Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Up Chiqui Upstages The Best At Upperville

Kent Farrington knew that he and Up Chiqui could win the $100,000 Budweiser/Upperville Jumper Classic. But he also knew that before he could  take home the big check he’d have to beat Margie Engle aboard two of her most experienced mounts.

“I was going to try to go faster than Margie, but I wasn’t sure I could go faster and still go clear,” said Farrington. “My horse is really fast across the ground, but Margie is always great and her horses are bigger than mine.”

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Kent Farrington knew that he and Up Chiqui could win the $100,000 Budweiser/Upperville Jumper Classic. But he also knew that before he could  take home the big check he’d have to beat Margie Engle aboard two of her most experienced mounts.

“I was going to try to go faster than Margie, but I wasn’t sure I could go faster and still go clear,” said Farrington. “My horse is really fast across the ground, but Margie is always great and her horses are bigger than mine.”

But faster and clear was possible, and Farrington ended up the winner on June 10 in Upperville, Va. It was his second win of the week, having claimed the $25,000 Upperville Welcome Stakes two days before.

Engle had to settle for second and third this year, but she was pleased with her horses’ efforts. “Perin felt like he was a young horse again,” said Engle of the 18-year-old. “The only place he lost any time was his air time. It felt like he was way up over everything. And Wapino just felt fantastic.”

Engle set a blazing pace in the jump-off aboard Hidden Creek’s Perin, slicing the turns and leaving all the jumps up in 41.25 seconds. Anne Kursinski and Lorenzo, who placed second in this competition last year, nicked a rail coming out of the in-and-out and finished with 4 faults. Engle returned aboard Hidden Creek’s Wapino, determined to beat her own time. She sped through the course and finished clean in 40.27 seconds.

Farrington jumped last, having watched two show jumping legends set a tough paradigm to match. Undaunted, the pair blazed through the course without touching the rails and finished half a second faster than Engle and Wapino (39.76).

Farrington and Up Chiqui have been on a hot streak lately, picking up two blue ribbons at the $30,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and the $50,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI*** at the Kentucky Spring Classic, as well as the $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake at Devon (Pa.).

The Budweiser/Upperville Grand Prix marks the biggest victory to date for the 10-year-old gelding, who is owned by Alex Boone, Richard Bass, and James McNerny. Only McLain Ward’s Sapphire has more money than Up Chiqui in the U.S. Equestrian Federation national rankings.

Farrington’s business partner, the Netherlands-based Javier Salvador, imported Up Chiqui. After winning a few smaller grand prix classes with Farrington, Lauren Bass took over the reins, but the pair never quite gelled. At the end of 2006 Farrington regained the ride.
 
Farrington chalks up his success to a growing rapport with the Belgian Warmblood. “It takes time to build up a partnership. When we started in Palm Beach [Fla.] this year he’d go clear in the first round and then maybe have a rail in the jump-off. But he got better and better. By the end of the circuit we’d picked up a couple wins, and he was in great form.”

Right now Farrington is focusing on building his business rather than making a bid to compete at the Pan Am Games in Brazil. “Unfortunately right now I can’t give up that much time to go down there for one show,” said Farrington ruefully. “I have to run a business and ride other horses. I can’t give that a try just yet.”

A River Of Ribbons
The regular working hunter championship aboard Rio Renoir thrilled Nicole Simpson, but earning the win in her first Upperville venture was like a red carpet welcome for the California girl.

Simpson grew up on the east coast riding as a junior with “Rio’s” current trainer, Tom Wright and the Lindners of All Seasons Farm. After a shining junior career, she made her way to the top of the grand prix scene in California.

When Brad Wolf bought Rio a few years ago, Simpson still stood out in Wright’s mind, and she became one of the 8-year-old Canadian Sport Horse’s riders when professional Holly Orlando or Wolf himself didn’t hold the reins.

Fresh from his first Devon (Pa.) trip and still buzzing from that grand amateur cham-pionship, Wolf earned amateur-owner, 36 and over, honors with the flashy gelding at Upperville.

“He really is a showman,” Simpson said. “He has a great jump and is a lot of fun to ride. He’s like a big pony.”

Rio’s back-to-back championships at two of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious shows made it all the more exciting for Simpson. “You can really just feel the tradition and energy in the air; it’s wonderful,” she declared. “You don’t find shows like this anymore.”

Simpson also took reserve honors in the division aboard a 9-year-old Oldenburg, In The Black. Kristin Brown imported In The Black from Germany in 2002 to be a dressage horse.

“He just got a bit too big for me,” Brown explained. “When we decided to sell him, we started jumping him on the longe line, and he just got this look on his eye that said, ‘You’ve finally realized what I want to do.’ He just looked so much happier.”

Brown sold him in 2004 and hadn’t seen him jump competitively until Upperville. She was also pleased to watch Clara Lindner ride In The Black to the amateur-owner, 18-35, reserve championship.

Lasting Impressions
Peregrine, on the other hand, is no stranger to Upperville. Last year he earned the first year green tricolor and the grand children’s hunter championship, and he returned this year, under the ride of Katie Huber, to garner second year green honors.

Owner Adele Norton and the 9-year-old warmblood-Thoroughbred gelding are perfecting their partnership for the juniors this year.

“This is Adele’s first year in the juniors, and he’s a great match for her. That’s the main thing,” Huber said. “Horses like him may take a little extra time, especially when he’s for a junior rider, but he’s definitely going to be worth the wait.”

Like In The Black, Peregrine also started his career under a dressage saddle. But when Norton and Huber got him last year, they watched 2’6″ fences easily pass below him.

“I just loved his classic look and couldn’t resist his jump. Adele is only 13 now so I think she’ll enjoy a long and very successful junior career with him,” Huber said.

Her first impression of Peregrine seems akin to Scott Stewart’s first impression of Molly Ohrstrom’s Ovation. When Stewart discovered this year’s first year green cham-pion, he knew instantly that this horse was special even from a lackluster digital reproduction.

“Bernardo Piskorz sent me the video tape, and I liked him so much I bought him off the video,” Stewart said of the German-bred 6-year-old. “He was such a beautiful horse and beautiful mover, and together with being such a scopey jumper, there was no question. He goes like a Thoroughbred. He has a very classic hunter style.”

After Ohrstrom watched Ovation in the flesh, she began riding him daily and bought him just before Stewart took him to Florida this winter.

Ovation earned top honors at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) and Devon (Pa.), so it seems Ohrstrom will enjoy a true talent in the amateur-owner division when she picks up his reins next year.

Though Stewart’s other headliner, West Point, didn’t take to Devon’s Dixon Oval as well as Ovation, Stewart is certain Krista and Alexa Weisman’s 6-year-old Bavarian Warmblood is back on track after his green conformation victory at Upperville.

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“He was a little green at Devon,” Stewart said. “He wasn’t bad; he just over-jumped. I think he just tried too hard; the jumps were quite high and wide.”

But his first day at Upperville produced scores of 90 and 92 in the first over-fences classes, and he kept up those stellar marks the next day. “He’s really quiet and has that big stride,” Stewart described. “He really tries 100 percent on every jump.”

He predicts Krista will sit in West Point’s tack next year in the amateur-owner division.

As usual, Stewart must have been thrilled with his star student Glen Senk aboard True, who earned his second consecutive grand adult amateur hunter championship at Upperville.

When Upperville rolls around each summer, the 50-year-old Philadelphia, Pa., resident brings his best to the historic grassy rings and always credits his horses for the victories. “He had 10 pounds of carrots today,” Senk said smiling. “He’s very spoiled.”

While he’s been champion at almost every top show in country, carrots are the least of his treats. “He’s got a home for life in my backyard,” Senk said.

The Belgian Warmblood was actually raised in someone’s backyard, said Senk. “I think that’s why he’s so sweet,” he explained.

For the first six years of his life, True was turned out with the herd in true European style. James Lala imported the striking gray horse during his sixth year. When Stewart found him, Senk bought him. “So I’m very thankful to James,” he added.

Senk and True won almost every class in the adult amateur, 46 and over, division. “Anytime he doesn’t win, it’s my fault,” he admitted. “He has presence when he walks in the ring, and he just loves to show it off. Three-foot, four-foot, four-six—he jumps the same every time.”

It was obvious that both felt right at home at Upperville. “It’s like a horse show from my youth. It has a lot of soul and doesn’t feel manufactured,” Senk said. “I think it’s the only grass ring with hills, trees and a snake jump.”

Though it may seem like this pair have won everything there is for an adult amateur duo to win, don’t count on either retiring anytime soon. He’s not for sale,” Senk said with a laugh.

Juggling Competition With Class
Samantha Schaefer is no stranger to success at Upperville either. For the past two years she’s been crowned Best Child Rider on a Pony, and she continued her winning ways this year by snagging the grand pony cham-pionship on her large pony Winston and the large pony reserve championship aboard Richard Prant’s Sunday Best.

She also took home the small junior hunter, 15 and under, championship aboard Stacey Schaefer and Kim Stewart’s Quincy, and reserve honors in the large junior hunters, 15 and under, with Stacey Schaefer’s Jackson.

Incredibly, Upperville was Quincy’s first horse show. The 8-year-old warmblood just arrived from Germany two months ago. “Scott [Stewart] showed him earlier in the week, so he’d already been in the ring which is good, because it can be a spooky place” said Sam. “You never know what they’re going to do when it’s their first time in there, but he was really good.”

Sam’s mother Stacey originally bought Jackson, a 6-year-old Hanoverian, to ride herself, but when her daughter gave “Andrew” a try the two matched perfectly. “He is my favorite one,” said Sam emphatically. “Andrew never wants to do anything wrong; he’s like a big teddy bear. My mom won’t ever get him back.”

The idea to name her mounts after presidents wasn’t all Sam’s. “Kim [Stewart] had a horse named Jefferson, who was named after the town,” she explained. “Then we got one from Europe who was really tall who we called Lincoln. The trend started after that.”

Like most teenagers, Schaefer, 13, had quite a few end-of-school obligations to juggle before showing at Upperville. She attended high school orientation the day before and had to race back home from the show on Saturday to cram in some last-minute studying before exams on Monday.

Catching Ribbons
Katherine Newman only brought one horse of her own to Upperville, but it certainly didn’t stop her from winning aboard everyone else’s.

The 16-year-old left her own junior hunter at home to catch ride for Claiborne Bishop and Cherry Knoll Farm. In the large junior hunters, 16-17, Newman galloped away with the championship aboard The Barracks’ Mirkwood.

“I rode him Wednesday for the first time,” said Newman of the big bay gelding. “It can be especially tough here with all the hills in the ring, but Mirkwood has a nice big stride and it was easy for him. He never questions anything; he’s just a really nice horse.”

She also earned excellent ribbons aboard Cherry Knoll Farm’s Game On in the same division. In addition, Newman won the VHSA medal aboard another borrowed horse, Mimi Abel Smith’s amateur-owner hunter Almelo. “He’s good at multi-tasking,” noted Newman.

Despite her success in the hunters and equitation, Newman said the jumper ring was her favorite place. “I rode my jumper Costa Sur in the 1.40 class in the field,” she said. “We didn’t get a ribbon, but it was my favorite moment because it was so much fun.

“I’m concentrating on doing well everywhere, but one of my main goals would be a grand prix on my jumper,” added Newman. “We do have the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships [Va.] on the schedule right now.”

Bari Friedman, 16, has been showing at Upperville for as long as she can remember. The show has had a special place in her heart ever since she won the children’s hunter championship aboard Targetry and
the local pony championship on Fine Art three years ago.

This year Friedman returned to winning ways, riding her Thoroughbred Outrageous to the small junior hunter, 16-17, championship.

“He felt very smooth and relaxed today,” said Friedman. “He jumped great, slow and high over everything.”

Trainer Kevin Bruce said that Outrageous caught his eye right away. “We loved his amazing, elastic jump, and the fact that he’s a Thoroughbred added to his appeal to me as a trainer.

Bruce has been with Friedman, of Bethesda, Md., since her first lesson nine years ago.
 
“I know that the judges like warmbloods a lot—but I think it’s cool when they put Outrageous on top,” said Friedman.

She also rides LeGrande, an ex-grand prix horse, in the equitation and large junior hunters. Her newest addition is a Holsteiner mare named Femme Fatale, who just finished her first show in the juniors.

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“It can be a little hard to swap from one horse to the other, but I’m getting used to it,” said Friedman. “It’s a lot of fun to have a variety of horses to ride.”

Jennifer Waxman, on the other hand, rode at Upperville for her first time this year. She rode Whitney Roper’s Saloon to the large junior hunter, 15 and under, championship and the grand junior hunter championship, as well as winning the junior/amateur-owner classic.

“It’s definitely harder to ride in this ring than a ‘normal’ ring,” remarked Waxman. “But it’s so pretty; I really like it. Saloon loved it.”

Waxman took home top ribbons with her other junior mounts as well. All Seasons Farm’s Relentless won a class in the smalls, Roper’s Sister Parish just missed the reserve championship in the larges and her own mount Zoom finished sixth in the classic.

Her success continued in the Washington International Horse Show equitation class and the USET Talent Search Medal, and she earned the high junior jumper championship aboard Outline and the low junior jumper championship on Who’s Business.

With so many victories, it’s easy to see why the judges honored her with the Best Junior Rider award. But Waxman refuses to take all the credit for her success. “My parents and my trainers, Ken and Emily Smith, are fantastic,” she said. “And of course Mrs. Roper and Whitney Roper.”

Mrs. Roper was in the grandstand to watch Sister Paris and Saloon this weekend, but Waxman didn’t feel any extra anxiety. “There’s really no pressure from Whitney or Mrs. Roper,” said Waxman. “They’re both so nice and supportive, even if I mess up.”

It’s All About The Team Work
Even though Katie Meagher and Keep The Faith had a rocky run in the amateur-owner division at Devon (Pa.) two weeks before, their second consecutive adult amateur hunter classic victory at Upperville reaffirmed Meagher’s faith in Keep The Faith.

“It was a really positive experience and nice to just get back in the ring,” she said. “It was my first time back to Devon in seven years, and we had a bit of a hard time. So I just wanted to step back, take a deep breath, and recoup.”

With help from Pam Baker on the road and Peg Seals at Hunters Way in her hometown, Carrollton, Va., Meagher and Keep The Faith got back to business in the classic at Upperville.

An 80 from their first round put them among the top six riders in Round 2. While Lysa Burke Horkan and Too Much Fun threatened to snatch victory with a total score of 165, Meagher and Keep The Faith added an 86 to pin the blue by 1 point.

“He gave me all he had. I didn’t make any mistakes, and I trusted him. I guess that’s the most important thing in this sport,” Meagher said.

Now feeling back on track, Meagher hopes to reclaim amateur-owner status with her 13-year-old gelding. “I couldn’t do it without my team,” she added. “It’s all about team work!”

Sheila Motley couldn’t take the weekend off from work to show at Upperville, but she still managed to find time to win the grand amateur-owner championship aboard Socially Speaking. The 7-year-old warmblood also took home a blue ribbon earlier in the week in the green conformation with Kelley Farmer aboard.

Motley trains with Larry Glefke and Farmer at Lane Change Farm, where her aunt Debbie Buchanan is the barn manager. Motley got Socially Speaking in November as a pre-green horse, but he stepped right up to the 3’6” divisions in Florida, competing with Farmer in the green conformation and Motley in the younger amateur-owners.

“I feel so lucky that even though he’s really a first year horse he’s so made,” said Motley. “It makes things a lot easier.”

Motley had to race back to Charlottesville, Va., every day to work. She is an event planner for The Event Company, and many of their functions take place on weekend evenings.

“When I quit riding professionally five years ago and started at The Event Company all my friends joked that I’m the only one they knew who left one job where I had to work every weekend to another job where I had to work every weekend, because the parties we do are usually on Saturdays,” said Motley. “Sometimes I can get nervous if I’m sitting here all day, waiting for my class. Having a real job definitely helps to keep it fun.”

When things get busy Motley rarely even makes it to the barn at home and meets up with Glefke and Farmer at shows instead.

“The only way I could possibly manage to do this is to have an outstanding team,” explained Motley. “If there was any doubt in my mind whatsoever that my horses weren’t prepared or everything wouldn’t be completely ready I couldn’t do it.”

Casady Conquers The Pony Ring
Shawn Casady only met trainer Bill Schaub in December, but since then he’s been positively taking over pony divisions everywhere he goes. At Upperville, Casady earned the small pony championship aboard Annastelle Cohen’s Blue Crush and the medium championship on Kathleen Mahoney’s Dark Star.

“Back in November I got an e-mail from Sue Riggs about a talented and hard-working young rider,” recalled Schaub. “Shawn came down and took a lesson, and everything just took off from there.”

Casady spent the winter competing with Schaub on the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit (Fla.) riding whatever he could. He finished the winter with the reserve circuit championship in the medium pony hunter division aboard Dark Star.

Casady’s easy way with the ponies and excellent work ethic haven’t gone unnoticed. Sale ponies are lining up around the block for the Kingston, Tenn., native to show. In addition to Blue Crush and Dark Star, he won consistent ribbons in the medium ponies aboard Jimmy and Danielle Torano’s Unexpected and Katie Dinan’s First Impression, and in the large ponies with Far Niente Equine’s Grey Goose, Tyler Green’s Cedar Springs Pen Pal, and Anne Gardner’s Show Boat.

The judges rewarded Casady’s strong performances with Best Child Rider on a Pony honors. The enthusiastic 12-year-old doesn’t seem fazed by his success. “It’s cool to ride all the different ponies,” said Casady. “Someday I’d like to give jumpers a try, but I’ll probably end up doing hunters for a while still.”

None of this would have been possible without the dedication of Casady’s family. Shawn’s father, David, is a pilot and flies to visit the rest of the family when they’re training with Schaub or on the road showing. Ann homeschools Shawn and his sister Sydney, squeezing in lessons whenever she can. Though Sydney doesn’t show seriously, she loves to ride and help at the barn, and does her part to help out by jogging or hacking Shawn’s ponies at the shows.

“Bill always has something positive to say to Shawn, even when things don’t go well,” said Ann. “He listens to his input and works with him. The two just work great together.”

For his own part, Schaub has high hopes for his newest student. “Shawn is fantastic. He really is a great, great talent and a very hard worker,” said Schaub. “When they’re at the farm he’ll happily ride 10 or 15 ponies a day. He’s just an amazing kid.”

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