Saugerties, N.Y.—Sept. 6
In the sales business, you never want to get too attached to a horse. But when you’re working with projects like Virgo DC, the 11-year-old gelding ridden by Jennifer Jones, of Clinton, New York, it’s a lot easier said than done.
“He’s a special horse for me, but I know he’s going to find a good home because he’s so nice,” said Jones, who topped Round 1 of the $250,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at the HITS Saugerties Championship. “You try to spend time with him so you have a bond, but you can’t get too attached because you know they’re going to be sold. That’s the business.”
For Jones, 37, the bay gelding is an amazing ride. His canter is slow; his scope is evident, and he’s not one to make a mistake. And though he transitioned from the jumpers to the hunters just four months ago, Virgo knows his stuff, and he’s confident at what he does.
“He was a junior jumper, and we did one show with him as a jumper [at the Jacksonville Spring Classic (Florida)],” said Jones. “Then we shipped back north after Florida, and we sort of just were looking at him one day and thought, ‘Wow, he’s pretty enough to be a hunter,’ so we started him right up, and he was amazing from Day 1.”
Virgo DC is owned by Sophie Transou, and Jones got the ride on him in April when Transou sent him to David Raposa Sales. He spent May through July competing in the hunter divisions across New York, and he finished within the top three in nine of the 10 classes entered at the HITS-on-the-Hudson circuit.
“He just loves it,” said Jones. “His first [hunter] derby, he was third, and he hasn’t blinked an eyeball; he’s just amazing. He’s so relaxed; he’s so scopey; he’s a quiet horse; he jumps high. He’s everything you really want in a hunter, so it was really smooth and really easy for him.”
“He has a great shot at [the $250,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix],” she added. “We came to try to do well.”
A Good Feeling
Before Meghan Knapic stepped foot on the outside course to contest Round 1 of the $100,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, she was all smiles in the warm-up ring.
Her ride, the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Encore, felt great. And after spending the summer competing him in various Platinum Performance Hunter Prix classes, she was excited and ready to get the weekend going. So much so that she headed into the ring without having walked the course.
“I jumped a few jumps [in the warm-up] because there’s a lot of rounds this weekend, but right off the bat he was straight and great, so I was very confident going in with him,” said Knapic, 19, Smithtown, New York.
Knapic first paired with Encore, who is owned by First Blue LLC, at the beginning of the summer. And after successful outings together, she decided to fly home from her sophomore year at Auburn University (Alabama) to compete him this week.
“[Riding in college] helps a lot because I ride a lot of different horses there,” said Knapic, who rides on Auburn’s NCEA equestrian team. “So, when I come back here I’m able to adjust pretty fast on whatever horse.”
And when asked how she’s going to prepare Encore for Round 2 of the Prix, Knapic’s approach was very specific: “I’m going to give him some more cookies, walk around a little bit, and he can just sleep,” she said. “He’s perfect; he doesn’t need to do much.”