Lexington, KY – July 24, 2012 – The Kentucky Horse Park was filled with anticipation as the top Junior riders in the nation gathered for the first day of the Kentucky Summer Horse Show to vie for the championship honors in the 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals. The entire year of competition has led to this point in their Junior career, with some continuing their dream to ride to the top of the ranks, and others keeping their fingers crossed as this year marks their final chance for the prestigious honor. After four divisions of competition, the lead is currently held by the Victoria Colvin and Inclusive, who posted the high score during the classic round in the Small 15 and Under Junior Hunter division, as well as the under saddle.
The skies threatened rain as riders arrived to walk the classic hunter course designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, KY. The opening round started with an option consisting of two natural brushes, one with a wider track, and the other providing a more straight-forward bend to the second obstacle, a natural vertical set near the in gate. Riders then continued forward in a bending line over an oxer, and with a right turn, they approached the difficult vertical-oxer combination. Although many took the short line with trepidation, the challenged continued as they were faced with another vertical-oxer line shortly after coming off of the outside turn. Bending from the second oxer, they took approached another oxer, and then finished on a diagonal over the seven-stride vertical-oxer line.
The morning kicked-off with the Small 15 and Under Junior Hunters completing the classic course in the Walnut Ring. Vivian Yowan and Whatever, owned by Saddle Ridge LLC, took the top honors of the division receiving scores of 87, 87 and 89 for a 263 point total. Second place was awarded to Kate Ross aboard Friday Night, owned by Kar, LLC. The pair earned a total of 253 points. It was Kelly Arani and Bolero, who took home the third place award with an overall score of 230.
“I was just trying to go in and have a smooth round,” Yowan said. “The horse is capable and I’m capable, I’m just trying to put it all together. A lot of people were having trouble because it’s a little spooky in there. Everything was a little bit distracting so you’re just trying to be as smooth as you can.”
Next on the schedule was the Small 16-17 Junior Hunter Division where Samantha Batt took control of the first course, guiding her mount Mirasol to the first place finish. They topped the class with a score of 262 points. They earned the second highest scores of the day, including an 87, 89 and 86 from the judges. Hasbrouck Donovan and Confidential, owned by Donald Stewart, slid into the second place position for the division, earning an overall score of 256. Third went to Shawn Casady and Glass Castle, owned by Elm Rock LLC.
“I thought the course rode really well,” Batt recalled. “The lines were a little forward, but he has a huge stride so it worked out really well for me. He jumped fantastic, and the minute he walked into the ring I knew he was going to be amazing. He knew it was time to go in and do well.”
In the Large 15 and Under Junior Hunters, it was déjà vu for Victoria Colvin, who took the first place finish two years ago in the 2010 USEF Junior Hunter Finals aboard Dr. Bestee Parker’s Way Cool. Today, she did it again, but this time exhibiting Parker’s bay gelding Inclusive. She took a dominating lead as the third rider in the order of go, wearing a target on her back as others attempted to best her 265 total. Colvin and Inclusive received scores of 88, 89 and 88 from the judges, posting the high score of the day, and the highest out of the four divisions heading into tomorrow’s handy round. Second in the Large 15 and Under Junior Hunters was Spencer Smith and Spotlight, owned by Weslands Farm. They took the red ribbon with a score of 248.50. Katherine Strauss and Extraordinary were third with scores of 85, 80 and 20 from the panel of judges for an overall score of 247 points.
“It’s really nice to be here for the Junior Hunter Finals, they are like a bigger Pony Finals,” reminiscing, Colvin stated. “My plan going into the classic course was to use the right gate when deciding for the option. I figured it would be less spooky, and would allow for me to go inside the in-and-outs. It was a more direct path and didn’t take as long, since it is a big ring, I wanted to keep a forward pace and not tire my horse out.”
In the Large 16-17 Junior Hunters, it was Meg O’Mara and Walk the Line who held their breath as others tried to top her score of 262. This is O’Mara’s last opportunity to compete in the Junior Hunter Finals, and she is determined to rise to the top of the leader board. With their high score for their division, they proved untouchable, taking home the blue. Second place honors were awarded to Alexandra Crown and Garfield. They earned straight 85s, totaling 255 points. Lexi Selldorff and Soulja Boy, owned by Stone Horse Farm, nabbed the third place honors with the excellent score of 248.
“It feels pretty good to be back here for my last Junior Hunter Finals. Two years ago I wasn’t as polished as a rider as I am now, and last year we had a little bad luck. We won both over-fences and Junior Hunter Finals and the flat messed us up for the championship but this year we are trying to clench it,” O’Mara explained. “This year he has been absolutely amazing so far, and there is no feeling like that in the air.”
The afternoon quickly became cool with the afternoon showers as the obstacles were removed from the arena and the under saddle quickly got underway. Riders worked diligently in the schooling ring to prepare for their division’s section, hoping that their mount would shine in the second portion of the day’s events.
Ovation and Victoria Colvin garnered the top prize in the Small 15 and Under Junior Hunter Under Saddle, earning a cumulative score of 261. Kelcie Brophy and Holiday took their first blue ribbon of the day in the Small 16-17 Junior Hunter Under Saddle. Maggie Ridenour and Savvy were awarded the top call in the Large 15 and Under Junior Hunter Under Saddle for their excellent effort. Paige Wilson and Best Foot Forward were awarded the top honor in the Large 16-17 Junior Hunter Under Saddle.
Colvin and Inclusive rose to the top of the standings with their cumulative classic round and under saddle score of 390.5. The pair is currently leading the ranks going into tomorrow’s handy round. Vivian Yowan and Whatever are in a near second with their score of 386 points, a gap they might be able to close with tomorrow’s course. Inclusive is no stranger to the pressure and scrutiny he will be under tomorrow, and Colvin admitted that she does not become anxious when the expectations are high.
“He’s pretty picture perfect!” Colvin laughed. “He’ smooth and really easy. He is a character; he is funny and a lover. I know he will excel tomorrow, because he is a really good handy horse. He has a lot of scope, great pace, and he has a definite handy-ness to him.”
The 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals continue tomorrow at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Riders will have the opportunity to compete in their assigned sections in third and final part of the competition, the handy round. Champion and Reserve honors will be awarded in each section, along with the overall Grand Junior Hunter Champion and Reserve Champion awards. Junior riders will also have the opportunity to compete in the Hunterdon Cup, which begins at 3 pm in the Rolex Stadium.
For more information, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
To follow live results for the 2012 USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals please visit www.equestrianlive.com .
Photo Credit: Victoria Colvin and Inclusive lead USEF East Coast Junior Hunter Finals on day one of the Kentucky Summer Horse Show. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG. Photo may only be used in relation to this PMG press release.