Wrapping up a successful year and even more successful indoor circuit, David Gochman’s Fun added the “Isgilde” Challenge Trophy, donated by Mr. and the late Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler, to his spoils after earning the title of the Grand Champion Professional Hunter with rider Scott Stewart at the 2016 CP National Horse Show on Wednesday. In addition, Fun took home the championship in the Green Conformation Hunter division, sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Garber, while Hunt Tosh and the Wheeler Family’s Patriot claimed reserve.
Stewart also added another feather to his cap as he impressively earned the Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy for the tenth time. Stewart hit the trifecta after earning the award at this year’s Pennsylvania National Horse Show and Washington International Horse Show.
“Ten years, I’m old,” Stewart joked. “It is always awesome to win Leading Hunter Rider here, though. I love the tradition of the National Horse Show.”
Before heading to the CP National Horse Show, Fun also claimed both the Green Conformation Hunter championship and Grand Hunter Championship at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and the Green Conformation Hunter championship at the Washington International Horse Show and Capital Challenge Horse Show.
“I was nervous today on Fun because I knew I had to do well to try to be grand champion,” Stewart said. “I always get nervous at a big show like this; I get the adrenalin going! Everyone had a chance out there, and there were a lot of nice rounds today. It’s awesome to come out on top. Fun is green, but he has gotten so easy to ride this year.”
Rounding out another successful season was David Gochman’s Catch Me, who brought home the championship in the Second Year Green Hunter division, sponsored by Oare and Adikes-Hill, with Stewart in the saddle, leaving Mount Fair Equine LLC’s Roland Park and rider Megan Young to claim the reserve champion honors.
Catch Me is also continuing a winning streak after taking home the division championship and Grand Hunter Championship at the Washington International Horse Show, and the division championship at both the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and Capital Challenge Horse Show.
“I was expecting Catch Me to do well,” Stewart said. “He was perfect at every horse show so to have him be that consistent is great. The courses were great, and the Alltech Arena is big enough that you can gallop around. I think the horses still jumped fresh.”
After setting themselves up for success by earning two wins on Tuesday, John French and Laura Wasserman’s Boss returned Wednesday to seal the deal, earning the championship in the Regular Conformation Hunter division, sponsored by the Wheeler Family, while Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Lucador took home the reserve championship. Boss was recently crowned Grand Hunter Champion at the Capital Challenge Horse Show.
“Boss was amazing; I’m so happy with him,” French said. “This circuit has been so good for us. I’ve had him since he was a pre-green horse, and he has gotten stronger and stronger. He just has a beautiful shape to his neck, and he zones in on the jumps; it’s really fun.”
French also piloted Laura Wasserman’s Skyhawk to the championship in the High Performance Working Hunter division, sponsored by PJP Farm, after winning the stake with their spectacular round. Hot on their heels and eventually claiming the division’s reserve championship was Kelley Farmer and Jane Gaston’s Because.
“Skyhawk could not have done better,” French said. “His round felt so good today, and it was hard for me not to have a huge smile on my face after the last fence. He jumped so high over the jumps; he’s such an athlete. This is such a classy horse show, too. The whole environment is nice. It’s the end of the year where everyone strives to come to this horse show.”
Farmer and Because had their moment in the spotlight earlier in the day as the duo earned the championship in the First Year Green Hunter division, sponsored by Goshen Hill. Ceil and Kenny Wheeler’s Largesse was awarded the reserve honors with rider Hunt Tosh.
Immediately following were the amateur-owner divisions, where Stephanie Danhakl of Pacific Palisades, California, and her own Enough Said led 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, and earned the overall Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunter Grand Championship and “Susanne Stroh” Perpetual Trophy. Taking home the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’3″ Hunter division championship was Virginia Fout and her own Carma, while Daryl Portela and Argentus were awarded the reserve honors.
After claiming all of the blue ribbons in the classic and handy rounds on Tuesday with Enough Said, Danhakl and Quest, her second mount of the division, claimed the blue ribbon in the stake class, and eventually took home the division’s reserve championship. Danhakl and Enough Said, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, impressed the judges in the under saddle class to grab second place, adding to their second place finish in the stake class. The pair’s success garnered them the overall championship tricolor.
“When Enough Said goes well, he is hard to beat,” Danhakl said. “He is pretty much always perfect so as long as I don’t make a mistake we usually end up winning. I love this horse show; it’s my favorite indoor show by far. I was really happy with how my horse went today, and I’m glad I didn’t mess up.”
Other than wrapping up a stellar two days of competing at the Kentucky Horse Park, Danhakl, a graduate student at Boston University working on her doctorate in art history, also had other reasons to celebrate as she got engaged just days before the National Horse Show began to fiancé Peter Raymond.
“I still can’t really believe it,” Danhakl said of her engagement. “It was a huge surprise for me, and I wasn’t expecting it to happen. I think that it helped my mental focus here. I was so excited with that, and I just wanted to ride the best I could and enjoy it.”
On Thursday at the CP National Horse Show, hunter action will continue as the Junior Hunter divisions take the stage.