Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 1, 2019 – The penultimate day of hunter competition at the 2019 National Horse Show kicked off Friday, November 1 with small and large Junior Hunters returning to the Alltech arena promptly at 7:00 a.m. Following the under saddle classes, horse-and-rider combinations were seen one last time for their respective stake rounds, serving as a final chance to garner precious points toward the Overall Junior Hunter Grand Championship. Stealing the show with spectacular performances was Maggie Hill and Stella Styslinger’s Cassanto, who accumulated a whopping 32 points to claim the coveted overall title and the “Huntland” Perpetual Cup.
Acquiring their points in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division, Hill and Cassanto topped the ranks of every over fences class in the division, also earning third on the flat. Following the presentation of her championship in the division, Hill and Cassanto were called back to the winner’s circle to receive the Inclusive Perpetual Cup, an award given by the judges for the best performance in the stake round. The awards did not stop there for Hill and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, as the ringmaster bestowed a third medal around her neck for the highest of Junior Hunter honors, the Overall Junior Hunter Grand Championship of the 136th National Horse Show.
Hill and Cassanto have already had a record year together. The pair have been partnered together for two years and, although their partnership took some time to develop, they have taken the hunter world by storm ever since. In 2019 alone, Hill and Cassanto have ridden to championship honors at the Devon Horse Show, Junior Hunter Finals, Capital Challenge Horse show, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and the Washington International Horse Show. Hill was thrilled to wrap up her stellar season with Cassanto by claiming the overall championship title at the 136th National Horse Show before preparing for the ASPCA Maclay Finals on Sunday, November 3.
Hunter competition at the National Horse Show will continue throughout Friday with the start of the Junior 3’3” Hunter division, which will conclude on Saturday, November 2. Friday evening will also bring spectators an exciting night of top hunter performances with the $50,000 Hunter Classic, presented by Friends of the National Horse Show, set to begin at 8:00 p.m. In the jumpers, the weekend’s feature events will be the $25,000 Hollow Brook Wealth Management Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix and the $225,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup ™ Lexington, while equitation will take centerstage Sunday for the Maclay National Championship for the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Class, presented by Chansonette Farm.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Maggie Hill – Overall Junior Hunter Grand Champion
On the stake round:
“[Cassanto] felt amazing, as per usual. He likes cold weather so he felt a little up and excited, which was fun for me. Cassanto and I really like the stake rounds because I like when the pressure is on and he just rises to the occasion. If I do well then he is good!”
On her partnership with Cassanto:
“I have been with him for about two years. I started doing the 3’6” Junior Hunters on him and last year was a bit touch and go, just because it was my first year in the 3’6”. Over the course of the Winter Equestrian Festival we were able to build our relationship and this year at indoors and Devon it has just been solidified. At Devon this year and last year he has been amazing. He is a horse of a lifetime and I really honestly cannot say enough good things about him. He has been amazing. I have no words, he has given me more in this junior year than I could have ever asked for. He was champion at Devon, Junior Hunter Finals, Capital Challenge, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Washington International Horse Show and now champion here! I cannot believe it and I couldn’t have asked for more from an animal.”
On being Overall Junior Hunter Grand Champion at the National Horse Show:
“It means everything. I think I have seen over the years people like Devon Seek and Brian Moggre win this and I have really looked up to those people. It is an honor to have that in my resume as well now because I love this sport and I would really love to use it as a career. To accomplish another milestone is an important thing.”
On her rides:
“I am very happy now! I am just looking at Maclay Finals because I have not been as consistent in the equitation and I really would like to be. I am always looking at ways I can improve so now I just need to conquer the equitation.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“This is a fun horse show! I love this ring because it almost rides like Devon, it is really forward and you can show off your horse, the jumps come up nice and you can get a big stride to keep around the whole course. It is cold but it is nice inside! The show run so well, everything is on time and I love this show. It is a wonderful way to end the year!”
On what is next for Cassanto:
“I think Cassanto is excited for his paddock. Hopefully we will compete at WEF but we will see what his owner wants to do. It has been an amazing year and I am so thankful. He has earned a break! He loves bananas, donuts and peanut butter so he has lots of those waiting back at the barn for him.”
On Cassanto’s personality:
“He has the best personality. He is such a smush. He knows when you are in the barn and he knickers to you. I love being with him. Out of all of the horses we just click and I think that is why last year, when it was a little touch and go, he stuck with me and held my hand. Out of all of the horses in the world we are probably the most similar in personality so it is really fun to just be with him. I love every second with him. He is so demanding and funny!”
For more information, please visit nhs.org.