Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 15
One of these days the USHJA might need to rename the Platinum Performance USHJA 3’/3’3″ Green Hunter Incentive Championship after Scott Stewart. In the seven years since the program’s inception, Stewart has won the class four times and is the only rider to win it more than once.
This year it was the stunning palomino Sandstone that stood center ring and was adorned in the championship ribbon and cooler. Stewart also piloted Mayflower, who topped both qualifying rounds, to third.
“[Sandstone] was really good all week,” said Stewart. “They were all so close anyway. Coming in they were almost tied. He’s definitely a little more experienced—not that much more. He’s pretty steady about everything.”
Stewart imported the 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Cream On Top—Erina) last year, and “Ice Cream” showed for the first time in June of that year. He competed in last year’s championship and was the top-placing 5-year-old in the qualifying rounds, but things didn’t go entirely to plan in the final round, and they finished last.
“He’s actually physically a little stronger,” Stewart said. “Last year we didn’t have him very long so he wasn’t physically fit. He’s definitely a little better conditioned this year.”
Slotting between Stewart’s rides was Chris Payne with Solitude.
“It’s been a good day so far—can’t complain,” said Payne, who won the qualifying round in the 3’6″/3’9″ class with Bond. “It’s been a good day. I thought [Solitude] was really good today. I was kind of a little nervous because he was really quiet schooling, but then when he got in there it just kind of lifted him up just enough to put a nice effort over the jump be soft at the end of the ring.”
Nick Haness traveled all the way from California to compete with Gail Ellis’s Reese’s, and they were good enough for fourth and were the top-placed 3’3″ pair and tier II rider.
“It feels great,” he said. “Following the two of them is obviously a huge honor and accomplishment, so I’m very happy about that.”
Haness imported the 6-year-old warmblood (Spartacus—Cara Belle) two years ago and has been producing the gelding the whole way.
“It’s been really fun to develop him and be a part of his career,” Haness said. “He lives in my backyard, so I’m with him a lot and I know him pretty well, his personality, so I’m very proud of him and excited that he was able to showcase himself so well this week and on a big stage.”
The Chronicle will be on-site bringing you gorgeous photos, great interviews and behind-the-scenes stories. Make sure to follow along at www.coth.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse