The 71st Pin Oak Charity Horse Show II, presented by Irish Day Farm, closed out two weeks of action-packed competition after Hunters, Jumpers, American Saddlebreds, Andalusians and Lusitanos showed off their talents from March 22-April 3. More than 1,000 horses competed at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, providing great sport, entertainment and fund-raising opportunities galore.
It was an honor and a privilege for Pin Oak to host Victoria "Tori" Watson, the Week II Texas Children's Hospital Honored Hero, and her family on Saturday night. Thanks to all who made it such a special evening, including Wells Fargo Private Bank for the amazing Wells Fargo Stage Coach ride around the arena before the grand prix started.
Congratulations to Meagan Nusz and Willow for winning the show’s featured jumper class, the $30,000 Walter Oil & Gas Grand Prix. It was one of the best jump-offs in recent memory, and it was great that a hometown girl returned to her roots, reunited with a horse she hadn't competed in two years to win their first-ever grand prix victory together at Pin Oak.
“I’m thrilled. It’s a nice ending to the story,” she said with a smile. “My best friend, Megan Haag, and I have been coming here since were tiny, and it’s literally taken me 28 years to win a Pin Oak Grand Prix. So, I told (show president) Lynn Walsh tonight, ‘Finally! I finally did it!’ So, I came back home after five years, and it was successful, and I’m ecstatic.”
"We want to thank all of our sponsors for making the show a success. We could not do it without them, especially our presenting sponsor, Irish Day Farm, who has stepped up in a significant way four years in a row, " said Lynn Walsh, president of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.
Walsh continued, "What a great array of exhibitors this year, too! We appreciate and thank all who travelled from near and far to show with Pin Oak for our 71st year. It was so nice to see our old friends and welcome new ones into the Pin Oak family."
To see a full list of the 2016 Pin Oak Sponsors, click here. We invite you to patronize their businesses as a thank you for supporting our show and the charities we benefit!
Alfano Dominates the USHJA Derbies
The New York-based rider guides Miss Lucy and The Exchange to top honors
It was all Jennifer Alfano in this week's USHJA Hunter Derby competitions. Alfano captured the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Valobra Master Jewelers, with Miss Lucy on Friday evening a day after winning the $15,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard The Exchange.
This was Miss Lucy's second consecutive victory in the class after returning to action after a two-year hiatus from the show ring due to illness and injury.
“It’s unbelievable. There are really no words,” said Alfano of the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Helen Lenahan. “She was just amazing in both rounds. She just jumped higher and higher. She feels as good as ever right now and better than ever. I’m lucky to have her, and a horse like her is a once-in-a-lifetime. She’s such a special animal.”
Loretta Paterson’s Triompf, ridden by Holly Shepherd, impressed the judges in both rounds to place second overall after claiming second in the Classic Round behind Alfano and Miss Lucy. What was perhaps most impressive about Triompf’s performance, however, was the fact that he’d just placed third in the previous evening’s $25,000 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Grand Prix in the same arena.
Kelley Farmer and Kensel LLC's Mindful claimed third-placed honors after a stellar performance in the Handy Round. Farmer also eanrned the USHJA International Derby High-Point Bonus Award after claiming victory with Mindful in Week I's USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Max Bowl and the Tribble Family.
The $15,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby was a fabulous class under beautiful blue skies, and spectators also enjoyed the special Derby Day ringside reception in the Valobra Pavilion, where they could watch the beautiful hunters while enjoying a scrumptious brunch.
Despite the summer-like temperatures, The Exchange, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by SBS Farms, jumped better and better through the two-round competition for the victory over Suits You, owned by Ashley Kyle and ridden by Peter Pletcher. Alfano also claimed third aboard her own Candid for an impressive payday of $6,450.
By virtue of their one-two finishes each of the two weeks of Pin Oak, Alfano and Pletcher tied for the USHJA National Hunter Derby High-Point Bonus Award, which included a check for $1,500 and a new bridle.
“It’s really special to win here because I bought The Exchange from Sherre Sims here last year,” said Alfano of the Rendezvous Farm trainer and long-time Pin Oak supporter who passed away last year. “It’s nice for him to win here, and it’s sort of his hometown. It really means a lot.”
Pletcher, of PJP Farm in Magnolia, Texas, also received multiple honors in the hunters over the two weeks, with his Pre-Green stars shining brightly.
Sequence, owned by Natalie Bass, won the Texas Pre-Green Super Stake and the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Stake for a great day’s payout during Week I and was the 3'3" Pre-Green Hunter Champion.
Sequence won $1,268 for victory in the Texas Super Stake and $2,364 in the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive.
Pletcher repeated the accolades during Week II, riding Sandrino, pictured above, to the Low Pre-Green Hunter championship and to victory in the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Stake and the Texas Pre-Green Super Stake. Sandrino took home $3,567 along with his two blue-ribbon neck sashes for his stellar performance.
Pletcher owns the 9-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Sandro Boy—Cool Pearl Z) with Sue Lightner, of Modesto, California.
“I did him in the Pre-Greens last year, and he was great,” said Pletcher. “I planned to move him into the First Years this year, but when I broke my arm (in Florida) this winter I decided to keep all of the Pre-Green horses where they were because it was so late in the year to start. And, with the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program, it makes me think a lot about keeping those Pre-Green horses in there as long as you can for the amount of money that you can win. So, that was my brainstorm, and so far it’s working pretty well!”
Earlier in the week in the Irish Day Farm Main Arena, Houston native Meagan Nusz returned for this year’s Pin Oak Charity Horse Show after a five-year absence, and it turned into an even sweeter welcome home when she topped the $10,000 Pin Oak Welcome Stake presented by the Kathy and Brad Coors Family on Wednesday, March 30.
On April 1, In the $25,000 Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix II, in memory of Brian Bradley, M.D., Lochinvar and Matt Cyphert jumped to the blue ribbon for the second consecutive week.
With victories both weeks, Cyphert won the inaugural Brian Bradley, M.D. Memorial Trophy for the high-point horse and rider of the Brian Bradley, M.D. Grand Prix Series.
“What a great honor. This is the first year they’re presenting the award, and I know the family to some degree, so to be able to be the first winner means a lot," he said. "And to keep it in Texas, that feels great.”
Cyphert of Woodhill Farm in Northlake, Texas, pictured below, has been a long-time supporter of Pin Oak and was thrilled to add yet another accolade to his tack room, already filled with coolers, neck sashes and dozens of blue and tricolor ribbons from the hunter and jumper sections.
“Obviously, we’re really enjoying Pin Oak,” he said with a smile. “They make such an effort to get a crowd out here, to give lots of prize money away and create something special. The ladies and gentlemen who put this show on need to be congratulated for their efforts, because I know it’s a year-round endeavor and it pays off every year. It’s the best horse show in Texas.”
Under 25 Grand Prix Series Draws Rave Reviews
New this year to Pin Oak were the Under 25 Grand Prix classes, which included a Welcome and Grand Prix. Both events were well received and competitive, for riders ages 16-25.
Keely McIntosh, of Magnolia, Texas, may have had the desire to win the $20,000 Booth Show Jumpers Under 25 Grand Prix because her mother, Jenny Booth, sponsored the class. But, in the end, it all came down to the riding.
McIntosh guided So Live Helau, pictured left, to the only double-clear performance to clinch the blue ribbon over second-placed Katie Cox aboard Twilight.
For McIntosh, a graduating senior at Texas A&M, the class victory was especially sweet as she fully appreciates the opportunity to compete against her peers while also balancing college.
“So, the under 25 division I personally find very important because it gives everyone who is not a top professional the opportunity to jump a height that’s similar,” she said. “But it separates us and gives us a chance to compete at that level without competing against people like McLain Ward and Beezie Madden at WEF or Matt Cyphert and Holly Shepherd here, who are seasoned grand prix riders.”