Caristo and Welles Claim Young Horse Titles at 37th Hampton Classic

Heather Caristo won the $20,000 SHF Enterprise 5-Year-Old East Coast Young Jumper Championship and Jeffery Welles won the $30,000 Split Rock Farm 6-Year-Old East Coast Young Jumper Championship on Saturday morning in the Grand Prix Ring at the 37th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show.

Heather Caristo  and Chabalouba (ESI photo)

Caristo, of Saugerties, N.Y., rode Chabalouba Sun to a faultless jump-off round in 34.69 seconds to defeat Santos Lamarca on Chester VDL, the only other pair in the five-horse jump-off to finish faultlessly (37.75 seconds). Lacy Morrone-Cramer finished with the fastest jump-off time (34.49 seconds), but Quintas Fabius dislodged one rail in the jump-off.

Welles, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., and Bilion finished faultlessly in 34.26 seconds to  defeat Mario Deslauriers on Scout De La Cense (0/35.65) and Schuyler Riley on Dobra De Porceyo (0/37.68) in the seven-horse jump-off. The other four horses each lowered one fence.

“He’s really a big, gangly baby,” said Caristo, 33, of Chabalouba Sun. “I was very pleased with how well he handled this impressive, spooky ring—just going through the gate can be intimidating! But we have a real rapport, so he trusts me when I tell him it’s OK.”

Caristo said that she “absolutely” went in the ring planning to win the jump-off.  “I kept telling him all week that this was his time to shine,” she said.

Caristo and her parents, Ralph and Holly Caristo, saw Chabalouba Sun at a show in Belgium as a 4-year-old and decided immediately to buy him. “We’re going to keep him and try to go on with him. He’s still a baby learning to grow up, but so far he’s lived up to all the promise that he has,” she said.

Welles, 50, was the final starter in the 6-year-old jump-off, so the two-time winner of the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix knew what he had to do to best Deslauriers, also an international veteran.

“I watched Mario’s round, and I knew that his horse is a bit slower across the ground than mine, so I thought I could beat him if I stayed fast and smooth. And then I made a tighter turn from fence 1 to fence 2 than he did,” said Welles. Bilion won the 5-year-old championship at the Hampton Classic in 2011.

Welles and co-owners Sharon Gunthel and Gareth Gair found Bilion in the Netherlands at age 4. “We thought we had to have him. He’s careful, he’s scopey, and he’s fast, and he likes to clear the jumps,” said Welles. “Anything can happen as he grows up, but he suits me really well, and I think he’s just a super horse.”

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The Hampton Classic Horse Show, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation.