Thirty-one competitors across professional, junior, and amateur ranks contested the Saturday evening’s $100,000 WCHR Central Hunter Spectacular at Flintridge Horse Park in Traverse City.
But it was a trio of teenagers that claimed the podium.
On top: 17-year-old Augusta Iwasaki and Attendu De Lannois Z.
Iwasaki drew first in the order of go, setting the score to beat at 86.50 over Joe Carnicom’s 16-effort track in the Grand Prix ring. By the end of the first round, only one combination could top her, 15-year-old Raina Swani and Small Occasion on a score of 87.25.
Returning for the handy round, Iwasaki opted for bold inside turns and an efficient track with the nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding. The pair jumped to a second-round score of 89 for a two-round total of 175.
“My main thought was to be as tidy as I could,” said Iwasaki of her handy round strategy.
“I galloped to jump one and tried to be as tidy as possible after that. My horse is primarily an equitation horse so I thought showing off his handiness would be the best way to display him. He’s an amazing horse because he’s really flashy. He has such a big presence in the ring. The way he goes is so smooth; it looks really effortless.”
Joining her on the podium was Arian Marnell (16) and Babylon. Rising from fifth place in round one to second, Marnell rode to an 88.5 score in the handy round and 173 overall.
“He has such a big heart and he tries so hard,” Marnell said of her seven-year-old mount. “I think he knows how much our whole team loves and respects him. Everybody has a ton of respect for what an amazing athlete he is and what a good heart he has. He knows he’s the star of our family.”
Swani (15) and Small Occasion rounded out the podium in third with a 172.50 total.
All three young riders will compete in the Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships, set to take place June 28-July 2 at Traverse City Horse Shows.