Ackergill Castle, piloted by Scott Stewart, returned to the ring for the second round of the KASK North American Green 3’-3’3” Hunter Championship sitting in the lead with a 90. The Holsteiner gelding (Balous Bellini), owned by Betsee Parker, didn’t reveal his inexperience as he loped around the Show Place Arena and posted a 90.16 from the panel of three judges. His combined two-round score of 180.16 secured the title and gave Stewart his eighth win in the 24-year history of the class.
“It’s always awesome to win here, and there were a lot of good horses and scores in this class,” said Stewart. “I tried not to watch anyone go the second time. I was really pleased with him. As of yesterday, I wasn’t even sure if I should do it and then he went in the first class so relaxed, I was sort of shocked how grown-up he acted, so I was glad I did it.”
Ackergill Castle, just six years old, was purchased during the height of the COVID pause. Stewart said of the talented gelding, “Betsee bought him off of a video a little over a year ago, and because of COVID we were not able to go over and try him. He had just done one horse show, and she wasn’t really looking for a horse but was nice enough to get him for us.”
Stewart only showed Parker’s young horse three or four times in Florida before showing once in July, and then competing in the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship where he was second. The Incentive Championship was the last time he was in the show ring. Stewart was thankful he was home for the two weeks prior to Capital Challenge so he could ride the gelding himself every day.
“He’s really an amazing horse,” said Stewart. “He’s an amazing jumper and mover; he just sometimes will over jump. So, I jumped every other day over pony jumps just so he leveled off. He’s not that experienced, so I just wanted him to get relaxed.”
This year was Stewart’s return to Capital Challenge after staying home last year due to COVID. He said, “It’s great to be back here. I love it. It took me a little getting used to the first day since I haven’t been in an indoor in two years, but it’s always nice to be here.”
For his win, Stewart was presented with the Beverly Brooks Solter Memorial Trophy, donated by Hilary Scheer Gerhardt and Zan Martin Dillon.
R&R Hunter Horses LLC’s Waverly and Holly Orlando stood second going into the second round with an 88.91. They posted a 90 in the second round, not quite high enough to bump Stewart out of the lead. They remained in second place with a 178.91 total. Hunt Tosh and Twain, owned by Ceil Wheeler, were third with a total score of 177.83.
Orlando and Waverly won the Grand Champion Green Hunter 3’ & 3’3” award, sponsored by David Belford and Christopher Payne of New Hope LLC. For the award, Orlando was presented with the “A Rare Diamond” Perpetual Trophy donated by “The Friends of Mickey.” Sandy Ferrell and Veritas, owned by Stephanie Bulger, won the EMO Green Hunter 3’ & 3’3” Trip of the Show with a 91.5.