From Pony Mania to Grand Prix Thrills—Third Week of Atlanta Summer Classics Has It All
RELEASE: July 23, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
Nicole White of Moorestown, NJ, and her medium-size pony Cozy Up, now hold the unique title of Most Supreme Grand Kahuna Champion. “Pony Mania” was one of the highlighted events taking place during this third week of competition at the Georgia International Horse Park hosted by the Classic Company.
Brainchild of Bob Bell, President of Classic Company, the Grand Kahuna Pony events are in their third year and growing in popularity. Classic Company is trying to put more emphasis on the younger generation by adding specialties such as the Pony Modeling Clinic held at the June Atlanta show. Participants learned winning tips from two of the country’s top trainers, Bill Schaub of Over the Hill Farm, and Bibby Hill of Don Stewart Stables, whose combined accolades would go from coast to coast. “Who better to help our kids than two of the most decorated pros in the pony world,” Bell commented.
Knowing that his July show dates fall just before the coveted USEF Pony Finals in early August, Bell saw a two-fold opportunity for pony folks with the creation of this event. “It’s one of the last chances some of these kids have to compete and fine tune their ponies before Finals,” Bell began. “But I thought with all the pressure they already face in qualifying and then the actual final competition, why not make it fun beforehand. On the one hand, we do run the classes by the same rules and scoring system of finals, and on the other we make it something fun, like the amusing titles of Most Supreme Grand Kahuna, Grand and Reserve Grand Kahuna.” All size groups in each division from green to regular ponies are judged and accumulate points over two days in the modeling, over fence, and under-saddle phases of competition. The final push for precious deciding points comes from the classic rounds of each group. The anxious riders await totals to be announced and titles awarded as each division ends on the second day. Along with their new prestigious names, the top Kahunass rack up some pretty nice loot, too. Winners receive a gift certificate for Farm House Tack, a custom made Essex Classics show shirt, a check upwards of a $1,000 from Classic Company, and are featured in a full-page color ad in The Chronicle of the Horse
courtesy of Flashpoint Media Services, which hits the newsstands just before Pony Finals, so all their friends and family can enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.
The 2008 Pony Mania top calls begin with the Most Supreme Grand Kahuna Champion, owner-rider Nicole White partnered with Cozy Up and trainer John Mastriano. Most Supreme Grand Kahuna Reserve Champion was owner-rider Caroline Crews with Hallelujah. “I just hope our little version of finals will help these riders have a great experience at Pony Finals. I wish them all the very best of luck!” Bell added. “We’ll keep expanding this format to help the kids any way we can.”
Moving to the thrills of show jumping; Saturday evening’s victory in the $25,000 Juan Hernandez Memorial Grand Prix gave Hardin Towell and mount Cotopaxi 2 just what he wanted, no more “second-best” jokes from fellow competitors and friends.
Towell got the last laugh this time as he bested both a tough field of riders and the course work of Allen Rheinheimer. “I thought it was a nice course,” said Towell of the first-round test. “For the number in it-seven went clean, which is just right,” he continued. “I thought it rode really well. Both my horses went good.” The focused pair of mounts Towell piloted were quick and clear, Cotopaxi 2 in 82.051 seconds and Copado (owned by Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Oare) in 82.877.
Five others, including 16-year-old Taylor Land, the youngest in the field, joined them in the final round. Land had the final run at Hardin’s time, but was more than happy to accept second place with a clear finish. “She’s a great rider, and tough!” a smiling Towell said after his victory gallop.
This marked the pair’