Temecula, Calif. – April 29, 2021 – With not a single cloud in the sky, competitors returned to the Grand Hunter Arena Thursday, April 29, for the second day of competition at the Temecula Valley National Premier II, presented by Interactive Mortgage. First to impress was Wendy Lee Thompson, who proved that a first place finish happens more than once in a blue moon, securing a champion title in the Green 3’6” Hunter with one of her newest mounts, Silver Moon 33. Hometown hunter rider, Nick Haness, also continued his dominating streak with two additional champion titles in both the Green 3’3” Hunter aboard Morrison, and Stiletto in the Performance 3’3” Hunter.
Wendy Lee Thompson and Silver Moon 33 led the field during the first day of the Green 3’6” Hunter division. She and Leigh Vosseller’s 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, Silver Moon 33, showcased their style and scope in both over fences rounds on the opening day of the division. Their efforts caught the judges’ eyes ensuring two first-place ribbons. The duo returned Thursday morning, meeting stiff competition from fellow competitor, Marisa Metzger, and her two mounts, Heavenly and Caville. Though Thompson was not able to beat Metzger’s scores in the over fences portion on the second day, her second place finish in the handy and her opening day performances were strong enough to defend her lead and she walked away champion of the Green 3’6” Hunter division. Metzger and Caville rode away with the division’s reserve championship.
Haness continued his Premier I winning streak in the hunter ring securing not one, but two division titles during Premier II. Haness pulled ahead of the Green 3’3” Hunter pack aboard West Coast Equine Partners, LLC’s 6-year-old Warmblood gelding, Morrison Wednesday afternoon. The duo secured two wins in the over fences portion and continued to dominate the division Thursday afternoon, totaling four wins over fences. The young talent has proven to be quite the contender this year, coming off of three consecutive wins in national derbies during the west coast winter circuit, in addition to numerous podium placings. Emily Esau Williams and HD Kuala Lumpur’s scores earned them Reserve Champion.
Haness kept himself busy simultaneously showing in the Performance 3’3” Hunter division with four separate mounts. The division filled with talent proved to be steep competition, but Cover gave a near-flawless performance showcasing style, experience, and textbook movement. The Temecula resident and Walkenbach Equestrian LLC’s 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding dazzled the judges earning themselves a tricolor in the division. Haness pulled off a shut out bringing home a Reserve Champion title in the division with his own mount, Stiletto.
Though she was shut out of a champion finish in the Green 3’6” Hunter division, Metzger returned once more riding for redemption aboard Emma Borders’ 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Cavito 2, in the High Performance 3’9” Hunter division. The duo wowed the judges with their effortless cadence and were able to close out their week with a tricolor.
Hunter competition continues Friday, April 30, with both Small and Large Junior Hunter classes. Meanwhile, equitation takes center stage with the ASPCA 3’6’’ Medal. Jumper competition heats up Friday evening with the second installment of the $5,000 1.35m NEEd for Speed Qualifier.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nick Haness – Performance 3’3” Hunter Champion & Green 3’3” Hunter Champion
“Morrison is a 6-year-old Pre-Green 3’3” horse owned by Gail Ellis and West Coast Equine Partners. He debuted this year and has had a successful year so far. He’s really outstanding as a young horse. We had hopes to train him this year and really shine next year, but he has surprised us all. He came out against all his stablemates, who are all seasoned derby horses, and he’s won his first three derbies in a row. Morrison is currently leading the nation in the USHJA National Hunter Derby standings and that’s so pretty exciting. He really loves it and we hope he will continue to become an international derby horse next year.”
On competing in the renovated Grand Hunter Arena:
“I am very happy the pre-green hunters were moved to the Grand Hunter Arena this week. The jumps are bright and full and allowed Morrison to jump really well. He loves a spiffy atmosphere and the trickier it is, the better he performs. We are so happy he was champion! Also, I think they did a fantastic job with the Grand Hunter Arena. It’s beautiful and a great atmosphere with the trees involved. It was beautiful as a grass arena but it was tricky with the elevation differences. The new ring feels great.”
On his favorite hometown show:
“We are happy to be showing at this amazing show in Temecula. For us, it’s always a highlight to show here because I live in Temecula. It’s my hometown and it’s so nice to have such a quality horse show in our backyard. We are pleased to be supporting it. We will be competing here for the May circuit before heading out to Traverse City for the later parts of June.”
Wendy Lee Thompson – Green 3’6” Hunter Champion
On Silver Moon 33:
“He’s a new horse that arrived in January. I actually purchased him for another client of mine as a jumper but he turned out to be too small. We quickly realized he looked like a hunter and could do that job well. This was only his second time showing as a hunter, and The Oaks was his first show a couple weeks ago and he did really great with high scores for his first time out in the Performance Hunters. Here [at the Temecula Valley National Premier II], he has been very easy and straightforward. He does measure as a small junior hunter but has so much stride and scope it’s so easy for him to get down the lines. He did everything that I asked him too. Honestly, I haven’t shown a 3’6’ hunter in a few years — I’ve been doing the jumpers so I’m a little rusty. I made a few mistakes but he was fabulous. He is so brave and uncomplicated. I see him being a famous international derby horse someday. My hope is that we find him a wonderful home that will allow him to fullfill his potential .”
On competing at the Temecula Valley National Premier II:
“This is the best horse show I think I’ve ever been to. I’m so proud of Ali and Francie [Nilforushan] and all the hard work they’ve done to make these shows great. One of my students this morning said what I thought was so fitting, ‘They give you every opportunity to succeed.’ A good example of that is I had problems in the Grand Prix months ago with a Nilforushan white wall as my mare is extremely spooky and wouldn’t jump it. I asked Ali on Tuesday if he would mind bringing that wall out so I could let my horse make friends with it. His first reaction was, ‘Whatever we can do to make you and your horse comfortable.’ It was so awesome and being able to ride in the rings in the mornings is very helpful. I’m very happy here, and I am very appreciative of having these horse shows and all the Nilforushans have done for our sport.”
On the renovations of the Grand Hunter Arena:
“The new footing in the [Grand Hunter Arena] is lovely. Plus all the little details they’ve designed with the holding area, seating and tent — it makes it nice for everyone!”