Upper Marlboro, Md.—October 2, 2019—North America’s top professional hunter riders vied for World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) titles on Wednesday, October 2, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The day’s top honor, the win in the $30,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, went to Cassandra Kahle riding Monday Balous, while Sara Taylor earned the win in the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge.
One of the coveted titles offered at CCHS, the $30,000 WCHR Professional Challenge brought out 33 of the best horses and riders in the country to compete over two rounds.
Cassandra Kahle and Monday Balous earned top honors in the $30,000 WCHR Professional Challenge at the 2019 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
At the conclusion of the first round, Kahle and Monday Balous were tied for the lead with last year’s Professional Challenge winners, Amanda Steege and Lafitte de Muze, with both scoring 90.33. Kahle’s second-round score of 91.16, resulting in a 181.49 total, put her into the top spot.
“Going into tonight, I was nervous, but my expectations weren’t super high,” said Kahle, 27. “I just really wanted to have a good time. I’m really lucky to get to ride this horse. He’s like nothing I’ve ever ridden before; he’s amazing. He’s got a great rhythm and canter, so I went in and picked up a good gallop. He kind of shows you the distances and the jumps.”
Kahle and Monday Balous, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Balou du Rouet, had to qualify for the Professional Challenge at CCHS, and they did so with ribbons in the High Performance division. “I think I was just relieved to make it into the class. It was something I really wanted to do,” Kahle said. “I’ve watched this class since I was a kid. I admire the riders; they’re the top riders in the country that compete in this class. I think it’s something every hunter rider would love to do.” Kahle has competed in the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge in previous years.
As the WCHR Pro Challenge winner, Cassandra Kahle received the Little Brook Trophy donated by Gary Duffy and Little Brook Farm. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography.
Kahle, who grew up riding with her mother, Natasha Brash, has worked for Emil Spadone of Redfield Farm in Califon, New Jersey, for six years. “I’ve gone from riding young hunters to High Performance hunters and started doing the jumpers and some grand prix classes,” she said. “I don’t think I could have progressed this much without the opportunities I’ve had at Redfield.” Spadone co-owns Monday Balous with trainer Don Stewart. They bought the horse together in 2017, and he’d been showing with students of Stewart’s and Jimmy Torano until September, when Kahle piloted him to third in the $250,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties in New York. Capital Challenge was just Kahle’s second show with the horse.
Second place in the $30,000 WCHR Pro Challenge for the second consecutive year went to Hannah Isop and Tracy Freels’ Red Ryder, who scored a 92.0 in the second round, which when added to a first-round score of 87.0 resulted in a total of 179.0. Steege and Lafitte de Muze were third with scores of 90.33 and 86.91 for a total of 177.24.
The win resulted in Kahle being awarded a wild-card spot in Friday night’s $10,000 WCHR Professional Finals, along with six-time winner Scott Stewart, four-time winner John French, three-time winner Liza Boyd, Victoria Colvin, Amanda Steege and Jeff Gogul. Kahle also was awarded the American Style of Riding Award, sponsored by Bill Rube.
Sara Taylor and Noah Claim $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge
Sara Taylor added another win to a successful year by topping the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge. She and Noah, a nine-year-old warmblood, were best out of 31 entries in the class.
Taylor and Noah claimed the lead in round one with a score of 90.66, then added a second-round score of 92.0 to record a total of 182.66
Sara Taylor and Ingrid Avera's Noah topped a field of 31 to win the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge at the 2019 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
“I’m really overjoyed that I won this class. My whole family has been wanting this for me!” said Taylor, who had ridden in the Developing Pro Challenge twice before. “This is one of my favorite horse shows, so to qualify for the WCHR Developing Pro Final and then to have it all come together to win is amazing. My mom’s going to be crying.”
Taylor, 28, grew up riding in Massachusetts and now has worked for John and Kitty Barker at their Eight Oaks Inc., in Middleburg, Virginia, for five years. “They’ve taken me under their wing and taught me what it means to be a good horseman and how to run a successful business and take care of your horses most of all,” Taylor said.
She and Noah claimed the title in the Platinum Performance/USHJA 3'6"/3'9" Green Hunter Incentive Championship in August. Taylor has ridden Noah for three years for owner Ingrid Avera. “The biggest wins I’ve had are with him, so I owe a lot to him,” Taylor said. “It’s easy for him, so it makes you as a rider feel so easy. It felt like he was there for me every step I felt confident the whole way around.”
Jennifer Ritucci took second in the class after riding MTM Fashion to scores of 89.0 and 88.0 for a total of 177.0, while Quinn Partridge guided Enrique to third place with scores of 86.66 and 87.16 for a total of 173.82.
As the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge winner, Sara Taylor received the Bittersweet Trophy, donated by Rachel Kennedy. Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography
The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, runs through Sunday, October 6. Watch the competition live on USEF Network.
USHJA extends special thanks to sponsors: Charles Owen, Inc., CWD, FITS Riding, Parlanti, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, and Shapley's.
Release by Jump Media for USHJA
WCHR Professional Challenge Results
Rank / Horse / Rider / Score
1. MONDAY BALOUS / CASSANDRA KAHLE / 181.49
2. RED RYDER / HANNAH ISOP / 179.00
3. LAFITTE DE MUZE / AMANDA STEEGE / 177.24
4. SAN MARCO / JOHN FRENCH / 176.99
5. TRUE STORY / HOLLY ORLANDO / 174.33
6. MAVERICK / JEFF GOGUL / 173.61
7. O' RYAN / ELIZABETH BOYD / 172.33
8. OLYMPIC FIRE / JENNIFER HANNAN / 172.08
9. TURNER / ERICA QUINN / 170.33
10. END GAME WS / DANIELLE MENKER / 169.32
11. FOR FUN / JOHN BRAGG / 163.58
12. FONTEYN / VICTORIA COLVIN / 131.36
WCHR Developing Professional Challenge Results
Rank / Horse / Rider / Score
1. NOAH / SARA TAYLOR / 182.66
2. MTM FASHION / JENNIFER RITUCCI / 177.00
3. ENRIQUE / QUINN PARTRIDGE / 173.82
4. BARON DE LEY / CAROLINE WILLARD BRILES / 171.41
5. CHANDO W / LAURA BETH STRONG / 170.16
6. FANCIFUL / KYLEE ARBUCKLE / 170.16
7. WHEN IN ROME / GRACIE MARLOWE / 165.99
8. KT LANSINI / SHANE POWELL / 165.83
9. JOSEY WALES / DANIELLE MENKER / 163.66
10. CANDIDATE / SARAH TYNDALL / 161.66
11. FAIR N' SQUARE / KATHERINE SCHMIDT / 161.16
12. BREEZE / LINDSAY RANSOM / 131.08