Excitement filled the Dixon Oval this evening as the $1,000 Pennsylvania Horse Show Association’s Hunter Classic made its debut at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series horse show, presented by Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS). Corinthian and professional rider Melissa Morrill rode to the top of the leaderboard with a total score 161 to lead the lap of honor. Inspired and Amy Guth scored the second place award, while Christiane Schuman Campbell and Gulliver took home the third place prize.
The Classic, presented by the Pennsylvania Horse Show Association (PHSA), was open to PHSA members only and will count towards year end points in the horses’ respective divisions. The field of 15 competitors were eager to showcase their skills over Kenny Krome’s beautifully designed derby course, which included a bending line in the first round, as well as two inside options in the second round.
Corinthian and Melissa Morrill’s smooth trip during the first round put them at the top of the field going into the second round, where their slick turns and handiness earned them an excellent score of 85, holding the lead with a total of 161.
“That was a lot of fun. During the first round I knew it was going to be tough because it was Corinthian’s first time in there under the lights; it’s totally different. I thought the course was set up really nicely, and he was really good, but we had a couple of minor mistakes here and there. Overall he was really brave and I was excited to go back in for the second round,” commented Morrill on the class.
Receiving the second place honors was Inspired, owned and ridden by Amy Guth of West Chester, PA. The duo turned in a solid first trip and followed up with an 83 in the handy, bringing their total to 152. Third place went to Christiane Schuman Campbell of Newton, PA aboard Gulliver. Their consistent first trip and score of 80 in the handy put them in third. Campbell also piloted her other mount More Than A Lot to a fourth place finish.
Corinthian, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Gretchen Zungailia out of West Grove, PA, made himself right at home under the lights in the Dixon Oval. “He shows in Pre-Greens and he’s never been here before. I thought it was really cool for him to go in there and be a good boy,” explained Morrill, a professional rider. “I really just wanted him to go in there and feel comfortable. He’s such a talented horse, but it stressed me out knowing that he was a little worried in there. I just wanted him to go back in there and enjoy himself. That’s exactly what happened. He was totally rideable and he was relaxed.”
Despite the many questions asked of the competitors, this duo gave the answers the judges were looking for. Corinthian’s turns and handiness set him apart from the rest of the pack. “I was a little worried about the coop, but his owner does a lot of cross country with him and they have jumped a coop before, so that was second nature to him. He was really good with the tight turns. I thought that he was very handy and listened to everything I asked him to do,” explained Morrill. “I thought this was a great class, it was a good way to pull in the riders from Pennsylvania.”
Tonight, the board of the PHSA was on site to enjoy the festivities of the evening. PHSA President, Troy Hendricks, was excited to see this special class showcased at such a great venue. Hendricks explained, “The organization, the Pennsylvania Horse Show Association, encompasses the whole state. There’s a bit of a focus on this area, since this is our strongest membership area. This horse show in particular started last year, and the members voted it as Horse Show of the Year for 2011. It was Louise Serios’ idea to run a classic for PSHA, and Louise, being a longtime horse person of Pennsylvania, offered to have this Classic established at her horse show. Our organization all teamed up to focus on this particular horse show.”
The PHSA board members strive to place a focus on bettering the sport in Pennsylvania, and by creating this Classic, they hoped to encourage the locals to compete in their home state. “One of the big things we do is a big awards banquet at the end of the year. From this classic, the horses will not only win prizes tonight in the form of prize money, ribbons, and awards, but it will also go towards year end points in their respective divisions,” commented Hendricks.
Earlier in the day in the Gold Ring, it was the Pre-Green Hunters that stole the limelight. Louise Serio piloted Bonaparte, owned by Annette Lauer of New York, NY, to a victory in the $1,000 Pre-Green Classic. They also took home the Pre-Green 3’3″ Hunter Reserve Championship behind Jennifer Bauersachs and Wink, owned by Lee Kellogg Sadrian of New York, NY. The Pre-Green 3′ Hunter Championship went to Serafino, ridden by Melissa Feller for Elisabeth McFadden of Long Valley, NJ, while Louise Serio and Willow, owned by Bryan Baldwin of Brandon, FL, took home the reserve championship. The new Small Hunter division rounded out the day with Lyman T. Whitehead and Felton, owned by Riley Carithers of Greer, SC, earning the championship award, while Celine Marlin Andrews of Valley Forge, PA, picked up the reserve championship.
This afternoon, the High and Low Junior/Amateur Owner Jumpers took their turn in the Dixon Oval. Once again, Lillie Keenan of New York, NY was victorious in both classes, winning the High Junior/Amateur Owner Jumpers aboard Zycarla Z, owned by Abigail Wexner from New Albany, OH, as well as the Low Junior/Amateur Owner Jumpers on Chansonette Farm LLC’s Zentina B. The Child/Adult Jumpers also concluded tonight with the Marshall and Sterling Child/Adult Jumper Classic. Leslie A Schillat of Wayne, PA, took home top honors aboard Lady Liberty. Finally, the equitation riders were able to showcase their skills in the Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Medal. Taking home the blue was Isabelle Caccamise of Westport, CT.
The Brandywine Valley Summer Series will continue tomorrow with the High and Low Junior/Amateur Owner Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classes being the highlights of the night. The Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series culminates in the Year-End Championships at the Alltech National Horse Show in November. The first week of the Brandywine Valley Summer Series will conclude on Sunday with the $10,000 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA International Hunter Derby in the Dixon Oval.
For more information about the Brandywine Valley Summer Series, please visit http://brandywinevalleysummerseries.com.