ASHLEY LAMERS COMES FROM BEHIND TO TAKE SMALL REGULAR PONY HUNTER CHAMPIONSHIP
More bows, braids and bow ties made their way into the Walnut Ring for the third and final phase of the Small Regular Pony Hunters, with Ashley Lamers and her own In A Dream proving that dreams do come true, jumping all the way from 17th position after a standout over fences trip to claim the championship title ahead of 117 other pony-rider combinations. The Medium Green and Large Green Pony Hunters each got underway Thursday, as well, with Augusta Iwasaki and Adam Edgar both modeling and riding new mounts to the highest marks of the day in their respective divisions.
The Small Regular Pony Hunters presented a challenge to any duo hoping to claim the top prize due to the large size of the division, but Wisconsin-based Lamers and her mare "Shadow" were in a class all their own at the end of the day as the only pair to break the 1000-point benchmark, and concluded the class ahead by nearly 13 points. Entering the jumping portion in 17th position, the 9-year-old had ground to make up if she hoped to end the day with a new championship to her name, and she and In A Dream delivered, navigating a seemingly effortless round over Bobby Murphy's track. The two garnered a score of 255.12, the second-highest of the class, from the judges, which propelled them to the coveted championship trophy ahead of their competitors.
Georgia Schmidt and Millpond Patchwork, owned by CMJ Sporthorse, LLC, clinched the reserve championship with a score of 994.90, with owner-rider Emma Hechtman and Sir Dragon only a few tenths of a point behind in third position overall. Juliette Propp, aboard Aquitaine Equine's Benlea Mizzou, rode her way to fourth place, followed by Trinity Beitler and Land's End Lady Slipper, owned by Joe Currais, in fifth place.
In the Medium Green Pony Hunters, Augusta Iwasaki and Foxmor Secret Powers, owned by Rendezvous Farm, stole the show to conclude the first day of division competition as the early leaders. Iwasaki, no stranger to the pony ring or the lead, and Foxmor Secret Powers earned a score of 263.96 and first position in the model, and the pair further extended their lead with second place in the hack to the tune of a 258.00 score, only one point behind the highest-scoring pair, Alexa Lignelli and her own iApprove. Iwasaki will return to the Walnut Ring for the over fences portion of competition as the last-to-go with a cumulative score of 521.96, more than 12 points ahead of the current runner-up, Libbie Gordon and Jessie Spade's All Yours. Gordon is coming off a championship in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, and hopes to add another title to her collection.
A field of nearly 100 ponies took to the ring for the model and hack portions of the Large Green Pony Hunters, with Adam Edgar and D'Artagnan, owned by Graciela Robert, rising to the top of the leaderboard after two strong showings. Edgar modeled D'Artagnan's conformation to marks of 258.21 from the judges panel, good enough for fifth place, and the pair improved on their performance in the under saddle, riding to first place with a score of 268.17 for a total day-one score of 526.38, just a few points ahead of rider-owner Kat Fuqua and Chic In Time, who clinched the second-best position overall.
The 2017 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, will continue through Sunday, Aug. 13. The nation's best young pony riders will be tested in Small, Medium and Large classes of both Regular Hunter and Green Hunter divisions in the Walnut Ring, and the Alltech Arena will play host to Pony Jumper competition Thursday through Saturday. Sunday's feature will be the Pony Medal Finals, one of the week's highlight events.