Scott Stewart and Way Cool Cruise to Victory in $15,000 WIHS Hunter Classic Derby
RELEASE: October 24, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Rebecca Walton
On Saturday, the best horses and riders from the hunter divisions competed for the top prize in the $15,000 WIHS Hunter Classic Derby at the Washington International Horse Show. After two rounds of competition it was Scott Stewart, of Ocala, FL, and Way Cool that led the victory gallop after they earned a total score of 170.9. Earlier in the day the Washington Pony Equitation Classic Finals were held, with Madeyln Keck and Tango receiving the top call and earning the blue ribbon.
The champions from each of the hunter divisions were invited to compete in the $15,000 WIHS Hunter Classic Derby. The six horse-and-rider combinations that received the highest scores during the first round were invited to compete during the second round over a handy course.
Following the first round, Stewart was in the lead with his second mount, Declaration, owned by Fashion Farm of New York, NY, after the pair received a score of 91.3. Stewart and Declaration had a difficult time at the trot jump during the handy round to receive a score of 78.3, for a two round total of 169.3 and drop into the second-place position. Samantha Schaefer originally held the second-place position after the first round, but she had a costly rub at the trot jump with Bishonen, owned by Marianna Bishop Wade of Louisa, VA, and her original score of 88.3 combined with her second-round score of 70.6 created a total of 158.9 and dropped her into fifth place.
Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms of Buffalo, NY, had a very strong handy round. They returned to the second round in the fourth-place position with a score of 84.3. Alfano and Jersey Boy easily made the inside turns during the handy round and earned a score of 82.3, for a total of 166.6, which held up for the third-place honors.
After the first round, Stewart and Way Cool were ranked third in the order, having received a score of 86.3. Stewart knew he would have a second chance with Declaration as the first ranked horse, so we went all out with Way Cool. The pair took all the harder options and the gamble paid off. Stewart and Way Cool earned a second-round score of 84.6 for a two-round total of 170.9, garnering Stewart the victory for the second year in a row.
"It feels great, it was a valiant effort," noted Stewart. "They were both so good. I almost thought, 'Send them home and be done,' because sometimes you want to quit while you're ahead. They are both very green, so I didn't want to leave on a bad note. We went for it and it was good, so it was worth it."
Way Cool is a bseven-year-old First Year Hunter, so Stewart happy that he handled Saturday's competition so well. "During the handy round I went for it," he explained. "He rode great for never having done anything like this before. I was thrilled because he's really green, but he's a really good jumper and really careful. I didn't know how he would feel about all the bushes against the side, but he was perfect."
Stewart decided to send his horses home for a day to get turned out after they finished competing in the professional divisions, and after finishing first and second during the class, it proved to be a plan that worked. "I think it helped that they got to go out in a paddock," noted Stewart. "They felt exactly the way they did all week. I don't think Way Cool came close to even touching a jump all week."
The Washington Pony Equitation Classic Finals were also held on Saturday, with the 25 junior pony riders from the year invited to compete. Riders began by completing an equitation course, and the 12 riders that received the highest scores returned for an under saddle portion.
This year's top finisher was Madelyn Keck, who was aboard Tango, owned by Porter Allen of Boerne, TX. The pair returned for the under saddle with the highest score of the day, an 87. Keck and Tango were presented with the Jane Marshall Dillon Memorial Perpetual Trophy for their excellent effort. Allison Toffolon of Bronxville, NY, earned the second-place prize with Neverland after earning a score of 84. Meredith Darst and Tuscany, owned by the West End Stables of Los Angeles, CA, took home the third-place honors with a score of 83.
"I knew Tango would be good because he always is," smiled Keck. "I had a lot of my friends in the class, so I wanted everyone to do well."
Keck chose a difficult route over the course, but she handled all the turns well and the judges rewarded her brilliant performance with the top score. "This was a little bit hard because they moved the lines out, so the inside turns were a little bit harder to make," she explained. "I knew Tango could do all the inside turns though, so I was pretty confident. A lot of people weren't doing them, so I sort of had to tell myself where to go."
Keck is a hard worker that trains at Beacon Hill Show Stables. On Saturday, she was awake at 5:30 a.m. to start schooling the ponies that she had to ride, after also schooling at 11 p.m. Next year Keck will begin riding horses in the Junior Hunter divisions.
Sunday will mark the conclusion of the Washington International Horse Show. The Pony Hunter divisions will wrap-up their second day of competition with the presentation of the Grand Champion Pony Hunter prize and the Best Child Rider Award.
For more information about the Washington International Horse, please visit www.wihs.org