
6. Alivia Kohus / Cristallo Carlchen W / Alivia Kohus
7. Claudette Yarbrough / Falcor / Sophia Transou
8. Katherine Lebaron / Cocktail 51 / Katherine Lebaron
9. Emily Aitken / Wayfarer / Sophie Lenahan
10. Maggie Hill / For Side VDL / Maggie Hill
Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship
1. Hannah Brown / Dimacho / A. Brooke Farr
2. Jeanine Cash / MTM Magnum / Olivia Rubin
3. Darby Mazzarisi / Resonate / West Hill
4. Lily Walton / Callahan / Lily Walton
5. Nicole Lyvere / Vaillero / Nicole Lyvere
6. Emily Kowalchik / Fernleigh / Kelsey Taylor