On Sunday morning of Desert Circuit 9, presented by Kubota, 74 entries came forward in the annual $20,000 MeadowGrove & Friends 1.20m Open Classic to help support the mission of #WeRideTogether to champion a healthy sport environment. With even more support than the first year, plus dozens of prizes for participants and winners, the class was a huge success, especially for Jacqueline Chawke, who took the win aboard Wrenwood Polly Pocket.

“Thank you so much to DIHP, Meadow Grove and friends, and all the sponsors for this very special class,” Carrie Kehring, President of #WeRideTogether commented. “Together we are all working to keep our sport safe and healthy for everyone.”

Jacqueline Chawke and Wrenwood Polly Pocket. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The class brought riders of all ages, across professional, amateur and junior ranks, into the Grand Prix Arena for the action. Over a course designed by Peter Grant, the 74 entries each took their shot, and 34 of them made it to jump-off action. Chawke came in very late in the order, so she knew what she had to do, and with the help of her husband, James, she sped around the short course and posted the quickest time.

“James bought her for me as a wedding present almost two years ago,” Chawke said of Wrenwood Polly Pocket. “I rode her in Ireland a little bit as a 6-year-old and then when I found out I was pregnant I came back, we took a few embryos from her, and imported her later that year. So I’ve really only had a year-long partnership with her. She’s very very special. She’s super competitive, fast and careful and has a really big heart.”

Chawke knew she wanted to support the mission of #WeRideTogether, and she had the perfect horse for the occasion, meaning entering the class was a no-brainer. “I think that it’s a really important class to help everyone be more aware of all aspects of our sport and industry and to help everyone come together in a safer environment,” she explained. “It’s really important and special for MeadowGrove to step forward and support and present this class for everyone.

Earning second in the class, and also going very late in the order, was Megan Holliday who piloted Revelation. Holliday was ecstatic about the opportunity to ride for a good cause and support the mission of #WeRideTogether.

Jacqueline Chawke and Wrenwood Polly Pocket in their winning presentation, pictured with Susie Schroer of MeadowGrove Farm and Carrie Kehring of #WeRideTogether. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I saw that it was for charity and thought I’d love to be a part of something like that,” Holliday shared. “When I’m just competing for myself I feel like I could be competing for something greater, and if it goes to something like that then I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Holliday echoed the sentiments regarding the purpose behind the class and #WeRideTogether, championing healthy sport and recognizing the value the organization is bringing to equestrian sport.

“[Healthy sport] is something where you’re not brought down by other people, and you don’t feel threatened by other people,” Holliday shared. “Even if you’re competing against someone you’re encouraging each other, you feel safe around everybody. It’s a good environment overall, loving and caring.”

Kehring and the #WeRideTogether team were thrilled with the turnout once again and the impact they felt after running the class for a second time.

“This is our second year doing the class and what was so exciting this year was that new and returning sponsors and donors were reaching out, unprompted, to us to participate,” Kehring continued. “I think that speaks volumes about the support behind our mission, how well we’re achieving our goals, and how receptive people are to our messaging.”

The top three riders in their awards presentation.

In addition to the lion’s share of $20,000 in prize money, Chawke took home a custom technical show jacket from Solea Equestrian, an Equestrian Stockholm Kit, and a gift basket from the Infused Equestrian. Second and third placed riders received an Equestrian Stockholm Kit, and a gift basket from the Infused Equestrian. The top junior rider received a Schulz 1912 Ring Bag and sweatshirt as well as a SuperGoop Sunkit from Show MD. The top placed amateur rider received Ice Horse wraps, liniment and a $100 gift certificate plus a $500 gift certificate from Equ Lifestyle Boutique. The second highest placed amateur received a $120 Massage gift card from Kristi Zimbelman. The third highest placed amateur won a gift bag from Show MD.

DIHP extends thanks to MeadowGrove & Friends for sponsoring this special charity classic benefiting #WeRideTogether. Meadow Grove & Friends are committed to ensuring a safe, fun, and healthy athletic environment for all coaches and competitors and graciously donated $20,000 in prize money for the class. In addition, DIHP is donated all class entry fees to further #WeRideTogether’s important work in keeping athletes in all sports, at every level, safe and healthy.

Competitors were also able to opt to donate their winnings to #WeRideTogether as a show of support. Plus, the groom of the first place horse and rider received a $500 prize from today’s purse.

To learn more about their mission, visit www.WeRideTogether.today.

Full list of donors:
MeadowGrove Farm
Mark Kinsella Equestrian
Sandhaven Farm
Alora Sporthorses
Jenn Serek
Trademark Stables & Friends
Chestnut Hill & the Wiremans
Brookway Stables
Ingenium Farm
Estancia Farms
Thunderbird Show Park
Parkside Stables
Imagination Lane

Kaitlin Campbell Scores Second FEI Win of the Week

Kaitlin Campbell (USA) felt that she had just had a few too many instances of an unlucky rail in top competition throughout Desert Circuit so far, but she changed her fate during Desert Circuit 9, presented by Kubota. Aboard her longtime partner Palina de L’Escaut, owned by SWS Training & Sales, Campbell flew to the win in the $32,000 Frontier Farms CSI3* 1.45m Classic, making it two FEI wins for her in one week.

Campbell and Palina de L’Escaut were one of eight pairs to jump Joey Rycroft’s course clear and advance to a jump-off. She had the pole position heading in last, and in addition, she knows her mare’s footspeed is unmatched.

Kaitlin Cambell (USA) and Palina de L’Escaut in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Usually I’m riding brand new horses all the time but this horse has been in the barn for five years now so she’s pretty much the longest partnership I’ve had,” she said of Palina de L’Escaut, a 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Perigueux x Gardeulan). “We try to pick and choose the classes she will do the best in. The other two horses I showed this week, it was their first FEI show with me so I wanted to have something I knew well today.”

Campbell and Palina have won quite a bit together, but jumping on the grass isn’t usually Campbell’s first instinct with the mare.

“Normally I don’t show her on a big open grass ring like this but she’s been feeling so well that she deserved to go out there and have a win,” she explained. “She’s been feeling so good and jumping so well but I’ve been making a mistake. Finally today it came together.”

In second was Peter Petschenig (AUT) and It’s The Senator 111, owned by Petschenig Showjumping LLC, while Nicole Haunert (USA) and My Lady Lavista, owned by Cherokee Show Horses, took third.

Kaitlin Cambell (USA) and Palina de L’Escaut in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Campbell knows the mare so well so she knows exactly how to keep her fit and performing at her best. “She pretty much never jumps at home but that’s been the case since I’ve had her,” she shared. “She doesn’t really ever canter, we only trot. She’s really light on herself besides when we’re showing, so it’s a balance of keeping her fit without doing too much work. She doesn’t need to practice much at this point.”

The week was for sure a highlight for Campbell and the team behind her, but they know they still have decent shots at all the final classes remaining for week 10.

“This was for sure the best week so far,” she reflected. “But we’ve been here since week 3 and it’s been great. They get in different rings each week so it’s nice to pick and choose which horses to show which week. They give a variety of classes you can do, and it’s really nice having National grand prixs and the 1.40m is a nice stepping stone in between.”

Show jumping picks back up for CSI4* and National action on Wednesday, March 13.

Jose Maria Quintana and Catoki Boy Finish Strong in $25,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.40m Open Classic

Jose Maria Quintana and Catoki Boy. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Jose Maria Quintana saved the best for last during Desert Circuit 9, presented by Kubota, which happened to be his last week of the season. With his beloved Catoki Boy, he took the win in the $25,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.40m Open Classic, getting the horse back to perfect form and capping his season off exactly the way he wanted.

“I couldn’t ask for a better way to finish the season,” Maria Quintana said of his win. “He feels great. Honestly he wasn’t the best last week and I gave him a little bit of rest and came to this class to see how he is working out. It doesn’t take as much effort for him and he was incredible. He was very fast.”

Ten pairs qualified for the short course, and it was an impressive list of names, but Maria Quintana was able to see exactly what needed to be done, drawing the last to go in the jump-off. James Chawke held the lead as first to go with Daido Van’t Ruytershof Z, making the crowd think he couldn’t be caught.

Jose Maria Quintana and Catoki Boy in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Maria Quintana came in aboard Catoki Boy and found two places to save precious time, shaving about three-tenths of a second off the leading time and taking the win.

“I watched the first couple go and I saw everyone from [fence] one to two,” he described of his strategy. “Everyone was doing nine [strides] but I had this instinct that I could get there in eight so I just trusted it. I have learned a lot that I should trust my instincts. And last minute change of plans I did six in the seven so I think that is where I won.”

Chawke ended up second, while Amanda Gomez took third with Charly-Ann, owned by Rising Star Equestrian.

Maria Quintana has packed up to head home to the San Diego area, but not without a happy heart for how the season went overall.

“It’s my first time here for the whole season,” he reflected. “I can say that I’m really fortunate to have a place like this t o jump in California. I couldn’t ask for a better place for my horse to be, for me to be, for this kind of competition, so it’s great.”

Anna Duncan and Valtopia’s Orion Clinch Children’s Hunter Classic Win

Anna Duncan and Valtopia’s Orion. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Anna Duncan’s day had an unexpected but very welcomed finish, as she was the winner of the G2 Insurance Children’s Hunter Classic aboard Valtopia’s Orion. With scores of 77 and 84 for a combined total of 161, the pair took the win in a big division to complete Sunday of Desert Circuit 9, presented by Kubota.

“I’ve only had him for four months now, but he feels like the perfect match,” Duncan explained of Valtopia’s Orion. “We clicked instantly, and he has been so perfect the whole time. I was not expecting this win, but he’s been really, really good. Honestly it’s just the cherry on top because the whole week that we’ve been here has just been perfect, so this is just amazing.”

The ride aboard Valtopia’s Orion has been an easy one to get used to for Duncan. “Compared to my last horse, he’s very easy,” she explained. “He’s super comfy and he’s a really fun ride. He’s pretty straightforward and just super fun. He has a super fun jump and super fun gaits.”

Anna Duncan and Valtopia’s Orion in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

While she’s focusing now on the Children’s Hunters, she hopes to start raising the fence height in months to come with Valtopia’s Orion. “I think the plan this year is over the summer to move up to the juniors hopefully and do derbies and hopefully play around in the eq a little bit,” Duncan explained.

Even though she wants to dabble in other disciplines, Duncan really just loves the hunters. “I just think it’s really fun,” she shared. “I like how the courses are always pretty straightforward. I think that’s always fun. It’s fun being able to show off your horse instead of having to have them framed up all the time.”

Hailing from Sandy, Utah, Duncan is a bit out of her element, but clearly living up to the level of competition at DIHP. “I love the facility,” she said. “I think it’s so fun; the arenas are so pretty and I love the jumps. I love all the rings, I love the weather. I’m from Utah so it’s a big difference. At home the shows are very small with a couple people competing against you, and then here is obviously very big with high competition so it’s a very big shift.”

Hunters resume with professional divisions for the final week of Desert Circuit on Wednesday, March 10.