The top horses and riders in the nation have come together once again to compete at the famed CP National Horse Show held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.
The professional hunter divisions kicked off the first day of competition at the prestigious event, and it was John French who rose to the top of the leaderboard early in the day, taking home both wins in the Regular Conformation Hunter division, sponsored by the Wheeler Family.
Laura Wasserman’s Boss proved unbeatable over fences with French in the irons, taking home the blue ribbons in both the classic and handy rounds in the Regular Conformation Hunters.
The Green Conformation Hunter division, sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Garber, was next, where David Gochman’s Fun continued his winning streak with rider Scott Stewart. The duo took home the blue in the handy round, while the Wheeler Family’s Patriot claimed the top spot in the classic round with rider Hunt Tosh.
“Patriot was phenomenal today,” Tosh commented. “He has been such a good horse this year. He is dependable at every show we go to. He walked in here for the first class and went beautifully. He is a great horse to have.
“The jumps are beautiful, and the course rode nicely,” continued Tosh. “The National Horse Show puts on such a great production; it is a particularly nice horse show. They do such a good job and put such effort into it. From the seating, to the ring and the courses, and the way it’s run, it’s a phenomenal show. The Kentucky Horse Park is such a great place to be as well.”
As the First Year Green division, sponsored by Goshen Hill, got underway, Nina Moore’s Kodachrome stole the show with rider Kelley Farmer in the classic round, while Tosh piloted Ceil and Kenny Wheeler’s Largesse to the blue in the handy round.
Next to show was the Second Year Green Hunter division, sponsored by Oare and Adikes-Hill. Megan Young rode Mount Fair Equine LLC’s Roland Park to the win in the classic round, and Scott Stewart and the talented Catch Me wowed the judges to earn the blue ribbon in the handy round.
“Roland Park is a very curious horse, and he’s really fun to ride,” Young explained. “I competed at Madison Square Garden, but this is my first time at the National Horse Show in Kentucky. It’s really nice!”
Taking the stage next in the Alltech Arena was the High Performance Hunter division, sponsored by PJP Farm, where Kelley Farmer impressively swept the top three spots in the classic round. Farmer brought home the blue aboard Jane Gaston’s Because, took home second with Point Being, owned by Derby Lane LLC, Sue Pinney and Kensel LLC and finished in third with Kodachrome. Stewart returned for the handy round with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Cameo, delivering an impressive round to take home the blue ribbon.
Immediately following the professional hunter divisions was the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3″ Hunter division, sponsored by Fashion Farm and Woodland Way, Inc. and presented by Mr. Glen Senk and Ms. Margaret O’Meara, which kicked off with wins for Stephanie Danhakl and her own Enough Said. The pair swept the younger section, earning the blue ribbon in both the classic and handy round. Danhakl also grabbed second place honors with her second mount of the division, Quest, in the handy round.
In the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’3″ Hunter division, sponsored by the Meralex Farm and Hunt Ltd. and presented by Mr. Bryan Baldwin and Ms. Gretchen Hunt, Gerald Camera and his own Biarritz secured the win in the classic round as well as third place in the handy round, with Daryl Portela and Argentus, owned by Isalou, Inc., taking top honors in the handy.
“Biarritz felt great today,” said Camera. “He’s very green indoors. He’s an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding and this is his first time indoors. I’ve had him for three years but he had a little injury over the winter so we didn’t really get to show. He started showing again over the summer and came back strong. He has a beautiful temperament. He’s got a big stride, is very adjustable, very quiet and is not spooky at all. He’s the perfect package for an amateur horse. He did the First Years last year. When we put it all together he’s very competitive. I hope to move up to the 3’6″ with at least him or my other horse, Onboard. I really just want to ride tomorrow like I rode today. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. Against these top horses, everybody rides so well so you just have to keep on knocking on the door.”
Camera last showed at the National Horse Show two years ago but is happy to be back at the scenic Kentucky Horse Park for this year’s event.
“It’s my favorite indoor show,” said Camera. “The competition is good, the jumps are good, the ring is beautiful and there’s a lot of camaraderie in the amateurs. They do a great job. It runs on schedule. When you have two horses in the division they work with you a little bit so you don’t feel rushed. I think it’s the best indoor show to be quite honest. It’s beautiful. The ring is a big ring and the courses are challenging.”
The professional hunter divisions will wrap-up on Wednesday with the awarding of the “Isgilde” Challenge Trophy, donated by Mr. and the late Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler, to the grand champion professional hunter as well as the Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy going to the leading professional.
Highlight classes throughout the CP National Horse Show include Wednesday’s $35,000 Shelby Drazan Foundation Welcome Speed, Thursday’s $35,000 Suncast® Commerical™ Speed and $130,000 CP Grand Prix International, Friday’s $35,000 Salamander Hotels and Resorts Accumulator Class, Saturday’s $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W and Sunday’s $30,000 USEF Under 25 National Championship. The ASPCA Maclay National Championship will take place over the course of Saturday and Sunday.