Edited Press Release
JJ Torano (Wellington, Fla.) clinched his first Pony Finals title by taking top honors in the Medium Green Pony Hunter National Championship with FPF Favor. He and Jet Show Stable’s 2015 Welsh Pony mare were fifth in the Model phase with a score of 258.78 and second in the Under Saddle phase with a score of 265.87. The pair’s solid round won the Over Fences phase with a score of 253.78 and secured the overall title with a final score of 1032.21.
“It means a lot especially for this pony because she is green and this is only her fifth show in her life,” Torano said of his national champion title. “We just started showing her in June. I thought she went great today. I wasn’t really hoping for anything that great, but it ended up being really, really good.”
Torano has had a busy week with entries in each of the pony hunter divisions as well as riding in the Medal on Sunday. After being close to winning earlier in the week, Torano maintained his composure and scored the tri-color ribbon.
“On [FPF Favor], I didn’t expect coming in that high. I just decided I would ride my ride and hope it would go well,” Torano said of his round. “The other [ponies] I was kind of expecting it and I think I kind of almost jinxed myself a little bit because I was doing pretty well with all of them. But with her I thought hope for the best, and she went great.”
At the conclusion of Friday’s competition, Torano and FPF Favor’s overall score was the highest of the green hunter ponies to earn the Overall Grand Champion Green Pony Hunter title, receiving the Brownland Farm perpetual trophy.
1. JJ Torano and FPF Favor
2. Emi Richard and Speaking Terms
3. Mimi Maddock and Super Sport
Best Presented Model Pony
Hayden McDowell (Clemmons, N.C.) and Mystery Girl, her 2015 Quarter Horse mare
Best Turned Out Pony
Zoie Davis (Micanopy, Fla.) and Hidden Springs Star Attraction, her 2014 British Riding Pony gelding, groomed by Davis
Alexa Elle Lignelli and Higher Love Score Large Green Pony Hunter National Championship
Alexa Elle Lignelli rode Higher Love to the win in the Large Green Pony Hunter National Championship with an overall score of 1027.72. Lignelli (New York, N.Y.) and The Lignelli Family’s 2014 Welsh Pony cross gelding started the competition with a score of 247.84 in the Model phase and a score of 260.80. The duo climbed from fifth to first overall by winning the Over Fences phase with a score of 259.54.
“I loved the course for him,” said Lignelli of the former European eventing pony who is in his fifth show stateside. “He goes very lope-y. It is all based off pace with him. Once you set the pace, everything comes up super nicely for him.”
Lignelli noted that Pony Finals is a team effort saying, “It is not only special to me. It is special to everyone on the team who tried to prep him. It’s not just what you show in the ring. It is behind the scenes—prepping before the model, the standing up, the practicing, all of the things that go into the long days here. I mean we are showing at 7:30. It is a long day! All of the team members, everyone contributed. It is so special. It is the final of the year and all of the ponies come, and the best one comes out and wins.”
As the last division of the day, Lignelli and Higher Love did not have to wait long to find out that the earned the Overall Reserve Grand Green Pony Hunter title.
1. Alexa Elle Lignelli and Higher Love
2. Trinity Hall and Twinkle Toes
3. Kaylee Garrido and Loafers Lodge Take My Lead
Best Presented Model Pony
Finley Scheffel (Georgetown, Ky.) and Royal and Rare, Melissa Jo Hollingsworth’s 2015 Welsh Pony mare
Best Turned Out Pony
Lilyana Spafford (Windermere, Fla.) and Empire’s Power-Ful, her 2014 Welsh Pony gelding, with groom Marcos Sotello
JJ Torano and Paris Charm Lead Medium Regular Pony Hunter National Championship
JJ Torano and Paris Charm sits atop the leaderboard in the Medium Regular Pony Hunter National Championship. Torano and Megan D’Amico’s 2008 Welsh Pony mare had solid performances in the first two phases of competition, placing third in both the Model and Under Saddle phases with scores of 257.28 and 265.79, respectively. The pair has a narrow lead in the 133-combinations field heading into the final phase.
The Medium Regular Pony Hunter National Championship will conclude on Saturday, August 13, with the Over Fences phase.
1. JJ Torano and Paris Charm
2. Grace Stenbeck-Werner and Cleverist
3. Alexa Elle Lignelli and EMC Entourage
Special Awards and Activities
Nine individuals were selected for the Betsy Fishback Sportsmanship Award today, winning a copy of the book Big Wishes for Little Feat, by Cheryl Olsten. The following recipients are youth who have demonstrated the qualities of good sportsmanship while exhibiting at the USEF Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farms (listed in alphabetical order):
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The Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association (PCHA), a non-profit corporation, has as its main purpose the promotion and development of the sport of horse showing, primarily in the Hunter/Jumper, Western and Reining disciplines. These objectives are accomplished by setting the standards for showing on the West Coast and approving shows that meet these criteria.
Founded in 1946, the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association promotes the interests of owners and exhibitors, cooperates with exhibitors, officials, and management of competition, publicizes and advertises PCHA sanctioned shows, encourages and assists owners, exhibitors, and breeders of horses to maintain, develop and improve the quality of horses of the Hunter, Jumper, Western and Reining divisions.