Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 8, 2017 – Hundreds of pony riders descended upon the Kentucky Horse Park Tuesday morning for the first day of the 2017 USEF Pony Finals, celebrating its 50th anniversary as the most prestigious and celebrated event of its kind for pony riders in the United States. After the model and under saddle phases of competition, Claire Campbell and Brighton emerged as the frontrunners in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, with Evelyn Walker and Captain Crunch taking the lead ahead of the field in the Small Green Pony Hunters.
The Large Regular Pony Hunters, the first division of the week, brought nearly 140 ponies and their riders to the Walnut Ring to showcase conformation and way of moving, each pair hoping to solidify a place at the top of the scorecard prior to Wednesday’s over fences phase. Campbell and Brighton, owned by Maher Family, LLC, impressed the judges in the model, earning a score of 260.90 and the blue ribbon, followed by a promising showing in the hack, garnering a score of 251.72 to propel them to the head of the leaderboard with total marks of 512.62. Hot on their heels are Dominic Gibbs and his own GF Aurelia, who sit less than two points behind the leaders with a final score of 510.87.
Baylee McKeever and Cecilia D’Amore’s Tantallon Co-Captain claimed the third position, with Libbie Gordon and Mia Albelo’s Childs Play Hot Topic earning fourth place, followed by Augusta Iwasaki and Woodlands Picasso, owned by Hannah Rohrbach, in the fifth spot.
In the Small Green Pony Hunters, Walker, in the irons aboard her own Captain Crunch, captured the day one lead ahead of her fellow bow-laden riders. With two top placings — first position in the model and second position in the hack — and a cumulative score of 519.40, Evelyn and “Neptune” swiftly captured the lead with more than 16 points separating them from the current runner-up, Augusta Iwasaki and Bibby Hill’s Thinking Out Loud, who concluded the day with a 503.10 score.
Lauren Reid and Ramble On Farm’s Smoke Tree Starlet sit just behind Iwasaki in third position, trailed by Kierstin Antoniadis and Boca’s Tommy Terrific, owned by Ponies & Palms Show Stables, LLC, in fourth place overall. Caroline Olsen and Lynne Dow’s Farmore Charismatic rounded out the top five.
Both Campbell and Walker will enter Wednesday’s over fences portion of competition as the last to go in their respective divisions as the leading pairs, each hoping to maintain their winning momentum. The Large Regular and Small Green Pony Hunters will both wrap-up following the third phase of competition, with the overall division champions eligible to be crowned as either the Regular or Green Grand Champions at the end of the week should their scores hold as the highest of the three size-based divisions.
The 2017 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, will continue through Sunday, Aug. 13. The nation’s best young pony riders will be tested in Small, Medium and Large classes of both Regular Hunter and Green Hunter divisions in the Walnut Ring, and the Alltech Arena will play host to Pony Jumper competition Thursday through Saturday. Sunday’s feature will be the Pony Medal Finals, one of the week’s highlight events.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Stacey Weiss – Trainer to Claire Campbell, leader of Large Regular Pony Hunters
On why Brighton is such a special pony:
“He’s a baby. He was a green pony last year. He’s a ham, that’s for sure. He knows he’s pretty. He’s quite sexy and he knows it. He and Claire get along really well. He’s a good boy, and we’re so lucky. We bought him from Scott Stewart last year at this horse show, so this is their one year anniversary. We love him and he just gets better and better.”
On not allowing Claire to know the division standings:
“Going back in the hot seat is never a good place to be. Claire’s got a few rides this week, so we will focus on each one at a time. Tomorrow, we just make sure she eats and doesn’t watch too many. She’s been here a few times, so I think she’s got it down.”
Evelyn Walker – Leader of Small Green Pony Hunters
On her relationship with Captain Crunch:
“We have been together a year and a half. His barn name is Neptune, and he’s so kind and gentle and such a sweetheart. When I hug him, he likes to lean down on my shoulder.”
On her experiences at Pony Finals:
“Going in the ring and having the experience of showing off what you have been working on is my favorite part of Pony Finals. This is my third time at Pony Finals; last year I rode Royal Moment. I will also ride in the Regular Smalls on Sir Lukas this week.”
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Score
Large Regular Pony Hunters Model
1. Claire Campbell / Brighton / Maher Family, LLC / 260.90
2. Libbie Gordon / Childs Play Hot Topic / Mia Albelo / 258.00
3. Baylee McKeever / Tantallon Co-Captain / Cecilia D’Amore / 257.00
4. Gabrielle Sousa / Sugarbrook West Point / Gabrielle Sousa / 254.00
5. Dominic Gibbs / GF Aurelia / Dominic Gibbs / 253.80
6. Maggie Jacobs / Lucerno / Maggie Jacobs / 251.75
7. Alliyah Antoniadis / Touch The Sun / Maggie Huffman / 251.00
8. Ella Duffy / Honor Roll / Anna Crawford / 251.00
9. Chandler Wilks / Valentino / Ashley Vail-Aycox / 251.00
10. Judy Dettore / Pacific Blue / Haley Maher / 250.30
Large Regular Pony Hunters Under Saddle
1. Raina Swani / Blue A Kiss / Virginia Bonnie / 262.43
2. Elle Moreno / Caleche / Laura Barrett-Gurtis / 260.11
3. Augusta Iwasaki / Woodlands Picasso / Hannah Rohrbach / 259.74
4. Devin Seek / Philippe / Ashley Vail-Aycox / 259.05
5. Dominic Gibbs / GF Aurelia / Dominic Gibbs / 257.07
6. Olivia Markman / Glynhafan Red Kestral / Olivia Markman / 255.92
7. Brooke Lattner / California Dreamin’ II / Littlewood LLC / 255.79
8. Jessie Spade / Eddie Bauer / Jessie Spade / 255.67
9. Caroline Passarelli / Motown / MDHT Equestrian LLC / 255.36
10. Caroline Saunders / Minted / Madeline Schaefer / 255.17
Small Green Pony Hunters Model
1. Evelyn Walker / Captain Crunch / Evelyn Walker / 260.40
2. Augusta Iwasaki / Thinking Out Loud / Bibby Hill / 256.10
3. Lauren Reid / Smoke Tree Starlet / Ramble On Farm / 250.91
4. Alexa Lignelli / Quicksilver Bells / Alexa Lignelli / 250.16
5. Abigail Gordon / Nickelodeon / Jill Aureliano / 248.70
6. Kierstin Antoniadis / Boca’s Tommy Terrific / Ponies & Palms Show Stables LLC / 245.95
7. Olivia Carmouche / Jester / Hilary Gibbons-Neff / 245.65
8. Elizabeth Cram / May-B Tango / Amber Asbell-Jackson / 245.20
9. Chesney Tillemans / Wee Farms L No Gotta Go / Brittany Lehman / 243.70
10. Anneliese De Rosaire / Applejacks / Littlewood LLC / 243.00
Small Green Pony Hunters Under Saddle
1.Caroline Olsen / Farmore Charismatic / Lynne Dow / 259.00
2.Evelyn Walker / Captain Crunch / Evelyn Walker / 259.00
3. Kierstin Antoniadis / Boca’s Tommy Terrific / Ponies & Palms Show Stables LLC / 252.20
4.Lauren Reid / Smoke Tree Starlet / Ramble On Farm / 251.70
5. Holly Boutcher / Hiccup / Mary Mac Collins / 251.60
6. Abigail Gordon / Nickelodeon / Jill Aureliano / 247.40
7. Augusta Iwasaki / Thinking Out Loud / Bibby Hill / 247.00
8. Alexa Lignelli / Quicksilver Bells / Alexa Lignelli / 245.00
9. Addison Beliveau / Talk Of The Town / Jenna Steinfurth / 244.95
10. Anneliese De Rosaire / Applejacks / Littlewood LLC / 243.75
For more information on the 2017 USEF Pony Finals, please click here.