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Syracuse International Soars

by Bob Funkhouser

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - In the middle of a summer that has seen some shows bottom out and some flourish, Syracuse International hosted one of its best events in years. Entries were strong in the Saddlebred, Morgan and Hackney classes, giving Manager Naomi Blumenthal and co-chairs Julie Kritzler and Theresia Giardino something to be very proud of. The entire show committee works hard to provide exhibitors with the best of hospitality and horse showing. They also got a little help in the weather department this year. There were a few showers the week of June 24-27, but temperatures were extremely pleasant and that added to an overall enjoyable week of showing.

The Syracuse committee likes to feed its exhibitors, beginning with a welcome party the night before the show starts and continuing right on through to the big exhibitors’ party on Friday night, which is highlighted by the fundraising drawing. Annika Bruggeworth was the big winner this year, cashing in on the final ticket as well as one of the secondary cash prizes.

In addition to the show’s organized events, many exhibitors take advantage of the local icon known as Dinosaur’s. One of the most unique barbecue joints in the country, a visit to Dinosaur’s is a must while in Syracuse. Also, unique is the annual Friday evening "Buck A Shot" game at Rodney Hicks’s tack room following the exhibitors’ party. Exhibitors enjoy that fun well into the morning.

Judges Mary Jo Schmidt (Saddlebreds, ponies, equitation, NSH), Mark Bodnar (Morgans, NSH) and Lisa Jo White (Friesian, NSH) had plenty top of the line entries from which to choose the 2009 Syracuse International champions. They were joined in center ring by ringmaster John Franzreb and photographer Shane Shiflet, who had Jason Molback firing from outside the ring. Announcer Todd Beard had one of the best seats in the house looking down on the ring from the announcer’s booth, while the legendary Dale Stone kept the beat with his great organ music. A much-welcomed addition to the official family, Jason Lawrence, kept the traffic in order in the warm up ring and John Crider served as farrier for the first time.

Gaited horses came to Syracuse in full force and the results changed in the open division from the qualifier to the championship. In the Friday evening finale, Sena Bowling and Varsity Blues put it all together to topple open class winners Cameo Appearance and Darlene Trento-Wright who had put on a couple of their best performances in some time for owner Jodie Goff. Mitchell Walker owned Bowling’s Five-Gaited Grand Champion.

Saturday night’s Amateur Five-Gaited Championship was even deeper. Carson Kressley and the beautiful bay mare Enchanting Memories would not be denied as they racked and trotted past the competition to take grand champion honors. Dr. Jennifer Makem and the always charging Beautiful Stranger OCF was twice reserve, while Rick Daigle and Battle’s Radar made a most impressive debut to win the amateur qualifier; their only performance of the week as Daigle had to return to Maine right after his class.

For the second consecutive year Jess Verrill met Lexi Pearson and Naughty in the winner’s circle of the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Riding for Clara McCool, Caroline Rose jockeyed the World’s Champion Five-Gaited Pony Billy Jewel to reserve grand champion honors.

Making a big splash, Robin McGahey rode Top Dawg (Top Spool x CH Swept Away) to the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited blue for Elaine Gregory. Bob Phillips introduced the gifted four-year-old mare I’m Bossy to the reserve title.

Maureen Quackenbush had nice ponies and horses competing and one such star was UPHA Five-Gaited Classic Champion Bi Mi’s Southern Rose, ridden by Darlene Trento Wright.

One of several tricolors returning to Siren Song Stables, Finally A Prince topped the Three-Gaited Championship with Nicholas Royer in the irons. It was a repeat from the open class where FER Feel The Rush and Kelly Carrick were reserve both times.

Carson Kressley and the Little Lexington family had a great week at Syracuse with Kressley winning the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship aboard Valentino Red. Making the reserve grand champion victory pass was qualifying class winner My California Girl, ridden by Marissa Marks.

Delivering two smooth, yet athletic performances, Alexandra Percoco rode CH Cagin Martini to the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship and qualifying blue. In a deep class, their closest competition was Titleist Patrick, ridden by Megan Ryan.

One of the stars of the show went uncontested as Kevin Tomasko and A Rift In Time lit up the ring in the UPHA Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited Classic.

From a competitive park division, Mike Richardson rode Fox Grape’s Forever Yours past the competition to take the tricolor victory pass for Kathleen and Elizabeth Ververeili. Krista Dent and Remember Ella Mae stepped up and took reserve grand champion honors for Carson Kressley while coming from the winner’s circle of the limit class. In the open qualifier, David Arnold and the oh so talented bay mare Pearl Buck’s Leading Lady made the last pass for Gail Dearth.

The amateur park competition featured Annika Bruggeworth and Sue Me sweeping the competition in both rounds for Siren Song Stables. In the championship class it was Deedee Ludlam and the Luman Wadhams-trained Affirm’s Bright Future in the reserve championship slot.

Come Louisville time the junior exhibitor three-gaited park division should be outstanding as it has been extremely entertaining all across the country and Syracuse was no different. Morgan Billig was aboard the ever-expressive She Sparkles to take the winning ribbons in both classes. Lexi Pearson and Party For Two claimed reserve grand champion honors.

Skip Shenker and Krista Dent teamed up to put Vernon Wise and The Wings Of The Dove in the winner’s circle of the Fine Harness Championship and open class. Junior/Novice Champion Sosexyalmostevil was the reserve grand champion with Kyle Wright driving for Denise Vespa. Also in the harness division, Jan Lukens debut Claudia Fletcher’s homebred star, The Red Storm Rising, to catch everyone’s attention as the Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Champion.

Lukens Stables also ruled the roadster division with Charlie Jones and the 2008 Triple Crown winner Mr’s Bones breezing to victory in the amateur division. Jones also owned the first and second place horses in the open ranks. Brad Lukens drove Beaucourt Boy to the winning prizes, while Jones and Endignant followed in reserve.

Winner of the Amateur Road Pony Championship in 2008 with Bob Funkhouser at the whip, Heartland Double Trouble returned to Syracuse to take the Open Road Pony Championship with Raye Lynn Funkhouser driving from the family’s Miscoe Meadow. Also working his own pony, Nathan Roden was the reserve grand champion with Michigan’s Habanero. There were different results in the open qualifier where Gary Altman and Kiss From A Rose topped the competition, just ahead of Gary Guz and Keeping The Faith.

The Syracuse crowd was in for a real treat when Jayne Romano and CH Free Willy shot down the rail with his knee as high as the rail to sweep the Amateur Road Pony Championship and qualifier. There was deep competition as Alex Ververeli and Mastercraft’s Gambler were the reserve grand champions and Joe Harrod’s Heartland River Dance was reserve in the first round.

Junior novice honors went to Extremely X Tra and Rodney Hicks followed by Ricky Harris and Prince’s Witch Doctor LF in reserve. Top prize in the AHHS Youth Medallion Under Saddle class went to the Maureen Quackenbush entry of Ceasar, ridden by TJ Santaferra. Francesca Fields was reserve aboard Heartland Seal Of Quality.

There were several outstanding ponies in attendance. Janine LaSalle and T/O Royal Shamrock were on the money to take the Harness Pony Grand Champion honors ahead of the Amateur Harness Pony Grand Champion and qualifying winner World’s Champion Of Champions Truly Naughty By Nature and Kathy Comeau. In the open class, Bob Phillips drove last year’s junior world champion of champions, Crystal Creek’s Hot Shot, to take blue ribbon honors in their only appearance for Faydelle Schott.

In the cob-tail division, Marjorie Kenney and Exhilarating turned back the challengers to take the grand champion and open class prizes ahead of Unique’s Starlighter and Clarence Sweigart.

Eighty-four years young, Faydelle Schott debut the 2008 Junior Hackney Pony World’s Champion of Champions Heartland Fortune Maker, and she had the audience screaming for them. Under the direction of Bob Phillips, they marched down victory lane in the amateur championship and qualifier. Twice reserve among the four entries was Nathan Roden with Totally Excellent.

For the second consecutive year Judy Nixon, assisted by Terri King, made the trip from Canada a successful one by winning the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship with Lovelyanna. They also made the victory pass in the qualifier. Sarah Wise and Driving Miss Emma garnered reserve grand champion honors, while Janine LaSalle took High Society Precious Moments to reserve in the qualifier. A Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Limit blue went to Janet Crawford Hicks and Heartland Unique Fashion.

With her new star Harlem’s Class Act, Cheryl Innis swept the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and qualifier in grand fashion under the direction of Ricky Harris. Joellen Fisher Blount and SJ Space Buccaneer had a great go for reserve grand champion honors. In the qualifier, the always popular Louise DeBlois and Intriguing Masterpiece were second.

Park pleasure competition found Jessica Moctezuma and Phoebe Hansen on top in the championship, while Lady’s Great Night Out (with Sena Bowling), With Style And Grace (with Michael Richardson), Can You Heir Me Now (with Libby McLemore) and Southern Caribbean (with Darlene Trento-Wright) all scored wins in their respective classes.

World and national champions went head to head in the adult show pleasure division with Margaret Biggs and CH Sultan’s Zorba earning the tricolor victory pass ahead of qualifying winners CH Undulata’s Jimmy Hollywood and Careen Dubuc.

Returning to Michigan with a championship prize, Krystal Murphy and In Due Time were Judge Schmidt’s pick in the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure 15-17 Championship, just as they were in the qualifier. Natalie Martens and Royal Crests Knock On Rock were reserve grand champions.

Tara Wentz had Sea Blue and Loewe Kasprenski in top form to turn back all challengers for Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure 14 & Under honors just as they did in the qualifier. Kaylee May and Callaway’s Creme Caramel were twice reserve. Novice and limit pleasure titles went to The Talk Of Savannah and Taylor Bisanzio, Worthy’s Nite Move with Brittany Ford and Future Perfect with Kelly Self.

Driving from Fairfield South, Jayne Romano traded in her silks for a couple of classes to some very nice outfits in which to drive World’s Champion CH Candle Dan, who was Syracuse’s Show Pleasure Driving Grand Champion and open class winner. In the open qualifier it was Claudia Fletcher and Midtown Magic providing the reserve competition, while in the championship Anne Tasch and Drop Dead Gorgeous applied plenty of pressure to take reserve grand champion honors after handily winning the limit class for Millie LeBoff.

Adding the tricolor decorations adorning the Revelation Farm tack room, Sir Winston C and Allyson Ehle were the Adult Country Pleasure Grand Champions. Elizabeth Reeves and qualifying winner Bi Mi Malahene made the reserve grand champion victory pass.

The best of the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure contenders turned out to be Windy Hill Super Star, ridden by Mary Mitkish for Jessie Richardson. Sharp going Heads Will Turn was reserve in the championship and qualifier for Alexandra Percoco. A winner all season long, Alyson Sandler and Jama Day won the qualifier.

Mary’s Immeasurable Asset and Alexandra Fraccoia were two for two in the novice rider country pleasure competition, while Annika Bruggeworth and Right On Target were just that to take the limit blue.

From Wrighthall Stables, Pam Arruda and Dark Heiress received the call for the victory pass in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship ahead of Callback and Raye Lynn Funkhouser. Prince In The Park and Joellen Fisher Blount received the nod in the qualifier.

Pat Johnson’s CH A Magic Surprise was again a star, winning the Country Western Pleasure Championship and qualifier, this time with Mary Elias sitting tall in the saddle. Stablemate El Empresario was twice reserve with Johnson riding. Revelation’s Daryl Eden and Maverick’s Miracle Mike also picked up western blues.

The country hunter pleasure division found Callaway’s Anastasia and Joy Warner in the winner’s circle for all three classes offered. Patricia Shanafelt and Amber One Up claimed the reserve grand champion streams under the direction of Nicholas Villa.

From the equitation ranks, Revelation Farm’s Mary Mitkish rode to the grand champion honors, followed by NHS Good Hands winner Gavin Ganon. Age group winners included Lexi Pearson (14-17) and Alexa Bik (13 and under).

Fourth and second generations exhibitors won the two walk and trot equitation championships respectively. Molly Codeanne soared again as the 9-10 grand champion and qualifying winner, while Scotty Bruggeworth topped the 8 and under section. Olivia Prentiss and Michaela Gillispie qualified for year-end national finals with their winning rides in the USEF Medal and UPHA Challenge Cup, respectively.

Mary Neidlinger put Abby Smith into the winner’s circle for the Pleasure Equitation Championship, while Sarah Nerz won the qualifier.

Continuing his winning season, Starboard’s Blitz Krieg was the Morgan Park Saddle Grand Champion and open winner with Maureen Cartelli riding under the direction of Luman Wadhams. Susan Evans and Queens Protege were the reserve team.

Carter Loftus and CBMF Arbitrage were at the top of Judge Mark Bodnar’s card in the English Pleasure Championship where Travis Neidlinger and open winner AFF Nor Easter were reserve grand champions.

The Amateur Morgan English Pleasure Championship found CN A Touch Better and Jason Harrell on top with Krista Dent’s direction. Qualifying winners Rampage and Danielle Benson were reserve grand champions representing China Pointe. Alexa Bik and Minion Absolut moved up a placing from the qualifier to win the Junior Exhibitor English Pleasure Championship with Amber Green and Springmill Souvenir as the reserve grand champions.

Representing UVM Morgan Horse Farm, Steve Davis took UVM Made To Order to the tricolor streamers in the Junior/Novice English Pleasure class, while Alicia Fraser and LIV Norah Jones were most impressive to win the qualifier for Nick and Robin Pelham.

Familiar faces at Syracuse, Margaret Brown and Oak Creek Chief Of Staff won the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier with Sam Stanley and UVM Montana taking reserve grand champion honors.

Another repeat winner was Julie Rohrer with her Amateur Pleasure Driving Grand Champion and qualifying winner Sardes Manistique. Open champion Oak Creek Chief Of Staff was twice reserve.

Steve Davis was back in the winner’s circle, taking UVM Odyssey to the Junior Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifying blue. Reuben Ide Back Bay was the reserve grand champion with Robert Marshall.

The best of the best from the classic division was Queen’s Loverboy with JoAnn Currie aboard. Kandles Emerson and Marie Vandermark won the top money in the qualifier. Brittany Cloutire and Rowenda Razzmatazz were the first names on the card in the Junior Exhibitor Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship just as they were in the novice rider class. Syncopation and Daisy Beisler exited with the blue in the open qualifier.

Moving up a few notches from the qualifier, Turning Pt Simply Devine scored the Morgan Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship, defeating a good group, which included reserve grand champion Equinox Wild Card with Dylan Evans.

Jimmy Houston was the two-time Morgan Amateur Western Pleasure Champion with Michael Chase riding. I Got You Babe and Westenfeld Musicmaker claimed the top honors in the open championship and qualifier, respectively.

Heartfelt By Request and Jennifer Lake were two for two in the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship and qualifier with Brisco County Jr and Will Vidler as the reserve grand champions. JNP Simply Delorean and Jillian Zick also won both classes in the amateur section. Kate Vail and Merriehill Isa Boo moved up a place to make the Junior Exhibitor Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship victory pass, while Alexandra Favreau and ROF Anna Livia held the honors in the qualifier.

The highly acclaimed Kasey Saccocia won both Morgan Walk & Trot Equitation titles, while Abby Smith scored the win in the AMHA Medal and Lexi Chruscicki held the blue in the AMHA Hunt Seat On The Flat Medal.

The Friesians also had a starring role at Syracuse and none were bigger than Gooitzen fan Teaksyl. Ridden by Annika Bruggeworth from Siren Song Stable, Gooitzen fan Teaksyl was the Amateur Pleasure Saddle Grand Champion and qualifying winner. Bruggeworth also won the Walk/Trot Pleasure titles aboard Brend V. Travis Neidlinger rode Marcus to both open pleasure titles, and Dale Vidler guided RIK to the driving awards.

The name to remember in the Open English Pleasure division was WTS Simply Outrageous, expertly ridden by Alicia Fraser for KLS Morgans. They won the qualifier and championship. The junior exhibitor honors went to Calibogue Charm and Kelsea Flannery, while 11 & Under Walk & Trot winning prizes went to Westenfeld Band Leader and Hannah Carr, as well as Showtimes Flame N Flare with Kellie Saccocia.

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