Upper Marlboro, Md.—Oct. 6
Tori Colvin is known for her handiness, so when she put a hard slice on the first fence aboard Airport 48 and turned up the pressure for a score of 94, Liza Boyd knew she needed to rethink her plan.
“Everyone was amazing in the handy,” said Boyd. “I did not want to do that left lead to the first jump at all—the angle that you started the trend for, Tori.
“Actually, when we walked, we didn’t even think about that,” she continued. “I almost didn’t do, but then Hunt [Tosh] was so good, and I kind of wanted to beat him.”
Boyd is known for her competitiveness when it comes to big classes, so longtime friend (and friendly rival) Hunt Tosh once again set down the gauntlet posting a 94.16 aboard Gotham to take the lead, Boyd has a little extra incentive to pull off the win.
“We kind of have a little rivalry since the 12-14 days, where I did win,” Boyd said, and in response Tosh quipped: “We have a picture to prove it.”
“Then this week, he beat me by half a point in the 3’6″ performance. I was like, I’m getting you tonight buddy, sorry,” she said.
Boyd took the risk, following Colvin’s lead to slice the first fence. And as the judges’ scores came in, the tell-tale sound of her father Jack Towell whooping from the in-gate told everyone within the Show Place Arena that she’d taken the title for the second time, relegating Tosh to second. (Her first win came in 2013).
In the unique format of the WCHR Pro Finals, the top six professionals in the national standings compete head-to-head in a three-round class. For the first two rounds, they switch off on borrowed horses before completing a handy course on a horse of their choosing.
“It’s always a fun class,” said Tosh. “We always laugh and tell jokes and try to help each other out a little bit or make each other nervous.”
Boyd sat second after her first round aboard Chevito, an 8-year-old Holsteiner owned by North Shore Farm, LLC that typically shows in the 1.30-meter jumpers. When she put in the highest-scoring round on Redfield Farm’s Carolino, she earned herself the pole position for the handy round.
“[It was] a little bit luck of the draw; I got the horse that was a little bit nervous the first round for Scott [Stewart], and he did a beautiful job of warming it up for me,” said Boyd. “So I kind of felt like the amateur rider that got to get on after the pro rode it around—thank you, Scott.”
Boyd was back in the professional seat as she went in on O’Ryan. But she chose mounts wisely. The 15-year-old Holsteiner owned by Stella Styslinger has been Boyd’s go-to mount for the past couple of years, and he’s fresh off of a win in the $50,000 Duchossios Cup at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show (N.Y.).
There’s a reason Stewart is the winningest rider in the WCHR Pro Final. The six-time winner of the class was sitting last after the first round but came back from behind to finish third on Betsee Parker’s 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood Private Life.
“I thought it was a great class,” said Stewart. “I especially liked the handy round. Most everybody that I saw had a really great round, which isn’t the usual story for that. I was really happy with my horse. He was awesome. He’s only 6 years old, and it was probably one of my best rounds on him. So it was really fun actually.”
Slotting into fourth was probably the busiest rider this week—Tracy Fenney. The Texas-based professional won the WCHR Pro Challenge on Wednesday with MTM Outbid, hopped on a plane Thursday morning to Tryon, N.C. where she took second in the welcome stake on MTM Reve Du Paradis before heading back north to Maryland to compete in the final.
“I didn’t know I was going to be in the top six, so I made plans to go to Tryon,” she said. “So I showed yesterday in Tryon and did a grand prix there, and then I head back in the morning to do one tomorrow night. I was second. It was worth it.”