Devon, Pa. – May 28, 2017 – Sunday evening at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair highlighted a brand new kind of competition, Devon Arena Eventing, based on two of the three disciplines that make up three-day eventing: cross-country and stadium jumping. The event attracted a new realm of spectators including eventing enthusiasts. A total of 23 international eventing horse-and-rider combinations participated in the new event, where USA’s Sarah Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’ysieux came out on top to take home the first winning title.
The Devon Arena Eventing competition, presented by Mid-Atlantic Packaging, was designed to maximize the facilities, showcasing the best of what Devon has to offer.
The course was designed by Captain Mark Phillips, Olympic gold medalist, former coach of the U.S. Olympic eventing team and renowned international course designer. Phillips spent several hours at Devon evaluating the facilities and believes the venue is an excellent host for arena eventing.
Horses and riders entered must have attained a qualifying score in a CCI2* or be competing at 1.40m in show jumping to participate in Sunday’s Devon Arena Eventing class.
The first round took horses and riders through both the Gold Ring and Dixon Oval over 25 obstacles, and faults were given for knockdowns and exceeding the maximum time. Approximately 15 fences were typical obstacles found on a standard cross-country course, while the remaining were show jumping fences. Fences were up to 1.20m in height, brush up to 1.40m and spreads up to 1.60m.
The second round brought back the top 12 to compete in a jump-off over a shortened course in the Dixon Oval. Murphy and the 11-year-old Selle Français gelding, owned by Rubens D’ysieux Syn. LLC, completed both phases with no penalties, finishing the jump-off in 75.03 seconds for the win.
Coming in second place was USA’s Jennie Brannigan and Nina Gardner’s Cambalda. The pair also completed both rounds with no faults and stopped the timers in 79.05 seconds at the end of phase two. Rounding out the top three was USA’s Erika Nesler and Doug and Cindy Howe’s Right Above It. They crossed the finish line in 80.92 seconds to also end on a final score of zero penalties.
There are four other major horse shows that have also developed these special competitions: the Wellington Eventing Showcase, the Stuttgart German Masters, the Royal International Horse Show in England and The Royal Horse Show in Toronto.
The Devon Arena Eventing competition was met with the highest standards and was supported by top riders. From the eventing side, Phillips, David O’Connor, the current U.S. eventing chef d’équipe, and U.S. Rio Olympians Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin. Kevin Babington was also on board and encouraged competitors from the show jumping world to participate.
Sarah Kozumplik Murphy – First Place
On winning the first $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing class:
“Obviously I’m delighted! I was really excited when I heard this was being offered for a variety of reasons. I have a really cool horse, which you got to see today. He’s extremely careful. He’s a good cross-country horse and has been trained really well. My friend Mikki Kuchta rode him before me and I started riding him in September. He’s so careful, smart, happy and just a really wicked horse. Before we have to go into that gladiatorial walk into Rolex, it’s nice to be able to have some practice such as this. Thank you to everyone for putting it on. Devon is just an incredible place and it’s an honor to ride here. I’ve always wanted to ride here but I’m not good enough in dressage or show jumping! Thank you for having us!”
On Rubens D’ysieux:
“He is normally so chill. He can literally go to a Pony Club rally one day and come here the next. He’s really cool. I didn’t realize that when he comes to this kind of atmosphere he turns into a circus pony. He gets super excited. I got to go to Wellington and felt it there too. I was expecting it here this time so I didn’t wear spurs or carry a stick. I also put on a bigger bit.”
Jennie Brannigan – Second Place
On competing in the Devon Arena Eventing class:
“Since I moved to Pennsylvania, Devon has been an illustrious thing that, when you’re on the West Coast or in the Midwest, you don’t know anything about it. It’s very cool to be able to compete here myself. [Cambalda] won the Virginia Horse Trials CIC2* just yesterday. I didn’t want to run him crazy hard and was a little bit on the fence about doing this but he pulled up great and was totally fine. He jumped great today. For me, this was really a cool weekend for him. He’s just a horse I love and I’m so happy that I get to ride him and keep him in my barn.”
On the final fence of phase two:
“I looked at the clock and knew I wasn’t going to beat [Sarah’s] time so I wanted to be second. I knew I was at 75 seconds two strides out and I also watched the first six people, who I respect, go full force down to the last jump and knock it. I’m actually surprised I didn’t get lost in there. I just wanted to make sure I jumped that final jump clean.”
Erika Nesler – Third Place
On competing in the Devon Arena Eventing class:
“I’m somewhat speechless to be sitting next to these two ladies! I grew up around here. I used to work the press box and would go down and collect all of the hunter and jumper riders and bringing them up to the press. I never thought in a million years that I’d have the chance to sit on this side of the table!”
On Right Above It:
“[Right Above It] is amazing. I actually owe a lot to Jennie. She started him as a youngster and we’ve had him for about two and a half years. What he’s done for my riding, along with jumping with Boyd Martin and Scott Keach, is unreal. It feels great, and he was spot on tonight. I know him really well. I know if I kick and point he’s going to go. He’s a game little horse. It’s exciting!”
On choosing to compete in the Devon Arena Eventing class:
“I figured why not come here and get some more mileage under the pressure. Now I’m thinking maybe I should go do some show jumpers, this is kind of fun! Two years ago I didn’t think I was going to be past a Prelim rider. Now I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Bring it on! Let’s go Rolex!’ My horse likes [the atmosphere]. The bigger the crowd, the higher he jumps.”
On the final fence of phase two:
“It was a narrow oxer after a long gallop and it came up both times after this little ‘S’ turn of cross-country jumps. Jumping into all of this, that’s stuff they don’t always get to see so they’re not used to it.”
Captain Mark Phillips – Course Designer
On the course:
“The two arenas made it a little different. It was actually Boyd Martin’s idea to do two rounds. The first round was to get people accustomed and not going too fast. Then the second round was against the clock. It was a great opportunity to showcase the sport. This arena eventing, from a design perspective, is not the easiest. I think when you can showcase the sport like this and get a good crowd like tonight, you must’ve produced good entertainment to show what it’s all about!”
On the final fence of phase two:
“It was the last fence after a long gallop and they had been jumping a lot of fences before that. In the grand prix world, we call that a careful fence — you have to take your time to that jump.”
$50,000 Devon Arena Eventing, presented by Mid-Atlantic Packaging:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / Time / R2 Faults / Time
1. Rubens D’ysieux / Sarah Kozumplik Murphy / USA / Rubens D’ysieux Syn. LLC / 0 / 138.99 / 0 / 75.03
2. Cambalda / Jennie Brannigan / USA / Nina Gardner / 0 / 147.04 / 0 / 79.05
3. Right Above It / Erika Nesler / USA / Doug and Cindy Howe / 0 / 146.83 / 0 / 80.92
4. Lancaster / Waylon Roberts / CAN / Michele and John Koppin / 0 / 143.11 / 0 / 82.69
5. Flagmount’s Mischief / Douglas Payne / USA / Doug and Jessica Payne; Brad and Robbie Peterson / 0 / 142.00 / 5 / 76.07
6. Honor Me / Lisa Marie Fergusson / CAN / Lisa Marie Fergusson / 0 / 141.05 / 5 / 76.62
7. Ray Price W / Boyd Martin / USA / Windurra Usa / 3 / 158.01 / 5 / 77.79
8. Alcatraz / Ryan Wood / AUS / Sarah Hughes / 5 / 137.89 / 5 / 79.39
9. Kelecyn Cognac / Waylon Roberts / CAN / Anthony Connolly and L. Skye Levely / 5 / 136.71 / 5 / 87.00
10. Jak My Style / Justine Dutton / GBR / Kathleen Cuca / 5 / 145.58 / 5 / 90.93
11. Mindful / Waylon Roberts / CAN / Anthony Connolly and L. Skye Levely / 0 / 137.81 / 10 / 91.02
12. Kyra / Boyd Martin / USA / Christine Turner / 0 / 149.30 / 25 / 102.15
Sunday of Memorial Day weekend marked the culmination of Junior Weekend at the historic Devon Horse Show, but for Katharine Dade and her own National Treasure it also meant a triumph in the Pony Jumper Championship. All eyes shifted to the junior riders and their speedy ponies on course as they vied to make it through the finish line clear and in the fastest time.
Dade, of Gilmanton Ironworks, New Hampshire, only began campaigning in the jumper ring this year. Previously, she rode in the pony hunters, but she hasn’t looked back since making the switch over to the jumper ring.
On Saturday, Dade and her 16-year-old chestnut Welsh Pony Cross mare snagged the blue ribbon after going clear in the $1,000 Pony Jumper class with the fastest time of 29.179 seconds in a six-horse jump-off. The 15-year-old superstar has been training for the past 10 years with Gretchen Anderson out of Apple Knoll Farm in New Boston, New Hampshire.
After spectators had the privilege of watching top-notch junior hunters, equitation, jumpers and carriage driving throughout the weekend thus far, they witnessed 15 contenders battle it out for top honors and generous prizes on Sunday to round out the Pony Jumper Championship. Dade claimed Sunday morning’s second class of the division in a seven-horse jump-off, while Bridgid McMurtrie’s Wishlea Star Dasher, who won the 2016 Pony Jumper Championship at the Devon Horse Show, and Alice Nolen-Walston rode to victory in the $2,500 Pony Jumper Classic out of a three-horse jump-off.
The crowd stood eagerly alongside the sidelines hoping to catch a glimpse of the pony jumper action in the Dixon Oval. Course designer Kelvin Bywater of Great Britain put riders to the test with his challenging tracks, which quickly narrowed down the playing field to the most talented two- and four-legged athletes.
To make Dade’s championship win that much sweeter, she and National Treasure were honored with the Leonard Tose Memorial Challenge Trophy. The reserve champion ribbon went to Alice Nolen-Walston and Wishlea Star Dasher. Awards presentations wrapped up with the Pony Jumper Style Award being given to Audrey Schulze and Gayfields Talladega Knight.
On expectations going in to Devon:
“I really wasn’t expecting to do very well. I wanted to come and just get the experience but it was definitely a really great week!”
On looking to the future:
“My goals for this year are just to have fun and keep learning and also go to Pony Finals!”
$2,500 Pony Jumper Classic:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Round One Faults / Time / Round Two Faults / Time
1. Wishlea Star Dasher / Alice Nolen-Walston / Bridgid McMurtrie / 0 / 63.513 / 0 / 29.358
2. Gayfields Talladega Knight / Audrey Schulze / Audrey Schulze / 0 / 71.533 / 0 / 32.533
3. Miracles Happen / Austin Bauman / Amber Bauman / 0 / 64.770 / 4 / 33.370
4. Just One Look / Ashlyn Morelli / Ashlyn Morelli / 4 / 61.046
5. Piper / Taylor Brinsfield / Taylor Brinsfield / 4 / 66.315
6. Finders Keepers / Claudia Dollinger / Claudia Dollinger / 4 / 67.916
7. Modernly Millie / Daisy Fenwick / Daisy Fenwick / 5 / 79.209
8. EZ To Spot / Devon Owen / Ponies Unlimited, LLC / 8 / 63.683
9. Sky Miles / Luke Sassi / Luke Sassi / 8 / 69.908
10. National Treasure / Katharine Dade / Katharine Dade / 8 / 71.430
The Devon Horse Show and County Fair has prided itself on the tradition that is showcased throughout its historical grounds since the very first show held in 1896. The Carriage Pleasure Drive has been a part of the Devon tradition for over 50 years and continues to entertain and excite exhibitors and spectators alike each year on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
Crowds filled the stands to watch in awe as the horses, carriages, whips and passengers gracefully parade around the Dixon Oval. Immediately following the initial inspection, competitors tackled a 4.5-mile drive through the picturesque neighborhoods of Devon, Pennsylvania.
In the 51st running of the Carriage Pleasure Drive, Molly Neville of Collins, New York, came away with the coveted Carriage Pleasure Drive championship award. Neville, piloting Helen Lenahan’s pair ponies in the Relhok Serenity Blue carriage, received the championship apron as well as the Robert and Virginia Weaver Challenge Trophy for best turnout overall. Sunday’s championship was made all the more sweet as Neville accepted her awards in memory of Lenahan who just recently passed away.
In the Two-Wheel Single Harness division, Tanya Mackeand was awarded the blue in her Dog Cart. The blue in the Four-Wheel Single Harness division was awarded to Betsy Demarino Vmd, who was driving her 150-year-old vehicle, the Moor and Sons Ralli Car.
Competitors in the Double Harness-Pairs-Tandems division were next to receive their awards, where a familiar name earned the Orleton Farm Challenge Trophy, Richard O’Donnell. O’Donnell, president of the Devon Horse Show, piloted his 1880 original Spider Phaeton carriage to earn top honors. The Carriage Pleasure Drive Amateur Whip Award and Susie S. Buchanan Perpetual Trophy was also awarded to O’Donnell for exemplifying the tradition of carriage driving at the highest level.
Frances and Wayne Baker in the Roof Seat Break carriage earned the Third Susan Addis Challenge Trophy in the Four-in-Hand division. The Martin Auctioneers Inc. Perpetual Trophy was awarded to Mrs. Collin F. McNeil in her Saylor Wagon/Governess Cart for her win in the Two-Wheel Single Harness Pony division.
The winner of the Four-Wheel Single Harness Pony division was Zana White in the Sailor Wagon. Carriage Pleasure Drive champion, Neville, also received the individual blue in the Pony Double Harness-Pairs-Tandems division.
Devon exhibitors always anticipate the arrival of Roberta O’Dell’s eclectic and entertaining carriages to the Dixon Oval. This year she showcased her “Popcorn Wagon” that was pulled by her four white mules in the Light Commercial and Farmer’s division.
Driving competition continues Monday morning with the Pair Horses and Single/Pair Pony championships.
On her win:
“It was quite a thrill. It was a little bittersweet because Helen [Lenahan] has just passed. It was tough but I was happy that they were good girls. I know Helen was with me. I’m glad I could do it for Helen and I wish she could have been there with me.”
On the ponies and her plans for the week at the Devon Horse Show:
“They’re both registered Welsh. One is 13 and will keep going and the other is 22 and will retire soon. They will both show on Monday night and then we’re off to the next show!”