Meet Your Devon Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions

Jun 2, 2018 - 4:52 PM

Devon, Pa.—June 2 

A few weeks ago, Beth Bidgood didn’t think she was going to Devon. Sure her horse Uprising was first on the wait list, but she didn’t think she actually had a shot. Two weeks before the competition her trainers Dave Belford and Chris Payne of New Hope Farm tried to convince her that luck would go her way, but she didn’t believe them.

“An hour later Dave got the email and called and said, ‘Guess what? You’re in!’ ” recalled Bidgood, Carmel, Indiana.

And once she got to the hallowed Dixon Oval she made that trip count, winning three over fences classes and a pink ribbon under saddle on her way to the amateur-owner, 36 and over, and grand amateur-owner hunter titles. She also earned the leading amateur-owner rider award. Becky Gochman and Catch Me, champions here last year, earned the reserve championship.

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A last-minute entry to Devon paid off when Beth Bidgood and Uprising won the amateur-owner, 36 and over, title as well as the grand amateur-owner championship. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

“With him you have to keep your leg, but he goes in a rubber snaffle,” said Bidgood. “He’s just the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never had a really easy horse before, so this was just amazing.”

After winning two over fences yesterday Bidgood worried her luck wouldn’t hold up. But she won this morning’s stakes class on a mark of 90—the highest score she’s ever earned—to clinch the title.

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Uprising earned the grand amateur-owner hunter championship with Beth Bidgood up. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

“I wasn’t really nervous yesterday,” she said. “I think my horse loves that ring. He’s always good but just seemed to come together here. Last night was really hard for me. I kept thinking, ‘This could really go well.’ I always have second day jitters where I panic.”

Uprising, a black 11-year-old by Chello II, has earned a few weeks off, and Bidgood will contest a few more shows before heading on a trip of a lifetime to Alaska.

The Busiest Day Of All

Just having a horse or two at Devon can cause some stress. But showing in the low amateur-owner, 18-35, division for Lisa Arena Davis was the easy part of the day. After she and Balou won the division championship and the grand low amateur-owner title, Davis and her husband hopped in the car to drive to her home in Fairport, New York, to celebrate her 2-year-old daughter’s birthday and attend the dance recital of her 3-year-old.

Despite the frenzy of today’s activity, the magic of the win wasn’t lost on Davis.

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Lisa Arena Davis and Balou won the low amateur-owner, 18-35, and low amateur-owner hunter grand championships. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

“This is my first tricolor at Devon, and the first time I’ve shown him here,” said Davis. “This is a goal for everyone, the most special horse show there is. I’m so excited to bring my family and my kids, and they’ve been so wonderful to help out—I couldn’t do it without every single one of them.

“The entire jog [after the stakes] I couldn’t even breathe,” she continued. “I was crying so hard I was like, ‘Please don’t pass out because he can’t jog by himself.’ ”

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Lisa Arena Davis cited support from her father (left) Tony Arena and her husband Mike Davis for making it possible for her to compete at Devon. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

Davis and Balou, a 14-year-old Westphalian by Balou du Rouet, didn’t have the start they wanted, with a circle in the middle of her first course yesterday. But they won the under saddle and earned second in the handy and first in the stakes to win the division over Enough Said and Stephanie Danhakl.

A Memorable Debut

Melissa Jacobs made her first trip to Devon one to remember, riding her own Dynamic to the amateur-owner, 18-35, division title over William Hill and Britta Stoeckel.

“I’ve never been to Devon before,” said the 24-year-old from East Aurora, New York. “I don’t know why we didn’t do it as a junior; we were trying to figure that out. We just never did. Last year we’d just moved them up [from the low amateur-owner hunters], so I didn’t have the points, and this year it worked out. I came here thinking that if I won medium ribbons I’d be thrilled. So this is a dream come true.”

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Melissa Jacobs guided Dynamic to the amateur-owner, 18-35, championship during her first trip to Devon. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

Jacobs started out strong with red and yellow ribbons over fences yesterday and a blue under saddle. She clinched the division title with a win in today’s handy round.

“So I wasn’t nervous at first except we finished the first day, and I realized we were doing really well,” said Jacobs, who also trains with Belford and Payne. “I went early in the handy, and when the class was happening it was just going really well, and he was right there with me the whole way.”

The Sambalino award—given to the amateur-owner hunter who, in the opinion of the judges, best exemplifies the classic hunter horse in movement, jumping style and presence—was earned by fellow amateur-owner, 18-35, competitor Set To Music and Laura Sexton.

Two In A Row

Virginia Fout is no stranger to Devon, but that doesn’t make her second consecutive low amateur-owner, 36 and over, championship on Carma any less special.

“The first day I wasn’t quite as smooth as I wanted to be,” said Fout, Los Angeles. “In the first class I second guessed myself a little bit and pulled. But the second day he was spectacular for sure.”

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Carma jumped beautifully for Virginia Fout on their way to the low amateur-owner, 36 and over, championship. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

Fout and the 14-year-old warmblood by Rhodium earned eighth on Day 1 over fences but came back today to win the stakes and finished right behind reserve champion Sloan Lindemann-Barnett in the handy.

“Sloan lives in Northern California, but she comes down for shows, and we’ve become friends over the years,” said Fout. “It was really special to have two California people win in our division.”

Fout was able to adjust her schedule at her event production company to take time to come east for Devon, then stay for her childhood home show of Upperville (Virginia) where her 6-year-old daughter will be riding Carma in the family class with her while she’s aboard her other amateur-owner hunter mount, Cristiano. Still, it’s not easy.

“I had a job on Wednesday, so I took the red-eye out here so I could practice Thursday to show Friday and Saturday,” she said.

Looking for information on where you can watch and when your favorite riders or classes go? We’ve got it all in one place for you. 

Find all our coverage from the show here, and check here for full results.

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Want more Devon? Check out the June 18 issue of the print magazine. What are you missing if you don’t subscribe?

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