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Devon Horse Show June 3rd

June 3, 2016 
Haley Gassel and Quite Dark 2 Dominate $25,000 Devon Speed Challenge    
Sponsored by World Equestrian Center
Devon, Pa. - June 3, 2016 - Friday night at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair was all about speed, and only one athlete had all the answers during the $25,000 Open Jumper Devon Speed Challenge sponsored by the World Equestrian Center. Haley Gassel and Quite Dark 2 were the only duo able to master the speed track and leave all the fences intact to capture the winning prize.

"This is unbelievable," the young rider said, smiling. "People dream of just coming to Devon, and people dream of just getting a Devon blue. For me, to win a grand prix at Devon, it boggles my mind. That wasn't even in my wildest dreams!"

Haley Gassel and Quite Dark 2

Kelvin Bywater designed a very technical course for the 1.40m faults converted speed class. Featuring multiple inside options and areas to make up time, competitors had to carefully navigate the course to have the fastest time, while also leaving the obstacles intact. 

Three athletes secured Gassel's time, but it came at the expense of rails coming down. The first was Laura Chapot with ISHD Dual Star, who would claim fourth place with a time of 67.607 seconds after the added fault conversion. She was only 2/1000ths of a second slower than Great Britain's Amanda Derbyshire aboard Goldbreaker, who clocked a time of 67.605 seconds for third place. The only other rider with a better time was newly minted Longines FEI World Ranked Number One Rider, McLain Ward. It looked like he had the ride of the night on HH Best Buy, and while they were faster than Gassel across the ring, the faults added to their time would mean they broke the beam at 67.279 seconds for second place.

Gassel had both the speed and the accuracy with Quite Dark 2 that it took to win the Friday night highlight event. The pair left all the fences intact as they dashed across the finish line in 65.500 seconds for the Devon blue ribbon, as well as bragging rights over Ward.

McLain Ward and HH Best Buy

"That is unbelievable," expressed Gassel about her victory over the world's best. "That will never happen again, that is a bucket list right there! He was really nice about it, though. He put in a really good round and it just wasn't in his favor tonight."

This is only Gassel's second year competing at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, and it's her first year competing in the Open Jumpers with Quite Dark 2, who she has been riding for three years.

"It was a really fun course," said Gassel. "That course fit my horse to a T. He is really great at the spin back turns. He's massive, he's 17.3 hands, so for him to be able to do those spin back turns is unreal. When I first got him, everyone said he's too big, he'll never be able to go fast, spin fast, he'll never be able to win like that and he's proved all of them wrong."

Haley Gassel and Quite Dark 2

Gassel continued, "Our relationship has developed so much. He trusts me, I trust him. He's just gotten better, faster, stronger. I do my best to try to keep him the best shape possible so he can jump tonight and jump tomorrow. He's been a great horse."

Earlier in the afternoon, the Amateur Owner Jumpers took center stage in the Dixon Oval where it was Jacob Pope that rode away with the top prize aboard Zilvana. Reid Patton set the pace to beat as the first to show over the short course with Twisther, clearing all the fences in a time of 33.592, which would be good enough for second place. Pope and Zilvana were the next pair to be faultless over the jump-off, and by leaving strides out and taking the inside turns they narrowly edged out Patton with a time of 32.291 seconds. Caitlin Hope rounded out the top three aboard Total Touch, producing a double clear effort in 34.106 seconds.

Jacob Pope and Zilvana

"Zilvana is a really fast horse, she's small, and she's careful, so I am not worried about having to steady her," explained Pope "She's really fast and I knew that we would be quick and smooth. I went inside everywhere else. She was clear and great."

Earlier in the day, Pope placed second in the first Amateur Owner Jumper event, which kicked off the day's competition. The victory in the speed competition belonged to Christina Firestone on Arwen, while Anna Cardelfe and Dollar Van'T Eigenlo DH rounded out the top three.

Christina Firestone and Arwen

"Our goal for this year was Devon, so I am really happy with how it's gone so far," smiled Pope, a senior at Rollins College. "Zilvana is a really sensitive mare, which I grew up riding. I just let her do her thing!"

The Amateur Owner Jumpers will compete on Saturday afternoon in the $20,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur Owner Jumper Classic as they try and earn the division's championship title and the Leading Amateur Owner Jumper Award. The final show jumping event will be the $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake, sponsored by Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar.

The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is the longest running and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the United States. With the grandeur of Philadelphia's prestigious Main Line setting the stage, the event features a world-class field that annually ranks among the most prominent internationally. The event also includes the Country Fair that offers world-class shopping, rides and games for kids, multiple dining options and special entertainment events.

For more information about the Devon Horse Show please visit

RESULTS: $25,000 Devon Speed Challenge
1    52    Quite Dark 2     Haley Gassel     0    0    0    65.500    
2    93    HH BEST BUY     MCLAIN WARD     0    0    0    67.278    
3    99    GOLDBREAKER     AMANDA DERBYSHIRE     0    0    0    67.605    
4    9    ISHD DUAL STAR     LAURA CHAPOT          0    0    67.607    
5    47    ARTEMIS     ALI WOLFF     0    0    0    72.196    
6    80    GUNNER     MELISSA RUDERSHAUSEN          0    0    73.344    
7    72    CARIATIDE     KEVIN BABINGTON     0    0    0    74.324    
8    89    CASH     JIMMY TORANO     0    0    0    75.134

Class 211 $3,750 Amateur Owner Jumpers
1    1065    ZILVANA     JACOB POPE     0    0    0    62.884    0    0    0    32.291    
2    879    TWISTHER     REID PATTON     0    0    0    65.130    0    0    0    33.592    
3    873    TOTAL TOUCH     CAITLIN HOPE     0    0    0    63.549    0    0    0    34.106    
4    297    MALOU     LAUREN WARD     0    0    0    64.514    0    0    0    35.083    
5    473    LASPARI     ADRIENNE MARCIANO     0    0    0    63.767    0    0    0    37.665    
6    613    FAEMES VAN T POELZELHOF     CALLIE SEAMAN     0    0    0    64.021    4    0    4    32.702    
7    171    PERFECT DE COQUERIE     AILISH CUNNIFFE     0    0    0    62.486    4    0    4    35.429    
8    944    BARITCHOU DBT     CLOE HYMOWITZ     0    0    0    62.898    4    0    4    36.06
Great Start for Beth Bidgood, Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg in Amateur-Owner Hunter Divisions at Devon Horse Show 
The Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions began on Friday at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, and it was Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg and Beth Bidgood who outshined the rest to finish the day at the top of the pack.

In the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3'6" Hunter division,18-year-old Van Konynenburg and Wish List made their trip from California worthwhile by earning the highest score in the division. After placing eighth in the first class, the duo returned ready for the second round, and the judges awarded the trip a score of 88, which secured Van Konynenburg the blue ribbon.
Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg hugs Wish List

It was a close race, however, as second place went to Callie Seaman and Skorekeeper and their score of 87, and third went to Laura Sexton and Set To Music with a score of 86.

The first class in the division was won by Samantha Schaefer and Classified with a score of 85. Second place went to Krista Weisman and Reality and their score of 84, while Stephanie Danhakl took home third aboard Golden Rule with 83.5 points.

"The first round was really fun, but I got a little nervous into the two-stride coming home and we jumped a little low," Van Konynenburg explained. "In the second round, I said 'OK, let's just put everything that happened behind us and just go in and have a good time.' I was just focusing on having fun. I don't know when I'm going to be back here again, so I just wanted to have a good time with him and have solid round."

Van Konynenburg will be graduating high school next week and will start college at USC in the fall. She said that she will continue to ride as an amateur, as Wish List will only be 30 minutes away at trainers Carleton and Traci Brooks' Balmoral Farm.

"He's just the greatest horse," Van Konynenburg said. "He comes to the party 100 percent every time and puts all his heart into it. He really is a special horse; I'm very lucky. It was a big team effort to get my horses out here, and I definitely wouldn't be here without everyone backing me up."
Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg and Wish List

Van Konynenburg said she purchased the gelding three winters ago in Cleveland after failing to find the perfect horse in Florida.

"It was freezing, and we had one jacket," Van Konynenburg laughed. "It was so cold, but it was worth it all the way. He's just the sweetest horse. We love him."

The Amateur-Owner Over 35 3'6" Hunter division was the next to show, and Becky Gochman took home the blue ribbon in the first class after earning an 89 with Empire. Beth Bidgood was hot on her heels, however, coming in second by only one point in the irons on Uprising.

In the second class, Bidgood and Uprising returned to deliver a lovely round that earned the duo a score of 88 and the blue ribbon. Second place went to Jean Sheptoff and Heartcore with a score of 87, while John Ingram and Airport 48 took home third with a score of 86.

"I am so excited," Bidgood said. "This is my first Devon. I love the tradition and everything; I'm having a blast. I was really nervous, then when I went into the first class, I was OK once I started going. I'm just thrilled. My horse is going incredibly."
Beth Bidgood and Uprising

Before transitioning to his hunter career, Uprising was a jumper. Bidgood said she purchased the 9-year-old gelding just over a year ago in Florida.

"We were able to turn him into a hunter, and he's just been fabulous," Bidgood explained. "He's the easiest horse I've ever had. He's just so sweet. He's only been doing the hunters for a year."

The Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions will wrap up on Saturday with the awarding of the Devon Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship and Devon Leading Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider award.

The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is the longest running and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the United States. With the grandeur of Philadelphia's prestigious Main Line setting the stage, the event features a world-class field that annually ranks among the most prominent internationally. The event also includes the Country Fair that offers world-class shopping, rides and games for kids, multiple dining options and special entertainment events.