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34th Annual Syracuse International

by Bob Funkhouser


SYRACUSE, N.Y. - There are so many unpredictable factors that can and do occur at horse shows that at the end of the day it better be all about having fun. The 34th Syracuse International went a long way in providing a backdrop for which exhibitors could do exactly that.


Manager Naomi Blumenthal and show co-chairs Julie Kritzler and Theresa Giardino have an active committee behind them and together they cover many bases. They offered everything from a wonderful hospitality area for daily donuts, coffee, popcorn and soft drinks, to the silent auction, 50/50 raffle, karaoke, barbecue party and ice cream social. Other area attractions such as the famed Dinosaurs Bar-B-Que kept professionals and amateurs alike returning to Syracuse during the last week in June.


One of the best ways exhibitors have fun is to be involved in large and competitive classes. This year’s Syracuse offered many classes with just that description. There were very few easy passes and even the pony division had strong numbers. The many Saddlebreds and Hackneys shared the class schedule with a nice group of Morgans, Friesians and National Show Horses.


The multi-breed format is great for bringing more spectators together and helps in not giving trainers so many back-to-back classes, but the length of the sessions is one of the few drawbacks that come with this show.


More than making up for long sessions was the footing that was put into the Syracuse facility in both the warm up and in the show ring. It was truly the talk of the show.


“This was a new product called Travel Right,” said Show Manager Naomi Blumenthal. “It is a combination of wax coated sand and fibrous materials. The new footing came about due to the cooperative effort of the organizations that hold shows here at the fairgrounds. We also got a state grant to help pay for it.


“The International was the third show to use the footing so far and we have received nothing but great compliments on it. I can’t tell you how many wonderful letters and emails I have received regarding the footing.”




With the good footing came many good performances and that included the Five-Gaited Championship. Open stakes are held on Friday night at Syracuse and Libby McLemore led the way in a very competitive five-horse championship aboard The Kentucky Saddler, winner of the ladies class. Shane Shiflet shot the winning presentation picture.


Linda McLemore Libby McLemore, Morgan Carriker

and Ismael Hernandez celebrate Libby’s win

with The Kentucky Saddler.


Reserve grand champion honors went the way of the ground-covering Cameo Appearance and Darlene Trento Wright. They had been reserve to the Open Five-Gaited winner It’s Ballistic. Gary Garone rode this green but talented star.


Fourth in the championship behind It’s Ballistic, Endolane Top Cat and Colleen Fitzpatrick were reserve behind The Kentucky Saddler in the ladies class.


A year of seasoning has gone a long way for Carson Kressley and Enchanting Memories. Syracuse was the site of two impressive performances to sweep the amateur division. Doreen Weston and Tale Of The Cat finished as the amateur reserve grand champions. In his first show ring appearance ever, Nick Grewal had the crowd cheering for his gelding, Our Secret Weapon, the reserve winner in the qualifier.


Three junior exhibitors rode their hearts out for the tricolor streamers in their gaited division. Coming back from a reserve performance in the qualifier, Marissa Gillispie and Platinum’s What A Rush were called to the winner’s circle by announcer Todd Beard.


Owned and trained at his family’s Maple Dale Stables, Turn On The Music was the winner of that junior exhibitor qualifying class with T.J. Santaferra providing the winning ride. They came back with another strong performance but had to settle for reserve grand champion honors.


Early into the week a good group gathered for the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited class. Racking and trotting his way to the top, Call Me Trigger Happy debuted with Ricky Harris to give Somersdream the blue. This promising four-year-old was followed by Gary Garone and Across The Sky.


Showing for Leslie Hagenow, David Cater guided I’m A Bruzer to the winner’s circle in the UPHA Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Classic.




Moving to the walk-trot division it was an elated Dorothy Riley making the last pass in the Three-Gaited Championship aboard the Nicholas Villa-trained champion, The Cardiac Kid. They put it all together for this championship win. Next in line for the reserve title was The Martini Shot, an entry ridden by Colleen Fitzpatrick for Nicole Crawford. Third in the championship, Sally Eichlin and Albelarm High Fidelity won the open class.


There were a couple of reminders of the late, great Mrs. Alan Robson and her Albelarm breeding program. Albelarm Radiant Lady was glowing with Louis Novak aboard to win the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship and qualifying blue. Showing under the direction of Bob Phillip’s Victory Lane Stables, the grand champions were a nice addition to the Syracuse lineup.


There was plenty of stiff competition as ladies winner and many times champion Broadway’s Mama Mia finished as the reserve grand champion for Careen Dubuc and Phoenix Prophecies. Another star with a long list of titles to his credit, CH Olympic Charm was reserve in the ladies class with Alexis Scott riding. Carson Kressley and Page Six were second in the amateur qualifier behind Albelarm Radiant Lady and then took third in the championship, again making for a deep class.


Coming off the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship at Twin State, Heirs Sparkling Star and Giovanna Leone were back at it again to go two for two in the junior exhibitor division under the direction of Robin McGahey’s RMD Stables. Elizabeth Verveli and Kansai twice stepped up for the red ribbon.


Olivia Doutt and Trucker were solo in the junior/novice class while two nice entries competed for the two-year-old blue.  Jan Lukens and The Top Shelf defeated David Cater and My Charming Christina in the Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited class.         




Libby McLemore had a stellar week from the Hall-Fisk family’s Hallston Manor. Adding to the championship list was The Proof Is In The Heir, the expressive winner of the Three-Gaited Park Championship.


It was an extremely good park championship as the top three horses all turned in excellent performances. Reserve grand champion honors went the way of the leg-waving CH Cagin Martini, owned and ridden by Paula Percoco. They had been reserve to The Proof Is In The Heir in the qualifier as well. With the homebred Phinest Heirloom, Amanda Murchison pushed the first two every step of the way for a strong third place championship finish.


Jan Lukens had her usual good Syracuse with winners in many divisions. Margaret Biggs accounted for several of those titles including the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship and qualifier with World’s Champion CH Desert’s Supreme Lady. This elegant star was challenged in both rounds by several good teams, among them twice reserve champions Kalarama’s Sparkle Plenty and Jack Birkhimer.


The junior exhibitors had their turn on park horses and it was Nicolette Powers taking the championship aboard her CK-One. Reserve to Powers and CK-One were Undulata’s Diamond Jim and Maureen Mokrzycki. They were also second in the qualifier that was won by Steel A Secret TS and Jessica Moctezuma.


Steel A Secret’s owner, Joan Booth won a red ribbon in the limit park class. Libby McLemore made that victory pass aboard Roi Du Soleil.


Fine Harness


Tornaado’s Tidal Wave and Joellen Fisher-Blount were on top of their games to capture both the Fine Harness Championship and open class blue. It wasn’t a cakewalk, however, as Kristen Cater and Callaway’s Whirligig were twice reserve.

Joellen Fisher Blount and Tornaado's Tidal Wave

Showing for her Smoke Hollow Farm, Doreen Weston drove Countess Dakota to the Junior/Novice Fine Harness blue. Peter Axtell and the former three-gaited champion A Design To Remember OCF were second.


Yet another young horse class and yet another Hallston Manor champion. Libby McLemore drove Banner Yheir to the UPHA Fine Harness Classic title over Gary Guz and She’s Over The Top.




It was a great week for road ponies in both the open and amateur ranks. Larry Ella was a welcomed addition at Syracuse and his Road Pony Grand Champion, Moment Of Excellence, was one of the top stars of the entire show. Paula Goncavues is the owner of the crowd-pleasing star who also won the open class.


Coming from the winner’s circle of the junior class, Regal’s Calypso LF and Rodney Hicks wore the reserve tricolor streamers from the ring for owner/breeder Dan Light. Another Light Farm-bred pony, Regal’s Rebel LF, was the reserve winner in the open class with Diana Kressley Billig.


With seven competing in the Amateur Road Pony Championship, Don Spann and Dun-Haven’s Highly Impressive shifted into high gear and turned back all challengers, including reserve grand champions Nathan Roden and Michigan’s Habanero. Qualifying winners David Smith and My My Mr. American Pie finished third in the championship.


There’s not a handful of shows in the country that have six and seven long tail ponies showing in one class and this year Syracuse was one of them. And there was quality to go with the numbers.


World’s Champion Par Excellence was the Harness Pony Grand Champion with Larry Ella at the helm for Bent Tree Farm. It was a repeat performance from the qualifier. Brooke Jacobs showed qualifying reserve winner The Dutchman back for owner Pat Adams and was reserve grand champion.


Another of the Bent Tree world’s champions, Sweetheart Of Success was the top choice in both the Amateur Harness Pony Championship and the amateur qualifier. Karen Waldron was again driving under the direction of Larry Ella. Making the champions earn their titles, Truly Naughty By Nature and Kathy Comeau had two good outings for the reserve ribbons in both amateur classes.


A stablemate to Truly Naughty By Nature, the Rodney Hicks-trained Strictly Business was the Junior Harness Pony Champion for owner Sharon Francis. Ryan Fornango and Twin Willows Triumphant marched to reserve.


Prizes in the cob-tail division were awarded to the truly gifted Unique’s Starlighter in the open championship. He was driven by Brook Sweigart for Clarence Sweigart. Reserve in the amateur qualifier, Betty Roden and Totally Excellent were reserve open grand champions. 

Unique's Starlighter


The Amateur Hackney Pony Championship was another Ella/Waldron production with Waldron driving On The Mark down victory lane for the second time that week. The new combination of Skymark and Sue Spann had a top go to command reserve grand champion honors.


Catch driving for owner Ann Hailey, Terri Jones guided Joyanna to the top of the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship after qualifying with a blue prize in the limit class for Hicks Stables.


This was another “deep water” pony class as last year’s UPHA Classics Grand Champion Hawkeye’s Seven Eleven was the reserve grand champion for owner Faydelle Schott and trainer Bob Phillips. In their only appearance of the week Janet Hicks and Miss Excellence scored another 2007 blue with a win in the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony qualifier. Hawkeye’s Seven Eleven was reserve in that one as well.


Show Pleasure


Having already tucked away the Fine Harness Championship, Luken’s Stables’s Joellen Fisher-Blount rode her Bobbi Brown WRF to the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship ahead of Kelly Murphy and Discovery’s Fireman. Lukens stablemate Right On Target debuted with a good performance to win the Adult Five-Gaited Pleasure qualifier with new owner Annika Bruggeworth.


Riding for her mom’s North Wind Stables, Jessica Moctezuma visited the winner’s circle aboard Bare Assets in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship. They moved up a notch from the qualifier that was won by eventual reserve grand champions Berry Garcia. This team has been first and/or second all year long under the Cater Stables banner.


After having a great 2006 as a junior park pleasure champion, Pearl Buck’s Leading Lady has come back even stronger and won both the Open Park Pleasure Championship and qualifier at Syracuse. David Arnold was again riding for Gail Dearth. Both classes were extremely competitive with Kristen Cater and Snorkle taking reserve for MaryBeth Alosa.


The New York team of Denise Vespa and Sosexyalmostevil scored the blue from the Junior Park Pleasure class ahead of Michael Behr and Tangled Dreams.


Top money in the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic went to Mountainview’s King William and David Cater for owner Nick Grewal. Heir’s Secret was the reserve winner for Libby McLemore.


It took a nice horse to win any of the pleasure championships. Marjorie Newman and Power Source rose to the occasion to take the adult show pleasure tricolor from Cater Stables. Reserve to the champion was My Dakota with Gail Wirth Costello riding. Misty Hills Farm’s Stacey Headwell and New York’s Finest made the victory pass in the qualifier.


Victory Lane Stables enjoyed several tricolor winners. Adding one of the championship streamers to the tack room was 15-17 Show Pleasure Grand Champion Roseridge’s Tip Top. Alexis Salerno also rode the grand champion to victory in the qualifier. With quite an impressive ride, Christie Milbury claimed the reserve grand championship aboard Spirited Edition.


Christie Milbury and Spirited Edition.


Third generation horsewoman Alexandra Percoco is growing up to be quite the jockey. She was named the 14  & Under Show Pleasure Grand Champion with Dakota’s Cloudburst. They also made the victory pass in the limit class earlier in the week. Marching up a storm, 14 and under qualifying winner Memories Of Memphis exited with the reserve grand championship for Caroline Rose.        


Ali Percoco and Dakota's Cloudburst


Highpoint’s Merlot and Elizabeth Curtin were two for two winning both large novice rider classes. Caryn Conway and Night N Honey wore the reserve grand champion streamers.


Probably the deepest class of the show was the 10-entry Show Pleasure Driving Championship. Leading a very strong cast was the Gary Guz-trained Titleist Patrick, driven by Megan Ryan for Mika Ryan. This big-time combination qualified with a win in the junior exhibitor class.


Winner of the open qualifier, the new team of Unclaimed and Jan Beardsley Blanco pushed the champions every step of the way to take the reserve championship streamers back to Fairfield South. Reserve in the open class, the winning combination of Jayne Romano and Mahvalous Guy were third in the championship round, followed by Hawkwing and Margaret Biggs, winners of the limit class.


Country Pleasure


Robin McGahey stayed busy with several winners including Adult Country Pleasure Grand Champion Bi Mi Malahene. Julieann Demers was the winning rider in the large class in their second trip down victory lane. Right there with a good showing, limit champions Patti Bartsch and Mr. Rockefeller were crowned reserve grand champions.


What a star Wild Wasabi has been and continues to be. He struck twice in the junior exhibitor country pleasure division with Ashton Day riding under the direction of Reindance Stables. Kyle Gagnon and Royal Crest’s Heir To The Stone stepped up to command reserve grand champion honors.


A former UPHA Park Pleasure Classic Champion at Syracuse, Bella Dahl was the Novice Rider Country Pleasure winner in a large class for Elena Vail.


Dark Heiress and Pam Arruda were the first names called in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship. The Sultan Look and Sherrill Ducharme were twice reserve with Genius Poetic Justice and Megan Adams winning the qualifier.


CH A Magic Surprise was the name to remember in the country western pleasure division. Pat Johnson’s western superstar won the championship, Shatner class and junior exhibitor class (with Jessica Moctezuma). Stablemate Ultimate Fire was ridden to the reserve championship by Alexandria Simpson for Nancy Trent. They had already won the Country Western Pleasure qualifier.


The ASB Country Hunter Pleasure Championship and qualifiers were well attended. Callaway’s Anastasia and Joy Warner swept the championship, qualifier and Hunter Seat Classic. Silver Sparkle and Jean Custer were reserve in two of the three.




There was also no shortage of top equitation riders at Syracuse. For instance the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship featured Jessica Moctezuma, Olivia Prentiss, Kyle Gagnon, Michaela Gillispie and Laura McGee in that order. Moctezuma and Melissa Swain won division age groups, while Gagnon won the USEF Medal, Prentiss won the NHS Good Hands, Alexis Scott took the Adult UPHA Challenge Cup and Elizabeth Dirth captured the UPHA 17 & Under Challenge Cup.



Jessica Moctezuma                        Olivia Prentiss


Cater Stables put a pair of sisters in the winner’s circles of the two Walk and Trot Equitation Championships. Margaret McCool won the 9-10 championship, while Clara McCool was on top in the 8 & under championship. Holly Hacskaylo had topped the 8 & under qualifier.


Among several pleasure equitation contenders Elizabeth Dirth rode to the winner’s circle in the championship ahead of qualifying winner Kristin Chandler.




Morgan competition was extremely good this year with several farms from New York, Pennsylvania and New England participating. Judge Jaisen von Ballmoos had many classes that were filled, especially in the amateur and junior exhibitor divisions.


One of the new barns to the show, Luman Wadhams Stables, won the Park Saddle Championship. Clare Simpson was the winning rider aboard CPM Sabrina. Open Park Saddle Champion CBMF Leading Man as the reserve grand champion with Travis Neidlinger providing the good ride for Catherine Ehnle. Leading Man also won the amateur qualifier with Julia Strier handling the riding duties under the direction of Lingering Hill Stable.


A good turnout in the Morgan English Pleasure Championship featured the sharp moving Medomak French Expression in the winner’s circle with Sherrie Essig aboard. Coming from the amateur division, FCF Champagne Command trotted away with the reserve grand champion ribbon with Betsy Clark in the irons.


Whitemud Starlite Express and Sally Eichlin were worthy of the blue in the English Pleasure Stallion/Gelding class as were Anna Nicole and Sarah Ruby in the mare qualifier.


Competition was strong in the Morgan Amateur English Pleasure Championship in which Kandles Emerson and Marie Vandermark prevailed. Next in line for a championship prize was FCF Champagne Command. Joanne Doucette and Starboards Ring My Bell made the victory pass in the qualifier.


There was a lot to like about Hyland Acres Promising Wishes in the Morgan English Pleasure Junior Exhibitor Championship and qualifier. They put it all together to sweep the division. Spencer Alderman and Plum Haven Gunrunner made the champions work for their titles with two strong reserves.


With a nice group of young horses and young riders, Alica Fraser took the Morgan English Pleasure Junior Championship and qualifier with LSF Shes Come Undone. Scott Root and JNP Total Eclipse was the reserve team.


Jennifer Baskinger and JNP Laredo were the best of a well-attended limit pleasure class.


Among the four entries in the Morgan Pleasure Driving championship, the Luman Wadhams trained Cherrydale Acapella stood out as the tricolor winner for Robin Herrick. It was their second impressive victory pass of the week. Leaving Syracuse with two reserve titles in this division were Margaret Brown and Oak Creek Chief Of Staff.


Oak Creek Chief Of Staff was the Amateur Pleasure Driving winner and amateur reserve grand champion as well. Under the direction of Alicia Fraser, Lori Kielceski and Hartland Best Man captured that amateur championship with a ground covering performance.


It was great to see Jeff Kidd back in action as he drove Graywoods Lear to the Morgan Junior Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifying blue. Tim Murray and Aquarian New Moon landed the reserve title for Nancy and Jeanne Herrick.


The best of the best in the Classic Pleasure Championship turned out to be Hillwood Irish Belle and Jo Ann Currie. They also topped several challenges in the qualifier. Sharon Currie and Westbay Defender were twice reserve champions.


There were several repeat winners in the classic division. Seasons Supreme Challenge and Amy Podesya won the novice rider, junior exhibitor and Junior Exhibitor Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship. Julia Strier and Jamar M Wild Jewel landed red ribbons in both junior exhibitor classes.


Daniel Rice and MJK Intimate Promise wore the blue from the limit class in which Karen Gabriel and KSB Momentum were second.


Judge von Ballmoos liked Hylee’s Vanity and Julie Rohrer in both the Morgan Classic Pleasure Driving championship and qualifier. His reserve champion in both events was Mikaelas The Overcomer with Ilene Goulette.


Equinox Beau Jangles and Tara Wentz won both open Morgan western pleasure events and then Beau Jangles and owner Kathleen Ververeli were twice reserve to Michael Chase and Jimmy Houston in the amateur section. Showing for Melissa Kittle, Alicia Fraser and JMF Time To Spare were second in both open classes.


TTE T Time Talisman and Julie Strier traded places with qualifying winners Kaylee May and Commit To Memory in the Morgan Junior Exhibitor Western Pleasure Championship.


Under the direction of Sally Lindabury, Rig Park Avenue and Jennifer Baskinger accepted tricolor honors in the Hunter Pleasure Championship just as they took the blue in the qualifier. Limit champions Lindsay Perry and Quality Nobleman strolled out with reserve championship streamers.


After taking the amateur qualifier, Joanne Peters and Geo Jans Twinkling Star were the Amateur Hunter Pleasure Grand Champions. The reserve championship was bestowed upon Lee Els Royal Reflection and Kathryn Bormann.      


Another championship ribbon headed back to Reindance Stables as Amanda Chruscicki rode Quakers Astrid to the Junior Exhibitor Hunter Pleasure Championship with a smooth performance. They were familiar with the winner’s circle as it was theirs in the qualifier as well. Emerging with the reserve championship was Heartmeadow By Request, ridden by Francesca Fields.


In Morgan equitation competition Kaitlyn Grant scored the highest ride in the AMHA Medal class. Young Kate Kielceski commanded the second place prize.


It was Amanda Chruscicki taking the AMHA Hunt Seat On The Flat Medal. Taylor Clark was the reserve rider.


Showing her finesse, Kasey Saccocia was the top rider in both the Morgan Walk and Trot 11 & Under Championship and qualifier. Kristen Cater coached Saccocia to the winner’s circle. Rebecca Knoll was the reserve grand champion.


Kasey Saccocia




Syracuse also offered a group of open pleasure classes that were well filled. Annika Bruggeworth’s Daimler B marched straight to the top of the Adult English Pleasure Championship after also nailing the qualifier with a strong performance. David Arnold and Chit Chat Past Midnight garnered the reserve tricolor streamers for Norma Arel.


Strictly Adventure was the first name called out in the Junior Exhibitor Open English Pleasure Championship. Mary Mitkish was the winning rider. Claiming the reserve title as they did in the qualifier was Geralyn Dexter aboard Elaine Gregory’s Lady Of Heirs. Carter Loftus rode Kandles Legenda to the junior exhibitor qualifying blue.


Aboard CN A Touch Of Hope, Morgan Billig was crowned the Walk and Trot English Pleasure Grand Champion over qualifying winner Rebecca Knoll who was riding Jamar M Wild Jewel.


The Friesian competition in the east has gotten strong. There was a showdown in the championship that featured Annika Bruggeworth and Gooitzen Fan Teakesyl making the tricolor victory pass in the Friesian English Pleasure/Park Championship. They moved up a notch from the qualifier that was won by the popular Jorritt who was again ridden to victory by David Arnold for Lou and Deliah Fox. Karen Waldron and Douwe took third in both events.


There were three entries in the Friesian Show Driving class, however, qualifying winner Auke was the lone entry back in the championship with Bobbi Jo Beck. David Arnold guided the Saccocia family’s Hattie.


These were some of the highlights from the 34th Syracuse International Horse Show. Complete results can be found by clicking here.

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