Gaston Grabs More Than The Blue In The $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge

Tricia Booker

October 7, 2010

Upper Marlboro, MD —Oct. 7, 2010 – When Jane Gaston entered the ring for the $2,500 WCHR 3’6” Amateur-Owner Challenge, much more than the blue ribbon in the class was at stake. The WCHR Amateur-Owner National Championship title was on the line.

So when Gaston and Lumiere posted a score of 88 and clinched the victory today at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, she also left the Prince George’s Equestrian Center with the national championship.

“I knew we were behind in points. I knew it was doable,” said Gaston. “Yet, I knew this was just a class to get through. So that’s how we rode it: just go do this class.”

Melissa Doddridge, Tustin, CA, and Best Man earned the reserve national title with her third-placed finish in the WCHR 3’6” Amateur-Owner Challenge, while Tracy Scheriff Muser, Wellington, FL, placed third in the national standings with her red-ribbon finish in the Challenge.

Gaston, 60, The Plains, Va., had never previously competed in the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge, so the win was especially gratifying, as was their banner week at the show where Lumiere earned the amateur-owner, 36 and over, and grand amateur-owner championships. In addition, Gaston’s Listen earned the show’s grand hunter and grand conformation titles and the green conformation hunter championship with professional Kelley Farmer in the irons.

After Lumiere, a 9-year-old Oldenburg, clinched the division championship, Gaston went into the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge with a plan to ride her best and see where the chips would fall.

“I just went in there knowing I had a little bit of a tired horse. And so I thought, ‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ ” she said. “Today he did everything I asked of him. That’s one great thing about him—he’s always cheerful. He always goes around with his ears up and doing his job. I know I can always count on him.”

Gaston, who has trained with Larry Glefke for 1 ½ years, said this year’s results have been more than she ever expected.“I’ve never competed in this class before,” she said of the WCHR Challenge. “Winning this is pretty cool. Yes, it [the WCHR] has been a goal. It’s really been a magical year. You don’t come here and think that both horses are going to be champion and grand champion. They’ve been super.”

Nicole Oliynyk, 37, Franklin, MA, also had a super day. In the $2,500 WCHR 3’3” Amateur-Owner Challenge, Oliynyk’s accurate and flowing trip aboard Sea Walker clinched the win with 88.33 points.

“I’ve never won a class here, so this means a lot to me,” she said. “I did the Ariat [Medal Finals] years ago and different things and always did well, thirds and fifths. But it’s really nice to have a big win like this.”

Oliynyk has been partnered with her 10-year-old Canadian Thoroughbred for three years. After a successful stint in the adult amateur division, where they earned the 2009 USHJA Zone 1 championship, Oliynyk moved up to the 3’3” division this year.

“This division is a lot of fun,” she said. “I like it a lot. It’s fantastic. I don’t get as nervous as I do with the bigger jumps. You can just ride and have fun. And you still have the handy round, which I love.”

Nicole trains with her husband David and balances her passion for riding and competing with her career in the biotech industry. “I ride on the weekends, and I try to escape the office early on Fridays to ride. This is my getaway, and I love it.”

Cathy Morris-Schmitt, Greenwood Village, CO, was awarded the WCHR 3’3” Amateur-Owner National Championship today and was accompanied to the ring by her trainer, Joie Gatlin.

Action continues at the Capital Challenge Horse Show this week with the $7,500 WCHR Professional Finals (Oct. 8). The top six riders in the WCHR Professional National Standings will face off to determine the 2010 WCHR National Professional champion. In addition, the $5,000 WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge (Oct. 9) and the $2,500 WCHR Pony and Junior Challenges (Oct. 10) are among the remaining WCHR highlights.

Professional, Junior and Amateur Riders are invited to compete at the Capital Challenge Horse Show by qualifying through the WCHR National program throughout the year. A rider's top four WCHR shows count toward awards in these divisions: Professional and Emerging Professional, Junior, Amateur Owner (3'6" and 3'3"), Adult Amateur and Pony. Riders are then invited to contest WCHR Challenge Classes, and the WCHR presents its national awards for 16 divisions at the Capital Challenge, and regional awards are also decided.

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