Day one of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show kicked off with the first round of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships. After 141 horse-and-rider combinations tried their hand at the 3’ and 3’3” heights during Tuesday’s competition, it was Scott Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Mayflower who stole the show with a score of 267 points to take the lead and the blue ribbon. Heading into Wednesday’s second phase of competition, the pair looks to earn a slot in the top 30 that will qualify to compete in Thursday’s championship round.
Competing at the 3’ height, Stewart and the 5-year-old German Warmblood tackled Bobby Murphy’s 9-effort course with ease. Murphy, from Lexington, Kentucky, asked riders and their young horses to use the entirety of the Walnut Ring’s ample space, featuring a two-stride combination and an outside line with two track options, differing in strides. One of the last horse-and-rider pairs to go at the 3’ height as 68th in the order of go, Stewart’s high marks held onto the lead for the remainder of the day’s competition. Already a multiple-time winner of the event, Stewart is comfortable sitting at the head of the leaderboard.
Stewart and Dr. Parker have been working with the flashy grey mare since her 3-year-old year. With limited experience in the show ring, only previously showing briefly at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival, Kentucky Spring Horse Show and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, Mayflower is relatively new to hunter competition, but Stewart hopes to maintain consistency throughout the duration of the three-day championship.
Continuing to prove why he consistently dominates the hunter ranks, Stewart rode Dr. Parker’s Sandstone to second place with a score of 264, just three points shy of his winning mount. Christopher Payne navigated Stillwater Farm LLC’s Gratitude to a tie for second place, also with 264 points following the first round of riding. Fourth position was awarded to Holly Orlando and Waypoint Farm LLC’s Waverly with 262.50 points, while Courtney Lenkart and Lori Mathews’ Captain America rounded out the top five finishers with a score of 262.
The 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships will continue through Thursday. All 3’/3’3” competitors will return to the ring Wednesday for another chance at making the top thirty on the leaderboard, as those horses and riders will return for the third and final phase of competition with a blank slate Thursday to determine the 2019 Champion. Two rounds of 3’6”/3’9” competition will take place Thursday, as well.
The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will continue throughout the week, with the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship taking place Friday and Saturday, as well as two highlight grand prix classes. The $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic will bring riders to the Rolex Stadium on Friday evening, while the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix sponsored by Audi of Lexington will take place Sunday afternoon.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Scott Stewart – Leader of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship
On leading after day one:
“It feels good! We always look forward to coming here. For sure, it is exciting. It’s really nice going in this ring, but the horses aren’t used to it so it is a little bit of a hard day on the first day. Each day will get a little bit easier for everybody.”
“This is [Dr. Betsee Parker’s] horse. We bought her when she was just at the end of her 3-year-old year and she is turning five now. She showed in Florida maybe three times and then did the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. She did [the] Upperville [Colt & Horse Show] and that was her last show, so she has only shown a few times.”
“He did well last year here. [Dr. Betsee Parker] also owns him. He has only shown a couple times since [the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships] last year, so he went great and was really good this morning.”
On his strategy for Wednesday:
“To go in and have another smooth round. We really just want to make it into the top thirty. It’s like starting all over again, so we just want to make it into that round. We will try to have a nice consistent round tomorrow.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Green Hunter Incentive – Round I
1. Mayflower / Scott Stewart / Dr Betsee Parker / 267
2. Sandstone / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 264
3. Gratitude / Christopher Payne / Stillwater Farm LLC / 264
4. Waverly / Holly Orlando / Waypoint Farm, LLC / 262.50
5. Captain America / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 262
6. Bordeaux / Hunt Tosh / Dr. Betsee Parker / 261
7. Reese’s / Nick Haness / Gail Ellis / 259
8. Business Time / Maria Rasmussen / Maya Grove / 259
9. Snowcloud / Victoria Colvin / Meralex Farm / 257.75
10. Graciano / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables, LLC / 256