Laura Lee Montross and Nairobi Nights Champion the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic

RELEASE: February 16, 2014
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Laura Lee Montross and Nairobi Nights in their winning presentation with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia, Carol Cone, USHJA's Marla Holt, 
and Tad Montross (Sportfot)
Laura Lee Montross and Nairobi Nights in their winning presentation with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia, Carol Cone, USHJA's Marla Holt, and Tad Montross (Sportfot)
Wellington, Fla.
- Sunday was the Adult Amateur Hunters' turn to take on the International Arena at PBIEC for World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) competition. The $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic saw the top hunter horses and riders, who qualified for the classic earlier in the week in their regular divisions.
Laura Lee Montross and her own Nairobi Nights topped the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic on Sunday afternoon at the FTI WEF. Montross and "Nairobi" bested a field of 77 horse-rider combinations with a total score of 172.5. The pair qualified for the second round of competition after earning a first round score of 86.5. Montross piloted Nairobi to an 86 round two to give them the lead.

Samantha Sommers and Graffiti were second in the class, which called back the top twelve riders to contest a second round of competition. With a first round score of 86.75, Sommers returned in round two to ride Graffiti to a score of 83, finishing second with a total score of 169.75. Wendy Gifford rounded out the top three with Weekend Affair. Gifford and Weekend Affair were the final pair to return for round two after earning a high score of 87 in round one. The duo earned a round two score of 82 to finish narrowly behind Sommers with a 169.
Montross has owned Nairobi, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, for eight years and has enjoyed experiencing their partnership develop. "He's a nice, big horse. His trot and his canter are very comfortable. I was showing him and he was a little tough. He was very young when I got him and very green, so I turned him over to the professionals for a while," Montross recounted.
She continued, "He's always been great in the barn and great to flat, and now he's just a nice adult horse. He would do anything, I think. His father's the famous Nairobi, and I think he was difficult for a while too. Morgan [Thomas, former rider] told me they take a long time to grow up and then they're really good."
Montross, of Bedford, NY, admitted having a few butterflies walking into the International Arena, but quickly found her stride with Nairobi and simply had fun with their courses.
"I was a little nervous at first. But then, quite honestly, after the second jump I was just having fun. It was beautiful. It was wonderful, I like that it was wide open and I could gallop. The six to the two [stride] was a little bit snug, but he handled it and it was fun," Montross commented. "I didn't worry about anything. I could move up to the jumps, and he didn't look at anything. He didn't spook, he was just very soft."
Montross grew up in the foxhunting tradition today's show hunter classes are rooted in, hunting with her mother with the Golden's Bridge Hounds in North Salem, NY. She was an avid Pony Club participant as a child before trying out the show ring. After taking some time off from riding, she got back into hunting when her mother moved to Tryon, NC, joining her on hunts with the Tryon Hounds.
The pull of the show ring was still strong, and while Montross still gets plenty of offers to come join the field after returning to the world of show hunters, she admits she may not have the most appropriate mounts.
"Nairobi's a good trail horse. He actually probably would hunt now, he's such a good boy," Montross joked.

Riding is now a third-generation tradition for Montross, who shares the sport with her 15-year-old daughter and husband. Montross' daughter shares a trainer with her, contesting the jumper ring under Jimmy Torano's watchful eye, while Montross' husband Tad enjoys touring around the 2'6" Low Adult Hunters.
The 3'3" classics followed the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic, with the $5,000 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'3" Hunter Classic being the next to hand out awards. Barbara Spizzirro and Hundred Acre topped the class with a cumulative score of 171. Spizzirro rode Hundred Acre to a first round score of 84 before following up with an 87 in the second round to clinch the first place prize.

Martel and owner-rider Olivia Easton earned top call in the $5,000 WCHR Junior 3'3" Hunter Classic with an overall score of 162. Easton rode Martel to an 80 in the first round before earning a score of 82 for round two.
Earlier in the afternoon, Mary Jane King was recognized as the Grand Adult Hunter for WCHR competition at the FTI WEF for her three over fences wins with Boss, Inc.,'s Ebony in the Camping World Adult Amateur 51+ division.

Final Results: $5,000 Peggy Cone WCHR Adult Hunter Classic
Horse Rider Round 1 Round 2 Final

2 GRAFFITI SAMANTHA SOMMERS 86.75 83.00 169.75
4 QUE SERA SOPHIE COHEN 82.75 85.00 167.75
5 BLESSED GLEN SENK 86.00 80.50 166.50
6 CROSBY KATHRYN HAEFNER 85.00 80.75 165.75
7 TEMPTATION HUNTER KAY 82.00 81.00 163.00
8 SEA WALKER NICOLE OLIYNYK 82.50 80.00 162.50
9 LIMONE SAMANTHA RUTTURA 83.00 79.00 162.00
10 NEVADA CAROLINE CLARK STONEY 82.25 78.00 160.25
11 URSULA EMILY DURLACH 84.00 76.00 160.00
12 LUCCA HUNTER KAY 81.50 71.00 152.50