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New Kid On The Block - Greater Boston Charity Debuts

by Bob Funkhouser

TOPSFIELD, Mass. - The Topsfield, Mass., fairgrounds had been sitting there just 20 minutes north of Boston for years and somehow the majority of those in the New England Saddlebred and Morgan worlds had never stepped foot on it. That all changed this past Memorial Day weekend as Ken Logan and John Lampropoulos co-chaired the first ever Greater Boston Charity Horse Show and New England barns responded with great enthusiasm. Logan, Lampropoulos and a committee made up of Courtney Cahill, Lillian Gilpin, Sharon Alemian, Paul and Anne Simard, Jessica and Josh Verrill, Dawn DelTorchio, Deidre Henry, Darla Wright, Shaina and Sharon Pilz, Donna Tragethon, Tammi Taylor, Donald Trussel, Jill Henderson, Phil and Lynn Plourde, Polly Paintbrush, Samantha Sargent and Rob Turner covered all their bases and put on a fresh, enjoyable show that made exhibitors feel most welcome.

With the current state of the economy, raising enough money to start a new show might seem risky and at the very least a hard thing to pull off, but this committee met the task head on and starting with a generous donation from the Parkman Family Foundation, the Greater Boston Charity Horse Show was born. Trainers and exhibitors followed with strong sponsorship themselves. The great support allowed the show to do it right and give money to their charity, Upreach Therapeutic Riding Center from Goffstown, N.H.

"One of our goals was to have a fun show for the exhibitors and to be as accommodating as possible," said Sherry Lampropoulos. "All of the feedback was so very positive. Everything seemed to go above all our expectations."

This new show took over the dates that were formally occupied by one of three shows traditionally held three out of six weeks at the Deerfield Fairgrounds in Deerfield, N.H. As enjoyable as the Deerfield grounds can be, it is all outdoors and therefore susceptible to May showers. In addition to exposure to unfavorable weather, too much of anything can get old and for many exhibitors showing at Deerfield and W. Springfield, Mass., six to eight times a year does get old.

"I’ve always loved the facility and thought it would be a great place to have a show," said Co-Chair John Lampropoulos who grew up in the Topsfield area. "Everything is right there, the hotels and all."

The spacious Topsfield Fairgrounds and the powers that be were a most gracious host for the initial Greater Boston Charity Show. A spacious indoor arena was the site of many competitive classes. In addition to the large show ring, the arena had ample room for vendors to be set up right there with a view of the ring. Also, exhibitors could purchase rail side tables where drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served nightly. Banners with the names of the show’s sponsors were prominently hung in the arena to add to the atmosphere.

"Working with the fairgrounds people has been nothing but pleasant," said Co-Manager Ken Logan. "They have been so accommodating and we are already working on a few things to improve for next year like the electricity, water and make up ring footing. Going into the show I was expecting a good one because of the great group of people that gave their time to work on it. At the show and since then, I have heard nothing put positive things."

Stabling was the only area of the fairgrounds that wasn’t up to par with W. Springfield or Deerfield, but that too worked out fine. A few stalls are connected onto the arena on both the front and backsides and there are a few other permanent barns varying in size so a tent for portables was necessary. Mother Nature was kind to the show with great weather throughout the event, however, with a nice overhang; the tent was equipped to capably handle most inclement weather. Some 325 stalls were sold for the show.

There were several open areas on the grounds where horses could be worked. A large stone dust area right outside the arena served as the make up ring and yet another place to work horses.

A good group of officials added to the success of the inaugural running of the Greater Boston Charity. Jon Walker held the judge’s card in the Saddlebred, Hackney, Friesian and open divisions with Conky Price handling the duties in the Morgan, equitation, academy and open sections. Barry Caisse served as their ringmaster and Peter Fenton returned to New England to be the announcer.

Pleasant and efficient was the way exhibitors described Show Secretary Sandy Backer. She was assisted in the office by Sharon Alemian. Also part of the official family was photographer Terry Young, organist Nancy Roberts, steward Jo Hight, and farrier Paul Simard. Hight commented that in the 17 years of being a steward she had never given management an excellent rating but she did for this show.

Besides giving exhibitors a great selection of classes and great ring to show in, the show committee made hospitality a priority. And when Courtney Cahill is in charge of hospitality you’re going to have a good time. It started on Thursday night with the move in pizza party and continued each morning with mobile coffee and doughnuts cart delivering from barn to barn. On Friday evening, a live auction was held with Dave Rogers serving as the auctioneer. He added to the fun-filled atmosphere that was complemented by great food and desserts. To close the show, Caleb Noble and his band performed Saturday night after the last class as exhibitors gathered one last time to reminisce about the first run of the Greater Boston Charity.

Also at the end of the show, Chris Cassenti was a big winner. The showed offered a $1,000 cash prize - $500 to the trainer and $500 to the exhibitor. Each person who showed back in a championship had his or her name put in the drawing and the more times you showed the more chances you had to win. Cassenti’s rider’s name was pulled so the Chrislar gang went home very happy.

"That was a great show," said Cassenti. "Everyone really went all out to put that on. Moving to Topsfield and having the indoor was perfect. I loved seeing the five-gaited horses being able to really rack on. There were lots of new spectators and more will come in the future."

Performance classes featured some primetime players and many of the pleasure type classes were well filled with quality down through the ribbons. Rob Turner brought several from his A string and they did well. Turner rode the Riverdreams LLC entry, Worthy’s World To Know to win the Five- Gaited Championship and open qualifier, both times over A Foxy Damsel and Jon Douglas. Turner and SJ Smart Lady, winner of the open class, took a back seat to stablemates Holli Esposito and CH Sightline in the Three-Gaited Championship. They qualified with a victory pass in the amateur class.

Another tricolor was hung on the tan and green drapes of the L.M. Turner Stables as Esposito rode her extremely expressive youngster, Reggie’s Indigo Jim, to garner the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship after taking reserve to the Luman Wadham’s trained Affirm’s Bright Future and Deedee Ludlam in the qualifier. Bright Future was the reserve grand champion. Also under the direction of Rob Turner, Marcy Caton and Roseridge Get Ready continue to come together as a team and this performance was worthy of the blue in the novice rider class before finishing with a good third in the adult pleasure championship. Adding to the cause, Mandy Luce and Our Secret Weapon scored the Three-Gaited Park Reserve Grand Championship for Turner Stables and Narotam Singh Grewal.

In addition to A Foxy Damsel in the open gaited division, Jon Douglas directed Kathy Osnoe and Harlem’s Beau Dandy to the Show Pleasure Driving Championship in a very deep class and Sharon Stoltz and Don’t Ask Why WRF to the Five- Gaited Pleasure Reserve Grand Championship, also an extremely competitive division. It didn’t end there, however, as Stoltz and Harlem’s Last Class swept the Country Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier with two picture perfect performances. Tried and true, Callaway’s Press Power was the reserve winner with Jordan Spangler in the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure class.

Amateur Five-Gaited Champion LA Lady Pedro and Sharon Anderson represented Lil Gilpin’s Rocking Horse Farm in the winner’s circle. LA Lady Pedro finished as the amateur reserve grand champion. Stablemate AG Houdini was the Amateur Road Pony Grand Champion with Courtney Cahill. Gilpin was in the saddle when OH Secret Star was called out as the Morgan English Pleasure Reserve Grand Champion. Adding a tricolor and a blue to the grey and burgundy drapes of Rocking Horse Farm, Bonnie Bulens rode Birchwood’s Grand Finale to the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure Champion and qualifying blue.

Darlene Trento Wright came from New York to support the Greater Boston Charity and she brought with her the Amateur Five-Gaited Grand Champion What’s Your Daddy, a busy white-legged gelding owned and shown by Tamarra Mitchell. For Sherri Essig, Trento-Wright rode Medomak French Expression to the Morgan English Pleasure Grand Championship. Essig and Trento-Wright shared honors to command the blue in the English Pleasure Pro/Am class.

Nearly all the top barns in New England were represented in some form or fashion. Kristen and David Cater brought a group from their Cater Stables and they returned to New Hampshire with some Greater Boston Charity champions. Among them was My California Girl, catch-ridden by Marissa Marks for Sally Gallagher. They had been reserve to CH Sightline in the qualifier. Coming off a couple winning rides at UPHA 14, Meghan Morey and Not Time To Worry were two for two in the junior exhibitor park division, meanwhile Amanda Murchison and My Charming Christina took home the Junior/Novice Park Pleasure Championship. Part of the winning equitation tradition at Cater Stables, Clara McCool added to her 2009 successes with the Walk & Trot 11 & Under Championship and the UPHA 10 & Under Walk & Trot Challenge Cup. Sister Maggie McCool qualified for the NEHC Medal Finals at the Big E with a blue ribbon ride in that NEHC qualifier. Another member of the world-class equitation riders from Cater Stables, Kasey Saccocia was reserve among the 11 & Under Walk & Trot Equitation riders.

The Garone family’s Fairfield South was also on hand to christen the new show. Jayne Romano and Free Willy had another world class go to win the Amateur Road Pony qualifier in their only performance. Romano also guided CH Candle Dan to the Show Pleasure Driving blue and reserve grand championship. Romano’s granddaughter, Alexandra Percoco, and Heads Will Turn kept their winning season alive by taking the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship and qualifier and both were well filled. Sister Nicole Percoco took a good reserve in the NEHC Medal. Laura McGee and Romantic Manifesto were the Amateur Three-Gaited Reserve Grand Champions while teammate Gypsy Stella was reserve in the junior exhibitor walk-trot class with owner Melissa Swain in the irons. Olivia Prentiss added to the Garones’ success by winning the UPHA Challenge Cup and Saddle Seat Equitation Reserve Grand Championship.

Robin McGahey’s RDM Stables had its share of victory passes. Among them were Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Champions Heir’s Sparkling Star and Giovanna Leone. Stablemates CH Corporate Focus and Melina LaBonte were twice reserve in the junior exhibitor show pleasure division.

Putting their time in on the show committee and bringing nice horses, the DelTorchio family at High Tail Acres had Kendall Jackson and Nicole McClain in the winner’s circle of the Fine Harness Championship. Deidre Henry drove Nancy Reed’s champion in the qualifier. Longtime High Tail Acres star Tasha Belle swept the hunter country pleasure division with Nicole McLaine in the saddle. Growing up to be quite the rider, Connor Henry did the DelTorchio family proud as the 11 & Under Walk & Trot Reserve Grand Champion and winner of the 11 and under qualifier.

Just their third and fourth classes together, Cheryl Innis and Harlem’s Class Act won two strong gaited pleasure classes under the direction of Ricky Harris. Harris and assistant Sue Gethicker also put Carlie Vento and Spark’s Flame on top in the Junior Exhibitor Hack 14-17 Championship and qualifier. Stablemates Alex Batista and Middle March are having their best season yet, adding an Adult Country Pleasure reserve to the Somersdream tack room.

The LaSalle family made their season debut with Harness Pony Grand Champion and open class winner T/O Royal Shamrock. The Birch family was also on hand with Lilly Birch driving Oh Happy Day to win the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship and AHHS Youth Medallion.

Young trainer T.J. Santaferra guided his sister, Holly, to two reserves with Too Attached in the junior exhibitor park classes.

In addition to working tirelessly on the show, the Lampropoulos family brought a large string of Saddlebreds, Morgans and Hackneys. They sent Shaina Pilz and Kytha to the winner’s circle of the Adult Hackney Pleasure Driving class and they went on be reserve grand champions. Another Northgate pony entry, Extremely Unique, was reserve in the AHHS Pleasure Driving Pony Medallion. Extremely Unique and William Surprenant trotted away with the top ribbons in the Amateur Pleasure Driving Pony Championship and qualifier. Linda Taylor and Callaway’s Steer Me Right were second in a good Show Pleasure Driving qualifier.

The world champion combination of Med E Oka French Morocco and Maxine Kenny were gearing up for another great season as they brought the Morgan Amateur English Pleasure qualifier and championship home to Northgate Stables. The Lampropoulos family is also known for its Morgan hunters and they dominated the division at Greater Boston. LIV Man Of Steele and Amy Morrison triumphed as the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Grand Champions, open class winner and amateur winner. Tori Mattozzi and World Champion Springmill Madison claimed the Amateur Hunter Pleasure Championship with a reserve in the qualifier behind stablemate LIV Man OF Steele.

Kevin Tomasko and Careen Dubuc were also on hand with the Phoenix Stables stars including the 2008 Adult Show Pleasure National Champion CH Undulata’s Jimmy Hollywood who won both adult classes at Greater Boston. Dubuc also rode Hold That Pose to a good reserve in the gaited pleasure qualifier.

Nicholas Villa greeted Catherine Shanafelt and Charm’s Choice in the winner’s circle of the Adult Country Pleasure Championship. Keeping it in the family, Patricia Shanafelt rode Amber One Up to the reserve ribbon in the ASB Hunter Country Pleasure class.

Heading the champions from David Arnold’s New Venture Stables, Pearl Buck’s Leading Lady were unstoppable in the open park division. Gail Dearth owns the multi-titled bay mare. Also from New Venture, Rosewall’s Private Affair was reserve in the Country Pleasure Driving qualifier with Alyssa Kinsey.

Nealia McCracken’s North Wind Stables brought both Country Western Pleasure winners. In the first class, Pat Johnson and El Empresario were on top, while in the championship round Jessica Moctezuma and I’m Going Out Tonight jogged away with the tricolor streamers.

Known last year for her great rides aboard UPHA Chapter 14’s Saddlebred Of The Year Naughty, this year Alexis Taylor Pearson has expanded her winning junior exhibitor gaited rides to include equitation. She was the 17 and under blue ribbon winner, the NHS Good Hands winner and the Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champion under the direction of Jessica Verrill. Verrill rode My Dear Sir to win the Junior Park Sweepstakes for Leslie Bovenzi.

Luman Wadhams had winners in both the Saddlebred and Morgan divisions. He rode Starboard’s Ring My Bell to the Open Morgan English Pleasure blue for Elaine Gregory.

The Chrislar gang was on hand with Chris Cassenti who was proud of her student, Ellen Atkinson, winning the Pleasure Equitation Championship and qualifier. She also rode Primera Danger Field to reserve in the Open Morgan English Pleasure class. Treble’s Johnny B Goode and Norma Gibney hung the NEHC English Pleasure blue on the Chrislar tack room curtains.

Juli Baranello and Dantree Night Call were twice reserve in the Morgan amateur pleasure division to represent Copperfield. They also won the Morgan In Hand blue. The Dantree prefix was also attached to the Morgan Pleasure Driving Grand Champion shown by Sarah Johnson, Dantree Zhivago. They were reserve in the open class and also won the junior/novice. Marissa Loon and Firewind Venetian turned back all challengers in both Morgan Classic Pleasure Saddle events.

The Lettre family of Wright Way Stables made the trip from Maine and enjoyed a winning weekend. Lexi Lettre rode Slam Dunk to the Walk & Trot 11 & Under Pleasure Championship while sister Carly won the qualifier with Medomak Ever Beamin.

Jeff Doyle was found in the winner’s circle twice with Leslie Cummin’s Midnight’s Memory Maker. They swept the Open Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier.

Five Friesians competed in the Friesian Saddle Seat Pleasure Open class that was won by Eugene Sweeney and Teake S. Teake S came back in the championship to take the tricolor with Kristin Degroot riding this time. William Piazza and Ytsen won both Friesian Pleasure Driving classes and Teri Ray’s Waling won both Hunter/Western classes. Rachel Berry had the winning node with Bouke in the Costume class.

In addition to these show ring highlights there was also a large academy division held on Saturday morning. It was well filled with aspiring show ring stars who got to see what a nice horse show was like. From beginners to old pros, everyone enjoyed their first taste of the Greater Boston Charity Horse Show.

"What an amazing time we all had at the show," said Van Guard Stables trainer Gene Sweeney. "Wow, what a class act from all involved. Everyone’s hard work and days and months of planning for this show was apparent and I would like to say thank you from everyone here at Van Guard Stables. And, we’ll see you next year."

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