Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 18
There’s only one way to top a championship at the Pennsylvania National: Do it again.
Jazz Johnson Merton and Corona SB claimed the amateur/amateur-owner jumper championship in Harrisburg this year, repeating their 2017 win. They clinched the title with a second-placed finish in today’s $7,500 amateur/amateur-owner jumper classic. The winners of the classic, Chloe Field and Rubina VIII, took the reserve title.
Four horses made it around the classic track fault-free, and Merton piloted two of them: Corona SB and Chacom, who finished third. Last to go Field and Rubina VIII sliced nearly 2 seconds off Merton’s time to take the win.
“I think the courses are tough this year,” said Merton, Pottersville, New Jersey. “Yesterday I was surprised there were only two clean in the speed, usually there are more clean in that. I find it a little bit easier for me to ride indoors because the wall really backs the horse up and I’m a little bit nervous with horses taking me, so it works out well for me.”
Corona SB had an unusual preparation for Harrisburg. She partnered with Merton’s niece Gigi Moynihan in the Platinum Performance USEF Talent Search Finals—East (New Jersey) a few weeks before.
Merton and Corona SB, a 15-year-old Holsteiner, paired up six years ago, when Merton, a former hunter aficionado, had just started dabbling in the jumpers. She and Corona SB moved up from the adult jumpers to the high amateur divisions over the years.
“She likes me to have leg in the top of the turn but then be a little softer at the fences,” said Merton. “My right leg doesn’t work as well, and she has a right drift, so I kind of just let her do her thing. I don’t really try to make her conform to jumping square all the time or being straight. I just let her do whatever she needs to do to get around clean. Normally at home we don’t do that jumping because she’s on the older side so we do a lot of trail riding and fun hacking.”
Merton spends plenty of time outside the ring as a joint master of the Essex Fox Hounds (New Jersey).
“I try to get out hunting as much as possible but I have a great friend who’s the other joint master, Karen Murphy, she’s out a lot more than I am,” she said. “They don’t mind my missing a bunch. After doing this in the ring and show jumping on fancy horses I’m a little more chicken out fox hunting. I used to be more gung-ho, but now that I’m older I try to be a little more reserved and take less risks.”