Edited Press Release
Upper Marlboro, MD – October 31, 2023 – The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) set a gorgeous backdrop for the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series Championship Final on Saturday, October 28, and Tessa Downey of Houston, TX, soared to victory with the only double-clear performance.
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame conducts the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series with classes at approximately 80 horse shows each year. The Series hosts separate divisions for junior and amateur riders in two Conferences – the East Conference presented by Rood & Riddle and the West Conference presented by LAURACEA – and follows Grand Prix rules and specifications. The Series is designed to give amateur and junior riders the opportunity to compete at higher levels and serves as a proving ground for many riders who aspire to represent the United States in international competition.
The Series culminates in a West Conference Championship Final at Blenheim EquiSports’ International Jumping Festival in San Juan Capistrano, California, and the overall Series Final at the Washington International Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The riders who top the year-long Series standings receive an engraved Tiffany crystal trophy and the winners of the Series’ two Finals receive one of LAURACEA’s best-selling Convertible Backpack Totes.
Downey proved the best in the $15,000 SJHOF High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, which served as the overall Series Final for 2023. Her two-year partnership with Isabelle, Orchard Hill LLC’s 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, shone brilliantly in the ring; they were one of only two horse-and-rider combinations to make it to the jump-off and the only pair to finish double-clear.
“I have had issues developing a strategy and sticking to it in the past, so I knew going in it was very important for me to make a plan and follow that plan,” Downey said. “We were planning one less stride in the first line, which didn’t work out. My horse doesn’t have a gigantic stride, but it definitely helped me turn back a little better from the second jump to the third. I think that was where I was really able to set up the next line, and in that line, I did leave a stride out.
“It’s Washington; it’s such a great feeling that can’t be replaced,” added Downey, who will now focus on her time with the University of Georgia and their equestrian team. “How they dress the ring up, the prizes, the ribbons, everything – it’s just so special. The team has been so great about letting me come back and do finals, and I’m so grateful to be here.”
As the second entry to return to the jump-off, Hallie Grimes of Houston, TX, hoped to chase Downey’s time of 35.751 seconds aboard Can We Keep It? LLC’s 12-year-old Zangersheide mare La Belle Dame Z, but an unfortunate rail knocked them into second place. Third went to Katherine Pugliese of Malvern, PA, who piloted her own 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Heineken to the fastest four-fault ride in the first round.
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame was organized to promote the sport of show jumping and to immortalize the legends of the men, women and horses who have made great contributions to the sport. The Show Jumping Hall of Fame is located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Plaques honoring those who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame can be seen at the Horse Park’s Rolex Stadium. Mementos and artifacts from the sport’s history are on display as part of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame collection at the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Wheeler Museum at the Horse Park.
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame is sponsored by Blenheim EquiSports, Charles Ancona, CMJ Sporthorse, Hampton Classic Horse Show, Kentucky Horse Park, LAURACEA, Markel, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA), Washington International Horse Show and Wellington International.
For more information about the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, including the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series, please visit the Show Jumping Hall of Fame website at www.ShowJumpingHallofFame.net.