Oct. 6—Upper Marlboro, Md.
Ellen Toon couldn’t have had a much better trip to Capital Challenge. She rode Invincible to a mark of 90 over fences, which earned today's EMO Trip of the Show award and helped boost them to the amateur-owner, 36 and over, reserve championship. And this afternoon she followed up with another big win: riding Invincible to the top of the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge.
“He’s done a lot of great things, and I love, love, love this horse,” said Toon, North Salem, N.Y. “And you know he rose to the occasion for me here.”
Lumiere and Jane Gaston tied Toon’s mark of 86, but the tie-breaking score gave Gaston the red ribbon. Optimized and Jessica Zienkievicz claimed third.
Toon’s won the class once before, in 2004 aboard In Disguise. That retired horse returned to the show ring this year to accept the inaugural Gray Slipper award. That trophy is presented to an outstanding hunter that competed successfully at both the professional and junior or amateur division.
Toon was elated to top the class aboard her partner of five years.
“You have no idea how happy I am,” she said. “We were in a little bit of a slump there, so these last few months he’s been progressively better. He’s been getting better and better and better, which is how it should be. He’s peaking now.”
The 11-year-old horse has become a reliable partner for Toon. These days he’s confirmed enough that he enjoys a light schedule and an easy program at home. Toon keeps him fit by hacking him in fields and in the ring, and she only jumps him at shows.
“He’s dreamy [to ride],” she said. “He’s very straightforward. He doesn’t spook, he doesn’t try and beat you. He’s very comfortable, easy to see the jumps on. Auto lead changer. He jumps really hard, and so sometimes if he tries really hard it’s hard to stay on him.”
Toon and Invincible will return to competition at the Pennsylvania National.
Winner Lives Up To His Name
Daryl Portela will be the first one to admit she’s a little superstitious. So when she fell for a horse named “Winner,” she wouldn’t even consider a name change. Lucky for her, that moniker suited him just fine.
He scored his latest victory with Portela in the 3’3” WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge. Winner’s barnmate Wind Dancer and Laura Lee Montross clocked in just 1 point behind for second. Sarah Sturges and One Shot finished third.
It’s the first time Winner’s shown indoors during his short career, and the first time that Portela’s been back in almost a decade. But neither one wasted any time strutting their stuff, winning this morning’s low amateur-owner, 36 and over, handy hunter class.
Portela took a break for nearly nine years, after showing her legendary hunter Frascati, to focus on her daughters. But her husband convinced her to get back in the tack after watching Winner go.
“I bought him because he reminded me of Frascati,” said Portela, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “He goes slow and jumps high. It’s an incredible feeling when he jumps.”
When they paired up the horse was short on experience, but he'd broken his green year. So Portela worked with him at home and eased him into the show ring in the low amateur-owner division. Besides topping the class today, the other highlight of the show included watching trainer Jimmy Torano top a 3’6” performance hunter class on Winner after earning a pair of 89s. It was the first time he'd seen the gelding.