Lexington, KY – Oct. 28, 2023 – Hunters took to the ring for the first time at the 2023 National Horse Show on Saturday evening, with the NHS $10,000 Children’s Hunter Classic and the NHS $10,000 Adult Hunter Classic taking place in the Alltech Arena. Each hunter classic brought forth horse and rider combinations competing over two rounds—a classic round where all competitors participated and a second round where the top 12 were called back to vie for the top spots–before the respective champions were crowned.
The win of the NHS $10,000 Children’s Hunter Classic went to Lexington, Kentucky native, Campbell Cauthen aboard Qoriolis Effect SCF, an eight year old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by DCTM, LLC. Cauthen, trained by Robert Braswell, scored an 80 in the first round, coming back 3rd to go in the handy round ultimately scoring an 85 to secure the win with a total score of 165. With the scores being close coming into the second round, Cauthen knew she needed to impress to solidify a win. “My horse has a really good canter so I wanted to make sure I showed it off,” Cauthen said
“I have been showing at the horse park for eight years so like my whole life,” Cauthen said. “So it’s really awesome to come and win this final.”
Greta Holmes on Gold Strike, an 11 year old KWPN gelding owned by Holmes herself, came in the Reserve Champion position just one point shy of Cauthen. Holmes, who is trained by Salvatore Gandolfo, produced two beautiful rounds to a total score of 164, with both round’s scores over 80.
The Adult Hunter Classic Round One presented by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Oare featured 26 horse and rider partnerships. At the conclusion of the first round it was Kendall Meijer and Elliot who laid down the highest score of 86 points, returning as the favorite for the handy round. In the end, Jordan Melfi piloted MF Starboy to the top of the field in the NHS $10,000 Adult Hunter Classic under the guidance of owner and trainer Michael Britt-Leon. After the first round, Melfi and the seven year old Westphalian gelding were within striking distance of the win with a score of 85. As the penultimate pair to try their hand at the second round, their score of 84 points helped them to secure the top place.
Saturday night’s class at the 140th National Horse Show was certainly a special one for Melfi for numerous reasons. As his first-ever National Horse Show and last competition as an amateur, Melfi was closing one chapter all while opening a brand new one stating, “This has been a really exciting night for me as it’s one of my last stops being an amateur. Thank you to Michael Britt-Leon who allowed me to show such a spectacular horse tonight, MF Starboy. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to show at the 140th National Horse Show.”
The runner-up spot was secured by Wynatte Chu and her own Contador, a 16-year-old Swiss Warmblood gelding. Chu, who placed third in the THIS NHS Adult Equitation 25 and Over Championship earlier this week, laid down two beautiful rounds with the help of her trainer Jenny Martin-Rudaz. The partnership received scores of 83 and 85 for a two round total of 168.
Saturday also brought forth the conclusion of the Pérez and Bennett equitation divisions, with champions being awarded in the respective divisions. In the under 14 division, Kaitlyn Linck won champion. Maggie King received champion in section A of the 14-15 equitation and Ella Dalton was champion in section B. Section A of the 16-17 was won by Annabelle Schraw while Sophia Blake won the champion spot in section B.
Equitation competition will resume in the Alltech arena on Sunday, October 28, with the high-anticipated Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Championship presented by the Hamel Family Foundation. Several phases of competition will decide the winner out of almost 200 junior riders: the class includes a first round with all competitors, then a flat class and a second round with the top riders called back before possible testing and the top prizes finally being awarded.