Temecula, Calif. – October 14, 2021 – After an exciting first day of competition at the Temecula Valley National Fall Week I, hunter riders returned to the rings eager to vie for the first championship titles of the two-week series. Young Hunters dominated the day in the five, six, and seven-year-old divisions. In an effort to claim the highest honor, the developing mounts put their best foot forward, and it was ultimately Nick Haness and Candlelight who took the cake in the Five & Under Young Hunter division, while Daphne Foran and Lift Off emerged victorious in the combined Six and Seven-Year-Old Young Hunter division.
Following the first day of the division, it was Margaret O’Neill and Remember Me who led the field in the youngest of the three age brackets, the Five & Under Young Hunter division. Having only competed in two over fences rounds on Wednesday, the title for champion was left up in the air as the bulk of the classes fell on the second day of competition with one additional over fences round, a handy, and the under saddle portion on the schedule. Haness and Candlelight were within striking distance of O’Neill and Remember Me following the first day of competition, and with the help of a first-place finish in one of the over fences rounds and a second-place finish in the under saddle portion Thursday, Haness managed to pull off another championship victory in the Five-and-Under Young Hunter division with Beth Luth’s four-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Candlelight. O’Neill’s rounds with Oneill Scurry Equine Imports’ five-year-old Holsteiner mare secured her the reserve championship at the conclusion of the division.
Brittney Maguire and Compelling led the Six-Year-Old Young Hunter division heading into Thursday’s three rounds, while Victoria Lacagnina and Dicaprio posted the highest scores in the Young Hunter Seven-Year-Old Young Hunter. Daphne Foran and Mandy Hosford’s seven-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Lift Off, came back and laid down some of their highest-scoring rounds of the division, earning a first and third place over fences and a first place in the under saddle, rocketing them to the top of the leaderboard in the combined division to ultimately earn the championship. Karen Bannister and Skylark Equestrian LLC’s seven-year-old Hannoverian gelding, Crusado also leaned on their scores from Thursday to help them secure the reserve championship title.
Division competition in the Grand Hunter Arena also came to a close following one final over fences round and handy round in the Green 3’6” Hunter division. Coming off of a big win in the $15,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Traverse City Spring Horse Show with Caldiano earlier this summer, Haness pocketed yet another tricolor in the Green 3’6” Hunter division with Double Down Farm, LLC’s 11-year-old Warmblood gelding Caldiano. At the conclusion of the two days, Haness topped all three over fences rounds, including the handy. Following her win in Wednesday’s $10,000 1.35m Welcome, sponsored by Train With Shelby, Sophie Simpson-Leckie traded speed in the jumper ring for style in the hunter ring taking home the reserve championship with Breanne Karanikolas’ C’est Moi.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nick Haness – Green 3’6” Hunter Division Champion
On transitioning Caldiano from a jumper into a hunter:
“It has been really fun. He is naturally a really beautiful hunter. He has great looks, a great expression, and a lot of scope which are great components for any top jumper or hunter. It has been really fun to transform him and he really loves his job.”
On his plan heading into the final day of division competition:
“He was the winner of both classes yesterday so I knew today I had a good shot at champion. I just focused on having smooth rounds today and he was really confident in the first class, so by the handy round, I let him take the turns and challenged him a little bit and he rose to that challenge.”
On his plans for the rest of the year:
“Stay skinny. Keep letting the horses develop, and win as much as we can.”
Daphne Foran – Combined Six and Seven-year-old Young Hunter Division Champion
On Lift Off:
“I actually got this horse as a five-year-old and we have been showing in the Young Hunter classes all along with my trainer. We developed him as a young hunter and actually sold him in the barn and the owner, she has been kind enough to help me develop him and he has just been getting better and better. I am really excited and I think this is his first championship [ribbon]!”
On her rounds:
“I was just trying to be consistent. He is seven [years old] and you know, they aren’t one hundred percent solid out there, so trying to get consistent rounds out of him was the most important thing.”
On competing at the Temecula Valley National Fall series:
“It is great! I have not been here before but I have heard such rave reviews about the Temecula Valley National series earlier this year, so our barn had to come!”
On the Nilforushan Young Hunter Incentive:
“It is great! I really appreciate horse shows that offer that and it definitely helps. We develop a lot of younger horses in our program, so it is something that helps our barn out. It is a great thing that makes you want to develop younger horses.”
On her future plans with Lift Off:
“He is going to go in the Low Child/Adult Hunters tomorrow with his owner. I am excited about them developing together as a team and moving up into the Amateur ranks themselves. And then Lift Off will probably step into the Green 3’6” Hunter division next year.”