WCHR Champions Crowned at 2012 Capital Challenge Horse Show


October 9, 2012

Upper Marlboro, MD – When the 19th Annual Capital Challenge Horse Show concluded yesterday, nine new World Championship Hunter Rider National Champions had been named as well as ten WCHR Challenge and Finals Winners.

A highlight of the show, held September 29-October 7 at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, was the $5,000 WCHR Professional Finals, where Scott Stewart claimed the title, narrowly beating out last year’s returning champ John French of San Juan Bautista, CA.

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.

Pletcher Claims National Championship

Stewart and Pletcher also faced off during the $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, sponsored by the Bainbridge Companies, but this time it was Pletcher who led the victory gallop and earned the Little Brook Perpetual Trophy.

Pletcher clinched the 2012 National WCHR Professional Championship with the win.

In the two-round class, Pletcher had returned in second place and produced a beautiful trip aboard Becky Gochman’s Sambalino that moved him to the top. Stewart, who had the best score in the first round aboard Garfield, couldn’t quite repeat and settled for fourth.

“Scott and I have been really close, and when we got to the first round, I thought, ‘It’s always nice to have a little bit of a lead in case you have a little rub or something.’ And when I had a little rub, I thought, ‘Wow, sometimes you think that will open a door, but as it went, Scott had one little thing and I did, too,’ ” said Pletcher.

“He’s an amazing horse,” added Pletcher of the 10-year-old Brandenburg gelding (by Samba Hit). “He always looked like the kind of horse that everybody wants to ride. He just has that look about him. He always tries. It’s great to have a horse like that.”

Feller Tops Emerging Pro Challenge

Melissa Feller, of Lincoln Park, NJ, knew that she needed to really nail the second round of the WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge to have a shot at the top spot.

“I was sitting kind of in the middle, so I knew I had to be really good. I gave it my all,” said the 28-year-old who rides for Robert Beck.

A score of 90 propelled her to the victory aboard Serafino, Elisabeth McFadden’s 6-year-old Brandenburg gelding (by Sir Donnerhall), and her name will be engraved on the Bittersweet Perpetual Trophy.

“I think it’s awesome because obviously in the class before us [the Professional Challenge] all those guys are perfect and unbelievable. [The Emerging Professional Challenge] is a nice class, where no one’s been super successful at a national horse show, and we compete against each other.”

Wade, Scheriff-Muser and Kelly Take Amateur Titles

Marianna Wade, of Louisa, VA, had double the fun at the Capital Challenge when she claimed both the WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3” Challenge and the WCHR National Amateur-Owner 3’3” title. Aboard The Barracks’ 13-year-old Hanoverian Castleton, Wade earned scores of 87.5, 87and 92 for an 88.83 total.

Wade, who balances raising two children, ages 3 and 5, with work and riding, hadn’t competed at the Capital Challenge since 1996, so it was a wonderful way to come back. “I thought the class was great,” she said. “I went seventh in the order, I found a lick and just kept going. He was amazing.”

Tracy Scheriff-Muser also rode to the double, taking the WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’6” Challenge and WCHR National Amateur-Owner 3’6” Championship with her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood Absolut. She first won the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge and the Amateur-Owner Perpetual Trophy in 2009 and returned for a second title this year, capturing the class with scores of 86, 89and 88 for an 87.66 total.

“I think he’s exceeded our expectations because he and Tracy are such an amazing team,” said trainer Havens Schatt, who received the In Disguise Perpetual Trophy as the trainer of the national champion. “I think with me riding him, I don’t think he’d perform like he does for her. They are two peas in a pod, and when it’s time to show and she gets on, he just knows it. She trusts him, and he trusts her.”

Scheriff-Muser was thrilled with the titles and the Spiff ‘N Polish Perpetual Trophy that honors the national champion. “A lot of amazing riders have won this, and it’s really nice to be up there with everyone else,” said Scheriff-Muser, of Wellington, FL.

Debbie Kelly woke up the morning of the WCHR Adult Amateur Challenge with an ear infection and sore throat, but the illness didn’t prevent her from earning a score of 90 for the class victory aboard trainer Rodney Bross’ Say What.

“I cannot believe that he just went around the way I feel today,” said Kelly, who received the Pat Thompson Memorial Perpetual Trophy. “I was in the schooling area telling Rodney, ‘I’m not jumping any more fences. I might fall off.’

Kelly, of White Hall, MD, a practicing veterinarian, has a small collection of Thoroughbreds and homebreds at her own farm and takes lessons with Bross. One day he put her up on his Say What, and it was the ideal match.

“He’s such a good horse. I just started riding him in June,” said Kelly of the 10-year-old warmblood (by Contender). “He’s itty bitty, maybe 15.2 hands, this little brown horse. But he just goes after it. I just ride him when he’s available. It’s so cool.”

Haness Is The Handiest

When Nick Haness stepped into the ring with Gelato for the WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge, he knew what he had to do.

Course designer Steve Stephens had set a handy track with a variety of options where riders could show off their turning skills and horses’ bravery. When he walked the course, Haness had eyed an inside turn toward the end of the course where there was a rollback turn to the in-and-out. A decorative tree was strategically placed, providing a tiny window of opportunity.

Haness took that opening, claiming the victory with scores of 92, 89 and 88 for an 89.66 average. “The way the course designer had that tree down there set up I thought a lot of people would go close to it, like just go around it,” he noted. “And I said, ‘Win or lose this, I’m going to try the inside turn.’ ”

Haness, 24, of San Clemente, CA, has trained and ridden the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood Gelato, owned by Conor Perrin, for six years and had confidence that because of their strong partnership the impossible was possible.

“I just met the jump before the turn perfectly enough, kind of slow, and he landed really nice and adjustable and the turn showed itself off. I just went for it,” he said. “I just sort of told him as we were going to that jump, ‘We’re turning here. We’re going to this, and I’m serious. There’s a jump right there.’ He was great and on it.”

Farish, Colvin and Bowman Share Sunday Titles

Daisy Farish, of Versailles, KY, made quite an impression in the WCHR Pony Challenge aboard Bibby Farmer Hill’s Sassafras Creek and topped the class with an average of 91.66. What was most impressive, however, was the 96 she received from the Panel 1, judges Rob Bielefeld and Richard Slocum.

“I was really excited when I heard that score because that’s definitely the highest score I’ve ever gotten,” she said.

“I didn’t know what to expect today because she was really good all week, and I thought maybe she’d be tired, but she rose up to the challenge,” added Farish of the 13-year-old Welsh cross.

Farish, 11, also won the Foxlair’s Poker Perpetual Trophy for victory in the WCHR Pony Challenge as well as the $50 Fine For Loose Dogs Perpetual Trophy for earning the WCHR Pony National Championship.

Victoria Colvin, 14, of Loxahatchee, FL, continued her Capital Challenge winning momentum into the WCHR Junior Challenge. Although she’d tied for the show’s Grand Junior Hunter Championship with Way Cool and Ovation earlier in the day, she chose to bring out Betsee Parker’s 9-year-old warmblood Inclusive for the WCHR Junior Hunter Challenge.

Colvin’s strategy worked perfectly, as she collected her second consecutive Challenge victory with a beautiful trip that scored an average of 92.33 for the win. She also collected her second consecutive There’ll Be Times Perpetual Trophy as the WCHR Junior National Champion.

Walking into the ring as the defending champion didn’t concern Colvin, but she did note that qualifying and competing in the WCHR Junior Challenge is one of her yearlong goals.

“I just go in, and if I do well, I do well. I don’t think about last year,” she said. “But you do want to do well in the WCHR shows because, I don’t know if they’re more important, but they’re prestigious.”
Even a cold rain couldn’t prevent Kristen Bowman and her 7-year-old Hanoverian Noble Blue from performing a winning round in the WCHR Children’s Challenge, the culminating event of the 2012 Capital Challenge.

After competing in the Children’s Hunter section earlier in the day where she said her rounds were a little rough around the edges, Bowman, 15, of Lancaster, PA, put it all together for the WCHR Children’s Challenge. She received scores of 87 from both sets of judges for the top call and the WCHR Children’s Challenge Perpetual Trophy.

“It’s incredible. It was unexpected,” said Bowman of her win. “I didn’t know if I’d qualify for [the Challenge], so just to be here is amazing, and then I’m just so happy with my horse.”

More WCHR Accolades

In other WCHR honors, 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.

The Stewart Warner Perpetual Trophy, presented to the Pony, Junior and Children’s riders who, in the opinion of the judging panel, exhibit the best hunter style and show potential as a hunter-style rider included—Lili Hymowitz (pony), Vivian Yowan (junior), and Julian Curry (children’s).

WCHR National Owner Awards included: Iwasaki & Reilly (Professional Category) and Kelly Joyner (Emerging Professional Category).

Other WCHR honorees this week included:

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

• Jeffrey 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)

• Small Town Perpetual Trophy: Betsee Parker, owner of Inclusive

• Rox Dene Perpetual Trophy: Iwasaki & Reilly, owners of Small Affair

• Alabama Clay Conformation Hunter Award: Fashion Farm, owner of Beholden

• USHJA/WCHR Course Designer Perpetual Trophy: Patrick Rodes

2012 WCHR National Champions
• Professional – Peter Pletcher
• Emerging Professional – Thomas Brennan
• Amateur-Owner 3’6” – Tracy Scheriff-Muser
• Amateur-Owner 3’3” – Marianna Wade
• Adult Amateur – Lindsey Evans-Thomas
• Junior – Victoria Colvin
• Children’s – Lily Blavin
• Pony – Daisy Farish
• Handy – Victoria Colvin

2012 WCHR National Trainer Champions
• Amateur-Owner 3’6” – Havens Schatt
• Amateur-Owner 3’3” – Claiborne Bishop
• Adult Amateur – Claiborne Bishop
• Junior – Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley
• Pony – Patricia Griffith
• Children’s – Archie Cox

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 www.capitalchallenge.org.

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 at (859) 225-6707.

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