July 2016 - Hunters Front & Center
Written by CRM
Friday, 01 July 2016 02:44
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An extra-Spectacular WCHR Week in San Juan Capistrano concludes June 12.

In the $25,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular at the Blenheim June Classic I, Small Gesture dominated the first round scoring with an impressive 92 from not just one panel, but both panels of judges. Competing fifth out of 30 entries, and holding the lead in Round Two, the refined dark bay, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, finished with an overall score of 180.5.

Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Gesture, ridden by John French, is awarded $7,500 in prize money, FITS Riding breeches, a WCHR jacket and silver platter, as well as the Horseplay Encouraged trophy, presented by Valencia Saddlery. Photo: McCool Photography

Rider John French remarked on the ride. “He is nice. Because he did the jumpers, you can sit on him and put leg on and not have to sit chilly. I can gallop up to a single oxer knowing that he will back himself off and jump it great. I couldn’t be happier with his first round.”

Originally purchased to do the equitation division, owners Chris Iwasaki and Liz Reilly recognized the hidden hunter in the horse who has been winning in the Second Year and Junior divisions as well as on the Derby field. Known as ‘Nemo’ in the barn, he will go on to compete at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships later this summer in Lexington, KY, as well as hit the Indoor Circuit in the fall.

Galloping in the Reserve Champion spot was the flashy pair from Northern California, Corriendo Tau and Hope Glynn. With ears pricked forward and knees wrapped around his nose, the pure white talent is reminiscent of an adorable large pony hunter. With a final score of 175.5, they also scored well in round one, earning a 90 and 88.

The appropriately named Cy Young, ready to ‘pitch’ the perfect jump each time he leaves the ground, rounded out the top three in the class. Piloted by Tara Metzner, the big-strided bay, owned by Davlyn Farms, finished with a total score of 173.

Glynn’s second gray mount, Lake of Stars, a striking dapple gray owned by Sabrina Hellman, earned the prestigious Shapley’s Best Turned Out Award and ninth overall. Well-deserving groom Leo Lopez was presented with a cash award and a bucket of Shapley’s products by Liv Gude of Shapley’s.

High Scores & Grand Champs

Pleased to present the third WCHR week of their 2016 season, Blenheim EquiSports welcomed SmartPak to award the High Score and Grand Champion awards to ponies and horses, plus Equitex and Balmoral Farm recognized the trainer and owner of the Overall Grand Champion in 10 WCHR divisions.

Derby Clinic demo rider Courtney Bruso, SmartPak Marketing Coordinator, Katie Hauss, Hope Glynn, Kylee Arbuckle, John French and Rose Carver. Photo: McCool Photography

It was a banner week for Augusta Iwasaki and Illusion, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly of Makoto Farms. After accumulating 44 points in the Younger Small Junior Hunters and a score of 89 in the first class over fences, this talented team won the Younger Small Junior Hunter Championship; the SmartPak Grand 3’6” Junior Hunter Championship; the SmartPak High Score 3’6” Junior Hunter Award and ultimately earned the SmartPak Overall Grand Hunter Championship honors.

Liz Reilly also earned the Equitex Grand Champion Leading Trainer Award.

“A great start to the summer season,” said Reilly, smiling. “We appreciate the opportunity to showcase the hunters on the grass with a gala and fundraising, and also the chance to win special awards. It was a nice week for the hunters.”

Julie Hancock and her own Willow CBF scored a 92 in the third over fences round of the 3’6” Amateur Owners to take home the SmartPak High Score 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunter Award, the SmartPak Overall High Score Hunter Award and the Balmoral Farm, Inc. High Score Hunter Owner Award.

Her trainer Philip Cillis earned the Equitex Stable Accessories High Score Hunter Leading Trainer Award.

Seaside and John Bragg, owned by Laura Strasburg, claimed the SmartPak Grand Conformation Hunter title after accumulating 46 points in the Green Conformation Hunter division. And after laying down a score of 88 in the handy round of the Green Working Hunter Division, Bragg & Early August not only won the tri-color but also the SmartPak Working Hunter High Score Award.

Alexis Taylor Silvernale and Skyhawk traveled from Washington state to compete in San Juan Capistrano for three weeks.

Off to a great start, with 36 points they claimed not only the tri-color in the High Performance division but the SmartPak Grand Champion Working Hunter title.

Tri-color looks great on Verdana pictured with Laura and Stella Wasserman, trainer Archie Cox and Courtney Bruso of SmartPak. Photo: McCool Photography

“All of this has exceeded my expectations,” said an elated Silvernale. “He is only 7 years old and he hadn’t been doing the High Performance prior to me buying him at Thermal. So all of this has just been overwhelming. This is one of my favorite places to show, and will definitely be a regular stop on our show schedule. It’s such a beautiful venue.”

Montana Coady’s The Answer, ridden by John French, earned the SmartPak High Score Conformation Hunter Award with not one but two scores of 88 from the first day of competition.

Brookway, Elvenstar & Balmoral Farm’s Sundae

Kudos to Brookway Stables and Team Wasserman. After a hotly contested 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunter division, Verdana, owned and ridden by Laura Wasserman, earned the SmartPak Grand 3’6” Amateur Owner Champion title by accumulating the most points in the California-split section. In the Older Small Junior Hunter Division, Katherine Dash rode Laura Wasserman’s Boss to the championship.

And to top it off on the final day of competition, Stella Wasserman and her own Blueberry Hill claimed the SmartPak Grand Pony Hunter Champion honors by earning 31 points in the Small Pony Hunters - the most out of the three WCHR recognized pony divisions.

Trained by Jim Hagman and Katie Gardner of Elvenstar, congratulations to Kristen Buckingham and Chrush for earning the SmartPak Grand 3’3” Amateur Owner Championship. And kudos to Stella Buckingham and Luisant, co-winners of the SmartPak Grand Champion 3’3” Junior Hunter Award.

Emma Hanson and Easy Time cleaned up in the 3’3” Junior Hunters at Blenheim June Classic I - not only did they tie for the SmartPak Grand Champion honors, with their score of 86 in the Handy Hunter round they also claimed the SmartPak High Score 3’3” Junior Hunter Award.

Victory for Amateurs Fern, Mellencamp and Medlock

Touch of Dutch with Rachel Fern in the irons made the trip from Arizona complete by co-winning the SmartPak High Score Adult Hunter Award by earning an 86 in the first round over fences in the 18-35 division.

Balmoral Farm’s Sundae was ridden to numerous accolades during Blenheim June Classic 1 by Teddi Mellencamp-Arroyave in the Adult Hunter Division. Not only did they win the 18-35 Championship and the NAL Adult Hunter Classic, they also tied for the SmartPak Adult Hunter High Score Award with an 86 from the second over fences round. Plus they won the SmartPak Grand Champion Adult Hunter honors by earning 40 total points.

Alexis Taylor Silvernale and Skyhawk. Photo: McCool Photography

On the final day of competition at Blenheim June Classic I, Natalie Medlock rode her Quinley in the 3’3” Amateur Owner Hunter 18-35 Handy to a score of 88 which not only earned them the blue but the SmartPak High Score 3’3” Amateur Owner Hunter Award as well.

Derby Clinic With Stars

Over 35 equestrian enthusiasts spent an hour with WCHR Hunter Spectacular Champion John French and Reserve Champion Hope Glynn as they spoke to the audience how to prepare horses for the Hunter Derby ring.
Demonstration riders included Katie Hauss on Classical, Kylee Arbuckle on Lake of Stars and Rose Carver on Norman.

One of the many topics discussed during the complimentary Team SmartPak Hunter Clinic was how to ride the hand gallop jump in a Hunter Derby. French’s tip included picking up the gallop early and keeping the pace consistent all the way to the jump. Glynn also made note that if there is a hand gallop fence on course, there needs to be a definitive change of pace.


Report excerpted from Blenheim EquiSports press release.