Upper Marlboro, MD – October 8, 2011 – The $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Challenge Cup Final Round, presented by The Oken Family, highlighted the evening session today at the Capital Challenge Horse Show. Kaitlin Campbell (20) of Washington, D.C., and Rocky W jumped to the win. Earlier in the day, the Grand Pony Hunter Championship was presented to For the Laughter, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, and Meredith Darst. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center, will run through Sunday, October 9.

There were 29 entries in tonight’s final round, which was held in jump-off format. There were eight clear rounds, and they went for speed over the shortened course, designed by Ken Krome. The fastest time was set by winners Campbell and Rocky W with no faults in 35.830 seconds. Victoria Colvin rode Waminka for Rivers Edge to second place in 36.917 seconds. Tracey Weinberg and Larone placed third in 38.267 seconds.

Campbell studies at American University in Washington, D.C., and despite taking tests this week, she was able to commute to the horse show. She had taken a month off from showing to be at school, and this was their first show back since they won a grand prix in Kentucky.

“He was a little fresh yesterday, which worked out since it was a speed class. Today he went in there and after he jumped the first jump, I thought, ‘Yeah, he’s got this today.’ He felt amazing,” she said.

Rocky W and Kaitlin Campbell

Campbell returned last in the jump-off, but had her plan set before she walked in the ring. “I didn’t see Tori, but I heard her time and figured she went inside to the vertical,” she explained. “I knew my horse could handle that, and he covers ground pretty fast.”

In the turn to the final gallop to an oxer, Campbell and Rocky W turned on the afterburners and flew over the final jump. When asked what she thought of the last obstacle, she laughed, “Just kick! Sometimes you have to hope you get lucky and leave them up!”

Campbell showed in the Challenge Cup as a junior rider with Rocky W, but this time the result was different. ” When I did Capital Challenge as a junior, (I) won the first day and I couldn’t hold it together for the second day. So this year, after I won the first day, I really wanted to make sure I kept it the second day.”

In three weeks, Campbell and Rocky W, a 13-year-old Holsteiner/Dutch gelding by Libero H, will contest the open jumpers at the Washington International Horse Show, known for its strong field of international show jumpers. Winning here has given her great preparation going into her next indoor show. “This was definitely a nice show to come back into. I’m glad I got a good show in beforehand,” she said. “My trainers help run the horse show, so it’s always good to bring one home for the home team. This is a great show.  I’ve done it since I was on ponies. It’s nice to be able to do it on the bigger jumpers now.”

Rocky W and Kaitlin Campbell in their presentation

For their win in the final round, Campbell was presented with the Remy Martin Perpetual Trophy donated by Rolling Acres and Melanie Wright. By winning the overall Challenge Cup, she was awarded the Ariat Congressional Cup. The Best Junior Jumper Rider Award was given to Victoria Colvin, while Campbell won the Best Amateur Jumper Rider Award sponsored by Lyman T. Whitehead and Eight Fences, LLC.

Ponies Pop for Division Tricolors

The Grand Pony Hunter Championship sponsored by Lochmoor Stables/Mindy and Greg Darst was awarded to Meredith Darst and Dr. Betsee Parker’s For the Laughter, who picked up the championship in the Large Pony Hunters sponsored by Heritage Farm. They won all four over fences classes and were second in the under saddle. The reserve championship went to West Side and Barbara Ann Merryman, who rode for Scott Stewart. They placed second and third over fences and were third in the under saddle.

Darst, who is 13 years old and from Lebanon, OH, has been riding For the Laughter, a 10-year-old Welsh Pony Cross by Brilliant, for almost a year. They have had a stunning year of success so far, including the circuit championship at the Winter Equestrian Festival, the Grand Pony Hunter Championship at the Devon Horse Show, and the reserve Grand Pony Hunter Championship at the USEF Pony Finals.

For the Laughter and Meredith Darst

For the Laughter and Darst only meet at a few shows after the winter circuit ends, but it doesn’t bother Darst to get on and show. “I’m kind of used to it,” she said. “I just school him the day before.”

“He’s really fun,” Darst said of For the Laughter. “He moves really well, and he jumps really well. He has a great expression and a huge stride. He’s really smooth and he’s really fun because you can just stay on the same canter the whole time. You don’t really have to change. He’s handy if I land on the leads. Then I’m pretty good.”

Darst doesn’t make specific goals for winning during the year. “I just try my hardest all the time,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens, but I try to do well. It’s pretty fun to win here. The last two years I was champion in the Small Ponies with Elation, and this time I was Grand. (Winning here) tells me that the ponies are going to be good for the rest of indoors. It’s nice to go indoors once before Washington.”

For the Laughter and Meredith Darst in their awards presentation

For their win, Darst and For the Laughter were awarded the VanderMoore Designs Trophy donated by Vandermoore Designs. Darst was named the Best Pony Rider, an award sponsored by Archibald Cox and Brookway Stables. They were presented with the Kitty Borisoff Memorial Trophy donated by her many friends. They also won the EMO Trip of the Show with a score of 89.5.

McKayla Langmeier was honored with the Stewart-Warner Cup for pony riders, given in memory of Laurie Gilbert Stewart and Mary Warner Brown by Donald E. Stewart Jr. and Louise W. Serio.

The Small Pony Hunter champion was Shine, ridden by Daisy Farish of Versailles, KY, for Lanes End Farm. They won two over fences classes, were third and fourth in remaining jumping classes, and fifth in the under saddle. The reserve champion was Rolling Stone, ridden by Isabel Ryan for Sophie Michaels, who placed first, first, and second over fences.

Shine and Daisy Farish

Farish has been riding Shine, a 13-year-old Welsh gelding, for two years. They have won three pony hunter classics and picked up tricolors at  the Winter Equestrian Festival, Lake Placid, Kentucky Summer, and Old Salem.

This was Farish’s first championship at Capital Challenge, although she did finish as last year’s Small Pony Hunter reserve champion on Ballou. “It feels good to win,” she said with a smile.

She noted that Shine is “really easy” to ride. She continued, “He has a really big stride, and he likes you to have loose reins. I think it’s because he’s just always ready to go to the next jump.”

The Medium Pony Hunter championship sponsored by Jeff and Keeley Gogul/Flagship Ltd. went to Sassafras Creek, ridden by Ashton Alexander for Bibby Farmer-Hill. The 13-year-old rider from Ocala, FL, and the 12-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare finished second, third, and fifth over fences and first in the under saddle. The reserve champion was Happily Ever After, ridden by McKayla Langmeier for Kristina Muse. They won two over fences classes and were sixth in the under saddle.

Sassafras Creek and Ashton Alexander

Alexander started riding Sassafras Creek this past December. The pony was very successful with former rider Taylor Ann Adams in the irons, finishing as USEF Horse of the Year in the Medium Pony Hunters. This year, Alexander rode her to a circuit championship at HITS Ocala and they had a great showing at the Devon Horse Show. “It was my second year going. My first year was a really rough so it was nice to go on her and have a good experience,” she said.

Riding a veteran campaigner is special, and Alexander says that Sassafras Creek is “amazing.” She added, “I feel like I could jump the moon and ask her to do whatever and she’ll do it, no problem. She rides like a horse. I’m used to that because we have so many horses back at home. You could get on her, go do an equitation course and do well, and then turn around and make her into a nice pony hunter.”

Alexander competed here last year in the Small Pony Hunters, and she was very happy to step up and win at a show like Capital Challenge. “This is my first time ever winning anything like this. It’s a really big accomplishment for me,” she expressed.

Older Junior Hunters Complete Divisions for Tricolors

Olivia Esse (17) of Los Angeles, CA, had a banner day in the junior hunters. She swept the championships in the Junior Hunter 16-17 divisions. She rode Clooney, a seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Carpaccio, for Oscany Inc. to the championship in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunters sponsored by RC Stables. On Small Affair, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, she was champion in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters. They were also named the High Point Junior Hunter 16-17 sponsored by The Clothes Horse.

Esse piloted Small Affair to the win in the handy hunter class. They won another jumping class, and were third in the under saddle. The reserve champion in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters was Swingtime, ridden by Taylor Ann Adams for Avery Hellman. They placed first and second over fences.

Small Affair and Olivia Esse

Esse and Small Affair have been paired together for two years, and this winter they won the WCHR Hunter Classic Spectacular for junior/amateur-owners at the Winter Equestrian Festival. This summer they picked up tricolors in Kentucky and Colorado.

“He’s so much fun, especially over the jumps. He can be stubborn sometimes,” she said with a smile. “You definitely have to learn to get along with him. When you do, it’s so fantastic.”

Riding Clooney, she took the Small Junior 16-17 Hunter championship with a blue ribbon in the stake class as well as second and sixth places in the other over fences classes. The reserve champion was Huntington, ridden by Kristen Lutz for Stratford Stables. They were first and fifth over fences and third in the under saddle.

Clooney and Olivia Esse

Clooney is a First Year horse, and Esse started riding him this year. “We call him Marshmallow because he’s big, puffy, and white. He has an amazing jump. I have to hold on in the air sometimes!” she exclaimed. “He has a big stride so we go really slow. This has definitely been our best show. My round today was probably the best I’ve had on him.”

While Esse has one more year showing in the junior hunters, this will be her last year competing at indoors since she will be in college next fall. “It’s really nice to do well here,” she said.

In the Children’s Hunter Pony division sponsored by Back Country Farm, Blythe Ruppel of Greenwich Village, NY, rode Brighton’s Sketch to the championship with a first under saddle and a second over fences. Ruppel leases the 16-year-old mare from owner Erica Polle and has been successful since being paired up almost a year. The reserve champion was Patriot, ridden by Lena Rae Reeb for Leslie Kogos.

Ruppel said of the flashy pony, “She’s perfect. I really love her. She’ll find the distance and take care of you. She’s the sweetest thing ever.”

Brighton Sketch and Blythe Ruppel

Ruppel admits it wasn’t easy right from the start. “The first few weeks were kind of tough,” she said. But now they are in sync and have picked up wins like a blue in the Marshall & Sterling Classic at the Hampton Classic Horse Show and the Large Children’s Hunter Championship that same week.

Coming to Capital Challenge was a new experience for the 11-year-old who trains with Kristina Muse of Beach Acre Farm at Two Trees in Bridgehampton, NY. She feels the experience is a good prep for Zone Finals in two weeks.

The winner of the $5,000 WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge sponsored by Johnson Horse Transportation Inc. was Stars Go Blue, ridden by Shawn Casady for Marigot Bay Farms LLC. Hope Glynn and Avery Hellman’s Roccoco were second, while Meredith Darst and Copyright, owned by Jeanette Collins, were third.

The Capital Challenge Horse Show concludes tomorrow with championships for the 15 & Under sections of the junior hunters, both sections of the Children’s Hunters, the WCHR Pony Challenge, WCHR Junior Challenge, WCHR Children’s Hunter Finals, and the World Champion Hunter Under Saddle Junior class.

For full results, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org and for live scoring please visit www.equestrianlive.com. If you can’t attend the Capital Challenge Horse Show, remember you can log on to www.equestriansport.tv to see all the action live.

Final Results: $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Final Round
1    ROCKY W         KAITLIN CAMPBELL: 0/0/35.830
2    WAMINKA         VICTORIA COLVIN: 0/0/36.917
3   LARONE          TRACEY WEINBERG: 0/0/38.267
4   ARIADO          WILTON PORTER: 0/0/39.282
5   WILD CARD       TRACEY WEINBERG: 0/0/43.543
6    DELILAH         HASBROUCK DONOVAN: 0/0/44.009
7    VICKY           BRITTANY HURST: 0/8/41.130
8    SKYLINE         MEGAN BIFANO: 0/23/66.564
9   LINDA Z         TRACEY WEINBERG: 4/61.693                   
10   SINATRA IV      MEG O’MARA: 4/61.829                   
11   MONSIEUR DU REVERDY VICTORIA COLVIN: 4/62.135                   
12  COWGIRL         MEGAN BIFANO: 4/62.277

In its 18th year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year’s show takes place on October 1-9.

Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.

For more information, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org or visit the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook!

Photo Credit: Photos © Parker/Russell – The Book LLC and Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. These photos may only be used in relation to this press release and with full photo credit.