The pace in Thursday afternoon’s $38,700 CSI3* 1.45m Speed seemed like it couldn’t get any quicker as the field reached the halfway point of the class. But then Quentin Judge (USA) stepped in.
With a relatively new mount, HH Jamil Field, Judge had something to say about the time to beat, shaving nearly two seconds off an already quick pace.
“This is actually his first international class,” Judge said of the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Mylord Carthago x Chin Chin). “He’s my favorite horse that we have, which I’m embarrassed to say because he’s bad in the barn. He’s mean, he kicks, but he’s really a fun horse to ride.”
Speed riders came out in force for Thursday’s class, with 25 combinations giving their best shot over Anderson Lima’s (BRA) course, and each one coming faster than the last. Coming off a CSI3* grand prix win the previous week, Katie Dinan (USA) held the lead for quite some time with Atika Des Haus Vents, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC, but Judge came in on a relatively unknown horse and showed everyone in Traverse City and beyond what the horse was made of.
Securing the win as his own, Judge pushed Dinan into second, where she remained until the end of the class. Roberto Teran (COL) claimed third with DSP Callas. The class kicked off international action during the third and final week of the Traverse City Horse Shows, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel.
“We bought him as an 8-year-old last year,” Judge continued about HH Jamil Field. “We didn’t jump him at all at WEF. We gave him a little extra time because he’s such a specific, weird horse. I built him up in the spring up to this level and it was his first ranking class. He was great from jump one all the way to the end. He’s a real fighter and he’s going to be a really good horse for our string long term.”
As for what makes the horse special enough to overlook the difficulties, Judge said, “He’s a trier. Every jump, even if it’s not the prettiest jumping effort, he tries not to knock it down. He turns, he can go fast, he can leave out; it’s his own style but he does everything really well and you can feel him really trying. My wife always says I like bad horses who are naughty and he is the epitome of that, but he’s a good horse all around.”
Judge and his home team at Double H Farm manage the gelding very carefully, with a padded stall, plenty of turnout, and priority on the feeding schedule. The thought given to the horse’s care schedule is clearly starting to pay off in results.
While Judge came during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in 2022, he had an up-and-coming string and wasn’t a top contender in FEI classes. With more horsepower, he’s excited to return for a shot at the big prize money and ranking points.
“I’m here this year with a bigger string for FEI,” he continued. “I think this is a great show. I’ve never come during the spring series and I’d always see the results from this part of the year; it seemed like it was great competition. For younger horses like I have, it’s a really good taste of FEI competition.”
Judge himself isn’t the only one enjoying everything Traverse City has to offer. “We have hunters, jumpers, all levels, so it’s a good show for us because we can go in every ring,” he shared. “I have young kids who are in camp here on the lake. It’s all in all a great show for us.”
With his other top mount, HH Zorro Z, aimed at the $145,100 CSI3* Grand Prix Sunday afternoon, Judge is sitting in a promising position with his string and looks forward to a successful summer achieving more top results and enjoying the Michigan backdrop.
Show jumping continues Wednesday with the $38,700 CSI3* Welcome Stake.
See final results here.
Jacob Pope and his Unbelievable Partnership Shine Again
Jacob Pope and Unbelievable are the easy favorites to pick out of a crowd of four-foot hunters. Pope and the 13-year-old mare have taken major victories in hunter divisions and in hunter derbies over the years, and they scored another championship during WCHR week at Traverse City Spring III.
“I’ve been riding her since 2018,” Pope said of Unbelievable, known as “Luna” in the barn. “I actually own half of her now with Forget Me Not Farm and Stephanie Mazer, who’s been a huge supporter of mine the past few years and we’re also good friends. It’s always exciting to be champion with this horse because there’s so much behind the two of us. We were also champion WCHR week this time last year, in the same division, so it’s fun to do it two years in a row.”
Winning three out of four over-fences classes in the High Performance Conformation Hunters, Pope and Luna easily claimed championship honors for the division.
The duo will put their best efforts forward in Saturday’s $100,000 WCHR Central Hunter Spectacular, competing against some of the top hunters in the nation. With a major International Hunter Derby victory last season, their confidence is high going into the prestigious class.
“This WCHR week is comparable in size to [Wellington’s WCHR week] so to be able to have such high quality horses to compete against all week long and all summer long is really exciting,” Pope said of the caliber of horse in Northern Michigan. “I have a couple horses in the three-star too, so it’s great.”
Riding as part of Team Rakowsky, Pope made his Traverse City summers more permanent in recent years, buying a home and settling in for the spring and summer seasons.
“The footing is awesome, the rings are perfect, and the jumps are great,” Pope remarked on why he loves the show. “I love that we have new jumps pretty much every week. There are beautiful new flowers and plants in the hunter rings. There’s always something new and exciting. I really think the venue is unmatched. And there’s something for everyone. We have everything from children’s ponies to FEI and we don’t have to go anywhere.”
Focusing now on Saturday’s WCHR Spectacular, hopes are high but the love for Unbelievable runs so deep that it will ultimately just be another enjoyable round with his trusty partner. “I always love riding her so a good round is a good round,” he shared. “She won the big [international] derby here last year so maybe we can do that in the Spectacular here this year.”
Team Medals are Awarded for Markel/USHJA Platinum Jumper Championships
As team day got underway Thursday for the Markel/USHJA Platinum Jumper Championships, riders had additional pressure riding for both themselves and their teams, hoping to add a zero score to the sheet and stand atop the podium.
The team that took the win in the the 1.40-1.45m division, with the lowest cumulative score over days one and two of the championship, featured riders Ryan Sassmannshausen and Babar, Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Sovereign, Kyle Perkovich and Rarity, and Stephen Foran and Idool.
There are now only two riders still on a clean sheet heading into Saturday’s Individual Final: Perkovich and TJ O’Mara. Both have a shot at taking the individual prize Saturday, but with only one rail in hand, anything could happen. Perkovich earned the added confidence of taking the win in Thursday’s individual portion, with the fastest clear-round time of the day.
“I love the team setting,” Perkovich, of Long Grove, IL, commented. “You’re able to bring the competition up to the next notch. You also get the individual format which is even more interesting and sparks new things. It’s you against the course out there but in the back of your head you’re still thinking about the team and the opponents, so these team settings I really love because it forces you to take in everything.”
His partner, Rarity, is rising in the show jumping heights and becoming a top contender with Perkovich aboard. “I’ve ridden her the past few years now and I’m slowly bringing her up,” he remarked. “We’ve been doing grand prixs at home and playing with her scope a little bit. This year we’re trying to dial everything in and get around well. Hopefully we can finish on a good note.”
The 1.30-1.35m riders brought their A-game, and the competition ended with two teams in a tie for the lead. In a nail-biting jump-off, Richard Rinehart and Vincent sealed the deal for their team, consisting of himself, Stephen Foran and Color Your Day, and Jackie Stary and Special Envoy.
“This is my first time doing these championships,” Rinehart said. “My son, [Luke Rinehart], is getting ready for NAYC so I thought it would be good for both of us to do these championships and get the hang of the team format.”
Rinehart, of Carmel, IN, had added pressure being chosen as the jump-off rider to represent his team, but he made them proud, clocking in about a second and a half faster.
“I rode Vincent who’s been a partner of mine for the past two years,” he continued. “I thought he’d be good for this kind of competition. He’s extremely careful and generally jumps clear, so I thought he’d be good for a format over several days.”
But for Rinehart, it was “Just another jump-off, really. I didn’t want to have a rail down that was for sure, but I didn’t want to go super slow either. I was really proud of Vincent. Also thanks to his owner Ron Caraway for all the fun we’ve had.”
It’s a family affair back home in Indiana for the Rineharts, and competing in the same championship this weekend has been a fun experience for both Richard and Luke, who is competing in the 1.20-1.25m division. “My whole family rides so we have a lot of fun together,” Richard said. “It makes for interesting father-son coach dynamics but we’re getting it.”
Rinehart is one of just two still on a clear slate, along with Izzy Beisel and Vegas H. The plan heading into the Individual Final on Saturday is to “Just rest and stay calm. Vincent gets a little nervous so I’ll probably work him medium but not overdo it.”
The Markel/USHJA Child/Adult and Junior Zone Jumper Team Championship riders had their first individual qualifier and first team round Thursday as well. Topping the 1.10-1.15m Child/Adult class was Allie Ray Hayes and Volodia D’Argouges. The 1.20-1.25m Junior section was won by Clayton Martines and Ultimate Touch ML Z. Team day for the Child/Adult and Junior divisions continues Friday.