Thermal, Calif. – Nov. 7, 2021 – Amateur-Owner hunters highlight competition in the Main Hunter Ring on the final day of the National Sunshine Series I at the Desert International Horse Park. Showcasing her mount’s beautiful jump and even pace, Alexis Meadows and her own Antwerp took home the Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Championship, sponsored by Aleron and Casa Luigi, to conclude competition on Sunday afternoon.
Under the tutelage of Joie Gaitlin and Morley Abey, Meadows and her partner of eight years won three over-fences classes and the under saddle to take home the championship cooler. The reserved championship went to the winner of the division’s handy class, Tonya Johnston and Galactic, who also earned two second place ribbons over the weekend.
In the Amateur-Owner 3’33” 18-35 Hunter division, sponsored by DePaolo Equine Concepts, it was Jacqueline Attwood-DuPont and Black Label who earned the championship honors . The National Sunshine Series I marked Attwood’s first competition back with trainer Erin Duffy since having her baby girl, Scarlett Attwood, five months ago, and she was thrilled to have consistent performances throughout the weekend with her winning mount. The reserve championship was presented to Stephanie Goodson and Close Up
The Amateur-Owner 3’3” 36 and Over Hunter division, sponsored by Thumbs Up Farm, was held next, with Friday’s $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby winners Christina Smith and Soon to Be taking home the championship title. Irene Neuwirth and Juan Carlos followed with the reserve championship honors. Smith and Soon to Be also topped the $1,000 Amateur-Owner 3’3″/3’6″ Hunter Classic, sponsored by DePaolo Equine Concepts. The duo, who also rides with Joie Gaitlin and Morley Abey, capped off a successful week with scores of 85 and 90 to take the win out of a combined 30 entries over the three divisions.
On Sunday, Struck Apparel sponsored the Child/Adult 2’6″-2’9″ Hunter Derby and the Child/Adult 2′-2’3″ Hunter Derby. Madalene Triolo and Autumn Gold took home the top honors in the 2’6″-2’9″ Hunter Derby with a score of 177. They were followed by Debra Chambers and Diamonds and Pearls, who earned a score of 167. Doryl Brooks and Genuine rounded out the top three with their score of 165.5.
In the Child/Adult 2′-2’3″ Hunter Derby it was Natalia Carvajal and Quiet Please who caught the judges attention to earn the top score of 168. Sue Miner and Secret Romance placed second with a score of 167, while A Patri Gorai and Legalo earned the third place honors on a score of 163.
Competition for the first week of the National Sunshine Series I concluded on Sunday, but horse and rider combinations will return to the Main Hunter Ring at the Desert International Horse Park on Wednesday. The highlight event of the week will be Friday’s $65,000 International Hunter Derby Regional Championships, sponsored by Butet.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Alexis Meadows – Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Champion
“He’s my horse of a lifetime in the sense that it’s almost been a lifetime that I’ve had him. I’ve had him since he was 7 years old, which was eight years ago. He’s been there for me in and out of the ring in so many ways. He absolutely tries his heart out. He is the sweetest horse in the world. We both came together when we were a little green, but he always tried his hardest. We’ve been doing the 3’6” A/Os since 2016 and he just loves it. He goes in there and just has the best expression. The thing I love most about him is he’s tried his heart out for me in so many ways and for eight years he’s barely been out of commission – he’s the most resilient horse I know. I’m so lucky to have him.”
On her long-term relationship with Antwerp:
“In every horse lover’s world, we would all love to have our ponies forever but the reality is we have to do what’s best for the horse. There’s so much time, effort and investment from every aspect so I didn’t foresee this relationship lasting so long, but thinking about it from a horsemanship perspective I always take it day by day. He’s getting close to retiring after eight solid years. He’s a hotter, more sensitive horse, but he’s really settled in now and he’s the best horse to have in the ring. He’s such a confidence booster and I can always count on having fun.”
On Desert Horse Park improvements:
“From an exhibitor’s standpoint, I really appreciate the dedication to improvement because I’ve been lucky enough to show here for years. It’s such a strong west coast circuit and to be able to see it transition and improve I think the credit goes to the whole community – it’s a group effort. One of my favorite parts is the effort put into the hunter rings. Whether you’re in Hunter 1 or Hunter 7, they’re all the same and treated with equal importance. I think between the landscaping and making it feel more like an intimate atmosphere is great for the horses. I really enjoy coming out here – it’s our favorite show.”
Jacqueline Attwood-Dupont – Amateur-Owner 3’3” 18-35 Hunter Champion
On Black Label:
“This horse has been in our barn for five years – my sister rode him first and now I ride him. He’s a great jumper and a great easy horse. It feels great to be champion always, but especially this horse show. My baby is now five months old, as of this week, and we only did one schooling show before this a month ago. It’s pretty much the first time back and he went right into the ring and jumped awesome. I can’t ask for a better outcome!”
On the Desert International Horse Park:
“We were looking forward to this horse show all year, especially for me it was perfect timing for my first time back. We love riding in these rings with this footing. The facility is great. I always feel like my horses are happy. The jumps are beautiful now with all of the updates. There’s a lot of shade and fans for my baby, which is amazing!”