Scott Stewart Takes Record Fifth Victory In The WCHR Professional Finals


October 6, 2012

Photo Credit: Scott Stewart jumped to his fifth victory in the WCHR Professional Finals at the Capital Challenge – Photo by USHJA/Tricia Booker.
**Photo may used free of charge only in conjunction with this press release**
  Upper Marlboro, MD — Scott Stewart took the lead in the first round of the $5,000 World Championship Hunter Rider Professional Finals and never looked back. Although Peter Pletcher and John French remained within striking distance throughout the four-round competition, they just couldn’t quite match Stewart’s smooth and effortless rides.

The class, presented by the John R. Ingram Fund, was a featured event of the Capital Challenge Horse Show, September 29-October 7, at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.

Stewart began his 13th WCHR Professional Finals with a 91.33 aboard VIP Z, the horse he brought for the class and one that he knows well. His student, Victoria Colvin, competes the 9-year-old Zangersheide in the equitation division and earlier in the week had placed second in the North American Equitation Finals. Last year, VIP Z earned the Far West Farms Perpetual Trophy awarded to the high-score horse of the competition.

“I got him four years ago, and he used to be difficult,” said Stewart. “He’s a top equitation horse and very easy now. I love him.”

Pletcher, of Magnolia, TX, achieved the evening’s highest single score for his handy round performance, a 94.33 aboard VIP Z. Pletcher’s bold and impressive turns over Steve Stephens’ beautiful, natural course clinched second place. He was confident that VIP Z could handle one of the tricky inside turn options because he’d watched Victoria Colvin take a similar turn during the equitation weekend.

“It’s excellent to get to ride with these guys and girls,” said Pletcher, a three-time winner of the class. “Having this class just for us is great, and I loved the horses, they were the best they’ve been.”

Stewart maintained scores of 90 or above in each of the four rounds, an impressive feat, to win this star-studded class in which the top six riders in the WCHR Professional National final standings face-off. Stewart’s total score of 362.99 was more than 8 points better than Pletcher’s 354.82. French, of San Juan Bautista, CA, the defending champion, was close behind for third place with 353.81.

In a rare circumstance, this year’s alternate horse Capilan 2, owned by Georgie Maskray Segesman and trained by Karen Healey, was brought in to replace Kelley Farmer’s Red Sky after he had problems in the first round.

Following a short break in the action after the first round when the WCHR Appeals Committee members discussed the proper procedure, it was decided that Farmer had to keep her score of 35 for that round with Red Sky because he was the horse she’d brought for the class. The remaining riders competed aboard the alternate horse, and Farmer said Red Sky returned to the barn for veterinary evaluation.

“He felt like he hit himself or stung himself,” she said. “I wouldn't have walked in the ring if he didn't feel great in the warm up. He showed here this week. He can be a little quirky, but that had nothing to do with it. He warmed up perfectly. From the first jump, I knew something was wrong, and I didn't know if he was going to level out. He obviously didn't; the more he jumped, the worse it felt.”

Geoff Teall, the chair of the USHJA’s WCHR Committee, took the microphone during the press conference to explain the situation, which has happened just two other times in 19 years.

“This is the procedure and why we have an alternate horse in case something went wrong,” he said. “We ultimately made the right decision. We want it to be even for everybody. It was not an easy choice, but we made the right choice.”

In the end, Farmer, of Keswick, VA, placed sixth overall (298.99). Hunt Tosh, of Alpharetta, GA, who incurred a rail with VIP Z during round three, took fifth place (342.99), just behind Liza Boyd, of Camden, SC, who earned fourth place (346.33).

This year’s horses were generously donated by: Buddrus Equine LLC (CR Carolato II); Scott Stewart (VIP Z); Ponies and Palms LLC (Winnetou); Ken and Selma Garber (Red Sky); Lily Blavin (Sander); Ashley Cross (Savvy).

Sander, the horse French borrowed for the class, earned this year’s Far West Farms Perpetual Trophy awarded to the high-score horse of the competition. Sander, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Blavin and trained by Archie Cox, achieved three scores above 90.
“I was really happy with the horse that I brought and that he ended up winning the high-score horse,” said French. “Even if I didn't win, it was good he won. He wasn’t supposed to come to this show; he came two days ago to do the Children’s Hunters. I knew he would be a great horse for the class. I said to his owner before the class, ‘He's probably going to get leading horse.’ Afterward, I saw her and she said, 'You called that one.'”

With this victory, Stewart, Wellington, FL, has won this class a record five times in the 19-year history and will have his name engraved once again on the All The Way Perpetual Trophy.

“The horses went really well, and the courses were a little bit more challenging than past years,” Stewart said. “Everybody did a great job, and the horses were super.

“It’s always an honor to be in this group of top riders,” he added. “This was the most relaxed I’ve ever been for the class. I had a great week here, the horses have been great and it was a good, fun class to do.”

In other honors tonight, Emily Britton, Carrie Carrollo and Alexandra Burelbach earned the USHJA Junior Hunter Challenge awards for the Central Region, while Chloe Bellerive and Jasmin Cartagena earned the awards for the Southeast Region. The Western Region award winners included Olivia Vance and Porter Margolis, and Nina Kayzman and Elisabeth (Daisy) Stuart earned the Northeast Region awards.

Martine Navarro earned the WCHR David Peterson Perpetual Trophy, donated by Kavar Kerr and Jim Anderson, for a person who exemplifies dedication and commitment to the care and well being of the horse. Navarro is a well-known and respected groom who has spent his career on the West Coast, working for such trainers as Carleton Brooks, Butch and Lu Thomas, Katie Taylor and Makoto Farm.

John French will have his name engraved on the WCHR Old Springhouse Perpetual Trophy for the WCHR Lifetime Achievement Award. There’s little that French hasn’t accomplished in the equestrian industry, making it no surprise that he was recognized by the WCHR membership and committee for lifetime achievement in the hunter discipline.

Junior rider Emma Kurtz earned the Charles Johnson Memorial Perpetual Trophy as the high-point rider from the WCHR Midwest Region. This is her first time as Midwest WCHR high-score rider from the Pony category.

Judge, trainer and horseman Linda Hough received the Daniel P. Lenehan Perpetual Trophy for the person who exemplifies dedication and a lifetime commitment to judging show hunters. Hough, of Wellington, FL, has crisscrossed the United States and left a legacy of winning along the way.

Other WCHR Award winners this week included:

• Derbydown Perpetual Trophy: (tie) Balou and Amanda Steege for Lisa Arena and Garfield and Scott Stewart for Alexandra Crown

• Jeffery Katz Memorial Trophy: Enjoy and Scott Stewart

• Winter’s Run Sportsmanship Award: Morgan Thomas (awarded by a WCHR membership vote to the person who best exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship)

• Rox Dene Perpetual Trophy: Small Affair owned by Iwasaki & Reilly

• Alabama Clay Conformation Hunter Award: Fashion Farm’s Beholden

• USHJA/WCHR Course Designer Perpetual Trophy: Patrick Rodes

Action continues at the Capital Challenge Horse Show this weekend with the $5,000 WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge (Oct. 6) and the WCHR Pony, Children’s and Junior Challenges (Oct. 7)

Professional, Junior and Amateur Riders are invited to compete at the Capital Challenge Horse Show by qualifying through the WCHR National and Regional programs throughout the year. A rider's top four WCHR shows count toward awards in these categories: Professional and Emerging Professional, Junior, Amateur Owner (3'6" and 3'3"), Adult Amateur, Handy Hunter, Children’s and Pony. Riders are then invited to contest WCHR Challenge Classes, and the WCHR presents its national awards for nine categories at the Capital Challenge. Regional champions are also recognized in two separate parades.

For full results please visit

A special thank you to the 2012 USHJA WCHR Program sponsors: Blue Ribbon Custom Blankets, Official Cooler Sponsor of WCHR, and UlcerGard, Official Ulcer Remedy of WCHR.

The WCHR Program was founded in 1995 to recognize and celebrate the hunter rider. Since the inaugural WCHR Professional Finals in 1995, the WCHR program has expanded to include coveted National and Regional year-end awards for Professionals, Emerging Professionals, Amateur-Owners, Amateur Adults, Juniors, Children’s and Pony riders.

The USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider Program while honoring hunter riders, also supports the mission of the USHJA Foundation. It is through the generosity of supporters that this program is able to continue to achieve its goals. If you are interested in becoming a supporter please contact Whitney Allen or 859.225.6707.

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