Linda Orton Takes Top Honors in TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter Championship at the Vermont Summer Festival

Linda Orton and her own Top Honors were awarded the hunter championship title during the inaugural week of TAKE2 Thoroughbred classes at the Vermont Summer Festival. Top Honors nearly swept the division, collecting blue ribbons in all but one class with owner and trainer, Linda Orton, during week two of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.  

2013 marks the first year that the Vermont Summer Festival has offered TAKE2 Thoroughbred classes, which are being contested during weeks 2, 3 and 4 of the six-week circuit.

In addition to offering hunter divisions, 1m Thoroughbred jumper classes are also held on Wednesday and Thursday each week.  Betsy Joyce piloted Vala de Plata to first place in the jumper class held July 10 while Miranda Scott emerged victorious with Isabella G, owned by Catherine Cullen, the following afternoon.

Top Honors has been an invaluable member of Orton’s Manor Ridge Farm, based in Hoosick Falls, NY, for over ten years.  While the horse’s sire was a noted racehorse, Top Honors never made it to the track.  Instead, Orton acquired him when he was just over one year old and trained him into a trusted show mount.

“He does the adult hunters, the children’s hunters, the walk class,” said Orton.  “He’s done leadline, too.  He’s done every level up to the 3’3” divisions.  He’s very versatile and just loves his job.”

Orton continued, “We call him our ‘seeing eye horse.’  Every person who’s ever ridden him has been champion in some division, and that’s probably been at least 20 people.  He loves to show and when he walks in the ring, it’s all business.  He wants to win.”

Orton was happy to see the inclusion of the Thoroughbred classes at this year’s Vermont Summer Festival, which she feels gives Thoroughbreds an opportunity to shine despite their decreasing presence in the show ring.

“I think it’s nice to have these classes because there aren’t many Thoroughbreds showing anymore.  They have a big heart and they’ll do more than a lot of the Warmbloods,” Orton said.

Thanks to classes like TAKE2, Thoroughbreds have been enjoying a revival across the country, something Orton and other trainers are thrilled to see.

“Talking to other trainers, everyone’s glad that the Thoroughbreds are coming back because they will give you that little something extra.  We have quite a few Thoroughbreds in our barn, so it’s nice that now there are divisions that are special for them,” Orton remarked.

Top Honors has lived up to his name in several other TAKE2 divisions, including those at the Saratoga Classic Horse Show in New York.  He was hunter division champion the first week of the show and received reserve champion honors the following week.

Week three of the Vermont Summer Festival is the second week of TAKE2 competition offered at the show.  Wednesday marked the beginning of competition in both hunter and jumper divisions, with Hilary Simpson and Chant winning the $500 1m jumper class.

The first two over fences classes for TAKE2 hunters were also contested later on Wednesday, with Ship Shape sailing into first place with Hannah Taylor in the irons.  The second over fences class was won by Leah Cruciani and Gambolé.

TAKE2 Thoroughbred competition will continue through week four of the Vermont Summer Festival.  Classes are open to raced and unraced Thoroughbreds that have their Jockey Club certificate of registration, a lip tattoo, or a letter from the Jockey Club verifying the horse’s identity.  Hunter classes award $350 in prize money for each over fences class and $150 for the under saddle.  Jumper classes hand out $500 for each class.

TAKE2 was created in 2012 by the partnership of the New York Racing Association and the New York Horsemen’s Association.  The program promotes the value of Thoroughbreds in the sport horse world and sponsors classes to highlight the success of Thoroughbreds as show horses.  The classes sponsored by the program aim to create a market for retired racehorses to enjoy a happy and productive second career.

Year-end awards will be handed out for both hunter and jumper divisions this fall.  The Kentucky National Horse Show will host the TAKE2 High-Point Jumper Award from September 18-22.  The TAKE2 High-Point Hunter Award will be presented at the Capital Challenge Horse Show held October 1-6 in Upper Marlboro, MD.  Each winner will be awarded $1,500 and a TAKE2 cooler.

Week three of the Vermont Summer Festival also plays host to World Championship Hunter Rider classes, which will be seen throughout the week. Featured events for Thursday, July 18, include the $10,000 Marimekko Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, and the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby.

The Vermont Summer Festival continues through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm.  The six-week circuit, celebrating its 20th anniversary in its current Manchester location, offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.

The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix.  The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 10.  The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday.  The hugely popular $5,000 3’3” Hunter Derby is also held each Thursday for the first five weeks, with week six featuring the $15,000 Hunter Derby.

The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL).  Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.