Goshen, NY --- Old Field Farm in Goshen, N.Y., is barely a mile from Historic Track and on Sunday (Aug. 18) the show could have filled a race as eight Standardbreds showed up for a Standardbred Division (sponsored by Blue Chip Farms).
With no starting gate in sight, the eight Standardbreds were saddled up, polished to perfection and shown as pleasure mounts. To many spectators' surprise, they trotted or paced around the indoor ring, over ground poles and cross rails.
The division Grand Champion went to Denelle Stratton and her Down Under wonder, Slipnslide A ($858,239). With three years under their belt, the pair has impressed in both Standardbred and rated riding competitions.
The Reserve Champion went to Helene Gregory and JB. Helene traveled up from New Jersey for the day of fun, bringing along Rob Pennington's Glissade, shown by Caroline Green. Both seasoned show horses, these two helped bring friendly competition from the neighboring state.
Jocelyn Lavignes’ mount Mr Express ($101,868) raced less than a week ago on Aug. 13 at Monticello. He was broke to saddle the day after the race. Only having three days of riding before the show, the team impressively took home the top honors in the Standardbred Hunter class. He also competed in the ground pole & cross rail classes.
Another notable exhibitor was driver/trainer Brian Connor. After his “catch drives” on Saturday night, he drove down from Vernon Downs to “catch ride” for his cousin Katie Cox. His mount was Four Starz Magic ($187,202) who races at Monticello and is taken care of daily by Katie. She couldn’t have been more proud of his sixth place ribbon.
Jennifer Connor rode Our Lucky Killean ($1,281,344), who was given to her by trainer Casie Coleman last year. He has excelled in his new life as a pleasure horse, winning several Reserve Champion titles this season.
The only grey in the group, Lancelot ($32,972), a 13-year-old gelding ridden by Olivia Kimelman, gave us all some laughs. Finishing in the ribbons in all his classes, he especially showed his enthusiasm for jumping. This big happy boy always has his ears up and offers a few happy bucks for his young rider.
Adding to the versatility of this group, the Racing Under Saddle performer and former Open trotter Lemon Pepper ($596,551) also showed he can work his way in the ring. Jennifer Lowery was in the saddle as they navigated through all four Standardbred classes.
The highlight of the day was the Hunter Derby. A Hunter Derby is a large jumping course, modeled after natural jumps you would see in the hunt field. It consists of two rounds with the first being a qualifying round. There are jumping options to choose between in order to gain more points. The judge awards points depending on the effort at each jump. The top 12 point earners get called back for a second round. The judge wants to see how "handy" your horse is by requiring galloping, cantering and trotting fences over the second course.
A total of 22 horses entered the Derby and four of them were Standardbreds -- Slipnslide A/Denelle Stratton, Lancelot/Olivia Kimelman, JB/Helene Gregory and Glissade/Caroline Green. This was a first for each of these teams. It’s not an easy task for a Standardbred to compete in such a class. Not only are they cantering up and down hills while jumping solid natural obstacles, but they were competing against seasoned non-Standardbred show horses.
Slipnslide A/ Denelle Stratton and JB/Helene Gregory impressed the judges enough to be called back in the top 12. Both riders and horses fared very well and the spectators were given quite a performance. A common phrase was heard "are those really Standardbreds?"
Also worth a mention was Brian Connor, who catch rode Twist n Shout, trained by Vanessa Karlewicz, to a fifth place in the Hunter Derby. Although not a Standardbred, this also shows the versatility of horseman in the Standardbred world.
A big thank you to the Hudson Valley Horse Shows for including the Standardbred division at their shows this year. And to Blue Chip Farms for sponsoring the division. It is wonderful to introduce the versatility of the Standardbred to so many new people.