Valentine's Day Will Show a Lot of Heart for the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation Hunter Classic Spectacular
RELEASE: February 9, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Diana DeRosa
On February 14, the top hunter riders will be hoping that they will be the lucky Valentine’s Day winner. On that evening, the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation (AHJF) will host its 13th Annual AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular at the 2009 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
The riders may be thinking hearts and roses but when they enter the arena after qualifying for this no entry fee event, the top national amateur, junior and professional show hunter competitors will show their true heart to the judges under the lights in the beautiful all-weather footing International Arena. Watching from the International Club will be those taking part in the AHJF’s major fundraising dinner.
Since its inception in 1997, the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular has been a highlight event for hunter horses and riders. Champion and reserve champion riders who are current members of the AHJF qualify throughout the week (February 11-14) in the various hunter divisions to compete in this prestigious two-round competition under the lights. Approximately $50,000 (through 12th place) is awarded with $12,000 guaranteed to the winner. Since it is an add-back competition the final prize money is not determined until that night.
Six judges are paired in teams of two and positioned in three places around the arena. Roughly 25 horses compete in the first round and the top eight come back for a second round. The eight of the fences varies from 3’6” to 4’. The winner of the class is the horse with the highest two-round score.
The final list won’t be decided until that day, but a number of competitors are already qualified. These include Sandy Ferrell of Bernville, PA, the 2008 WCHR Professional Champion; Liza Boyd of Camden, SC, who was last year's AHJF Hunter Classic winner; Patricia Griffith of Katonah, NY, the winner of the 2008 WCHR Pro Challenge; Tammy Chipko of Thousand Oaks, CA, 2008 WCHR Amateur-Owner Champion and Samantha Schaefer of Westminster, MD, 2008 WCHR Junior Champion.
Mr. & Mrs. S. Craig Lindner along with Mr. & Mrs. Jeremy Jacobs will chair the activity happening in the International Club. This year’s annual dinner party will have a heartwarming Valentine’s Day theme.
The activities start around 6:30 p.m. While the VIP tent is humming, the horses and riders begin by first walking the course before the formal introduction of each of the riders to the public. Riders and horses will then be prepping in the schooling area before they enter the ring, beginning at 7:30, to each take their turn over the galloping hunter course. The evening will end around 9:30 p.m.
In addition to the prize money being distributed, the winner of the class will receive the “The Dark Continent” trophy, courtesy of Jim Green; a custom jacket specially designed by personalized Products and a cooler donated by Grazing Fields Farm; Custom Jackets for the winning rider, owner trainer and groom from Whipstick Farm LTD; Essex Riding Shirt for first- through sixth-placed riders in the Classic and to the winner of the Peggy Cone Memorial Adult Hunter Classic; Leather halters for first- through sixth-placed and leather shanks for the 7th–12th place ribbon winners. Additionally, the winning trainer will receive a check for $1,000, second place $750, third $500 and fourth $250. The grooms of the first- through fourth-place winners receive a check for $500, $300, $200, $100 (consecutively) sponsored by Archie Cox/Brookway Stables. The winning rider receives the “Let’s Dance Trophy” established by the AHJF in honor of Friend and Horseman Eugene R. Mische. “Strapless Challenge” is a trophy and cash award which would go to anyone winning the class four times.
The AHJF was formed in 1992 to further the development of the equestrian sport of show hunter competition by providing a national office to organize, coordinate and support hunter rider equestrian competition. The following eveni