Over the years the $7,500 WCHR Professional Finals have been won by the nation’s elite pro hunter riders. In 2008 a delighted Sandy Ferrell, Bernville, PA, garnered her first Pro Finals victory. Sandy is attempting to qualify again to see if she can earn back her title on Friday evening, October 2nd, during the Capital Challenge Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. The class is sponsored by Stillwell-Hansen, Inc. and presented by John R. Ingram Fund & The Ingram Family.
In prior years the finals were dominated by John French, Redwood City, CA (2000 and 2006), Louise Serio, Kennett Square, PA (2001 and 2005), Peter Pletcher, Magnolia, TX (2002, 2004, 2007), Scott Stewart, Flemington, NJ (2003). For these and other pro riders these Finals are their one and only chance to rival each other for the most sought after professional hunter title.
It is a rivalry that reeks of camaraderie and love for their fellow horsemen. “It’s the one class where we are all rooting for each other,” commented Ferrell. “Trainers helping trainers, grooms helping grooms, and riders giving advice to other riders; that camaraderie is a great thing and one we don’t see in our other competitions.”
The horses are provided by the six riders who qualify for the class and with the exception of Pre-Green horses, all horses are eligible. The class is judged on presentation of the horse and style of the rider and is scored under the open numerical system by multiple teams of two judges.
Each rider competes in three rounds on three different horses over a course of eight to ten fences set at 3'6". The three best riders advance to a fourth handy hunter round on a horse they have not ridden. The rider with the highest cumulative four-round total is the ultimate winner.
The winner not only earns the most prestigious title available to a hunter rider, but the “All the Way” Perpetual Trophy donated by Elizabeth Busch Burke and Lysa Burke Horkan. The Far West Farms Perpetual Trophy donated by The Karazissis Family is presented to the owner of the horse with the highest single round score. The winner also receives a $3,000 cash award from the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation, which is now in its ninth year of hosting this class.
Through its support of professional hunter riders, the AHJF ensures coverage of both the championship and the winning ride by also giving the rider a year-long publicity sponsorship which is fulfilled by Press Link PR, an equine focused PR firm.
“The AHJF is a visionary organization. This sponsorship is a perfect example of how they do things that improve and promote the sport of hunters,” explains Diana De Rosa, president of Press Link. “Because of this approach there has been an amazing growth in all areas, including in the competition arena, in how many people own hunters and in the amount of coverage seen in equine focused media. We owe the AHJF thanks for having the foresight to think of innovative ways to promote this sport. The hunter horses and riders are the ones who are benefiting from their efforts."
For information AHJF or its programs, contact the AHJF at PO Box 369, West Boylston, MA 01583-0369, call 508-835-8813, fax 508-835-6125, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their web site at www.ahjf.org.