Washington D.C.—Oct. 25
Michael Hughes came to the Washington International with a little something to prove. At last week’s Pennsylvania National he came back for the test in the Pessoa/USEF Medal Final in the lead, but his mount spooked at a sign to knock him out of the top spot. But at the Verizon Center Hughes nailed all three rounds to win the Washington International Horse Show Equitation Finals. He edged out Hunter Holloway, and Mckayla Langmeier finished third.
“I guess I did have to redeem myself a little bit after Medal Finals,” said Hughes, Allendale, N.J. “I came back here with another horse and everything felt really good.”
The top 40 horses in the country came to downtown D.C. for the three-round class. TJ O’Mara, eventual fourth, topped the hunter phase, and Hughes won the second phase. The top three headed into the final round within 0.7 points of one another. In phase three, the top 10 riders swap horses, and unlike in some previous years, none of the work-off riders had major errors.
Hughes drew Langmeier’s Skyfall, and laid down a round that earned the best score of the day—93.5—to take the title. Judge Jimmy Torano, who officiated alongside Mark Leone, Phil DeVita and Linda Hough, described that trip as “flawless.”
“In all these classes, you’re talking about splitting hairs,” said Torano. “All three had super rounds. And they had amazing rounds on each other’s horses.”
Hughes, the son of professional horseman Eamonn and Cathy Hughes, has been trained by the North Run team of Missy Clark, John Brennan and Julie Welles for the last eight years. He had help at Washington from the Kelianda Farm team of Linda and Kenny Langmeier and Joanna Seaver.
Linda helped Michael pair up with his mount for the occasion, Finnick, who’s owned by her student Jordyn Rose Freedman. Michael rode him a handful of times and squeezed in a few lessons this week with Clark at the Prince George Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., to get to know him.
“It was really nice of them to lend him,” said Clark. “It’s really an example of old school horsemanship like they used to do with the USET, when someone would lend a top horse to a top rider for an important event.
“He’s had so much mileage, I knew it wouldn’t be a big issue to hop on,” she continued. He’s such a great rider, such a talent.”
Holloway’s had more experience with her mount, but not in the equitation ring. That horse, Any Given Sunday, competed with her mother, grand prix rider Brandi Holloway before Hunter started riding him in the jumpers. Any Given Sunday competed in his first equitation class at Medal Finals. Hunter, Topeka, Kan., prepared for the fall indoor season with a few extra lessons with Don Stewart.
Hunter swapped onto Caitlin Boyle’s Loredo for the work-off, and put in a solid round to finish second.
McKayla had a little more luck with her mount. She swapped onto Finnick, whom she’d seem in her family’s barn aisle and watched in lessons, but never ridden him herself. That 13-year-old who trains with the North Run and Kalianda Farm teams has been on a roll this season, finishing second at Medal Finals and winning the New England Equitation Finals (Mass.).
“I know my horse pretty well because I’ve ridden him for two years,” said McKayla, East Granby, Conn. “He’s very straightforward, like Michael’s horse. Doing the second round with Michael’s horse is awesome. He’s such a blast to ride.”
All three riders will head to the ASPCA Maclay Finals yet.
“This gives me a great boost of confidence heading into next week,” he said.
The Will To Win
As the last rider in the jump off for the low junior/amateur-owner classic, Lucas Porter had plenty of time to plan his winning strategy—and let his nerves settle.
“I knew if I won today that I would be champion,” said Porter, who tacked up Psychee d’Amour for the occasion. “So I just tried to stay calm because usually when I’m last in the class I feel the pressure to win.”
A clear round boosted Porter, 17, and Psychee d’Amour to the division championship over Yasmin Rizvi and Vivell-C.
“It wasn’t as fast of a jump-off as yesterday, just because it was probably a harder course today,” said Porter. “A few people had rails today, so I had to do a tidy, clean round. [Psychee is] naturally quick, so I just had to stand in the half-seat and let her do her thing.”
Porter and the 11-year-old Selle Francais mare (Juvaro du Rouet SF—Keva d’Amour, Papillon Rouge), owned by Double S Farm LLC, have been together for over three years, and Porter loves her competitive spirit.
“She’s super fast and super careful, and she’s a winner,” said Porter. “She loves to win just as much as I do, so we match quite well I think. She can be a little bit spicy, but it just comes with her winning personality, I guess!”
Just The Right Speed
When Hunter Holloway and I Love Lucy beat out Tori Colvin for the win in the yesterday’s high junior/amateur-owner speed class, Colvin was determined to see her name on the top of the leaderboard in today’s $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Senator’s Cup.
Colvin and Chanel were first in the ring for the jump-off, and set the pace for their competition with a quick, clear round.
“I wanted to go fast enough, but I wanted to have a clean round because I watched the low juniors go and they had trouble in [the jump-off],” said Colvin. “So I thought a little slow and steady would win, but not too slow!”
Colvin, who yesterday collected the large junior hunter, 16-17, and grand junior hunter championship titles aboard Inclusive, added the division title to her WIHS accolades when she and Chanel B topped the $15,000 Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper Championship.
“[Chanel rides] like a hunter—it’s nice!” said Colvin, 17. “You have to hold her at the base [of the jump] to keep her comfortable, but she likes to put her head out and go around, so you can sort of let go a bit [everywhere else].”
Chanel, a 9-year-old Mecklenburger mare (Cellestial—Orola), owned by Karen Long-Dwight, is one of the newer jumpers in Colvin’s string.
“We got her last year around the end of [the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.)], and she’s a little bit of a different ride. She’s a woman, so she’s a little opinionated. She’s also a little funny with the crowd in the indoor [venues], so I wasn’t sure how she would handle that, but she was amazing.”
Follow along with the Chronicle as we bring you all the news from Washington here. Full results from the competition are available here and you can watch a livestream of the entire competition for free here.
For a full report from the Washington International Horse Show, check out the Nov. 10 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.