Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 25, 2020 – The final day of the 2020 National Horse Show’s Opening Weekend continued to showcase equitation talent Sunday, with a substantial field of 174 junior contenders taking to the Alltech Arena to vie for the tricolor honors in the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship, the final contest of the weekend. Featuring the largest field of the weekend, the class celebrated its third year after a successful debut in 2018 and enhanced turnout in 2019. Thanks to three textbook rounds - twice over fences and once on the flat - Caroline Tinsley added her name to the list of winners of the prestigious class as the 2020 champion. The clear victor, Tinsley’s three rides aboard sister Abigail Tinsley’s Zonder Z Quattro were so exemplary that the judges panel did not feel the need to request a work-off due to the impression left by the leading pair, who never fell from the first spot following their first ride around the ring.
The 12-effort first-round track, crafted by veteran designer Bobby Murphy, was fit for the occasion, offering exhibitors opportunities to shine while also serving as a useful tool to separate the top performers from the rest of the pack. In front of the judging panel of Keri Kampsen and Chance Arakelian, horse-and-rider combinations put their best foot forward, with 24 of them ultimately pegged to return for the flat phase of the contest as the highest point-earners thus far. Split into two sections, the qualified exhibitors displayed their prowess at all three gaits, plus the counter-canter, then advanced to the third phase of competition. Headed into the next portion of riding, Caroline Tinsley led the way, followed by Julia Nickl, Francesca Guidi, Jessica Carney, Christian Dominguez and Taylor Cawley.
Returning to the ring for a second over fences trip, the list of remaining contenders once again aimed to impress the judges over Murphy’s newest track, which featured a fence jumped both directions as well as plenty of bending lines and changes of direction. The field rode in reverse order of the standings, giving Tinsley the advantage of riding last as the frontrunner. The top 24 duos aimed to inspire, collectively turning in a series of standout performances during what would turn out to be the final phase of the competition.
Though the judges had the opportunity to request further testing, Kampsen and Arakelian decided they had seen all they needed to determine the results of the top finalists. As the results were announced one by one, it became clear that Tinsley had succeeded at maintaining her grasp on the top spot on the leaderboard, a status she held ever since her first trip around the arena as the 97th in the starting list in the irons aboard Zonder Z Quattro. Making a jump from seventh place, Madison Olvert captured the reserve honors in her last-ever junior class on her own Green Book, a welcome addition to her division championship in the Pérez & Bennett 16 - 17 Equitation Over Fences earlier in the weekend. Nickl piloted her own Zurich to the final podium placing, and owner-rider Madison Sanders clinched fourth place with Calvandani Z, a substantial jump from 15th place after the under saddle phase.
The 137th National Horse Show will continue Tuesday, Oct. 27, with the first classes in a series of hunter divisions taking center stage.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Caroline Tinsley – 2020 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship winner
On winning the 2020 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship:
“Going into round one, the horse I have been riding has been really good, forward. We had a few lead issues earlier in the week, but we worked on that and he performed really well, jumped really well, and did everything that I asked of him.”
On her horse, Zonder Z Quattro:
“His show name is Zonder Z Quattro and we call him Quattro at home. He is actually my sister's horse. She left for college two years ago, so I have been riding him. I rode him throughout the winter and I picked up the ride on him in the fall after he came back to us from a lease. I really love riding him. I never really wanted to do the equitation. I have a hunter that has been having some medical problems right now and while we figure that out I have been transitioning to the equitation on Quattro. He has been really really nice to ride and I have come to very much enjoy the equitation.”
On being called back for round two:
“For round two, I just wanted to find the first jump out of a nice gallop and I wanted to be smooth and consistent and get the numbers and get them right.”
On her plans for the rest of the year:
“For the rest of the year, hopefully my horse Honor will be back and able to show so that we can catch up on accumulating some points. I am really looking forward to having him back in action. For now, Quattro will have some time off either in Cape Cod or Florida.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“I competed at the National Horse Show last year with my hunter. Since he did not qualify this year we decided that if I qualified in the equitation that we would come. I love the National Horse Show! I think that the best of the best are here, and it is a really fun environment even though nights are long and mornings are early. Even though it is a little different this year, it is still fun to be here with our friends and get to do what we love.”
Madison Olvert – 2020 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship second place
On Green Book:
“His barn name is Booker and his show name is Green Book. He is 10 years old and he clearly likes to do his job! Every time I stepped in the ring today he tried his absolute heart out and I can’t thank him enough for this.”
On the second round:
“After the first round I was coming back in sixth place. My plan was to go in, have enough pace to jump one and just let him do his job. I made sure I had my pace throughout the course and it happened, thanks to Booker!”
On being second in the 2020 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship:
“This was my last time in the ring as a junior and I am at a loss for words. I can’t even wrap my head around the week I have had because it has been so good! This sport is full of ups and downs so to end on this high is very emotional. I can’t thank everyone enough that has helped me come this far. This is an absolute dream come true! A huge thank you to my parents and both of my sisters for being the absolute best support system. Thank you to all of my trainers and the Ethel Walker School for giving me the opportunity to have access to my wonderful trainers. This is a dream come true and this will always be one of my favorite horse show memories, especially since it is my last as a junior. I just want to thank Booker for letting me do what I love.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“This is my first time at the National Horse Show and it has been an amazing experience. It is a great facility and the people have been wonderful here at the show. It has been such a great experience and this show is so well run.”
Kristen Hamel – Sponsor of the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship
On the 2020 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship:
“I was thrilled to see so many wonderful and talented young equestrians in today’s class. This class has grown so much in the three years that it has been a part of the National Horse Show and I could not be more pleased with the caliber of competition demonstrated today. Congratulations to all the exhibitors and especially to Caroline Tinsley for her win. We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2021.”