SCOTT STEWART AND PLAYBOOK DRAFT A VICTORY IN THE 2017 PLATINUM PERFORMANCE/USHJA GREEN HUNTER INCENTIVE CHAMPIONSHIP
When Scott Stewart received the winning score aboard Playbook in the Championship Round of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Incentive Championship, he passed an amazing milestone: Stewart has now earned more than $200,000 in lifetime earnings in the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Program.
Stewart, who also won last year's title, praised the program. "I think it's great because I love the young horses, and it sort of justifies it all when one wins," said Stewart, who nominated five in the 2017 program and competed all five at the Championship. He also qualified Harvard Hall and Coolidge for the Championship Round.
Fashion Farm's Playbook, a 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding (by Samba Hit), topped the card in the Championship Round for today's winning check of $27,255.94. Stewart showed the flashy chestnut lightly this year but with the Championship as the primary summer goal.
"It took him a while to grow up physically because he's so big...he's probably 17.3 hands," said Stewart. "It took him a little while to get coordinated and finish growing; he probably just finished growing."
The Championship Round was the grand finale of the USHJA Green Incentive Championship. The First and Second Rounds took place August 15-16, with two courses of 3' or 3'3" fences suitable for Green Hunters. Each round had a purse of more than $54,500 paid to the top 30 placings, with the Championship Round alone paying out $109,023.75.
In this fifth year of the Championship, more than 350 horses enrolled in the program and 148 entered the event. Since the program's inception in 2013, more than $1.8 million in prize money has been paid out to competitors during the series and Championship.
The top 30 horses, with the highest combined scores from the first two rounds, returned with a clean slate for the Championship Round over a third, beautiful course designed by Patrick Rodes, of Argyle, Texas.
The judges sat in pairs around the Kentucky Horse Park's Walnut Ring and included Linda Andrisani, Rob Bielefeld, Linda Hough, Danny Robertshaw, Patrick Rodes and Scott Williamson.
After winning the Championship Round, placing second in Round 1 and third in Round 2, Playbook collected a whopping $42,492.01 in total prize money during the Championship alone.
"I think this program is awesome to highlight the young horses," said Stewart emphatically. "It makes it worthwhile for the owners to bring them along."
Katherine Newman, 27, of Wellington, Florida, also collected an impressive paycheck aboard Allwyn Court's and The Dandelion Group's chestnut mare Dandelion. After winning Round 2, placing second in the Championship Round and 14th in Round 1, she earned $33,688.34.
"It's been a goal of mine the entire year for this horse to do this class," said Newman, a first-time starter in the Championship. "The win (in Round 2) yesterday meant a lot, and today was amazing. It was fun because I've never gotten to do this class before, and I knew she could win it if I gave her a good shot. What you saw today is her. She's super laid back and always tries really hard at the jumps. You just get to gallop around and try not to get in her way."
This year's High-Score Mare Award was also presented to Dandelion, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Heartbreaker-Imarilla), trained by Katherine's parents, Gerry and Kathy Newman.
Victoria Colvin, 19, of Loxahatchee, Florida, piloted John and Stephanie Ingram LLC's Snowday to third place overall in just his third horse show. Snowday performed better and better over the three days, placing 33rd in Round 1, tying for eighth in Round 2 and jumping up to third in the Championship Round.
"We didn't know what to expect," said Colvin with a smile. "I knew he would be fine because he isn't spooky, but I wasn't expecting him to be as good as he was, so we're all pleased."
The Ingram family's Antinori placed 9th in the Championship Round with Colvin and won this year's Shapley's Best Turned Out Award. Sally Stith-Burdette was on hand to present groom Theo Pacheco with a Shapley's Awards Package.
Carl Weeden received this year's Rider Style Award. The award, presented by Bill Rube, went to the rider who best displayed the American style of riding in the ring and sportsmanship outside of the competition arena. The recipient will serve as a role model for preserving the integrity of the sport and maintaining a standard of excellence and tradition in his or her riding.
"It's very important that the rider be sportsmanlike in and out of the show ring, and Carl goes above and beyond and always pays it forward," said Rube.
In the $15,000 Tier II Rider Bonus, Katherine Newman also picked up the top check, with Colvin taking second and Amberlee Wentz in third.
In addition to the substantial prize money, there were bonus awards offered based on performances in the First and Second Rounds:
$5,000 High-Score American-Bred Bonus Award in remembrance of Candie Owens, presented by Oakwell Farms and DS Holdings, LLC - Texas-Bred - Davidson (Cabana --- --Ellie) a 6-year-old, chestnut Hanoverian gelding owned by Dana Vollbracht, trained by Suzy Balenseifen and ridden by Amberlee Wentz.
$2,500 High-Score 4- and 5-year-old Bonus Award, presented by Mr. and Mrs. Clay Struve, of Tapestry Farm. Bastogne, a 5-year-old warmblood owned by Douglas Wheeler and trained and ridden by Hunt Tosh.
$2,500 Texas Super Series Bonus Award, presented by Patrick Rodes - Davidson (Cabana --- --Ellie) a 6-year-old, chestnut Hanoverian gelding owned by Dana Vollbracht, trained by Suzy Balenseifen and ridden by Amberlee Wentz.
$2,500 High-Score Sallie B. Wheeler/U.S. National Hunter Breeding Championship Alumni, presented by Annie Bennett, Abby Friedman and Cindi Perez - Sinsational Fox, a 6-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Sinatra Song --- --Feiner Dance) owned by Foxwick Farm, trained by Emily Belin and ridden by Sandy Ferrell.
$1,500 Thoroughbred Bonus Award, presented by TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program, Inc. - Super Show, a 5-year-old gelding (Super Saver --- --Broadway Hennessey) owned by Lazer Farms, LLC, trained by Jerry Zero and ridden by Laura Yoworsky.
Photo credit: Shawn McMillen Photography