Lexington, KY – May 22, 2021 – A total of 29 amateur-owner hunter riders contended for the title of Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion Friday and Saturday in the StoneLea Ring at the Kentucky Spring Classic. In the end, it was a three-way tie between Vanessa Mazzoli on Oh Brother, Kelly Corrigan aboard Diatendro, and Ainsley Sadlo on her mount Kesh. All three riders came out on top to earn the Grand Amateur-Owner Champion title with a total number of 36 points each. Awarded to the competitor with the most points accumulated in the Amateur-Owner 3’6”, Amateur-Owner 3’3” 18-35, and the Amateur-Owner 3’3” 36+ Hunter Divisions, Mazzoli, Corrigan and Sadlo proved to be forces to reckon with throughout the competition.
Jason Shelley designed Friday and Saturday’s beautiful hunter tracks, helping showcase the Amateur-Owner horses’ big stride and great jumping style. In Saturday’s handy class, the course challenged many riders with an end jump bending to a long approach single oxer and the intimidating trot jump at the other end of the ring. Mazzoli, Corrigan and Sadlo stepped up to the challenge in the handy trip, laying down textbook rounds and securing the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion title.
Mazzoli aboard her long-time mount Oh Brother, a 14-year-old Warmblood gelding, wowed the judges Friday in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” 18-35 Hunter division, winning both over fences classes and placing second in the under saddle. The dynamic duo continued their success Saturday, laying down a seamless handy round which helped them secure first place and champion in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” 18-35 division. Mazzoli spoke highly of her long-time partner, who has brought her from the Junior Hunter divisions to the Amateur-Owner Hunter division, and says he is a once-in-a-lifetime horse.
Corrigan and Diatrendo, a 10-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Corrigan herself, held strong throughout the Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter division, winning the first over fences class Friday and placing second in both the under saddle and over fences. The beautiful dark bay gelding continued to dazzle the judges Saturday morning with his huge stride, excited expression and correct jump. The pair were first to go Saturday in the Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter and laid down a terrific first-round, helping them secure first place and leading them to champion in the division while also securing one of the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion titles.
Sadlo was last to go on her new mount, Kesh, a 9-year-old Oldenburg mare whom Sadlo recently purchased to help her get back in the show ring. The pair came into the Kentucky Spring Classic with a couple of top place finishes from the previous week’s Kentucky Spring Horse Show in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” 36+ Hunter. The newly partnered horse and rider combination impressed the judges, winning their first round Saturday and placing second in the handy round, which would ultimately help them emerge victorious in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” 36+ Hunter division and secure one of three Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion titles.
Hunter competition during the Kentucky Spring Classic will conclude in the StoneLea Ring Sunday with the highly anticipated USHJA National Hunter Derby at 8:00 a.m., and will conclude with the Children’s Hunter Classic.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Ainsley Sadlo – Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion
“Kesh is 9 years old and we’ve had her for about 18 months. She is my return to the show ring after five years of not showing, so we started in the 2’6’’ divisions, then we went to the 3’ and
this spring we moved up to the 3’3’’. She’s a total sweetheart and very easy. She’s a perfect amateur horse. She is the favorite in the barn and the grooms fight over who gets to groom her and she’s just a wonderful mare. She’s fancy enough that Havens [Schatt] wins with her in the Green Hunter divisions too.”
On the course:
“I liked the courses. Since I moved up, I’m new to the handy rounds, and so it’s a little bit of a thinking challenge and more of a riding challenge, so I really enjoyed it. I thought they were really pretty and I thought they did a great job.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“I ride with Havens Schatt and she has a farm here [in Lexington], and then we also go to Wellington, so we’re here a lot. I love [Kentucky Horse Shows]. It can be rainy at the show but we lucked out and the weather ended up awesome.”
Vanessa Mazzoli – Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion
On Oh Brother:
“I think I’ve had him for almost four years now. I competed with him in the Junior 3’3’’ Hunter when I was a junior and then he’s been my Amateur-Owner 3’3’’ Hunter horse. He’s been my absolute favorite horse I’ve ever had. I love him so much, he’s always a good boy. He loves showing here [at Kentucky Horse Shows] and we live here, so he loves coming here.”
On the courses:
“Today I really liked the handy round, [Oh Brother] was absolutely perfect for it and he won that. Yesterday he was really good as well and won both of the [over fences classes]. I messed up a little bit in the first round but he was awesome, he was really good both days.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“I was so sad when it was canceled last year but I’m so happy to be back. It’s just such a great show, it is run really well, the footing is great, the jumps are always impressive and [Oh Brother] always jumps super good here. You can tell he’s happy.”
Kelly Corrigan – Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion
“I have owned him for three years, and this is sort of the first time we have strung together a whole bunch of horse shows. I showed him for the first time almost two years ago, then he got hurt and then we got back going and then there was COVID-19. So, it has been nice to string together all of [Winter Equestrian Festival] and now Kentucky Spring Classic. I finally
feel like we are starting to click a little bit, and getting a routine down. He has gotten very easy as well after we gelded him. He was not a difficult horse to ride, it was more that he was easily distracted. He has just been great and super consistent for me all through the winter circuit and coming into the spring.”
On the courses:
“I really liked the courses. Yesterday, the courses rode really nicely. I had no problems with it. The jumps have been beautiful both weeks. I think they did a really good job of adding in some more decorations at the ends of the rings and sprucing up the jumps a little more. Yesterday’s courses I think rode fantastically. Today’s courses were nice too. The handy was fun and I did an inside turn that I don’t think anybody else did. He turns left very well, so I thought I could get some bonus points for doing that.”
On upcoming plans:
“We are pretty much going to stay around Kentucky. We will be doing the [Split Rock Shows] in June. He will be doing the [USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships] with Havens [Schatt] so I am going to let her show him one week of [Split Rock] to do the derby and then I will probably show him the second week and do the amateur-owner hunter division. We will probably send him somewhere else to do another derby, maybe to Tryon or Chicago.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“I live seven minutes from the horse park so, it has been fantastic for me. The weather also finally got better this week. It has been so cold all spring, so it has been great. It is also amazing that all three Grand Hunter Champions were all tied from each division. Ainsley [Sadlo] also rides at my barn, so it was great.”