Hunt Tosh and Largesse Conquer $25,000 Future Hunter North American Championship, Stewart and Catch Me Take Grand Hunter Championship, Alexis Taylor Silvernale Captures WCHR Developing Pro Challenge In Class Fashion
With a full day of outstanding amateur and professional hunter competition, the 2015 Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS), presented by Well Placed Smile, recognized the first Grand Champion combinations, alongside the preliminary World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Challenge classes. A highlight of the afternoon was the captivating Future Hunter North American Championship presented by the Wheeler Family and Cismont Manor Farm, which crowned the most gifted young hunter combinations in the country. Capital Challenge Horse Show continues with WCHR Challenge classes including the WCHR Pro Finals at 7pm on Friday, October 2, and will conclude on Sunday, October 4.
The $25,000 WCHR Pro Challenge presented by the Gochman Family, was won by Scott Stewart, of Wellington, FL, piloting the Gochman’s own Catch Me, a dashing 2007 dapple grey Holsteiner gelding, to the top prize. Stewart and Catch Me put together an exceptional week at Capital Challenge, making their mark across the board in a number of competitive hunter divisions. The duo ultimately captured the prestigious 2015 Capital Challenge Horse Show Grand Hunter Champion presented by Rob Bielefeld, RSB Farms, and Chrystal Knight, alongside Grand Champion First Year Green Hunter presented by Summer Hill Farms alongside Jordan Gilchrist and Laura Hightower, as well as the Grand Green Hunter Champion presented by Carleton and Traci Brooks.The duo also collected the Tribute Award presented by Stewart and Ken Berkley. Adding to his ever-growing list of championship awards, he also earned the Leading Hunter Rider award presented by Tracye Ferguson and Meridian Riding Club.
Catch Me, one of the most consistent and attractive young horses in a field of talented and established competitors, continued to wow the judges with Stewart piloting knowledgably from the irons.
The duo scored a 92.66 in the first round, the highest professional score of the evening, combined with an 88.00 in the second over fences round for a final score of 180.66. Leslie Steele and Triumph were incredibly consistent with scores of 87.66 and 89.66 to find themselves just behind Stewart with a 177.32. Nick Haness and Countdown rounded out the top three finishers, receiving an 88.50 in the first class and an 87.91 in the final class of the evening at The Show Place Arena at Prince George’s Equestrian Center for a final score of 176.41.
The class attracted 28 entries found Stewart and Catch Me as the leaders throughout, but saw dramatic changes in the leaderboard as the top twelve were called back for the final round of competition prior to the $2,500 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge.
“The horses are going just great this week, but Catch Me was exceptional. He won every jump class he was entered in this week. Each round was just as good as the one before on him,” said Stewart. “He’s just been amazing. He was great in Florida and we always expected big things from him.”
The road to victory hasn’t been an easy one for Catch Me though. After a phenomenal winter season in Florida the gelding was admitted to a clinic, battling through a two-month stay due to an illness that halted his career and nearly ended his life. In a slow but sure recovery process, Catch Me began competing again under the watchful eye of Stewart who premiered the gelding in a magnificent return at Blue Grass Festival in Lexington, Kentucky, where he proved his fight, earning top finishes in the First Year Green Hunter division, collecting Reserve Champion.
“We’re very lucky that he came back in the fashion that he did and his first show back was this past August in Kentucky and then he went to the Hampton Classic and did very well there also,” Stewart explained. “This is his third show back and he performed beautifully.”
Considering most professionals look to take an experienced horse into the ring for the WCHR Pro Challenge, Stewart did the opposite and brought a relatively green horse in for one of the highlight classes of the competition. When asked how he made his decision, he stated that it was actually a quite simple decision as the horse continued to prove himself throughout the week, showing that he was capable of handling the class and the atmosphere.
“He’s just been great all week and I figured that he was ready to go,” he said. “He’s perfect in the ring. He can be a bit spooky at home, but he’s fine in the ring. I think if you rode him like he was going to spook he would, but if you just ignore it, he’s absolutely fine.”
Stewart commented on the resurgence of Catch Me to the competition ring and it quickly became clear that the gelding’s natural talent will only grow as he becomes more accustomed to competing on a regular basis, “To be honest, he’s never done a class like this and probably has never seen a one-stride. It was the first time that we’ve jumped him indoors at a show and I don’t think he has that much experience inside, but he was incredible this week and it was an easy choice to use him for this class.”
In terms of Stewart’s stellar performance on a number of mounts this week, including seven entries in the $25,000 Future Hunter North American Championships, it seems that the veteran competitor continues to make his mark at the top levels of the sport, no matter the season.
“I always look forward to this horse show and this class. It’s a great class and there were a lot of really great rounds from everyone this year which is exciting for the sport,” Stewart noted. “This is one of my favorite shows and I certainly feel like I’ve had one of my better weeks here this week. Everyone performed to their best and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”
Stewart’s groom Omar Galban received a portion of the prize money for his dedication and hard work behind the scenes preparing Catch Me throughout the week. The Groom’s Award presented by Goshen Hill, Gary Duffy, and Little Brook Farm was given to Galban during the presentation ceremony following the conclusion of the class.
West Coast Talent Alexis Taylor Silvernale Tops $2,500 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge with Citation
After a more than 2,500-mile trip from the Pacific Northwest to the Mid-Atlantic, Alexis Taylor Silvernale of Bellevue, Washington, made her journey worthwhile as she and Citation, a 2006 Wurttemberger gelding (Cornet Obolensky x Little Lou) owned by student Camille LeBlond were crowned champions of the $2,500 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge presented by Stephanie Ingram and Well Placed Smile. Silvernale and Citation received an 84.50 from the panel for their first over fences round and retuned to score an 87.50 in the second over fences class to seal their win with a final score of 172.00.
Entering the division as the leading rider for the WCHR Developing Pro series, Silvernale was ecstatic with the duo’s performance throughout the competitive division and embraced her return to the East Coast with happiness and determination. Riding for a number of talented and prominent names in the industry including Leslie Howard and Timmy Kees during her junior years, Silvernale took a hiatus from the sport for nearly a decade, earning a bachelor’s degree from New York University and continuing on to a successful career on Wall Street before realizing where her true passion was calling her.
“My husband Joe and I met training for an Ironman competition and he really inspired me to get back into the sport which has been the biggest blessing in my life,” continued Silvernale. “I found myself riding again and trained through much of my amateur owner career with Hunt and Mandy Tosh but really felt a pull to move back closer to family and took a professional job in the area and decided to open up our own program in Washington State and something I was a little bit more accustomed to.”
Citation plays dual roles at her own Aleron Farm, serving as a junior hunter mount for owner LeBlond, while testing the bigger tracks with Silvernale. The team will head to Harrisburg next where Silvernale will compete in the High Performance division and LeBlanc will test the prestigious equitation classes on a separate mount. A solid citizen and a true talent, Citation proved his worth with a flawless second round, which ultimately secured the win for the duo, who were in fifth place going into the final round.
“We actually imported him to be an equitation horse but my client decided that she wanted more experience in the hunter ring, so we decided to mold him into a hunter,” she explained. “He’s exceeded all of our expectations and he has an incredible jump. He has an amazing personality in the barn but he’s incredibly athletic and just safe and kind. He will continue to do the Junior Hunters with his owner and I am hoping that I will be lucky enough to keep campaigning him through the High Performance divisions next year and the international derbies.”
Quick to thank her husband, team, and owners, Silvernale also made mention of her longtime groom Luis Jiminez and his wife Maria Jiminez who have been with the Aleron team since its inception.
“I want to thank Luis and Maria for all of their hard work and the dedication they put forth everyday to ensure the best care of our horses. They helped to found our business and are exceptional. They truly are family and they’re known around the barn as Papa Luis and Mama Maria.”
Sara Green and Batman followed with reserve honors in the division, narrowly trailing Silvernale and Citation, receiving an 83.00 in the first round and lifting their average with an impressive 88.33 in the second over fences class for a total score of 171.33 and broke a tie with Alexandra Wedemeyer and Wish List who collected third place with the same score.
Hunt Tosh Captures $25,000 Future Hunter North American Championships Aboard Largesse presented by The Wheeler Family
After a strong showing, piloting young hunters through the divisions over the past two days, Hunt Tosh of Alpharetta, GA, earned champion honors for the second year in a row in the Future Hunter North American Championships presented by the Wheeler Family, this time aboard 2007 Warmblood gelding Largesse owned by Ceil and Kenny Wheeler. Tosh and Largesse captured divisional championship honors yesterday in the Future Hunter 3’3” division and continued to build, receiving the highest scored round of Future Hunter North American Championships and the entire Future Hunter division, with a 92. The duo finished with a score of 177.30.
Jennifer Alfano and The Exchange, who were divisional winners in the Future Hunter 6 & Over, collected Reserve Champion honors with a total score of 175.15 while Liza Boyd and Gala placed third, after two lovely over fences classes, which received an 86.47 and 86.18 for a total score of 172.65 respectively. Tosh and Largesse also received the Grand Champion Future Working Hunter honors awarded by David Belford, Christopher Payne, Sue Moriconi and New Hope LLC.
“He is just an incredible horse. He’s just fabulous and he was everything that we had talked about yesterday but just even better today. He went beautifully the first round and the second round being 3’ it was a little bit smaller for him, but he held it together and went nice and he’s a really great horse to have the ride on,” Tosh explained.
With their score of 92 and a first round average of 88.90, Tosh and Largesse also received the EMO Future Hunter Trip of the Show presented by Sue Bopp and EMO Agency, “I thought he really tried hard the entire round and its fun when you can go into a class like that and start to pull off scores like a 92 and get good scores. He’s a great horse and I’m really excited about him next year as a First Year horse.”
As for their back-to-back consistent trips seen throughout the week, they followed their 88.90 in the first round with an 88.40 from the panel after their second trip in The Show Place Arena. Tosh commented that he felt the gelding begin to understand and respond to small changes and adjustments throughout the course, but his willingness to try throughout the round is what truly impressed Tosh.
“In the first round he was jumping beautiful and I turned a little wide to stay out for the six and I had to take him a little bit right over the vertical and he really tried. He was with me and put in that extra little bit of effort that made the difference and helped me out the most there in the first round. He was trying as hard as I was,” Tosh remembered.
Three days of consecutive competition for young horses can be draining but Tosh couldn’t have been happier with the performance of Largesse throughout the course of the week, “This ring sometimes lights 'them up a little bit and I think it's great to give them a new atmosphere on day three when they can start to get a bit tired. The lines rode very well in the ring and you needed to carry a bit of pace but all of the courses were perfect for this class."
Scott Stewart and Lucador, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker received Grand Champion Conformation Hunter honors awarded by Kitty Barker and Eight Oaks, as well as the Kenneth Wheeler Perpetual Trophy presented by BJ Meeks, Pablo Perez and Kenneth Wheeler. Stewart also earned the Best Professional Trip of the Show presented by Sue Bopp and EMO Agency for his round in the Performance Hunter aboard A Million Reasons, also owned by Dr. Betsee Parker.
Hayley Barnhill and Ice Time earned distinguished honors in the Professional World Champion Hunter Under Saddle presented by Molly Flaherty and Patty Peckham of Arcadia Farm.
Capital Challenge continues tomorrow with amateur hunter divisions including the WCHR Amateur Owner Challenge and the continuation of the $10,000 Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumper Challenge presented by Equis Boutique.
For more information on Capital Challenge Horse Show and to view a full show schedule, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The entire show will be live streamed via EquestrianCounsel.com CCHS Live Webcast, which can be found at www.capitalchallenge.org.
About Capital Challenge Horse Show
In its 22nd year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year’s show will take place on September 26-October 4. In addition to several prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.