Lexington, Ky., Nov. 3
There’s not a much better way a first year green horse could finish his year than with the grand hunter championship at the Alltech National Horse Show. Dedication has gone from strength to strength and capped his year with the biggest title at the prestigious show. “Today was the best he’s ever gone,” said Scott Stewart, who rode him to victory for owner Glen Senk of Fashion Farm.
The win was all the more impressive as Dedication did battle in the biggest division of the professional hunters, with 17 first year green hunters going head to head. And he and Stewart won all three over fences classes, then took second in the under saddle, for the first year green and eventual grand hunter titles.
Dedication, a 6-year-old Holsteiner (Casado—Dithmarschen), claimed the first year and grand tricolors at the Pennsylvania National two weeks before, but he didn’t have his best show at the Washington International (D.C.) last week. “At Washington, the ring was so narrow. He’s good at the handy classes, but he’s a lot of horse to turn, so there wasn’t much room for him to get going. The ring there wasn’t big enough for him to do his best, I think,” Stewart said.
But the spacious ring at the Alltech Arena in the Kentucky Horse Park suited Dedication, and he got a good flow going. “This ring, you feel like you’re outside, so you can really go,” Stewart said. “He has an enormous stride—it’s sometimes hard to fit in the lines, so you have to go very slow. He’s a little green about the ends of the ring flatwork-wise, but he’s getting better each time.”
Stewart also topped the regular conformation division aboard Sambalino, was green conformation reserve champion on Touchdown, and high performance hunter reserve champion with Garfield. Those results brought him the leading hunter rider title.
There’s Nothing Quite Like It
Brunello has been known as a derby specialist, but this year at the Alltech National Horse Show, he proved he can also be king of the high performance division. “The last couple of years, I’ve really started focusing on the derbies and getting the adrenaline rush from that, but in the end, there really still is nothing like being champion at one of these big shows. You have to be focused every class, and it’s such a great feeling,” said Liza Towell Boyd, who rode the big chestnut to the high performance hunter championship.
Boyd and her father, trainer Jack Towell, knew that Brunello, 13, had the high performance hunter championships from Capital Challenge, the Pennsylvania National and the Washington International on his record from 2007. But there was a line missing—the National. So, the Alltech National Horse Show was the only indoor show on Brunello’s schedule this fall.
“Dad said, ‘Let’s take him there and see if we can do it.’ It’s special for this horse; he deserves to be champion at the National Horse Show,” Boyd said. “They’ve really made it seem special. The ring looked beautiful. He’s been a lot of places, but even he walked in there and looked around and rose to the occasion, and it made him really sharp.”
Brunello and Boyd won the stake class to clinch the tricolor over Jersey Boy, who was high performance champion at the Pennsylvania National, and Garfield, who was champion in the division at the Washington International.”The competition with Jersey Boy and Garfield and Brunello is so much fun. They’re all so scopey and such good horses that it made it a really fun division. And they set the jumps big—they weren’t kidding around!” she said.
She’s Still Got It
Holly Orlando knows what it’s like to win at the National Horse Show. In 1999, she rode Overdressed to the regular working hunter title and won the $50,000 WCHR Hunter Classic in one of the last years that the National was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
But in the intervening years, Orlando has slowed down a bit. So, tasting National victory again was quite sweet. Orlando rode Sailor’s Valentine to the top of the second year green hunter division. “It definitely felt good to be back out there. I felt like a real hunter rider again!” Orlando said.
She used to be the typical hustling professional rider, but since her daughter, Logan, was born 16 months ago, Orlando has scaled back her showing. “I don’t do a lot of riding in between shows, because I’ve decided to be with Logan and [my husband] David and do some freelancing,” Orlando said. Sailor’s Valentine lives at owner Ann Misenheimer’s Westerly Farm in Unionville, Pa., and is ridden on a daily basis by Remy Winants and Misenheimer. He is trained by Stacia Madden’s Beacon Hill Farm, and Orlando goes there to school him occasionally and meets them at shows.
“It’s definitely a major team effort, so it’s been really rewarding to get to this point and finish off like this,” Orlando said. “This is definitely the biggest thing we’ve won together. It’s tough to have one horse. You put a lot of pressure on yourself because it’s your one chance to get in the ring and get the job done. But he’s really turned into a horse I can count on.”
Orlando started showing “Rusty,” a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood (VDL Orame—Remy Go) this winter. “It took us until the end of Florida to really mesh. We’d have one good class a week, but not two or three or four,” she said. Consistent performances in derbies have helped the two solidify their relationship, and they placed eighth in the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Final in August. “He likes to gallop along a little bit, and I do too, so our styles suit each other,” Orlando said.
It might not be long before Orlando gets reacquainted with another ring at the show. After her National victories, her daughter, Logan, promptly donned her spurs, putting them over her mud boots and toddling around. “It’s in the blood!” Orlando said.
Get full results from the Alltech National Horse Show.