It was a perfect California evening for the debut of the USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider program's latest addition, the West Coast Hunter Spectacular. And in a nail-biting finish, Hope Glynn clinched an impressive victory over all challengers at the Flintridge Spring Classic in La Canada Flintridge, CA.
"I had a lot of excitement about the class because we've never had a championship hunter classic, we've done several USHJA Derbies here now and so I've gotten to jump in some night classes, but rarely have we ever had a hunter classic where we actually get to jump under the lights." Glynn said.
With the calm of experience on her side, Penngrove, CA based Glynn, guided Sabrina Hellman's 10-year-old Warmblood gelding Woodstock to a beautiful second-round performance that pushed her total to 175.50 points to win the inaugural $30,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular. As icing on the cake, Glynn also claimed another top 12 position finishing in eighth place aboard Emma Waldfogel's King's Peak with 164.75.
Fabricio and Christa Endicott of Rancho Santa Fe, CA placed second for owner Davlyn Farms Inc. with a very close score of 175.25. Jenny Karazissis of Calabasas, CA finished third with Victory Road for owner Harriet Posner with a 175.25, the difference in placings between the two was decided when Fabricio received the higher score in the second round from the designated tie break judging panel. Karazissis went first in the order with Laura Wasserman's Back in the Game, and led throughout the first round with an average score of 90.75, but in the second round had an unfortunate rail down and finished 10th (138.75).
Once the reality of her victory set in the rock solid Glynn made a slight confession, "I had a lot of excitement blended with nervousness because we don't practice a lot out here under the lights on the West Coast."
The inaugural $30,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular was a featured event of the Flintridge Spring Classic and drew 35 entries from the junior, amateur and professional hunter ranks. While open to all riders, there was a limit of three horses per rider and competitors could choose from heights of 3'6, 3'9 or 4'.
Course designer Michael Gallaway of Eugene, OR set the tracks for the two-round classic in the Jimmy Williams Oval as well as using part of the adjacent hunter ring. VIP guests enjoyed ringside seating plus the finest hospitality around as they enjoyed fine cuisine and great competition.
A portion of the table sales benefit the WCHR program, the USHJA Foundation and the Horseman's Assistance Fund. Also stationed in strategic locations around the course were the two judging panels of Panel 1 Raizy Goffman and Don Stewart, and Panel 2 Jim Clapperton and Kim Curtin presiding over the class.
John French, three time WCHR Professional Finals winner, enjoyed a fifth place finish aboard Gail Morey's Quinnus scoring an overall 170. French, who is a frequent traveler to the east coast to compete in the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular had a smile throughout the week long event and admitted that a lot of the reason was the welcoming of this major program's event to his home state. "I'm really excited to be judged here, on a horse being a true hunter and jumping a true hunter style tonight."
Included in the presentations were the first of the eight WCHR High Score Awards awarded to riders who achieved the single highest numerical score in any one class, within their respective hunter section and membership category. High Score Awards were presented to Professional Christa Endicott with Come Monday who scored a 92 in the Performance Working Hunter 3'6" and Developing Professional Taylor Adams partnered with Handsel for scoring an 88 in the Conformation Hunters. Each was presented with a beautiful custom WCHR jacket. The remaining high score awards are determined throughout Sunday's competition.
Glynn summed up the evening, "It was a really nice experience to be able to practice and have a good course and a good crowd because you just don't get opportunities like that in the Hunters."