Upper Marlboro, Md.—Oct. 4
When Dominique Damico headed to the Capital Challenge Horse Show she wasn’t expecting to compete in the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge. Her top horse, Nemesis 11, underwent colic surgery twice this spring, so he’s been sitting out the second half of this season and she was unable to compete in enough qualifying competitions.
But when Rockette earned a spot in tonight’s class with top placings in the professional hunter divisions, Damico decided she wanted to go for the win in her first time competing in the class.
“I, of course, wanted to win,” she said. “But I wanted to put in a good, positive round for the horse. I just gave it my best shot, and it paid off.”
Damico had a secret weapon this weekend. One of her best friends, Brian Fiegus, won the class in 2014, and he’s been at the in-gate throughout her rounds.
“I said, ‘Brian, I really want to win,’ ” Damico said. “And he said, ‘You can win, but just ride.’ So that was huge, because I was able to say, ‘Let’s go in there and ride and do the best we can and do right by the horse and hopefully it all pans out.’ ”
And pan out it did. Damico and Rockette were second after the first round, and when they were the only pair to score in the 90s in Round 2, it boosted them to a two-round total of 179.33. First round leaders Erica Quinn and Celtic Fire took the reserve.
“It’s super exciting to compete at a venue like this and follow such big names and top professionals that have won this class,” said Damico. “To watch the Pro Challenge right before is very motivating, and I think it’s a crucial part of a young professional’s career to be able to compete in a class like this and get used to the pressure. The stadium is exciting, and they do such a great job with this horse show. It’s one of my favorites.”
Redfield Farm initially imported the 9-year-old warmblood mare Rockette before Damico’s Ramble On Farm purchased her in partnership with her student Kaitlyn Williams. In 2016 Williams rode Rockette to the large junior hunter, 15 and under, championship at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) before the mare was leased out for a year.
Rockette just returned to Ramble On Farm in Berwyn, Pa., this June, and Damico used the Capital Challenge show as a warm-up for the rest of the indoor season.
“She’s a super horse,” said Damico. “She’s a sensitive horse but all quality and tries really hard.”
Fenney Wears Many Hats
Give Tracy Fenney a grand prix course, and she’s cool as ice. Ask her to jump around a hunter course, and it’s a different story.
“The hunters are so nerve-wracking to me because you have to be so precise, and you can’t do anything wrong,” said Fenney. “In the jumpers you can do a little of this and a little of that and still be OK. I think those people who only do the hunters are amazing because you have to put it together so well.”
But Fenney put it together in the $25,000 WCHR Pro Challenge when she piloted MTM Outbid to the top of the class with a two-round total of 183.66. The pair sat second going into the final round this evening, and the judges liked what they saw in Round 2, giving them an average score of 93.66 to edge out first round leaders Louise Serio and Kings Landing.
“I know he gave a good effort, but I didn’t know how well he’d be received with it,” said Fenney. “I thought it was great. He jumped great and tried everywhere. All those people are so tough, and I watched a bunch go, so they’re all so good. With Louise being behind me—her horse is amazing too—I was so excited.
“I don’t like going last because that’s a lot of pressure,” she continued. “So, I was kind of glad Louise beat me in the first round. I was like, ‘Good, I don’t have to go very last’ because I tend to screw up the second round.”
Typically, Fenney and her husband Mike McCormick buy young hunters for resale, but MTM Outbid has shown a propensity for the international hunter derbies, so they’ve hung onto him. They purchased the 7-year-old warmblood at an auction in Germany two years ago, and he’s continued to impress.
“He was just amazing,” said Fenney. “And I think in the dark warming up a bit it kind of makes them impressed. He was looking at a few more things in the warm-up area because of the shadows, but it gets them ‘What’s going on?’
“His ability is amazing,” she continued. “He can do anything you ask him to do. He’s got a nice big stride and great canter, and his jump is natural and easy. You don’t have to do anything, I think he likes to jump. He just does it easily.”
Fenney didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy her win though. She spent the break between the two rounds packing and caught an early flight Thursday morning to Tryon, N.C. where she has three horses entered in the jumper welcome stake in the afternoon.