Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 16, 2018 – The final phase of riding for both the 3’/3’3” and 3’6”/3’9” divisions of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship took place Thursday afternoon, bringing back eligible exhibitors to the Walnut Ring for one final time around the course and a shot at the greatest purse of the three-day competition. Patricia Griffith and Endeavor added to their two previous performances with an uncatchable score in the 3’/3’3” competition to ride away with the victory, while Sandy Ferrell and Hemingway followed suit with the highest score of the entire competition to emerge as the inaugural winners of the 3’6”/3’9” section.
Entering the ring just slightly more than halfway through the order in the 18th slot, Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Endeavor were up against the leading score at the time of 263, earned by Sara Taylor and Ingrid Avera’s Noah who rode eight trips earlier. Displaying an excellent show of precision and consistency, Griffith and the 9-year-old bay gelding made their way smoothly around Bobby Murphy’s 11-fence track at the 3’3” height to the tune of scores of 88, 88.5 and 88.5 for a cumulative 265 points from the judges to takeover the top spot on the leaderboard. The talented pair were chased by their subsequent counterparts, and although a handful would lay down solid performance to earn scores in the high 80s, ultimately none could catch them on the scorecard, solidifying Griffith and Endeavor as the blue ribbon and biggest prize money winners of the afternoon in their section.
One of the last to ride and Wednesday’s class winner, Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM First Dibs jumped their way into the reserve spot with a total tally of 264.50, just half of a point behind Griffith and Endeavor. Fenney and MTM First Dibs edged out the 2019 champions in terms of prize money by just a few hundred dollars thanks to their top rankings in each of the three phases. Though Taylor and Noah were bumped from the top of the podium, the duo maintained a top finish to finish with the bronze medal, trailed by three-time champion Scott Stewart with Rivers Edge’s Everwonder in fourth position. Kim Buzby, in the saddle aboard Catherine Cox’s Final Cut, took fifth position.
Earlier in the morning, the first round of the two-phase 3’6”/3’9” section of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship determined the top 30 finishers out of the 42 original entries that would return for a stake at more prize money and the top honors. Over the first course, Hunt Tosh rode Ceil Wheeler’s Bastogne to the high score of 268, followed by Ferrell with the reins aboard Stephanie Bulger’s Hemingway with marks of 265 from the three panels of judges. Though the second round operated with riders returning with a blank slate, Tosh and Ferrell, along with other top contenders Stewart, Liza Boyd and Katherine Newman, among others, had already once proved their horses’ prowess in the ring to earn a favorable reputation headed into the grand finale.
Unlike the prior class, more entries opted for the smaller fences in the final class of the day, with only five pairs electing to tackle the 3’9” obstacles and the rest preferring the 3’6” height. One of the first horse-and-athlete combinations to maneuver the course, Kelley Farmer and Aizlynn Radwanski’s Shameless set the bar high with a score of 264, the same score that had earned Fenney’s reserve placing only a few minutes before. Farmer’s lead would not hold long though, as Ferrell and Hemingway entered the showring as the 11th in the order of go, laying down a textbook trip to earn scores of 90, 92 and 93 for a composite score of 275 points, the highest of both height sections across all three days. Ferrell and Hemingway waited out their peers, and in the end were awarded with the rosette and the greatest stake of the pot.
Farmer and Shameless remained unsurpassed by any other exhibitors to clinch the reserve championship honors, while Stewart tied himself aboard two mount owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, Private Life and Harvard Hall. Liza Boyd showcased Maggie Hill’s Tradition to the next-highest score on the scorecard to round out the top five.
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.
Patricia Griffith – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’/3’3” champion
“Endeavor is 9 years old. He was imported when he was 7 years old. We bought him in May at the Old Salem Farm Horse Show. This is our fourth show with him, and he has been everything we hoped for and more. The first thing we noticed about him was that he really exhibits all the qualities of a true hunter. He has beautiful movement, he is still, his ears are forward, he jumps – he is really just the epitome of a hunter. He was doing Pre-Greens and had done the First Years one time, and that was where I noticed him at Old Salem. We saw him and his owner, Callie [Seaman], got on him in the pouring rain and jumped four jumps and was like, ‘I’ll take him!’ She knows right away usually if she likes them. Callie shows him in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” classes, too.”
On the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship:
“I think that before this, there weren’t as many people buying these young hunters. Now they have something to look forward to and a goal. Before this great class, you just had normal run of the mill shows. This is such a great thing to have. You can gear horses towards this. When we got Endeavor we thought he could have gone into the First Years, but the year was already half over, so why not make this the goal? It seasons the horses so well for the bigger thing to come. This ring and this venue showcases the hunters so well, and not a lot of shows do that. A million people are watching the livestream and that’s a good feeling that people are making a point to watch the class.”
Tracy Fenney – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’/3’3” reserve champion
On her reaction to placing in reserve:
“It is great! In the field of people that are in this class, it is amazing. I watch these people all the time and I see perfect round after perfect round. It’s hard because you put so much pressure on yourself. To me, the jumpers are easier because you can be a little bit this, a little bit that. I get sick to my stomach doing this and it’s little fences. It’s nerve-wracking because you have to be perfect.”
On riding in the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship:
“We got MTM First Dibs thinking he would immediately do the derbies and the First Years, but with this class being as prestigious as it is and the prize money that they give for it, we figured this would be a good venue for him. Then, someone can do him later in the First Years and the Juniors or whatever anyone chooses to do with him. All the money that they have allowed into this division, especially for us [MTM Farm] as owners, it allows us to be able to keep them a little bit longer and make them a little more seasoned for someone who would want them. Instead of just selling them off of a dream, at least they can see them. We can’t leave them at home and say we have this great horse, so this allows us to be able to prove it a little bit and afford to show them.”
Sandy Ferrell – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’6”/3’9” champion
“We bought him four years ago and just have brought him up through the ranks of the Baby Greens and the Pre-Greens. His owner, Stephanie Bulger, may ride him sometime in the future, and I think that when the time is right he’ll be an amazing amateur horse for her.”
On Thursday’s round:
“It was so fun! It was a beautiful ring, a beautiful night, and Bobby Murphy did really nice courses. The horses went really well and jumped great. I think we are really blessed to be here with such amazing animals.”
Kelley Farmer – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship 3’6”/3’9” reserve champion
“We bought the horse at the beginning of the year and he’s been nothing but be a great horse. Every time we ask him to do something he tries so hard. This class was so much fun. It’s wonderful to have some money in the hunters too. Shameless will also do the derby tomorrow.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Green Hunter Incentive – 3’/3’3” Championship Round
1. Endeavor / Patricia Griffith / Callie Seaman / 265.00
2. MTM First Dibs / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 264.50
3. Noah / Sara Taylor / Ingrid Avera / 263.00
4. Everwonder / Scott Stewart / Rivers Edge / 259.50
5. Final Cut / Kim Buzby / Catharine Cox / 255.00
6. Alisto / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 255.00
7. Like Always / Victoria Colvin / Jana Rodes / 252.50
8. Moore Park / Christopher Payne / Still Water Farm LLC / 252.00
9. Cover / David Connors / Carol Stillwell / 250.50
10. Baby Balou / Scott Stewart / Rivers Edge / 249.00
Green Hunter Incentive – 3’6”/3’9” Championship Round
1. Hemingway / Sandy Ferrell / Stephanie Bulger / 275.00
2. Shameless / Kelley Farmer / Aizlynn Radwanski / 264.00
3. Private Life / Scott Stewart / Dr Betsee Parker / 259.00
4. Harvard Hall / Scott Stewart / Dr Betsee Parker / 259.00
5. Tradition / Elizabeth Boyd / Maggie Hill / 256.00
6. Dandelion / Katherine Newman / Allwyn Court & Dandelion Group / 254.00
7. High Society / Geoffrey Hesslink / Lindsay Maxwell / 254.00
8. Diatendro / Havens Schatt / Kelley Corrigan / 253.50
9. Small Occasion / Jamie Taylor / Iwasaki & Reilly / 250.50
10. Last Light / Phoebe De Mott / Marla Parente / 250.00
For more information on the 2018 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship, please click here.
For more information on the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, please click here.