The second phase of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships at the 3’ and 3’3” heights brought more than 140 exhibitors back to the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park on Wednesday, with each horse-and-rider pair aiming at qualifying for Thursday’s championship round by earning a place in the top 30 finishers. Maintaining momentum, Scott Stewart retained his status as the frontrunner aboard Mayflower, laying down another high-scoring performance to earn Wednesday’s victory over fences and the overall top spot on the leaderboard. Adding to his success, Stewart claimed the second-place and third-place spots ahead of the pack with Sandstone and Charlemagne, respectively.
Returning in no particular order, the 3’ horses first maneuvered Bobby Murphy’s track, which offered two option fences, followed by the 3’3” entries. Three-time champion Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Mayflower entered the ring 39th in the start list, opting to jump the fences set at the 3’ height. Though Stewart’s previous mount, Dr. Parker’s Sandstone, held the early lead with a score of 262, his counterpart managed to surpass him by a handful of points with a day two tally of 265.50. More than 100 horses chased down the veteran athlete and his top-scoring mounts throughout the remainder of the class, but none would prove able to match their efforts. Stewart and Mayflower concluded the day as the clear victors.
Stewart and Sandstone concluded the over fences class in second place, followed by Charlemagne, another horse ridden by Stewart and owned by Dr. Parker, in third position with 261.50 points after navigating the 3’ course. The best 3’3” competitors of the day, Nick Haness and Crowd Pleaser, owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC, finished the class in fourth place with a score of 261, and Chris Wynne jockeyed Terrie McLeskey’s Landon to fifth in the standings with 259.50 points.
In the overall standings, Stewart finished in the top two spots, piloting Mayflower to 532.50 points to sweep victory, followed by Sandstone in second place with a score of 526. Thanks to two strong showings, Christopher Payne and Stillwater Farm LLC’s Gratitude ranked third with a total score of 522, while Holly Orlando rode Waypoint Farm LLC’s Waverly to fourth position with a two-day composite score of 521. A previous winner of the championship, Hunt Tosh remained near the top with a cumulative 517 points earned aboard Dr. Parker’s Bordeaux.
The top 30 contenders in the 3’/3’3” section will return Thursday with a blank slate in terms of scoring, but Stewart clearly poses the greatest threat of winning with four horses qualified for the final round of riding. Haness, Orlando, Courtney Lenkart, Christopher Payne, Elizabeth Boyd, Jeff Gogul and Maria Rasmussen will each have rides on two mounts apiece. The rest of the field will try to top the scorecard aboard a solitary mount.
The 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships will continue through Thursday, when the top 30 competitors at the 3’ and 3’3” height will return to the ring for the third and final phase of competition with a blank slate to determine the 2019 Champion. Both rounds at the 3’6” and 3’9” heights will take place Thursday, as well. Hunter action will continue at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show throughout the week, with the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships taking place Friday and Saturday, concluding Sunday with the USHJA National Hunter Derby.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Scott Stewart – Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship leader
On his reaction to having the top three horses:
“I thought they all were great. It was awesome. I thought all three went equally as well. I was really happy with them all and I’m thrilled. A little bit of everything goes into [having consistently winning horses.] Of course, it helps that [Dr. Betsee Parker] owns them. We really enjoy the young horses.”
On his top three mounts:
“I had high expectations for all of them. You never know what is going to happen, but I’m thrilled with them. For Charlemange, I think this is only his fourth horse show. He did Florida and then he did Upperville [Colt & Horse Show]. [Mayflower] has also only shown four or five times. [Sandstone] was wonderful here last year and he won the 5-Year-Old competition here this year, but he has also shown just a couple times. Typically, we might show them twice in Florida and then we will do one other show, maybe Upperville [Colt & Horse Show] or Kentucky Spring, but I try not to show them too much. We try to save them as much as we can.”
Dr. Betsee Parker – Owner of Mayflower, Sandstone and Charlemagne
On owning the top three horses:
“This is a first for me. Personally, I have never had three horses in the line-up at a final like this. It is really thrilling. Hunt Tosh also did a marvelous job on my Bordeaux today and just didn’t quite make it into the top 12, but he will be back tomorrow. Of course, anything can happen so I’m always thrilled when the horses do well. You just never know about the four-leggeds. You focus and you work as hard as you possibly can. You enter the ring that way and you never know what is going to happen. I never tell people I think we are going to win it or it looks like we might be the winner because I honestly have no idea. I haven’t been able to ride in many years because my neck is broken in two places, but I think I enjoy it a lot more seeing others take my horses in and get ribbons than doing it myself. It’s a big pleasure to sponsor someone.”
On the Green Hunter Incentive Program:
“I think it really has electrified the entire idea of showing young horses. It’s exciting and it’s electrified the whole division. It’s truly a wonderful program for that reason. We have great facilities here and I’d like to say that the horse show officials have been really marvelous. Everyone who is associated with the show has been very helpful and it’s been a really great show this year.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Green Hunter Incentive – Combined Rounds I and II
1. Mayflower / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 532.50
2. Sandstone / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 526
3. Gratitude / Christopher Payne / Stillwater Farm, LLC / 522
4. Waverly / Holly Orlando / Waypoint Farm, LLC / 521
5. Bordeaux / Hunt Tosh / Dr. Betsee Parker / 517
6. Graciano / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables, LLC 513
7. Newton / Jenny Karazissis / Lisa Wu / 511.50
7. Business Time / Maria Rasmussen / Maya Grove / 511.50
9. Landon / Chris Wynne / Terrie McLeskey / 508.50
10. Snowcloud / Victoria Colvin / Meralex Farm / 508.25
11. Reese`s / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC / 505
12. Laguna / Courtney Lenkart / Windham Hill / 504.25