Priscilla Denegre and Abby Cole Claim $10,000 WIHS Adult and Children’s Hunter Championships

Priscilla Denegre rode String of Pearls to the win in the $10,000 Adult Hunter Championship. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 — The six-day Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), presented by MARS EQUESTRIAN™, kicked off on Tuesday, October 22, at the Capital One Arena in the heart of Washington, D.C. Tuesday’s opening day of competition featured the start of the professional and amateur hunter divisions, as well as year-end championships for child and adult hunter riders.

Earning wins in the $10,000 WIHS Adult Hunter Championship and the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship were Priscilla Denegre riding String of Pearls and Abby Cole on Q-Bella, respectively.

Winning the $10,000 Adult Hunter Championship during Hunt Night, presented by BUCKEYE™ Nutrition, had very special meaning for Denegre, who collected the Diane Wade Memorial Award for the win. Not only does Denegre have a long history with WIHS, but she’s also just coming back from a serious injury.

“I’m so lucky and blessed to be able to come back and do this. I know that. To have this horse, and to win this, is big for me,” she said. Denegre’s 2017 fall resulted in multiple broken bones and extensive time out of the saddle. When she was ready to start jumping again early this year, String of Pearls was her pick to ride. “She’s been terrific. Talk about helping my confidence coming back; it just couldn’t be better,” Denegre, of Middleburg, VA, said.

Priscilla Denegre and String of Pearls. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

From the field of 31 starting round one over the Alan Lohman-designed course, Denegre and “Pearl” scored an 83, which put them into third. A score of 85 in round two sent them on top of the standings and earned them the blue. “She’s one of those horses that wants to please,” Denegre said of Pearl. 

“I love mares, and she’s turned out to be fantastic. She’s perfect for a lady,” Denegre continued. “She has the temperament, she has the stride, she has that rhythmical canter, and she’s a good jumper. I think the most important thing is that she’s quiet and kind.” Denegre’s son-in-law and trainer, Gavin Moylan, found Pearl for her as a four-year-old in Germany and showed her in the green divisions. 

The WIHS Adult Hunter Championship originally wasn’t a goal for Denegre this year, but when her daughter, Alden Moylan, entered her and Pearl in the $5,000 WIHS/NAL Adult Hunter Classic qualifying class at the Upperville Colt and Horse Show in June, they won. “It sort of just happened,” Denegre said. “She didn’t know that I didn’t do classics, so we did it and went on.” In honor of Pearl, Alden wore a sweater decorated with pearls to WIHS.

Denegre, 65, is also an avid foxhunter and serves as the Master of Foxhounds of the Middleburg Hunt. She’s back out hunting after recovering from her injuries, leading the hilltopping field. She’s also an accomplished side-saddle rider, having won US Equestrian national year-end titles and championships in that division at major shows in the past.

WIHS holds a special place in Denegre’s heart, as she started showing there on her small pony when she was seven. When she graduated from college, her first job was at WIHS, serving as the assistant to the show secretary. She continued showing there through her adult riding career, focusing on the side-saddle classes, and also served on the show’s Board of Directors.

Devon Degan finished in second place riding Zippo with a score of 162, while Amy Winner placed third on Venture Backed on a score of 161.25.

Abby Cole Conquers the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship

Abby Cole is a huge fan of WIHS, so she was delighted to lead the victory gallop for the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship. Cole, a 14-year-old from Ashburn, VA, has been attending WIHS as a spectator for years.

“It means a lot,” Cole said. “I worked really hard. I wanted to do well in this this year. I’ve never done well at a big show.” She rode Kelsey Campbell’s Q-Bella to the win with a total score of 165 to earn the H. Fenwick Kollock Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Friends of Fen.

Abby Cole and Q-Bella. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Madeline Rubin and Nuff Said finished in second with a score of 164.5, while Juliette Propp took third on Premium Blend with a score of 163.

From the 30 horses that started the class, 12 returned for the second round. Cole and Bella scored an 80 in the first round and stood fifth before the second round, but a stellar trip in round two and a score of 85 vaulted them into the lead for the win. “I was a little nervous!” Cole admitted. “But I tried not to think about winning, just to think about getting around again.”

A group from Cole’s trainer Jenny Graham’s farm, Cedar Creek Farm in Sterling, VA, joins the crowds for Barn Night at WIHS each year. In 2014, they won the “Best Spirit” award and earned a clinic from team Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde. Cole was involved in the production of the group’s video entry for Barn Night this year, so she’s hoping her WIHS good fortune continues.

This was Cole’s first win at WIHS, but she’s competed at WIHS in two previous years. Cole has only ridden Q-Bella for three months, and she qualified for the WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship by taking the reserve champion title in the Children’s Hunter, 14 and Under division at the WIHS Regional Horse Show on October 18-20.

Q-Bella formerly competed in the junior hunters with owner Kelsey Campbell, who now works for Graham at her farm. Graham put Cole and “Bella” together this summer when a few other mounts didn’t work out for Cole. “Abby leased her, and it’s been a lot of fun,” Graham said. “Abby is making it work really well. The horse is great, but Abby is the icing on the cake. It’s a group effort with Kelsey, too.”

The Washington International Horse Show continues on Wednesday, October 23, beginning at 7 a.m. with championships for the professional and amateur-owner hunter divisions, as well as the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship and the $10,000 Adult Jumper Championship.

$10,000 WIHS Adult Hunter Championship

Rank Horse Rider Score
1 STRING OF PEARLS Priscilla Denegre 83+85=168
2 ZIPPO Devon Degen 78+84=162
3 VENTURE BACKED Amy Winner 81.25+80=161.25
4 TINKA’S DREAM Colleen Kenten 79+81=160
5 SUNKIST Holly K. Sims 80.5+78=158.5
6 ON BOARD Lori Christman 77+81=158
7 TUSCANY Ashley Aycox 82+74=156
8 CUCINELLI Kimberly Penfold 81+74.5=155.5
9 EURYTHMIC Laura Owens 80=75=155
10 HUNDRED ACRE Laurie Barna 83.5+66=149.5     
11 BELIEVER Julia Martinez 81.5+65=146.5
12 SIMPLY COOL Julia Barnes 84+60=144

$10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship Results

Rank Horse Rider Score
1 Q-BELLA Abby Cole 80+85=165
2 NUFF SAID Madeline Rubin 81+83.5=164.5
3 PREMIUM BLEND Juliette Propp 82+81=163
4 DELIGHTFUL Abigail Gordon 79+83=162
5 BEST OF Emily Giorgio 77+84=161
6 GOLDPLAY Francesca Dussek 85+74=159
7 SIENNA Reagan Williams 76+72=148
8 CHANEL Saylors Pursell 73+74=147
9 GREGOR V Krystiana Stpehens 80.5+62=142.5
10 ZEALAND Grace Walker 75+64=139
11 SMART BOB Molly Welborn 71+67=138
12 ELOQUENCE Vanessa C. Rosso 74+57=131

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