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Thornton and Tobasco Take Championship of Small Junior 15 and Under Hunters

Duo Finish Fifth in AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular

Wellington, FL – February 27, 2007 – Alexandra Thornton had a week to remember at the Winter Equestrian Festival after she took home the championship for the Small Junior 15 and Under Hunter division and qualified to compete in the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular. The young rider, who resides in Bedminster, NJ, trains with Susie Humes. Humes, one of the equestrian industry’s most renowned judges and trainers, has worked with Thornton for almost two years, and the 13-year-old only moved up to junior hunters in August of last year.

"Alexandra had a double ear infection and a fever this week," revealed Humes about her student. "She was so upset because she didn’t think she would be able to do the night class, and she very much wanted to qualify to ride in that very special event. She was not herself the first day over fences in the junior hunters because she was so sick," she said.

"I actually did not realize how ill she was, or I might not have let her ride. Thanks to Emily Smith and Sissy Armstrong, Alexandra was able to see an excellent pediatrician on Friday afternoon and get treatment. So it was up to her to win on Saturday to secure herself the qualifying championship ribbon." She added, "There was only one class Saturday for the juniors, and Tobasco had to win it. Alexandra was determined to ride well, and she did," smiled Humes. "Tobasco loves the Internationale Arena and always rises to the occasion; they are a great pair."

On Saturday, February 24, Thornton competed in the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular for the very first time. Under the lights in the Internationale Arena, Thornton piloted Tobasco, owned by her family’s farm Dunwalke, for a stellar ride before the large crowd, and the young rider was the only junior to get called back for the second round. Other competitors who were called back in the top eight included professionals Tim Goguen, Sandy Ferrell, Elizabeth Towell Boyd, Louise Serio, Scott Stewart, and Amateur-Owner rider Rowlanda Blue Stephanos. After a beautiful, fluid second round, 13-year-old Thornton and Tobasco finished in fifth place.

"I was so proud of Alexandra and Tobasco on Saturday night," reported Humes. "They really galloped and jumped like an old-fashioned Hunter Classic round. She never touched the reins, and they were brilliant!"

Thornton exclaimed, "I was so nervous going into the first round that I probably went over the course with Susie at least fifty times! Tobasco felt great, and he loves the big field. Susie told me to focus on my basics, be smooth, and keep my pace even, and that I would be fine. He gave me a lot of confidence as we did the first course, and when I finally got to the last jump I forgot about my nerves."

"I was standing seventh out of eight with an 84.25, and a cut off of 84," she articulated. "Somehow we managed to stay in. I went back first of the 3’6" horses, this time with the added confidence that Toby (Tobasco) had given me. He always seems to know when it is an important class. Once again, he could not have been better."

In addition to Thornton’s impressive performance and ribbon, Humes also watched a horse that she trained in the past win ninth place with Jennifer Waxman in the irons. "Saloon was my horse before with Whitney [Roper]," she noted. "He goes even better now with Jen and under the expert training of Emily and Ken Smith."

The Dunwalke horses will show next week at the Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters CSI-W. Thornton will continue in the junior hunters with Tobasco, For The Music and High Noon. She will also start in the equitation division with a new mount named Idol.

Photo Credit: Alexandra Thornton and Tobasco. Photo© 2007 Randi Muster.


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