San Juan Capistrano, Calif.—June 10, 2019— After two rounds of exceptional hunter performances Jenny Karazissis and Michelle Cobb’s Really were crowned the 2019 champions of the $25,000 USHJA WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular. Their high score of 91.5 in the second round and 180.12 total combined score secured their victory over Katie Taylor and Bravado Farms LLC’s L’Con Reyes with a score of 176.12, and Leslie Steele aboard Glen Haven Farm LLC’s Park City with a score of 175.25.
Forty-one talented hunters competed on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, California. The horse and rider pairs galloped over fences of comparable height to the division in which they typically compete, either 3’6”, 3’9”, or 4’. The top 12 scores across all heights were brought back for a second round to determine the final placings.
The gorgeous course was designed by Thomas Hern of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and adjudicated by two panels of judges. On Panel 1, the tie-breaking panel, Rachel Kennedy of Brookeville, Maryland, and Susie Schoelkopff of Buffalo, New York, and on Panel 2 were Jim Clapperton of Ocala, Florida, and Katie Young of Jacksonville, Florida.
“What a beautiful day, beautiful course, beautifully judged,” said Steele. “It’s just so nice to be out here on the grass, and such beautiful jumps and so well decorated and attended today. The crowd was great.”
In the early morning fog, spectators watched with anticipation as Avery Glynn, daughter of previous WCHR Spectacular Champion Hope Glynn, stepped onto the field to start the class. Her elegant ride on King of Hearts, who was Champion in the Large Junior Hunters earlier this week, earned a score of 80.5 and set the tone for the first round. During the press conference, the professionals congratulated this high-scoring junior on her ability to navigate the bending combination line, which winner Karazissis described as “definitely tricky and scopey.”
Karazissis also masterfully executed that line, to earn a Round One high score of 88.62. This score narrowly edged ahead of Leslie Steele and Park City’s high score of 88, putting the pair in second place going into Round Two. The legendary John French and Ann Russo’s San Marco, also earned an 88, but the tie-breaking panel scored Steele higher putting French in the third spot. Karazissis, Steele and Katie Taylor each qualified two rides for the top 12. It was still anybody’s game going into Round Two, with the top 12 all scoring 81 or above in Round One.
Steele and Park City produced another beautiful round and were rewarded with a score of 87.25 in the second round. Taylor and L’Con Reyes took some bold, handy turns earning them a 88.5, and putting the pressure on Karazissis. Like a true champion, Karazissis, who also won the Spectacular in 2017 with Undeniable, took the extra pressure in stride when she and Really laid down the highest scoring round of the day.
For their victory, Karazissis and Really earned a $7,500 check along with a custom engraved commemorative frame, embroidered jackets for the rider, owner, trainer and groom, an embroidered cooler, FITS Gift Certificate, and a CWD halter. Valencia Sport Saddlery also presented the winner with the “Horseplay Encouraged” Perpetual Trophy.
The top three riders were eager to express their gratitude for the owners and trainers of their top 12 mounts. They also praised Blenheim Equisports for sparing no effort to make the West Coast Hunter Spectacular a special and well-attended event.
Taylor gushed about both L’Con Reyes and Cajeton, owned by Noteworthy Horses. “They have so much scope. They give me all the confidence in the world.”
The Shapley’s Best Turned Out Award was presented to Jose Jinmenez, grooming for the 12th place winner, Black Label owned by Dorothy Attwood and ridden by Jacqueline Attwood-Dupont.
The horse show was a WCHR Member Event, which means WCHR members earn points in eligible classes throughout the week toward regional and national year-end awards, as well as the opportunity to qualify for WCHR Finals, which are held during The Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Steele stated, “I think the WCHR is an unbelievable, great addition to our sport. For the people that don’t do a million horse shows to be able to do the WCHR shows and get a year-end award but not have to chase points, I think that’s really a great way to do it.”
In between the two rounds, four USHJA WCHR division high-score awards were presented: Karazissis earned the Professional High Score on Gabriella Zupancic’s Swagger, one of her three rides in the Spectacular. Julia Rossow picked up the Developing Pro High Score aboard West Coast Equine Partners’ Saphir. Glynn was the High Score Junior 3’6″ rider with her Spectacular partner, King of Hearts. Lastly, Skylar Wireman and Savannah Strome’s Commonwealth earned the High Score award in the 3’3″ Junior Hunter section.
The USHJA would like to thank its generous sponsors for the 2019 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular, including: Charles Owen, Inc., The Official Helmet of the USHJA; CWD, The Official Saddle of the USHJA; Parlanti, The Official Riding Boot of the USHJA; Rood & Riddle, The Official Equine Hospital and Veterinary Pharmacy of the USHJA; Shapley’s, sponsor of the Best Turned Out Horse for USHJA Hunter Championships; as well as Awards Sponsor FITS Riding.