The Dixon Oval welcomed its first international show jumping competition at the 2017 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair on Tuesday evening with the $50,000 Devon Welcome Stake CSI4*. Fifty-three horses and athletes went head-to-head for the first place prize, but it was USA’s Andrew Kocher who risked it all to come away with his first Devon win aboard MKO Equestrian LLC’s Navalo De Poheton.
Sixteen combinations returned to compete over Great Britain’s Kelvin Bywater’s shortened track.
“I was lucky to stay on in the jump-off!” Kocher said. “I actually had one leg over the horse — I was sidesaddle for the wrong class! It was fun, it was really fast and I got lucky!”
USA’s Georgina Bloomberg kicked off the jump-off with a clear round piloting Gotham Enterprizes, LLC’s Manodie II H in 38.700 seconds. However, Kocher followed and allowed the 16-year-old Selle Français gelding to gallop full speed around the 8-fence serpentine, stopping the timers in 35.270 seconds, a full three seconds faster than Bloomberg, to take over the top spot on the leaderboard.
“Last year was the first time I’ve ever shown in the open jumpers here. I never thought I’d win one, especially not a night class,” Kocher added. “I’ve always really wanted to show here but I just wasn’t good enough to be honest! The Devon Horse Show embodies tradition and they get a crowd here every night. I had a good time and I’m really excited! I’m wondering if maybe this isn’t really happening, maybe I’m dreaming!”
The remaining 14 contenders tried their best to challenge Kocher’s time but were unable to catch the pair’s speedy performance.
USA’s Callan Solem and Horseshoe Trail Farm, LLC’s VDL Wizard were closest to the winning pace, finishing in 36.850 seconds for second place honors. Laura Chapot (USA) and her own and McLain Ward’s Quointreau Un Prince rounded out the top three in 36.860 seconds.
“I’m so happy with [VDL Wizard],” Solem commented. “He loves it here and we had a good time. I really wanted to do six strides to the last jump, I just didn’t move enough when I landed. If I had to do it over, I think I could take Andy. Some horses really grow from the adrenaline, and some horses don’t really like it. My horse likes the excitement.”
Kocher was thrilled to claim his first Devon win on Tuesday, as well as the Sylvester L. Quigley Memorial Challenge Trophy, and looks forward to competing Navalo De Poheton once again on Thursday in the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*.
For full results of Tuesday’s $50,000 Devon Welcome Stake, visit this link.
Source: Phelps Media Group.
Photography by Amy Dragoo for Noelle Floyd.com