Temecula, Calif. – May. 29, 2022 – Amateur hunter riders took center stage to conclude competition at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National II. With only one week remaining in the series, the riders flocked to the arena to get in their final few rounds. Having newfound freedom with remote work for many across the country allowing flexibility to show more frequently, the turnout for the division was at an all-time high. At the conclusion of the two days of division competition, it was ultimately Mollie Hartung and Solitaire who walked away with the tricolor ribbon.
On the opening day of competition, Hartung and her own 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding “Connor” solidified a strong lead taking home a near clean sweep. The duo, who have been partnered together for seven years, were tuned in scoring a 78 in the first over fences round on Saturday morning. They followed up their first over fences win with another blue ribbon earning a whopping 85-point score in the first round classic. Rounding out day one, Hartung and Solitaire showcased some fancy footwork to take home the red ribbon in the under saddle portion, only to be bested by Julia Greenspan and Paperboy.
Leading the division heading into day two, Hartung was within striking distance of the championship title. With Greenspan and Brighton Farms’ an 8-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Paperboy, hot on their heels, Hartung’s consistency proved to be the deciding factor in the pinning of the division. Knowing how “Connor” can be somewhat of a diva in the show ring, the California native who works full-time at a biotech company managing the international partnerships in the Asian market sat back and let the experienced gelding do what he does best. The pair turned in respectable scores in both the finals over fences round scoring 83 points, good enough for a second place finish, and then topping it with a score of 84 in the handy to again take another red ribbon to round out the division.
Hartung waited with anticipation as Greenspan entered the ring as the last horse-and-rider combination to put in their final two rounds serving as the deciding factor between the reserve and champion titles. Paperboy headed into the weekend on an incredible winning streak taking the championship title in the High Performance 4’ Hunter division during week I of the Temecula Valley National series with professional rider, Chad Mahaffey as well as a win in the $15,000 USHJA International Derby, Sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry during the Temecula Valley Premier series. Greenspan and Paperboy confidently entered the Grand Hunter Arena for the final over fences round scoring an 84, besting Hartung by just one point. Leaving just the handy round to determine the overall winner, Hartung’s score would be hard to top. Though the dup turned in a beautifully ridden handy track, their score of 82 points was not enough to top Hartung and the pair settled for the reserve championship title, while Hartung and Solitaire topped the division.
Competition at Galway Downs returns Wednesday, June 1, for the third and final week of the Temecula Valley National series featuring the highly anticipated National Equestrian Tournament finals throughout the week.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Mollie Hartung – Amateur Owner 3’6” Hunter Champion
“Connor is fifteen and I have had him since he was seven. So it has been a very long partnership. We started out in the equitation together and a few years ago he seemed to like the hunters better so we have been doing that ever since. With this horse, if he is in a good mood and looking forward to it you just get out of his way and let him do his job, and try not to boss him around too much and let him do his thing. He is very, very sweet and very people-oriented so as long as you operate within his boundaries, and he has a lot of boundaries, you are good. But, he is very cuddly and very kind as long as everything is done to his liking. He doesn’t like anything that makes noise. Clippers, vacuums, the farrier, all not good.”
On their future plans:
“We have been doing the 3’6” amateur Owners for a few years now, and we will continue to do that. He is fifteen years old so he is a little on the older side, but he is doing really well and still enjoying his job. We will let him pick and choose and as long as he enjoys this job and is comfortable, we will keep on keeping on.”
On the innovative thinking at Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“We love these shows. I think it has been great. I think Ali [Nilforushan] has continued to improve the facility and every time we come back he is very receptive and listens to his customers. I mark these on my calendar every year. Anything innovative is fun to try out in this sport. I think sometimes we are a very traditionalist sport and there can be a weight against trying things new sometimes and so I always think it is refreshing that they test new things out and that they are listening to the market and doing it. That is why people come back here and have so much fun.”
On having a career and showing in the amateur divisions:
“I work full-time for a biotech company. I manage our international partnerships mainly in Japan and China. I manage our portfolio of cancer products and make sure that those products get to the Asian market. I work remotely now which has been amazing to be able to show more regularly. I can take my laptop to the show and work from here or at the hotel. Having to be in the office full time only allowed me to show about six times a year, but now I can take my lunch on Friday to do a jumper class or ride my hunter and not have to worry about running out of paid time off. It has been amazing being able to show more regularly!”