Professional Hunter riders competed for top titles on Wednesday at the Capital Challenge Horse Show. With major wins across the country this year, Amanda Steege and Cheryl Olsten’s Lafitte De Muze claimed two new accolades tonight, earning the USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider Professional Challenge title. With her win in the WCHR Pro Challenge, Steege moved up in the National WCHR standings to claim the WCHR National Pro Champion. Karli Postel rode Grace Russo’s Banksy to the Developing Pro Challenge title.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show, this year’s WCHR Professional Challenge, sponsored by The Gochman Family and Radwanski Enterprises, boasted $50,000, double the usual purse. Of the field of 26 competitors in Round One, the top 12 returned in reverse order for the final round.
|Amanda Steege and Cheryl Olsten's Lafitte De Muze jump to victory in the $50,000 WCHR Pro Challenge. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography|
“This whole year for me with Lafitte is about gaining experience, so I really didn’t feel very stressed out,” said Steege, of Ocala, Florida, who went into the final round sitting fourth with a score of 88.33. “I just wanted to go in and try to give him a good experience...His goal is to be a Derby horse and to do Derby Finals, so I think it’s very important that he spends some time doing some of these with more atmosphere.”
Her calm nerves paid off with another great round to earn a score of 90.33 in the second round and the Champion title as well. Olsten imported the 7-year-old, bay gelding (Darco/Everlychin De La Pomme) for Steege to show in November of last year, after Lisa Arena Davis, another customer of Steege’s, saw his video on YouTube. He and Steege have enjoyed tremendous success since then. However, winning the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship continues to be their goal.
For their victory, Steege and Lafitte De Muze were presented with the Little Brook Trophy donated by Gary Duffy and Little Brook Farm.
“Lafitte just thinks that this is how all horses do it. He loves it, and he does it, but I don’t think he thinks it’s any big deal,” continued Steege. “Most people would do a year or two of Pre-Green, but he is just such a talented jumper and such a confident horse. And our goal was Derby Finals, so I didn’t set out thinking that he was going to win as much as he has in the First Years.”
|As the WCHR Pro Challenge winner, Steege received the Little Brook Trophy donated by Gary Duffy and Little Brook Farm. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography.|
Hannah Isop, of Pawling, New York, rode Tracy Freels’ Red Ryder to scores of 86.66 and 91.33 for a total of 177.99 and second place overall. Elizabeth Boyd, of Camden, South Carolina, took the third spot aboard Maggie Hill’s Tradition with scores of 86.16 and 87.16 for a total of 173.32.
Steege, Scott Stewart, John French, Victoria Colvin, Jenny Karazissis and Sandra Ferrell have been invited to compete in the $10,000 WCHR Professional Finals, which will be held on Friday night. This year, the class features a playoff format with the top four after two rounds of competition advancing to a head-to-head competition where riders each compete on all four horses.
Karli Postel Claims WCHR Developing Pro Challenge Title
Karli Postel, of Westlake Village, California, returned to the Capital Challenge Horse Show this year with determination to make her second Developing Pro Challenge a success, and she did just that with a victory in the $5,000 WCHR Developing Professional Challenge title and jumping up in the National WCHR standings to claim the WCHR National Developing Professional Champion honor.
|Karli Postel and Grace Russo's Banksy earn the win in the $5,000 WCHR Developing Professional Challenge. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography|
Postel and Banksy delivered the best performance in each of the two rounds of the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, sponsored by the John R. Ingram Fund, earning scores of 90.66 and 88.66 for a total of 179.32.
“It’s really exciting for me,” said Postel. “I feel like I’ve worked really hard for the last two years for this goal. Last year, I came to my first Capital Challenge, and it didn’t go quite as planned, so it was really cool to come back and be victorious. I had a really good first round and it made me really confident going into the second round.”
Postel began riding Banksy, an 8-year-old grey German Sporthorse gelding (Quandolino/Philharmonie), earlier this year when John French who normally pilots Grace Russo’s entry was injured. French, who has since recovered, showed Banksy to the Green Hunter 3’9” division championship on Tuesday.
“After having a great first round, I just felt comfortable and confident,” she continued. “Banksy is so rhythmical; he just kind of shows you right where you need to be. I just had to look for the jumps, and he did the work. It was really easy.”
For her win, Postel received the Bittersweet Trophy, donated by Rachel Kennedy.
|As the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge winner, Karli Postel received the Bittersweet Trophy, donated by Rachel Kennedy. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography|
Taylor Willever, of Pen Argyl, Penn., rode Barbara Brungess’ Cornetto to scores of 87.16 and 88.66 for a total of 175.82 and a second-placed finish. Tiffany Hammack, of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, rode GT 40, owned by Roger Schramm, to scores of 86.33 and 86 for a total of 172.33 and third place.
The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., runs through Sunday, October 7. Watch the competition live on USEF Network at https://www.usef.org/network/coverage/2018capitalchallenge/?cl=t.
USHJA extends special thanks to sponsors: Charles Owen, Inc., CWD, FITS Riding, Parlanti, Professional's Choice, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, and Shapley's.