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Again The Premiere Of New England UPHA 14 Rocks! (Part 1)

by Bob Funkhouser

W. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - “This was the best show I’ve been to in New England in at least five years,” said Maine owner David Fields. “This is what shows are supposed to be like.”

That sentiment was echoed throughout the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition Center April 21-24 as UPHA Chapter 14 held its 22nd annual Spring Premiere. It was a combination of everything coming together from the standpoint of exhibitors bringing large numbers of Saddlebreds, Morgans and Hackney Ponies and the committee providing a fun, yet competitive format. From early on show chairperson Chris Cassenti and show manager Kent Moeller were reporting entries coming in at a record pace. With the long, frigid winter this year trainers and owners had built up enough cabin fever that they were ready to go to a horse show.

UPHA 14 responded with a show that made everyone feel good. It’s a unique show in that it is one of the few UPHA chapters that has a strong representation from all three breeds and that representation meant world class performers in all three sections and a great mix of people that followed them.

Saddlebred/pony judge Lynda Freseth and Morgan judge Fay Lowry had plenty of large and competitive classes in front of them with entries that will certainly be heard from when it comes time for Louisville, Oklahoma and Kansas City. Besides these two judges there were other new looks for this year. The renowned Billy Whitley presided as the ringmaster for the first time and Mark Farrar occupied the announcer’s booth that overlooks the coliseum ring.

“This was as good a spring show as I’ve been to. I was certainly glad to be a part of it,” said Farrar.

Hobby Knoll Stables and Somersdream teamed up to provide a moving in pizza party and that set the tone for a week of camaraderie and hospitality. Barbara Irvine again did a wonderful job with the hospitality area which served coffee and donuts every morning. This year pictures of the chapter horses, ponies and people of the year adorned the walls of the hospitality area. Taking the morning serving of coffee and donuts one step further, Courtney Cahill and Ken Logan made the rounds with their mobile wagon so trainers and caretakers in the middle and back barns had goodies delivered right to their stalls.

“We had a great response from this,” said Cahill.

“Yeah, we developed a group of regulars that were looking for us every morning,” added Logan.

A 30th birthday party for Lucky Discovery was also on the social calendar thanks to Jan Lukens and her customers. The former Two-Year-Old Five-Gaited World’s Champion is still putting students into the ring but on this night he was enjoying being the star of his own party.

Then came Friday night. UPHA 14 has long been an innovator of the horse show scene beginning many years ago with the popular Symphony Of Horses. This year the chapter set out to host an exhibitor’s party like no other to combine with their annual chapter awards.

“We wanted to do something to give back to the exhibitors that support our show,” said chapter chairperson Ricky Harris. “We wanted this to be a night where everyone came together and let their hair down, and we wanted it to be inexpensive for a family to come.”

With the generosity of several premiere sponsors the chapter was able to achieve those goals. The great folks at Storrowton worked with Chapter 14 to provide an elegant setting in the function room known as the Carriage House, which is located right across the parking lot from the main barn on the show grounds.

Even though it was a rainy, miserable day, exhibitors arrived following Friday night’s shortened schedule which featured amateur championships, and they were delighted with what awaited them. Waiters in tuxedos passed an array of hot hors d'oeuvres throughout the room as guests began to file in. Background music from the popular Boston band known as Soul Kitchen opened the night on a soothing note, but that pace soon changed as this group was ready to party.

First order of business, however, was the presentation of chapter awards. Raye Lynn Funkhouser was the evening’s master of ceremonies and she got the program underway. Drum rolls and horn blasts accompanied the announcement of each award all the way to the UPHA Chapter 14 Hall Of Fame presentation, which went to Sally Lindabury.

“This ceremony was as nice as I’ve ever seen,” said Barbara Irvine, herself the recipient of an award for Morgan Horse Of The Year, Rumor Has It. “There was some personal information said about each winner and the accompaniment of the band made it feel very special. Raye Lynn [Funkhouser] did a great job with that.”

Following the awards, food stations were brought out while the band went on break and a few door prizes were drawn. It wasn’t long before Soul Kitchen was back on stage and the real party began. From eight to 86 they were all on the dance floor the entire night. People you never expected to see out “late” were leading the pack. Well after 1:00 a.m., the last of the revelers made their way out the doors and the UPHA Spring Premiere again had a huge success on its hands.

“I thought the party was incredible,” said High Tail Acres trainer Deidre Henry. “Our customers really enjoyed themselves.”

The morning after was extremely slow for 95 percent of the trainers, owners and officials on the grounds, a sure sign a good time was had by all. However, it didn’t take long for everyone to catch a second wind and get back to the business at hand... winning championships.

Part of Saturday’s championship lineup were the Jackpot Stakes which were held for Open Road Ponies, Open Morgan English Pleasure and Open Five-Gaited. Entries did not have to qualify for these $500 added money Jackpot Stakes and for the second consecutive year the Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake was the big winner.

Eight entries burst through the gate for the show’s finale and when it was all said and done, judge Freseth asked four horses to go back to the rail much to the large crowd’s delight. And for the second consecutive year a non-professional won the big monied championship. Kate Ryan and L.A. Wing Victory didn’t let any moss grow under their feet as they kept the throttle wide open under the direction of Gary Guz.

“She put some kind of ride on that horse,” stated Guz following the championship victory pass.”

With a large cheering section as well, Todd Mathieson rode open winner Mahogany Hi Lite to the reserve championship for owners Michael and Diane McGrath. Kristen Spann and her Callaway’s Whirligig finished in third to complete a great week for the Cricket Hill entries. Last year’s Jackpot Champion, CH Diamond Flight, finished fourth this year after winning the junior exhibitor qualifier with Kaitlyn Grom of Revelation Farm. The remaining awards went to Titleist Commander, Diamond Tempo, Collector Series and Showcase’s Dream Machine.

The Adult Show Pleasure Championship and qualifier were two more outstanding classes with CH Rare Rascal winning the qualifier and CH Bonnie Buck taking the tricolor honors. Rob Turner’s Three-Gaited Grand Champion Sightline, Gary Garone’s Open Three-Gaited Champion I’m Sky High and Jan Luken’s UPHA Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Classic Champion Hawkwing all gave world class performances as well.

From the Morgan division, Park Saddle Grand Champion Grandemeanor was the star of the show. This former park harness champion made some freakish passes with Ann Anderson looking like she has another strong contender for the big stake in October.

Top flight pony performances were given by the longtails Mark Of Elegance and B.R.S. The Phantom as well as the pleasure driving stars Matchmaker and Megabucks. New England is not without its equitation stars either. Having already proven themselves on the national scene, Kyle Gagnon and Ashley Stine represented Fairfield as the Senior and Junior Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champions. From Cricket Hill Farm, Kimberly Ginsberg was the star from the walk and trot ranks.

Ginsberg, along with several other riders, helped give Richardson the UPHA 14 High Point Equitation award. Beautiful wool and leather jackets with the UPHA Spring Premiere logo on them were awarded in four high point categories. In addition to Richardson, Jan Lukens and Rodney Hicks won the Saddlebred and Hackney sections for the second consecutive year and there was a tie in the Morgan division between David Rand and Harry Sebring. This was a battle that went down to the wire with a Rand entry placing reserve in the Park Saddle Championship and a Sebring entry placing third to create the tie.

“I am so pleased with how everything turned out,” said chairperson Chris Cassenti. “This was a good group effort and I’m looking forward to making it even better for next year.”

“I can’t get over how good some of the classes were early in the week, especially the first day,” added committee member Gary Garone. “You go to a lot of shows, even the big ones, and the first day’s classes are kind of weak. We had good classes and good crowds from the very start.”

In addition to having eight entries in the Five-Gaited Jackpot Stake, the UPHA Spring Premiere featured 10 contenders in the amateur championship. Having made that victory pass several times before with horses like CH Blue Chipper and Indelible Impression, David Weston was back this year to sweep the division with his newest mount, Inphallible. Big and expressive, Inphallible led the way in both rounds, placing ahead of Louise DeBlois and the extremely busy reserve grand champion Formally Attired in the second round and reserve winner Jodie Goff with Cameo Appearance in the qualifier.

Having an enjoyable week under the Cricket Hill Farm banner, Andrew DeGrace piloted Callaway’s Rhapsody In Blue to win the Five-Gaited Junior Exhibitor Championship for Nick Grewal. Reserve in both the qualifier and stake, Jessica Moctezuma and All Show went all out each pass for Mary Reising.

Early in the week the trainers got things cranking with seven nice entries in the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited class. Trotting and racking with extreme power, the Merchant Prince daughter, Beautiful Stranger OCF occupied the winner’s circle with owner/trainer Gary Guz in the irons. Her exciting performance topped all challengers including the handsome and talented colt Midnight’s Black Sultan. Todd Mathieson was aboard the reserve champion in his debut for owner Dawn Snyder.

Continuing where they left off last fall, Pieter Snyman and Sandra Corney’s young Supreme Heir entries were again a hit while showing under the Hallston Manor banner. Heirrison Ford was the best of four youngsters in the UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic. Snyman again turned in the winning ride for Corney. It was great to see Lynn Harvey McNamara back in the ring with a nice young horse as Sir York’s First Edition was the reserve champion for McNamara and Cedarledge.

Although it was early in the season, a few stars emerged from the three-gaited division that looked as if they could make a bid for the winner’s circle at anybody’s horse show. One of those stars was the Three-Gaited Grand Champion Sightline. A five-year-old by Worthy Son, Sightline was a walk-trot machine with Rob Turner making the victory pass for owner Holli Ciardiello. It was Ciardiello who qualified Sightline with a winning ride in the amateur class. Kaitlyn Grom and Megavolt represented Revelation Farm as the reserve grand champions.

Grom and Megavolt had also been reserve in the open class to the other star of the division, I’m Sky High. Rick Daigle’s harness horse turned walk-trot star has been a project indeed, but the patience of the owner and trainer Gary Garone is paying off. The long-necked and extremely talented gelding made the smoothest show of his young three-gaited career to win the open class in his only outing. When it came time for the victory pass the crowd was cheering.

The L.M. Turner Stables turned out several 2004 UPHA Spring Premiere winners and one of them was Amateur Three-Gaited Grand Champion CH Santana’s Cheer Me On. With legs waving, this David Fields family entry was ridden to victory by Jenna Fields who also turned in the winning ride in the ladies class. A longtime professional, Nicholas Villa made his first UPHA Spring Premiere with his own banner, the Nicholas Villa Stables. Villa and his customers were extremely competitive including Dorothy Riley and The Cardiac Kid, Amateur Three-Gaited Reserve Grand Champions. Ann Rowland and A Winter’s Tale claimed the reserve prize in the amateur qualifier for the High Tail Acres team.

Champions and reserve champions were part of the norm for the DelTorchio family’s High Tail Acres throughout the week. Lexie Quarantiello and Eastwood’s Prime Time added to the tally with their sweep of the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship and qualifier. They had strong competition from the five other challengers including twice reserve champions Tiana Tapper and Sultan’s Sundance Kid who represented the Wentz Stables.

Another walk-trot class another blue ribbon for Rob Turner. This time Turner was riding Junior/Novice Three-Gaited Champion Mild Emotion for Sandra Provanzano. Gary Garone and Rosewood’s Potpourri were right on their heels for the reserve title. Another UPHA Classic and another Pieter Snyman/Sandra Corney/Supreme Heir winner. Inherit The Odds went off as the favorite and came back the UPHA Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Classic Champion. Darlene Trento-Wright had the reserve winner in Lady T-Heir-A.

High Tail Acres had a lock on the Three-Gaited Pony division with Alexis Pearson and Gitchigumi Girl making victory passes in both sections over stablemates Sarah Emily Flynn and Callaway’s Topaz. This division was brought back to the UPHA Spring Premiere schedule after several year’s absence.

It’s not likely that Margaret Biggs will forget this week for some time to come. Part of her success came with Three-Gaited Park Grand Champion Desert’s Supreme Lady. The oh-so-elegant daughter of Desert’s Supreme Memories paraded as the grand champion in a very competitive class which included David Arnold and CH Dance of Love as the reserve grand champions for Brookmont Farm. They were also reserve in the qualifier, which was won by Rob Turner and Hit The Switch.

Repeating their 2003 title, Emily Hess and Callaway’s Smart Angle topped a list of proven stars in the amateur park ranks. Having already won the qualifier, Hess and Smart Angle returned to Fairfield South with the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship. Their closest competition came in the form of the expressive reserve grand champion Sagaman, ridden by Doreen Weston. With a reserve in the qualifier, the winning team of Paula Percoco and Cajin Martini settled for third in the championship round.

Junior exhibitors also came out in full force for the park division. With seven teams in the championship, Maureen Mokrzyci and Undulata’s Diamond Jim would not be stopped. They garnered the tricolor for the Denise Vespa Stables and owner Barb Tabaie. Moving up three spots from the qualifier, Jenna Haramis and Spot Of Victory wore the reserve tricolors from the ring. Maggie Tobin and Bright Idea KF landed the red streamers in the first round.

Rob Turner was back at it again in the Junior/Novice Three-Gaited Park class. He guided Mystery Guest to the winner’s circle for Dianne Tambussi. This is another of the Turner-trained entries that can wear the bridle and crank its legs. Kate Ryan made all the right moves with Harlem’s Jackpot to garner the reserve title while riding for Gary Guz.

Moving to the Saddlebred harness division, Todd Mathieson and Shamrock’s Irishman made the last pass as the Fine Harness Grand Champions for owner Elizabeth McCracken. This team has won many titles throughout New England. Open class winner Highland Radiance wore the red, white and yellow streamers as the reserve grand champion. With her new entry, Power Source, Nancy Reed won both the Amateur Fine Harness Championship and qualifier under the direction of High Tail Acres.

Five nice entries turned out for the UPHA Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Classic. This was one of the strongest harness classics in the area in some time and the winner had everyone talking about what a star he could be on the national level. Hawkwing had all the attributes of a Louisville type harness horse as Jan Lukens drove the youngster to the winner’s circle for Margaret Biggs. Also making a sparkling show, Roseridge Five Iron was the reserve winner with Rob Turner at the whip for Judy Motley.

National quality champions were present in all of the breeds represented at this year’s Spring Premiere. The talk of the Morgan division came from the Park Saddle Championship, which was the largest and most competitive it has been in years. Shown under saddle by Ann Anderson for the first time, the many times harness champion Grandemeanor was simply a standout. Owner Jan-Marie Bruno was leading the cheering section which was large and loud as the gelding made wild going pass after wild going pass to win both the championship and qualifier. This was definitely the way to start the year!

It wasn’t a free pass for Grandemeanor as Amy Gaitwood rode PWF Good Will Hunting to the reserve championship, followed by Hunter Hill By Design and The Silver Brook Surprize. Good Will Hunting was also reserve in the qualifier, except David Rand was in the saddle.

Rand's stablemate AFF Tailored To Taste went two for two in the Amateur Park Saddle division with Sandy Hendrick riding for Queens River Farm. This formidable combination nailed two strong performances. Jo Ann Currie and Mikaela’s The Overcomer landed both reserve ribbons.

Harry Sebring continues to be the savior of the park harness division at the Spring Premiere. The Ann Hailey entry of CBMF Great Balls Of Fire was the two-time open winner for Sebring Stables. The Sebring/Hailey team also had the UPHA Park Harness Classic Champion in Wintop’s Princess Vanity.

Although he was busy moving into his new facility David Rand found time to bring a group of world class entries to UPHA 14 and they finished the week with several tricolor results. Among them, JW Rare Review was pumping his legs off of both ends to take command of the Morgan Amateur Park Harness Championship and qualifier. Amanda Poirier made two beautiful drives to entertain spectators from all breeds. Making it a good division, Kathy Comeau and Com-O-Shun’s Avante were right there in reserve both times out.

One of the three Jackpot Stakes offered at the UPHA Spring Premiere, the Morgan English Pleasure Jackpot Stake featured six entries vying for the $500 added money championship title. Making their second victory pass of the week David Rand and Ultra’s Proclamation smoothed it out to earn the top money from the Jackpot Stake for owner Adrianna Liberty. Ann Anderson and PKW Just One Look stepped it up to command the reserve championship honors for owner Kathleen Wentworth, while Michelle Aulson flew into town and finished in third with Whispering Rhythm N Blues in their only under saddle class together.

Cindy Mugnier made many trips to the winner’s circle with horses in several different divisions. She directed Wintop’s Mr. Pepper and Chris DeLude to the Amateur English Pleasure Championship against some very formidable competition. Reserve grand champion honors went the way of Casey McDonald and Southern Rhythm. Results for first and second were the same in the five-horse qualifier as well.

Unique and talented, Contagious ventured from the driving division to win the Morgan Ladies English Pleasure title ahead of reserve champions Ann Anderson and KN Sasparilla. Anderson and Sasparilla did make the victory pass in the Novice English Pleasure class which found Cindy Mugnier and Stonecroft Edwardian reserve for Leigh Fitzgerald among the six entries. Also under Mugnier’s direction, Abby Raucher and The Lion King went home with two winning ribbons from the junior exhibitor pleasure division.

Harry Sebring and Xena were the lone team in the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship for Ann Hailey and Copper Beach Morgans. In the qualifier they had been reserve to Sheri Lampropoulos and Whispering Rhythm N Blues, the always bright entry belonging to Michelle Aulson.

The David Rand trained Contagious also made his familiar performances in the pleasure driving division. They were familiar in that he marched with authority to the Amateur Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifying blue with Erin Kelley at the controls. Chris Comeau and NBN Cochise came back strong to move up a notch and make the reserve championship victory pass. The qualifier saw Robert Cannon and Woodnbrook High-N-Mighty occupy the reserve spot.

Another blue and another tricolor hung from the Sebring Stables tack room as the result of CBMF Belle Fleur and Harry Sebring topping the Morgan Junior Pleasure Driving Stake and junior qualifier. Northgate Stables had a strong week as Sheri Lampropoulos and Whispering Suite Image brought home the first place prize money in the UPHA Morgan Pleasure Driving Classic for owner Geraldine McLoud. David Gowans and CBMF Strike Zone picked up the reserve money.

One of the stars of the breed for many different people, Rivermist Drum Major continues to get the job done and the task this time was the Morgan Junior Exhibitor Pleasure Driving class. Katherine Alderman guided Drum Major to the title. With her first time in the driving division, Nicole Morrison landed the reserve title while showing under the direction of John and Sheri Lampropoulos.

UPHA Chapter 14 prides itself on the versatility the region enjoys as far as Saddlebreds, Morgans and Hackneys. Just as in the Saddlebred and Morgan ranks there were top of the line ponies making trips to the winner’s circle in the Big E Coliseum.

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