Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 29, 2019 – Hunter competition commenced Tuesday at the 2019 National Horse Show, which is celebrating its 136th year, at its home in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. Deemed a Heritage horse show thanks to its long-standing history, the event is the final major indoor competition of the season, capping off a year of hunter/jumper exhibition for many of its horse-and-rider partnerships. Following the first day of riding, the initial set of frontrunners emerged ahead of their respective divisions, which will each conclude with their final classes Wednesday. Jeff Gogul with Maverick and Scott Stewart on Cabrio led the way in the Goshen Hill Green 3’6” Hunter with matching points, while Lafitte De Muze carried Amanda Steege to the head of the leaderboard in the Green 3’9” Hunters and Becky Gochman and Catch Me captured the top spot in the Suzanne Thoben Marquard Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunter division.
One of the first divisions of the morning, the Goshen Hill Green 3’6” Hunters brought a field of talented entries to the ring for their first over fences trip, which was followed later by a handy round. Besting the pack in the over fences round, Christopher Payne rode Melissa Jacobs’ Middleton to first prize thanks to a steady effort over Bobby Murphy’s track, earning the early lead in the division. Fifth place in the first over fences phase, Gogul and Roberts Stables LLC’s Maverick improved upon their earlier performance to capture the blue ribbon in the handy round, propelling them to the top of the overall scorecard. Headed into Wednesday’s finale, Gogul and Maverick, who is still new to horse showing in the United States, will lead the standings tied with Stewart and Bikoff Equestrian LLC’s Cabrio.
After upping the obstacles to the slightly higher height of 3’9”, exhibitors in the $2,000 Green 3’9” Hunter over fences class contested the natural fences as they vied for the prize money and the blue ribbon. Thanks to their winning performance in the $2,000 Green 3’9” Hunter class, Maria Rasmussen and SVF On My Way, owned by Sunset View Farm LLC, were awarded the Ackergill Castle Perpetual Cup, which was donated by Dr. Betsee Parker, 17th Baroness of Locheil and owner of Ackergill Castle in Scotland. Navigating a slick and seemingly effortless ride around the handy course, Steege and Lafitte De Muze were honored as the division’s second pair of winners, earning them valuable points towards the tricolor. On Wednesday, Steege and her trusted partner ‘Lafitte’ will aim to maintain their lead in the division, earned thanks to a first-place and second-place finish on day one.
Moving on from the professionals, the amateur-owner exhibitors piloted their mounts twice around the Alltech Arena in the $2,000 Suzanne Thoben Marquard Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 over fences and handy classes. Riding to a comfortable lead, Gochman and Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, nabbed top call in both outings to emerge as the clear pair to beat. In the under saddle class, the duo extended their lead with another victory, this time in the under saddle class to finish the first day of competition on a perfect score. The grey gelding, Catch Me, achieved more success than any other horse Tuesday, having also topped both classes in the Judith Murch High Performance Hunters with Stewart in the irons to earn the overall lead in the rankings.
The 2019 National Horse Show will return to the Alltech Arena on Wednesday, when the first batch of champions will be crowned for their respective divisions as well as overall Grand Champions. Jumpers will take to the ring for the first time Wednesday evening with the $36,000 Free x Rein International Jumper Welcome Speed costume class.
The remainder of the week will showcase the $135,000 International Jumper Classic, $36,000 EquiJet Accumulator Class and National Horse Show $50,000 Hunter Classic, presented by Friends of the National Horse Show. The weekend’s feature events will be the $25,000 Hollow Brook Wealth Management Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix, $225,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup ™ Lexington and the Maclay National Championship for the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Class, presented by Chansonette Farm.
Jeff Gogul – Goshen Hill Green 3’6” Hunter division leader
“Maverick is awesome. He is super brave, super soft and light to ride. He is only six years old and he only did two horse shows in this country before the start of the season. We purchased him off of a video and he has a lot of ability so we went right into the 3’6” for this season. He is very confident and relaxed in all different venues – he never really cares about the atmosphere per se. He was a little fresh in the first round but he settled in and was perfect in the handy.”
On the handy course:
“Ironically, the turn from fence one to two is not what I would pick for either of my horses but Just As won the handy in the High Performance so it seemed to work well! I am not going to complain about it because it worked nicely today. He was great and he stayed with me. The jumps just came up out of stride perfectly all the way around. With Maverick, the only thing I have to give extra thought to is the trot jump. He was not great at that in the beginning. When I would bring him down to the trot he would think he was done so we had some bobbles along the way early in the season because of the trot jump. Now he has figured out that it doesn’t mean the course is over!”
On being at the National Horse Show:
“It is fun and I have an amazing group of horses to rider right now, so it is great to be able to win classes here because they are rounds that you are going to cherish forever. It is a great honor and I like it, as well, because it is one of the few horse shows where because of the proximity of the schooling ring you can actually watch a lot of the other rounds and riders. That makes it fun too because the horses went great today, so I think even for the judges it was probably fun to get to watch and judge.”
Amanda Steege – Green 3’9” Hunter leader
On her rides:
“I was very happy with our handy today because I have really been working with ‘Lafitte’ on doing the handy courses and carrying more pace to challenge ourselves a little bit. There were a couple of places where I could have taken an easier option, but I decided at this point he is a second-year horse and we are at the National Horse Show so we might as well go in there and try to do it. I was really happy with him and with my ride. I felt like I really rode forward and carried a good pace, and he was really handy and good with the turns. I can usually count on him to jump a really good jump.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“The jumps are beautiful at this show. It’s one of the reasons why we really like to come here – that, and the fact that the indoor is just so big. It almost feels like you are riding in an outdoor arena.”
Becky Gochman – Suzanne Thoben Marquard Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunter leader
On Catch Me:
“Catch Me felt fantastic today. He had a previous ride from Scott Stewart and he was really good with him so I went in with all the confidence in the world because sometimes he can be a little spooky but today he was not. He felt like he knew exactly what he was doing and when he feels like that all I have to do is hold on for the ride and he takes me wherever I want to go. He is perfection. He is really such a sweet horse and I couldn’t ask for a better horse. He is amazing.”
On the handy round:
“My plan for going into the handy round was to go at a ‘pitter-patter’ pace to the first jump so that I could make the sharp turn afterward. I wanted to let him know where he was going and pick the best trot option for where I felt he was at the time. Everything just kind of worked out. He really was so adjustable and into it. He really loves his job so that makes everything easy. He is perfect!”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“We took a road trip from D.C. to Lexington and we were so happy to get to Lexington. We love this town, we love this show and I think the National Horse Show does a very special job making the horses extra natural so that is always a welcoming thing for the hunter riders.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner
$2,000 Goshen Hill Green 3’6” Hunter
1. Middleton / Christopher Payne / Melissa Jacobs
2. Cabrio / Scott Stewart / Bikoff Equestrian LLC
3. Hulla-Balou / Michael Dennehy / Renee Rainey Howard
$2,000 Goshen Hill Green 3’6” Hunter Handy
1. Maverick / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables LLC
2. Caprio / Scott Stewart / Bikoff Equestrian LLC
3. Park City / Holly Orlando / Privet Farm LLC
$2,000 Green 3’9” Hunter
1. SVF On My Own / Maria Rasmussen / Sunset View Farm LLC
2. Lafitte De Muze / Amanda Steege / Cheryl Olsten
3. Just Ask / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables LLC
$2,000 Green 3’9” Hunter Handy
1. Lafitte De Muze / Amanda Steege / Cheryl Olsten
2. Sinatra / Jennifer Hannan / Tina Allen
3. Just Ask / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables LLC
$2,000 Judith Murch High Performance Hunter Handy
1. Catch Me / Scott Stewart / Gochman Sport Horse LLC
2. Fabulous / Havens Schatt / Whipstick Farm, Ltd.
3. Cameo / Scott Stewart / Betsee Parker
$2,000 Suzanne Thoben Marquard Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunter
1. Catch Me / Becky Gochman / Gochman Sport Horse LLC
2. Sinatra / Tina Allen / Tina Allen
3. Conux / Jamie Krupnick / Jamie Krupnick
For more information, please visit nhs.org.