Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 11, 2021 – Junior Hunter competition came to a pinnacle Saturday morning at the Traverse City Tournament of Champions with the crowning of each division’s respective champions. In the Hillside Farm Junior Hunter 3’6” division, it was Riley Hogan who rode Lucas Mejia Fanjul’s G. Eleven to top honors throughout the two days of competition, ultimately claiming the championship tricolor Saturday afternoon. Hogan continued to dominate the competition, also nabbing the reserve champion honors riding Mercy Me, owned by Don Stewart.
Hogan and G. Eleven nearly swept the competition, earning the blue in all three over fences rounds and topping the handy round. Hogan rides under the tutelage of Stewart, and was only recently partnered with the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood Gelding at the start of the 2021 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF). Though their time in the show ring has been brief, Hogan knew she could trust the seasoned gelding to showcase his skills over fences, including taking the tighter turns during the handy rounds in order to impress the judges and take the win. The pair has already formed a strong bond during their short time together and can look forward to continued success in Junior Hunter competition.
Piloting Mercy Me, Hogan received third, eighth and second place over fences for her efforts, as well as first place under saddle Saturday to clinch the reserve champion tricolor. Hogan’s catch riding skills proved valuable as she only started riding the 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding a few weeks ago. She spoke highly of the talented horse, one that has frequented International Hunter Derby competition. Hogan is thrilled to cap off the week with both the champion and reserve champion honors as she winds down her final year competing as a junior rider.
In the Amatuer-Owner Hunter 3’6’’ division, Kaitlin Porath and her own Breaux were declared champions. Earning two first place and two second place ribbons throughout the four over fences classes, and a first in the undersaddle led her and the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding to top of the leaderboard in the combined division. Rachel Herkowitz and her own Radiance, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding, received the reserve honors for their placings of third, two fifths and first over fences, as well as first under saddle.
The inaugural Traverse City Hunter and Derby Finals are quickly approaching, taking place during Week III of the Tournament of Champions and running concurrently with the 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup. Unique to Traverse City Horse Shows, hunter athletes will look forward to over $275k in additional prize money during the finals. Over the course of the show series, exhibitors have had the opportunity to enroll in the incentive program and compete for add-back prize money, with 70% of the enrollment fees added to the prize money pot. Horses not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete in the upcoming finals as long as they have competed during at least three weeks of the Traverse City Horse Shows series.
Hunter competition will continue at the Traverse City Tournament of Champions Sunday, September 12, with the $10,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby taking to the Polk Family Hunter Ring, and the Great Lakes Golf Cars Low Adult Hunter 2’6” taking to Hunter Ring II at 8:00a.m..
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Riley Hogan – Hillside Farm Junior Hunter 3’6” champion
On G. Eleven and Mercy Me:
“We have had [G. Eleven] since the beginning of the [Great Lakes Equestrian Festival] series and we have shown him in the Junior Hunter and international hunter derbies. He is always ready to walk in the ring and give it his all. He is a super horse. Mercy Me has been with Don [Stewart] for a little over a year now and I just started riding him a few weeks ago. He is a really scopey and fun horse that has done all of the international derbies. He is really fun!”
On her plan for the handy:
“I thought that there were a fair amount of places to try and show off so I decided to try and slice the first jump and go inside. I know both of those horses fairly well and they are always right there with me and I knew that was something that I was capable of doing with them. I did another inside turn to the two-stride line that was a little tight, but again I just knew that they were going to follow me there and it ended up working out for both of them. Unfortunately I had a rail on Mercy Me in the handy round, but [G. Eleven] was just super the whole way through.”
On earning both champion and reserve:
“It is a really good feeling and something that I worked really hard for. I was never really planning on doing the show horse thing when I was young, so this is really cool, especially because it is my last junior year and our last week up here. It is great to end it on a high note!”
On showing in Traverse City:
“I love coming to Traverse City Horse Shows and there is no place else that I would rather be for the summer. The footing is always good, the weather has been great, the jumps are always big and nice. It is just a really fun place to be!”