15 Sep John French Pilots Six-Year-Old Quentin to the Win in the Inaugural Blenheim Young Hunter Championship, presented by Brookway Stables
San Juan Capistrano, CA – Some of the sport’s brightest young hunters competed in the inuaugural two-round $10,000 Blenheim EquiSports Young Hunter Championship, presented by Brookway Stables. With an average score of 85.5, six-year-old Quentin, piloted by John French and owned by junior rider Charlotte Murray, looked like a seasoned campaigner to emerge the winner. It was a five-year-old, Shama Alghurair’s Holland, who finished second (average 83.25), with Katie Taylor aboard, and Karli Postel rode seven-year-old Meant To Be, owned by Karin Binz, to round out the top three.
Aligning with their mission of offering an opportunity to develop future stars, Blenheim EquiSports launched the Young Hunter Series this year. Since the spring season, the young hunter classes at each Blenheim EquiSports show were free and stall fees were discounted. Trainers and owners jumped on the unique opportunity to get additional and affordable mileage for their horses. The Young Hunter Championship wrapped up the popular series, with East Coast horsemen Timmy Kees and Otis Brown Jr. as the judging panel and Jason Shelley designing the courses.
John French explained that Quentin’s owners, Charlotte Murray and her trainer, Jeni Brown, consider this to be a very special program. French also had high praise: “I love how it spotlights these horses and gives the horses and their owners nice recognition. I think it will do a lot to encourage owners to get young hunters.”
Along with leading the victory gallop, Quentin was the highest placing six-year-old, and owner Charlotte Murray received a Blenheim EquiSports cooler, a beautiful pewter trophy, prize money and a pewter picture frame with a gift certificate to McCool Photography, presented by Balmoral Farm.
French earned the Leading Gentleman Award, taking home a handsome Fidir briefcase, and also the Blue Ribbon Blankets embroidered coolerette as the winning trainer.
Trainer Kristi Frishman sensed that Holland, who was imported as a jumper, was better suited to the hunter ring, and asked Taylor to show the young horse. Taylor called Holland, owned by Shama Alghurair, a natural, both brave and attentive, and the pair has already competed in a few National Hunter Derbies this year. As the Leading Lady Rider Award recipient, Taylor took home a gorgeous Sienna Jones handbag, and Holland was the top scoring five-year-old.
Meant To Be’s third place finish was a thrill for owner and amateur rider Karin Binz. In addition to the mileage gained through this program, Binz was pleased with the chance to recoup show expenses. A professional braider, Binz does the grooming and braiding for her horse, so it was an extra special moment to see her “very sweet horse” shine with Brookway Stables’ assistant trainer Karli Postel, who earned the top score in round one of 87.
Amateur rider Kristi Siam’s six-year-old Patriot with trainer Peter Lombardo in the irons was fourth. Fifth-place finisher Riley Benvenuti and her own six-year-old Arnold Palmer travelled from Sacramento specifically for the Young Hunter Championships. “This was the first time we have come to San Juan Capistrano,” explained the trainer from River Bend Equestrian. “We think it’s a really great way to promote the younger horses.”
Presenting sponsor Archie Cox, owner of Brookway Stables, commented that he thought this class would offer the ability to showcase the future stars in the hunter ring. With the top eight ribbon winners all earning average scores in the eighties, these five, six and seven-year olds proved he was right.
The Equifit Best Turned Out Groom’s Award went to Guilherme Flores, who groomed Allie DeSimone’s six-year-old Lord Livingston. Young trainer Robert Sean Leckie piloted the gorgeous gray, earning the second highest score in round one of 86 and an overall average of 81 to finish seventh. Every rider who earned a top twelve spot took home a pair of Roeckl Sports gloves.
Two top championships, one for hunters and one for jumpers, are on the calendar for Friday, September 15th, at the Blenheim Fall Tournament. The CPHA West Coast Green Hunter Incentive Championships, with prize money at over $30,000, will kick off the morning competition in the Pacific Field. Before the class begins, Bonus Cash Awards will be presented to the top three owners and top three riders for the 2017 season. Switching to the young jumper arena, the $20,000 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10 & Under Futurity Final will wrap up the day in The Oaks International Grand Prix Field.