The Battle for the Qualifiers Is On
February 1, 2007—Wellington, FL—On February 24, 2007, 7:00-10:00 p.m. the The American Hunter-Jumper Foundation will host its 11th annual Hunter Classic Spectacular to be held at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. The battle is on to qualify for this no entry fee event which showcases the top national amateur, junior and professional show hunter riders under the lights in the beautiful Internationale Arena. The Jockey Club Pavilion is where the party will be happening for the AHJF’s major fundraising dinner.
Since it’s inception in 1997, the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular has been a highlight event for hunter horses and riders, who put great effort into being one of roughly 25 riders to qualify. Champion and reserve champion riders, who are current members of the AHJF, qualify throughout the week (February 21-24) in the various hunter divisions to compete in this prestigious two-round competition under the lights. Approximately $50,000 (through 12th place) is awarded with $12,000 guaranteed to the winner. Since it is an add-back competition the final prize money is not determined until that night.
About the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular
Show hunters are judged on the style of the horse. The horse should look as if it could carry a rider smoothly, comfortably and safely over a course of natural style jumps. The horses should be both elegant and agile as they negotiate obstacles similar to those encountered on a foxhunt.
Eight judges are paired in teams of two and positioned in four places around the arena. Each team presents a single numerical score (0-100) and the four are averaged for a single round total. After the second round, the two scores are averaged for a final two round total. Roughly, 25 horses compete in the first round and the top eight highest performers come back for a second round. The height of the fences varies from 3’6” to 4’. The winner of the class is the horse with the highest two-round score. Eight of the following nine judges will be chosen closer to the event: Susan Ashe, Wellington, FL; Liza Dennehy, Denver, CO; Brian Lenehan, Southern Pines, NC; Mindy Minetto, Wellington, FL; Pam & Randy Mullins, Collierville, TN; Jimmy Torano, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Mark Jungherr, Amesbury, MA & Bill Moroney, Aldie, VA. Michael Rheinheimer is the course designer for the evening.
The final list of competitors won’t be decided until that day but a number of horses and riders are already qualified. These include John French, Redwood, CA-- the 2006 Monarch International WCHR Pro Champion; Sandy Ferrell, Bernville, PA, who was last year's winner; Scott Stewart, Flemington, NJ, & Wellington, FL, the winner of the 2006 WCHR Pro Challenge; Rachel Geiger, Malvern, PA, the 2006 WCHR Amateur-Owner Champion; and Jennifer Waxman, Chagrin Falls, OH, 2006 WCHR Junior Champion. These riders are allowed to compete on any horse, but must show at the height for which the combination is eligible.
The Fundraising Dinner Party in the Jockey Club Pavilion
One unique aspect of the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular is the activity happening in the Jockey Club Pavilion. The annual dinner party overlooking the main arena is one of the AHJF's major fundraisers. The tent - filled with sponsors who have purchased tables - buzzes with conversation while on the grassy hillside around the arena friends, family and newcomers enjoy watching the nation’s top hunters.
Chaired by Mr. & Mrs. S. Craig Lindner and Mr. & Mrs. Jeremy Jacobs, there’s food, friends, frivolry but most of all fun happening for this annual fundraiser. It’s an event for which you need to reserve your table early if you want to be a part of the festivities.
The activities start around 6:30 and offer a perfect view of the Internationale Arena. While the VIP Tent is humming the horses and riders begin by first walking the course before the formal introduction of each of the riders to the public begins. Riders and horses will then be prepping in the schooling area shortly before they enter the ring, beginning at 7:30, to each take their turn over the galloping hunter course.
About the AHJF
The AHJF was formed in 1992 to further the development of the equestrian sport of show hunter rider and show jumping competition by providing a national office to organize, coordinate and support hunter rider and show jumping equestrian competition. Other programs of the AHJF include the World Championship Hunter Rider Awards, AHJF Educational Programs, the AHJF BSA Inc. 401k and Profit Sharing Plan.
The AHJF also hosts the Legacy Cup (May 9-20, 2007 in Kentucky) and the Monarch International's Show Circuit Magazine Professional WCHR Finals (October 5, 2007 in Upper Marlboro, MD). Another featured event this year will be a fundraiser for its Emergency Relief Fund, a program that assists equestrians in their time of financial crisis. “Bowling for Equestrians” will be a fun-filled evening of strikes and spares and will be held 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Greenacres Bowl (6126 Lake Worth Road, Greenacres, FL) on February 18, 2007. This year a WCHR World Cup Hunter Challenge will be showcased for the second time at the World Cup in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 21 as a rematch of the 2005 event.
The AHJF will be presenting an array of prize awards, in addition to the prize money, the winner of the class will receive a saddle donated by CM Hadfield’s Saddlery; the “The Dark Continent” trophy, courtesy of Jim Green; a custom jacket specially designed by Personalized Products; a cooler donated by Grazing Fields Farm; Leather halters for 1st–6th place and leather shanks for the 7th–12th place ribbon winners. Additionally, the winning trainer will receive a check for $1,000, 2nd place $750, 3rd $500 and 4th $250. The grooms of the 1st through 4th place winners receive a check for $500, $300, $200, $100 (consecutively) sponsored by Archie Cox/Brookway Stables. The winning rider receives the “Let’s Dance Trophy” established by the AHJF in honor of Friend and Horseman Eugene R. Mische. And all competitors will be in contention for the “Strapless Challenge,” with a trophy and check going to anyone winning the class four times.
For more information contact the AHJF, 335 Lancaster Street, West Boylston, MA 01583-0369, Phone: 508-835-8813, http://www.ahjf.org
, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1997 – Monday Morning, rider - Liza Towell
1998 – Hudson, owner - Peter Wetherill, rider - Elizabeth Bross
1999 – High Hearts, rider - Clara Lindner
2000 – Most Wanted, Hanoverian gelding, chestnut, 16.2 hands, Large Junior 15 & Under, Shows at 3’6”,
Rider - Cody Baird, Greenwich, CT; Trainer – Scott Stewart
2000 Score: 91.33
2001 & 2002 & 2003 – Strapless, Dutch Warmblood mare, Regular Working Hunter, 4’
Rider - Emily Williams, Cincinnati, Ohio; Owner - Clara Lindner; Trainer – Tom Wright
2001 Score: 93.66
2002 Score: 91.375
2003 Score: 95.750 (185)
2004 – Strapless, Dutch Warmblood mare, Amateur-Owner Working Hunter, 3’6”,
Rider/Owner - Clara Lindner, Cincinnati, OH; Trainer – Tom Wright
2004 Score: 181.312
2005 – Costello, Germanbred gelding, 1st Year Green, 3’6”
Rider/Trainer: Louise Serio, Kennett Square, PA; Owner: Shaw Johnson Price, Chestertown, MD
Score: 89 + 89.5 = 178.5
2006 – Late Entry, 7-year-old, bay, 15.3 3/4H, Hanoverian, 2nd Year Green, 3’9”
Rider/Trainer: Sandy Ferrell, Bernville, PA; Owner: Sarah Chovnick
Score: 86.687 + 87 = 173.687
Photo Caption: Sandy Ferrell and Late Entry win the 2006 AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. This year’s event takes place on February 24. ©Diana De Rosa Photo
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