Edited Press Release
Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 5, 2021 – Hunter competition came to a pinnacle Friday, November 5 at the 138th annual National Horse Show (NHS). As the oldest indoor horse show in America, the National Horse Show brings a collection of some of the country’s top hunter riders and their horses to the Alltech Arena of the Kentucky Horse Park to contest for championship honors and a spot in the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic, presented by The Chronicle of The Horse. Of the 29 horse-and-rider pairs that put their names forward for the winning title and lion’s share of the money, it was Laena Romond and Catherine Cowie’s Traveller who jumped to victory in the prestigious two-round competition.
Throughout the first half of the week, invitations were extended to the Champion and Reserve Champion horse-and-rider combinations of hunter sections that competed over jumps at the 3’3″ height or higher, with the 3’3” fence height being a new height on offer for the prestigious class. Patricia Griffith, Scott Stewart, Jean Sheptoff, Kat Fuqua and Clara Propp each had two mounts apiece in the class to increase their chances of leaving with a portion of the pot. The competition began with the 4’ section, which included two combinations, then lowered the jumps to 3’9” for four pairs, then 3’6” for 16 combinations, and finally finished at the 3’3” height for seven duos.
Course designer Bobby Murphy (USA) crafted the first round course fit for the occasion. The classic track featured 10 beautifully decorated hunter fences with natural elements that replicated the traditional hunter style. Following the first round, the top 12 horse-and-rider pairs scoring above an 85.62 were invited to return for the second round. Of the 12, the top three horses ran a close race with tied scores of 89.5 for Romond and Traveller, Griffith and S & L Exxon Hedonist, and Stewart and For Always. Caroline Ingalls and Concerto followed closely behind the leading pack with a first-round high score of 88.12 from judges Jennifer Bauersachs and John French.
Fourth to return, Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Silver Lining navigated the second-round handy course with brilliance, earning a score of 89 over the 3’6” fence height to conclude on a total of 175.62 when combined with their first round score of 86.62. Three trips later, Ingalls returned to the arena for her second round aboard Concerto, her own 10-year-old Westphalian gelding. Also at the 3’6” fence height, Ingalls showcased Concerto’s rideability through the inside turns and long-approach hand gallop oxer, posting a score of 87 to end on a total of 175.12, settling in nicely just behind Griffith’s leading score. Immediately following Ingalls, Romond and the 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, Traveller, made their debut for round two. Proving to be incredibly handy, Traveller jumped with superb style and textbook form, posting an 86.5 to the scoreboard and taking over the lead with a 176 combined total. Though others would make their best efforts to overtake the lead, Romond and Traveller could not be beat, ultimately lending the duo the win in the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic, presented by The Chronicle of The Horse. Griffith and Silver Lining, a 7-year-old Westphalian gelding, would settle for the second place honors, while Ingalls and Concerto would round out the top three.
An added bonus for the hunter athletes, the top three scoring junior and amateur athletes received an additional $5,000 bonus to be split between them. Ingalls was the highest scoring amateur athlete, taking home an additional $2,500. Of the junior athletes, it was Clara Propp who topped the field with Inquisitive to take home the $2,500. The second highest scoring amateur and junior received $1,500, while the third highest scoring pairs received $1,000.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Laena Rommond – $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic
“We have had Traveller for three years and we have developed him since he was a Pre-Green Horse. At this point I feel like I pretty much know him like the back of my hand and he is exactly the same pretty much every time that he goes in the ring, no matter where he is. I would also say that he has been that way since day one. He is a pretty special guy.”
On the handy round:
“I went in the handy a couple of rounds after Patricia’s trip on Silver Lining so I knew that she was rewarded for being handy, tight with her track, and showy. Normally I would say that I am a little more conservative with Traveller but I kind of pushed it a little more than I normally do. He stepped up and it worked out.”
On winning at the National Horse Show:
“This feels like a really special moment. I attended the National Horse Show as a kid but I never competed so this is my first time winning a ribbon here and winning a class here. The whole thing has felt really special and I am really proud that this horse got to end his first year this way. He is a really special horse to me so to be able to give that to him is a good end.”
Patricia Griffith – $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic, presented by The Chronicle of the Horse, second place
On the first round:
“I thought that the first round was going to be good for both of my horses because it was a nice and straight forward pattern. Silver Lining is my steady Eddy that I have had since he was four. For me, there is no course that would ever look challenging. Meanwhile, this is only the fifth show that Exxon has done as a hunter so I knew that the first course would be a lot easier for him than the handy. ”
On S & L Exxon Hedonist’s transition from Grand Prix ring to Hunter Ring:
“I think that he did a Grand Prix at Saugerties and then he came to Heritage [Farm] the Tuesday after the Grand Prix for a trial. We could not decide if he was a Hunter or an Equitation Horse and he was also a stallion. We loved the horse and his owner, Sam Edelman, decided to geld him, so two days later he was tried, gelded, and moved to Heritage. Four weeks later he went to Michigan and then I rode him the second week as a hunter. We decided that was what he liked and we have never looked back. He gets better every time and it was asking a lot for him to do these big classes without any sort of a warm-up class. He is an incredible athlete and you can not miss that when you ride him or watch him.”
Caroline Ingalls – $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic, presented by The Chronicle of the Horse, third place
On her handy round plan:
“I thought that the handy round went very well. It was tight at the top with the top three horses being the same scores. But I just wanted to go in with a plan to do what was best for my horse and put him where he would succeed the most. We did all of the inside turns that we could do. He is a little bit more tricky to the right, so we might not have been as slick in that direction. He has a great gallop so we picked up the gallop as fast as we could and tried to show off there and it was so much fun!”
On being the highest placing amateur:
“This is one of the most coveted hunter classes in the nation right now with the amount of money that they offer and it is so great to see such a large purse available in the hunter circuit. Especially as an amateur, it can be a little intimidating to come into classes like this. I can’t believe that I am sitting next to two of my hunter idols, so just to be here and have the additional prize money as an option is a great incentive for amateurs and juniors also.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total
$50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic, presented by The Chronicle of The Horse:
- Traveller / Laena Romond / Catherine Cowie / 89.50 / 86.50 / 176.00
- Silver Lining / Patricia Griffith / Callie Seaman / 86.62 / 89.00 / 175.62
- Concerto / Caroline Ingalls / Caroline Ingalls / 88.12 / 87.00 / 175.12
- Inquisitive / Clara Propp / Aquitaine Equine / 87.25 / 87.50 / 174.75
- Attendu De Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farm / 85.75 / 88.75 / 174.50
- S & L Exxon Hedonist / Patricia Griffith / S & L Farms / 89.50 / 84.75 / 174.25
- Princeton / Stella Wasserman / Walkenbach Equestrian LLC / 86.37 / 85.00 / 171.37
- For Always / Scott Stewart / Dr. Betsee Parker / 89.50 / 78.50 / 168.00
- Catena 5 / Julia Weiss / Julia Weiss / 88.00 / 77.00 / 165.00
- Diatendro / Havens Schatt / Kelley Corrigan / 85.75 / 78.00 / 164.00
- Insightful / Maria Rasmussen / Sunset View Farm LLC / 87.25 / 57.50 / 144.75
- Arabesque / Clara Propp / Aquitaine Equine / 87.25 / 45.00 / 130.62