After a nine-year hiatus, Candice King of Long Valley, NJ, returned to the Vermont Summer Festival this week to win the $10,000 Manchester Designer Outlets Welcome Stake on Thursday, July 19, during the 25th annual circuit running through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Four horses jumped through to a tie-breaking jump-off over courses set by Manuel Esparza of Mexico, who was part of the course building team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Setting the pace early with tight inside turn to the second fence of the jump-off, King and Calisto 26, owned by Ross Smith, were the first to jump double-clear in 40.39 seconds.
Agatha D’Ambra of Clifton Park, NY, was unable to catch King’s time, but finished clear in 47.80 seconds to take second place riding Ça Va Bien, owned by Trade Winds Farm. With four faults in the jump-off, Brenna Doherty of Laurel Hollow, NY, finished third riding KM Whatever RV, and Angelo Danza of Brewster, NY, settled for fourth riding Euphoria after five rails fell over the short course. Morgan Ward of Milford, NJ, rounded out the top five with the fastest four-fault ride from the opening round on Diacord.
“I love it here!” said King, who last competed at the Vermont Summer Festival in 2009. “I have always been a fan of this show and I know they put a lot of effort into the footing this year. I had a customer who was interested in showing here, so that’s what brought us back. There are a lot of good shows going on right now with a lot of options, but it is beautiful here and I really appreciate the management.”
King has had the ride on Calisto 26, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding sired by Check Point Charly, for one year, saying, “He is the easiest grand prix horse I have ever had. He goes on trail rides and does lessons with my daughter. My whole career I have done a lot of diverse training with my horses. Overall, he just wants to be there for you and to have a partnership like that is special.”
King, who represented the United States at three FEI World Cup Finals, recently took a step back from full-time competition to found Alamar Equine, a training business for both jumpers and western cow horses that she runs with her partner Cliff Schadt.
“I don’t go from hunter/jumper show to hunter/jumper show anymore, but I have a passion for being a horseman with a mixed group of horses that brought me back to my roots,” said King, 48, who grew up with quarter horses in her backyard. “My father did cutting and as soon as I could walk I was showing in halter classes, then I was competing in western pleasure equitation and trail classes when I was six. I was too little to show in the cutting shows and I got bored, so my dad let me take his top cutting horse and have my first English lesson. The rest is history.”
In addition to her share of the prize money from Thursday’s win, King was awarded a $1,000 gift card to Manchester Designer Outlets. Additionally, Manchester Designer Outlets presented D’Ambra with a $250 gift certificate to the Brooks Brothers outlet store in recognition of her second-place finish.
Open jumper competition continues during the third week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival with the $30,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix on Saturday, July 21.
The Vermont Summer Festival is New England’s largest hunter/jumper competition and the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont with more than $750,000 in prize money. The event is also a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Outside the show ring, exhibitors are immersed in the charm of Vermont’s shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.
Competition at the 2018 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children with 100% of all gate proceeds benefiting The Dorset School, Manchester Community Library, and the Rotary Club of Manchester.