Keswick Hunt Club Earns Second Consecutive PNHS Hunt Night Championship

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The riders of the Keswick Hunt Club earned the Hunt Night Championship honor for the second year in a row. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Edited Press Release

Harrisburg, PA – The 2023 Pennsylvania National Horse Show Hunt Night champions, the Keswick Hunt Club, returned to Harrisburg, PA, on Monday evening and successfully defended their title, earning the Hunt Night Championship and the Ralph A. Alfano Memorial Perpetual Trophy for the second year in a row.

In total, 19 hunt team combinations – made up of riders from 10 different Hunt Clubs from across Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia – took on Monday’s Hunt Night competition, sponsored by Kinsley Construction and the Quaker City Foundation.

Throughout the evening, riders contested the offered Field Hunter, Hunter Under Saddle and Hunt Team classes with the aim of earning individual ribbons and points toward the championship for their team.

After earning the championship last year, returning to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex to do so again in 2023 had special meaning to the Keswick Hunt Club riders.

“Unfortunately, we had some really significant members pass away recently,” explained Sandy Rives of the Keswick Hunt Club. “Meredith McLaughlin, who was a very well-known show judge, and a longtime member by the name of Peggy Augustus. Both of them had shown at Harrisburg for Keswick in the Hunt Teams. After being champions last year, we said, ‘Look, we just really ought to make a great effort to honor them by being champion again.”

Catherine Wheeler rode Something Special to the Hunt Night Leading Lady Rider Award. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Rives continued, “I’ve been going to Harrisburg for 40 years, and it’s tough to repeat [the championship] because every year, you’ve got different horses, different riders and different combinations of things. We worked very hard this year to put together a really special team. We probably got somewhere around 35 points. Last year, we were champions with 22. So, we put together a team that was pretty hard to beat. We’re very proud of our effort. We really enjoyed coming to Harrisburg, and we enjoyed winning!”

Representing the Keswick Hunt Club were riders Darlene Murphy, Carly Meyer, Matt Savier, Sandy Rives, Joel and Nicolette Merle-Smith, Allison Smith, Shannon McGowan, Jill Wilson Anderson and Catherine Wheeler.

The Kimberton Hunt Club led this year’s popular Parade of Hounds. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

In addition to helping her team clinch the championship, Wheeler was named the Hunt Night Leading Lady Rider, for which she was presented with the “Polly” Gingrich Caswell Perpetual Trophy.

On her way to the Leading Lady title, Wheeler topped the Field Hunters, Riders 35 and Under and the Ladies Hunter Under Saddle, for which she was awarded the Max C. Hempt Perpetual Trophy and the Betty Baldwin Meister Memorial Perpetual Trophy, respectively.

Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds Team 2 clearing the final fence to win the Hunt Teams. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The win in the Field Hunters, Riders 36 and Over, and the Chairmans Perpetual Trophy, went to Laura Godsoe of the River Hill Foxhounds riding Casco Junior.

In the Gentlemen’s Hunter Under Saddle, the win was back to the Keswick Hunt Club, with Joel Merle-Smith and Hermione taking the top honor and the Rose Tree Perpetual Trophy.  

Topping the Hunt Team competition was Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds Team 2.

In addition to the Hunt Team Championship and associated classes, this year’s Hunt Night also featured the Ladies Side Saddle Championship. Earning the championship were Becca Pelet and Galon Hapus.

For full results from Hunt Night, click here.