Today's star-studded line-up included the $50,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic presented by Pasmore Stables. The jump-off proved to be a nail biter as the crowd waited until the end of the 10-horse tiebreaker to see a clear round posted. The final test featured a wide oxer to an airy vertical, followed by a roll back to a single oxer and then a vertical-oxer double combination. Finally, riders had to gallop home through an oxer-vertical bending line headed towards the gate.
As each rider added faults to their docket it began to look like Alise Oken and Kaid Du Ry, owned by High Hopes Farm, might have a win under their belt when they posted a very fast time of 32.824 seconds. Unfortunately, they got a bit tight to the final vertical and rolled the top rail out of its cups, but as the fastest four-faulter ahead of five others it was great effort, that eventually landed them in third.
"I knew I had to be clear and fast," noted Oken. "I got every turn I wanted. Going into the second to last jump I got a really good distance, I think I got too good of a distance because I was a little too deep going to the last jump, and I didn't really get my horse back. I got the top rail on the last jump; it was what I had to do because I knew there were two really fast riders behind me"
The first clear performance came from Meagan Nusz aboard Vesuvius, owned by Amalaya Investments as the second to last duo in the arena. Not only were they careful over the fences, but they were also quick across the ground. The pair sped through the turns and broke the beam at 33.120 seconds to take over the lead. Unfortunately, their time at the top was short-lived when Abigail McArdle took to the track with Cosma 20.
"Knowing Abby was going after me, I had to be careful of not having a rail down, but also being fast where I had to challenge her a little bit," said Nusz. "I think we have a good feel for each other's horses, especially after showing together all summer, and I think it is always good competition. We're friends and it is fun."
The reigning North American Junior Jumper Gold Medalist knew exactly what it would take to win with her talented mare and they were ready to take on the task. McArdle picked up a fast gallop to the first oxer and never let up. The pair flew over every fence, clearing it easily. Smooth but fast turns proved to be the key as they clocked in at a blazing 31.573, the fastest of the class with no faults at all. Their amazing effort earned them the lion's share of the prize money, the $1,000 SSG Bonus, and the lead position during the victory gallop.
"I think a lot of people were getting rushed in the turns," explained McArdle. "There were a lot of people going into that jump off. I think especially in a big money class with that many riders everyone was going for it. I think there were a lot of problems for everyone in the jump off; it was a great course. It was definitely a spectator class."
McArdle concluded, "This is definitely a really emotional win for me. I thought it was a really good way to not only end the season, but it was also a way to end my Junior years."
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame Series Champions were also recognized today. Meagan Nusz led the Amateur-Owner Jumper ranks, while the leading title for the Junior Jumpers went to Charlotte Jacobs.
"I think it is a very nice award to receive," said Nusz. "Throughout the year you put all of your hard work and effort into it. To be at the top in that list of riders is an incredible feeling. I think you do want to hit all of those shows that have the SJHF points because it is such an honor when you finish successfully at the end of the year."
Photo Credits:Rebecca Walton/PMG. Photos may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.