Seventeen-year-old Emma Kurtz from Hudson, OH, won the $10,000 Hermes Hunter Classic Sunday morning at the Hampton Classic, the final hunter competition at the 42nd edition of the horse show. Just seven points separated the top five finishers, illustrating how close and consistent the level of competition was in the Anne Aspinall hunter ring today.
As a light rain fell over the competition, Kurtz piloted Popish Farms’ Due West to the head of the class, competing at the 3’6″ height level over two rounds. With a first round score of 86, the pair returned second to last in the final round, receiving a score of 85. The pair finished on an overall final score of 171.
Finishing a single point behind to take second place, Sophie Gochman of Palm Beach, FL, placed ahead of Kurtz in the first round, with a score of 88. With an uncharacteristic bobble from Garfield in the second round, in front of the busy VIP tent, their second-round score of 82, would not be enough to hold onto the lead, dropping them to second with 170 points overall.
“We had a small rub in the first round which dropped us just behind Sophie,” explained Kurtz. “Our goal for the second round was to be a little more animated and impressive, since we knew we had some ground to make up. He’s really lazy, so usually the goal is to get him to carry more pace, to gallop a bit more. I’ve had trouble in the past on grass because sometimes it’s hard as a rider to read the ground and know where your spots are at the jumps. Thankfully I seem to be getting better at it and didn’t have as much of an issue with it today.”
Following the awards presentation, the judge of the class, Phil DeVita, discussed the quality of the competition he saw Sunday morning.