Maria Rasmussen and Haley Gassel Claim Top Honors During Equifest II

Maria Rasmussen and With Honors Ride to Green 3’6″/3’9″ Hunter Division Championship Title

Maria Rasmussen and With Honors. Photo courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.

Wayne, Il. – August 2, 2017 – On Wednesday morning, Maria Rasmussen rode Corporate Way LLC’s With Honors into the winner’s circle, claiming the championship title in the Green 3’6″/3’9″ Hunter division. The pair’s ribbons from Tuesday’s classes, combined with their high-scoring rounds this morning, secured their division victory.

Rasmussen explained how pleased she was with With Honors, a 6-year-old, and how much he has matured and “come into his own” recently to be even more successful. Their scores in the Green 3’6″/3’9″ Hunter division have certainly reflected that sentiment – Rasmussen and With Honors took the blue ribbon in their first round of the day, earning a score of 84. They then took second place in the handy round, earning 82 points.

Maria Rasmussen and With Honors

Jennifer Alfano and Girl Crush, owned by Susan Kimberly, claimed the reserve championship title on Wednesday. The horse and rider combination took third in their first round, and won first place in the handy round with a score of 85.

To finish out the Performance 3’6″ Hunter division on Wednesday, it was Michael Tokaruk aboard Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Major who clinched the championship title after two days worth of high-scoring rounds. Finishing just behind Tokaruk in reserve was Holly Shepherd riding Helen Gilbert’s White Lightning.

Michael Tokaruk and Major

Thursday, the main WEC hunter arena will host the ASPCA Maclay and the USEF Hunt Seat Medal classes, as well as the USHJA Green Incentive and several equitation classes. The $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby will take place this weekend, Sunday, August 6 in the Smart Pak Grand Prix arena.


Maria Rasmussen – Green 3’6″/3’9″ Hunter Division Champion

On With Honors:
“He’s 6 years old. He was super today. He’s really started to come into his own recently. He’s a young horse but he’s just a natural. He has a good jump, very balanced canter and he’s a lot of fun to ride.”

On her rounds:
“I thought [my rounds] were good. He was really balanced and focused. He jumped really well today, I was very happy with him. The handy round was really fun too. It was a good course and a lot of fun to ride.”

Haley Gassel Claims 5-Year-Old Jumper Qualifier Win at Equifest II

Competition at the Chicago Festival of the Horse continued in the Smart Pak Grand Prix arena on Wednesday with the 5-year-old Jumper Qualifier. Haley Gassel took home the win riding Hambesi, a mount owned by Westwind Equine Training Center.

Gassel has been riding Hambesi for just over year after getting him in June 2016. Though it was a class for 5-year-olds, Gassel explained that Hambesi acts more like a 7 or 8-year-old, and his confidence in the ring definitely paid off. The pair had a great round, finishing the course fault-free to take home the blue ribbon.

Haley Gassel and Hambesi. Photo courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.

Second place in the class went to Stephen Foran riding Caselli, owned by Ashleen Lee. Rounding out the top three was William Hickey and Arizona ODF after an incurring 4-faults for a knock down.

In the $1,000 1.35m Open Jumper class, 19 riders took to the ring to vie for the blue, and it was Rebecca Lannoye and her own L’Odyssee that took home the win. The pair completed a double clear round and a 35.443 second jump-off. The second place finisher was Stefanie Collier riding Emma-Lee, owned by the C and C Group. Collier and Emma-Lee also had a double clear round, finishing the jump-off in 36.707 seconds.

Rounding out the top three with another double clear round was 5-Year-Old Jumper winner, Haley Gassel. This time, Gassel was aboard Quite Dark 2, owned by the Westwind Equine Training Center. The pair had a jump-off time of 36.918 seconds, just shy of second place.

Competition picks up in the Grand Prix Arena Thursday, August 3, with the $25,000 Welcome Grand Prix set to begin at 4:00 p.m.


Haley Gassel – 5-Year-Old Jumper winner

On the class:
“This is our first time here, and I honestly thought he would come in a little spooky. Not because of the ring, but because he’s still young. For a 5-year-old, it’s a big, open ring, but he handled it really well. He came around really confident and only spooked a little bit at the beginning. Other than that, he jumped around great. I couldn’t have asked him to be any better!”

On Hambesi:
“I’ve had him for about a year now. He’s really easy going and he loves his job. He always comes out ready to play. He doesn’t spook or stop, honestly the easiest 5-year-old I think I’ve ever ridden. He thinks he’s 7 or 8, he doesn’t think he’s 5!”

On Lamplight:
“It’s awesome here! I’m really impressed with the venue and look forward to the rest of the week!”


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