Emma Kurtz and Valor Win Grand Pony Hunter Championship at Capital Challenge Horse Show

Kelli Cruciotti Victorious in $10,000 Junior/A-O Jumper Challenge,
Gochman, Passarelli, Yowan, Petersen, and Humphries Earn Tricolors

Upper Marlboro, MD – October 4, 2014 – Ponies ruled today at The Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by The Gochman Family. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, concludes on Sunday, October 5. Emma Kurtz piloted David Gochman’s Valor to the Grand Pony Hunter Championship and Best Pony Rider honors. Six pony and junior hunter divisions awarded championships. In the evening session, Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante won the $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup Final Round.

Kurtz (14) of Hudson, OH, rode to the top of the Pony Hunters today on David Gochman’s Valor. They were the Large Pony Hunter champions, and with two firsts, two seconds, and a fourth under saddle, and received the Grand Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by Ali Sweetnam and Sweet Oak Farm. They were awarded the VanderMoore Designs Trophy, donated by VanderMoore Designs. Kurtz was named the Best Pony Rider, an award sponsored by Archibald Cox and Brookway Stables. They were presented with the Kitty Borisoff Memorial Trophy donated by her many friends. The reserve champions were All My Love and Kirklen Petersen, who rode for Dr. Betsee Park. They placed first and second over fences and were first under saddle. Petersen won the EMO Trip of the Show with a score of 91.5 on All My Love.

Emma Kurtz and Valor. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Emma Kurtz and Valor. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.

This was only the second time that Kurtz has shown Valor after their initial outing this summer in Kentucky. Valor shows in the Green Pony Hunters as well. “He’s a little bit green, but he always jumps a good jump. He’s really smooth, and he has a huge stride. For the first class trotting in, he was a little nervous, but then he was fine after that. He’s green, but he’s not really green. I didn’t really have any expectations because he was kind of new to me,” Kurtz admitted. But after placed first and second in the opening day of competition, she added, “After the first day, I had expectations!”

This is the third time Kurtz has shown at CCHS, and she was champion in the same division two years ago with Aladdin. This is her first Grand Championship at CCHS. She said of showing at Capital Challenge, “I like how they have one day outdoors so if your pony doesn’t like it inside, you get another day.”

Kurtz acknowledged the great opportunity to ride Valor for the Gochman family. “I’m really grateful. They were so nice to let me ride him. He’s an amazing pony,” she expressed.

Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Kurtz trains with Amanda Lyerly and Mike Rheinheimer and often catch-rides. “ It’s never boring. You’re always on your toes,” she said. Lyerly said that she tells Kurtz to trust her instincts. “She’s pretty good at what she does, if she believes in herself. She is a pleasure to teach. Every time she walks in the ring, she tries her hardest and she’s super focused. She can pretty much ride anything you put her on. She has a lot to ride, but whether it’s good or bad, she tries to get the best out of it.”

Winning stayed in the Gochman family in the Medium Pony Hunter division with the championship going to Sophie Gochman on Truly Noble. They won two classes and were second and sixth in the division over fences. The reserve championship went to Show Me Love, ridden by Natalie Jayne for Scott Stewart. They placed first over fences and first under saddle.

Sophie Gochman and Truly Noble. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Sophie Gochman and Truly Noble. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.

Gochman has ridden “Noble” for two years. “I know him pretty well,” she said. “He’s kind of a quirky pony. He talks a lot and flaps his lips. He loves giving kisses and love. You have to leg him a bit around the ring. He has a good canter to him; he feels a little bit like a small horse. He’s easy to see the distances on.”

For the 11-year-old from New York, NY, winning a championship at Capital Challenge is “a big deal.” “It really feels good because this is the first indoor show that I’ve been champion at. It’s a good accomplishment,” she said with a smile.

Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Thirteen-year-old Caroline Passarelli of High Falls, NY, won the Small Pony Hunter championship, sponsored by Spring Mill Farm/Jenny Yandell. riding Dr. Betsee Parker’s Bit Of Love. The Harper Taskier Wright Memorial Trophy, given in memory of Harper by her loving parents Michael and Alexandra Borissoff Wright, friends, and family whose lives she touched, was given to Passarelli for winning the Small Pony Hunter championship. Passarelli and Bit of Love were first, first, and second over fences and fourth under saddle. The reserve champion was Rollingwood’s Knee Deep, ridden by Zayna Rizvi for Peacock Ridge LLC. They placed first and third over fences.

Caroline Passarelli and Bit Of Love. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Caroline Passarelli and Bit Of Love. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.

Passarelli has ridden Bit Of Love for a year. While she acknowledged that when she first started riding him, she was “a little inexperienced” for him and he was still a bit green, things got better with every show. “Soon it finally clicked. He really wanted to win and so did I, and it was a really good match,” she said. “He wants to win just as badly as you do. You can tell he’s sad when you let him down, which I’ve done before. He’s so amazing and so smooth. He’s not spooky. He’ll jump whatever from wherever, he doesn’t mind. The best thing is that he wants to win too.”

Moving into the indoor Show Place Arena today for the handy hunter class, Passarelli said she had to remember some adjustments with “Chester.” She explained, “With Chester, in the handies you try not to look where you are going so much and lay on the leads so much, he’ll get a little bit confused. You have to ride it almost more like it’s a regular hunter course and then work your turns in, yet you still have to be handy so that if you’re really going for it, you can win.”

Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

She added, “I just can’t thank Betsee Parker enough for letting me show him and Elation and the other ponies I show for her, and Scott and Ken for training me.”

The Children’s/Pony Hunter championship went to Simply Magical, ridden by Hensley Humphries and owned by First Blue LLC. This was the first time that Humphries, an 11-year-old from New York, NY, has competed at Capital Challenge. Having started riding at camp from a pony ride, she has progressed through riding to her first indoor championship. “I’m really excited, and it’s amazing to be champion,” she said.

Hensley Humphries and Simply Magical. Photo © The Book LLC.
Hensley Humphries and Simply Magical. Photo © The Book LLC.

She has ridden Simply Magical for 10 months. “I tried him, and I really liked him. He’s really fun to jump, and he has a really comfortable canter,” Humphries described. “He can be sweet, and he really likes peppermints. We give him one every time we go to the ring.

Humphries and Simply Magical won an over fences class, as did reserve champions, Ellia Giuliani and Bill Schaub’s Tuxedo Park. It came down to a hack-off for the championship. Since Humphries had ridden her other pony in the under saddle, rider Arabella McFarland stayed on Simply Magical to ride him to the top tricolor in the hack-off. “I was really nervous because I’ve never seen a hack-off before,” Humphries said. “I didn’t really know what it was, but it was really exciting.”

Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Adam Edgar of Leesburg, VA, was awarded the Stewart Warner Cup for pony riders, given in memory of Laurie Gilbert Stewart & Mary Warner Brown by Donald E. Stewart, Jr. and Louise W. Serio. It is awarded to up-and-coming junior riders, who, in the opinion of the panel of judges, exhibit the best hunter style and show potential as a young hunter rider.

First Junior Hunter Championships Awarded

The older age sections of the Small and Large Junior Hunters finished their divisions outside today, with the Small Junior 16-17 Hunter championship going to Taken, ridden by Kirklen Petersen for Jessica Stitt. They also won the High Point Junior Hunter 16-17, sponsored by The Clothes Horse, by winning two over fences and placing third in another jumping class. Vivian Yowan and Saddle Ridge LLC’s Ransom were the reserve champions with two seconds and a third over fences and a second under saddle.

Kirklen Petersen and Taken. Photo © The Book LLC.
Kirklen Petersen and Taken. Photo © The Book LLC.

Petersen is 17 years old and from Great Falls, VA, just 45 minutes away from CCHS. Riding since the age of six, Petersen has shown for six years at Capital Challenge, since she was on small ponies. Her ride on Taken has been “on and off” for three years; they have only shown together approximately six times. “ I don’t really show him regularly. He just comes out for the big shows, and he never lets me down,” she explained. “He is definitely my favorite. It was a lot of pressure the first time, especially to not let him down because he’s such an amazing horse. There’s nothing that horse hasn’t won. He’s so much fun, and he makes it so easy. He’s always really fun to ride.”

Taken and Petersen are a good combination, as she lets him pick up the gallop and hunt around to the jumps, suiting his classic style. “There’s nothing he can’t do. You can be right next to it, you can leave from five feet away. He has a huge stride and jumps amazing,” she said.

Photo © The Book LLC.
Photo © The Book LLC.

Petersen acknowledged that Taken is a favorite in the barn too. “He’s probably one of our most personable horses in the barn. He loves his carrots. He definitely has an attitude; he knows he’s good, which is what makes him so special I think. Debbie Buchanan is his groom, but he’s such a special horse that everyone helps out. We have Julio, Marcos, Pancho, and Gus. He has a whole crew. They were all up here to watch him this morning.”

Yowan moved up to the championship presentation in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters, sponsored by Beacon Hill Show Stables – her first championship at Capital Challenge. She accomplished this feat on Alliy Moyer’s Libretto in only their second show together. “I showed him last year here, and I was lucky enough for the Moyers to ask me to show him again this year. Last year was good. It was my first time riding him. This year I understood his ride a little more. He’s got a huge stride, and he’s really slow off the floor.”

Vivian Yowan and Libretto. Photo © The Book LLC.
Vivian Yowan and Libretto. Photo © The Book LLC.

Yowan and Libretto were first and fourth over fences – winning the handy hunter class – and placed second under saddle for the top tricolor ribbon. The reserve champion was Cayero, ridden by Martha Ingram for John and Stephanie Ingram LLC. They placed first, second, and sixth over fences.

“I’ve never been champion. It’s finally nice!” she remarked. “I’ve been so close so many times, so to finally get it is really exciting.”

The 16-year-old rider from Lexington, KY, had the added bonus of watching Libretto compete in the handy round in last night’s WCHR Professional Finals with Hunt Tosh. “He got him all ready for me today!” Yowan laughed. “I’ve watched Libretto a lot because I’ve watched Alliy show him all the time. I’ve known the horse for a long time. Last night, he was really handy. Hunt did all the inside turns. I felt pretty comfortable today with a handy that wasn’t as intense!”

Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

For her handy round, Yowan was happy that the class was outside. “There is a lot more space outdoors, so for him, he’s a big horse and he’s got a lot of stride, so it’s nice. In the bigger ring, you can show it off more. He’s really handy, so it was awesome.”

The winner of the Junior World Champion Hunter Under Saddle class, sponsored by Cynthia Williams and New England Farm, was Anna Claire Smith and Celebration.

Cruciotti Fast for Jumper Challenge Victory

In the $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Challenge Cup Final Round, 23 entries competed in the final round, which was held in jump-off format. Four riders advanced to the jump-off, and while all of them had faults, it was a race to the finish to see who could be fastest.

Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Kelli Cruciotti and Zidante. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.

As the last to go, Kelli Cruciotti (16) of Elizabeth, CO, rode her own Zidante, a 10-year-old mare, as the last in the jump-off. She knew that the three before her had faults and a clear round would seal the win. But with an early rail, Cruciotti had to put the speed on for victory. Landing from the final jump and finishing in 33.314 seconds, that’s exactly what she did.

Cruciotti said of her jump-off plan, “I had in my head that I wanted to go fast and even if I had one down, I still wanted to be fast. I was lucky that it happened so early in the course so I could stick with my plan and go really neat everywhere. She really came through for me. I knew it would be fast. I didn’t know if it would between four faulters or clear, but I knew it would be fast.”

Kristen Blomstrom and Zeros. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Kristen Blomstrom and Zeros. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.

In second place was Kristen Blomstrom on Zeros, who had four faults in 33.539 seconds. Vivian Yowan and Vornado van den Hoendrik were third with four faults in 39.887 seconds.

Cruciotti trains with her mother Cindy and has worked with Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde for the past nine months as well. “It is a really great balance. My mom and I work at home and practice. We get to the shows and he has amazing tips about riding the course and the jump-off strategies. That experience really helps when you’re riding a course that I haven’t ridden that much and he obviously has.”

Vivian Yowan and Vornado van den Hoendrik. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Vivian Yowan and Vornado van den Hoendrik. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.

She has ridden Zidante for a year and a half, and Cruciotti was very happy with her mare’s performance over the past two days. “I was a little worried that she’d be too tired because I don’t usually do two days in a row with her. I thought yesterday she jumped really, really well and fast, and today she tried her heart out. She was a little tired, but she jumped great. Tonight she really proved herself that she can be reliable. I feel like the partnership is coming along very nicely,” she said.

Cruciotti has been coming to Capital Challenge since her mother started showing here 14 years ago. “Ever since I can remember I would come along. This is my favorite horse show,” she expressed. “They really make a big deal with the ribbons and sponsors and presentations. The course was great tonight, and it is such a pleasure to show here. It’s really special to win here.”

For their win in the final round, Patton was presented with the Remy Martin Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres and Melanie Wright. Cruciotti was the overall winner of the North American Junior/Amateur Jumper Challenge and was awarded the Ariat Congressional Cup. The Best Junior Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by Courtney Calcagnini/CSC/Fleur Di Lis Farm, was given to Cruciotti, while Darby Toben won the Best Amateur Jumper Rider Award sponsored by Lyman T. Whitehead and Eight Fences, LLC.

Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Grooms were also awarded special prizes for their part in today’s winning performances. They include:

Small Pony Hunter: Bit Of Love/Limberg Cholac

Medium Pony Hunter: Truly Noble/Juan Barcena

Large Pony Hunter: Valor/Adan Alvarez

Small Junior 16-17 Hunter: Taken/Debbie Buchanan

Large Junior 16-17 Hunter: Manuel Marin

Final Results: $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge

1 ZIDANTE KELLI CRUCIOTTI: 0/4/33.314

2 ZEROS KRISTEN BLOMSTROM: 0/4/33.539

3 VORNADO VAN DEN HOENDRIK VIVIAN YOWAN: 0/4/39.887

4 CONQUILLAS MORGAN WARD: 0/9/44.743

5 KING ARTHUR DARBY TOBEN: 2/78.113

6 CORPRIZIA SAMANTHA KASOWITZ: 4/67.930

7 BIGSHOT CALLIE SMITH: 4/70.344

8 HABSBURG 2 FELICIA RUSSELL: 4/71.254

9 OFFENBACH DU GRALAUREN FISCHER: 4/71.488

10 BETTY BOOP VICTORIA PRESS: 4/71.599

For full results, more information, or to watch the live webcast, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org. Like the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook and on Twitter @capchallenge and Instagram @capitalchallengehorseshow. For behind-the-scenes photos, videos, and more!

In its 21st year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year’s show will take place on September 27-October 5.

Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.

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