Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 14
Scott Stewart was a force to be reckoned with at the second annual U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Pre-Green Incentive Championship, held at the Kentucky Horse Park Aug. 12-14, campaigning five horses in the final round.
The program showcases young horses just beginning their careers in the hunter ring and consisted of three jumping rounds. 132 horses competed at the 3’ and 3’3” levels on the first two days, and the top 30 horses, 15 from each height division, were called back to vie for the champion title in the third and final round on Aug. 14.
Five of Stewart’s original 10 mounts entered in the class made it to the championship round, but it was Rivers Edge Farm’s Remarkable that jumped to victory in the end. The 7-year-old warmblood gelding (Lordanos—Argona B) proved himself brave and confident over the 3’3” fences, and caught the judges’ eye with his unique look. But it was that same look that almost deterred Stewart from importing Remarkable from Europe as a hunter prospect this spring.
“I think a lot of people saw a video of the horse and no one bought him because of his coloring, and I don’t think I would’ve bought him unless I went over and saw him in person,” said Stewart. “I saw him on a video about six months ago and I wasn’t sure. I didn’t go over [to Europe to see him] until this summer. We tried him once and bought him that afternoon.
“He’s really fun to ride and a good mover and jumper,” the professional hunter rider continued. “He’s beautiful in person. I think in the video you couldn’t tell as well that he’s such a good looking horse.”
Stewart’s first ride of the day was 8 year-old Enough Said, owned by Stephanie Danhakl. The pair’s round proved unbeatable for the next 14 trips, until Stewart came back in the ring and topped his own score aboard Remarkable. Enough Said ended up finishing in third place, just .25 points behind John French and Boss.
“None of the horses I rode today are spooky at all,” said Stewart. “[Enough Said] is probably my easiest one; [Denhakl] does him in the 3’3” amateurs and he’s probably my most experienced one, so it was nice starting off [the class] with him.”
“I thought the course was nice,” he continued. “It felt a little long sometimes, but there seemed to be a lot of good rounds and there wasn’t anything terribly spooky or hard for them. I was a little worried in the beginning because you had to get through a gap [between fences], but I don’t think anyone had problems with it.”
Stewart also rode Classical, Celebration and Simply Cool to 9th, 11th, and 17th, respectively. For the well-known rider and owner, the Pre-Green Incentive program is a great way to expose his green horses to large-scale competition as well as put them on the map as future contenders in the hunter ring.
“I love young horses and bringing them along, so I think this program is great because it really showcases them, where at other shows we go to they’re in another ring and no one really gets to watch them,” said Stewart. “So I think it’s great for the sport and for people who want to buy young horses to keep them interested in these young prospects.”
Watch one of Remarkable's trips...
Boss Takes Charge For The Red Ribbon
As the third to last rider to go in the championship, John French piloted Boss around the 3' track to earn second place. Competitors had an option at the first fence—a vertical set on a direct outside line or a vertical on the diagonal—and Amanda Steege on Sansouci was the only rider to opt for the former.
"I thought it was great," said French of Patrick Rodes' course. "I liked coming off the diagonal; it was easier to get the lead change that way and you have less risk there. The jumps looked beautiful. The [nine-stride] first line was a little bit forward, but I think the horses all jumped well and there wasn't anyone spooking or anything. They were a little tired, going through three days [of showing]."
Fellow competitor Tammy Provost imported Boss right before the inaugural USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship last year, and he's currently owned by Laura Wasserman.
"I believe he started as a dressage horse over in Europe," said French. "Since he only showed half a year last year, we thought that we would do one more year in the pre-greens."
Even though the crowd and atmosphere surrounding the Stonelea Ring was intimidating for the young horses, French wasn't concerned about the 8-year-old warmblood gelding (Samba Hit—Vulano D) spooking at anything.
"He didn't really need to go in and walk around and see anything," said French, referring to the course walk where horses were permitted to tour the ring before the championship. "I didn't know what he would be like late at night; he likes to come in in the morning and this was sort of feeding time, so I thought he might wake up a little bit, but no."
French is based at Waldenbrook Farm in Woodside, Calif. "California is a little bit slow getting horse shows and these classes at first," he said. "We only really have two or three shows this year in California to qualify, so you had to go to those shows. But hopefully people on the West Coast will see what a success it is and how much interest it's brought on, and show managers will start putting these classes together in California.
"It's great because coming from California, we have to fly the horses, and winning this money shows people that it's worth it," the professional continued. "It's worth it without the money, I think."
To read more about the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship highlights, and who won all the high point awards and other accolades, check out the September 1st print issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.
To learn more about the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship and find results, click here.