Paige Matthies and Dirkie Z (Photo: The Book LLC)
Paige Matthies and Dirkie Z (Photo: The Book LLC)

Devon, Pa. – May 25, 2018 – Under the lights in the Dixon Oval, 17-year-old Paige Matthies of Lake Leelanau, Michigan, and Barbara Smith’s Dirkie Z claimed round two, sponsored by Fusion Academy, of the coveted Junior Jumper championship to conclude competition on Friday at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair.

Following Thursday’s round one speed competition, 29 junior riders returned to compete over Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge’s first round track, where seven finished clear to advance to the jump-off.

Caitlyn Connors and Express Blue GP Du Bois Madame, owned by Caitlyn Connors LLC, kicked off the tiebreaking round with the first double-clear performance in 44.627 seconds.

The final Fusion Academy oxer, which proved to be a challenge for many riders in the first round, continued to be an issue in the jump-off, with three riders just missing double-clear performances and incurring 4 faults over the tricky outside obstacle.

Matthies, who was fifth in the order, produced the only other clear round of the jump-off, stopping the timers and besting Connors’ time by four seconds in 40.779 seconds to claim the Wigg’s Bar Challenge Trophy. Alexandra Pielet and Co-Pielet, LLC’s Helene VE rounded out the top three with 4 faults in 38.806 seconds.

Paige Matthies and Dirkie Z
Paige Matthies and Dirkie Z

Matthies only just acquired Dirkie Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding, previously owned by international grand prix athlete Nick Novak, at the end of March, but, with the help of trainer Melissa Hirt of Northern Pines Farm, she secured her first Devon blue during her debut at the iconic horse show on Friday evening.

The Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Jumper Classic will be held on Saturday in the Dixon Oval at 7 p.m., where the 2018 Devon Horse Show Junior Jumper champion will be crowned.

FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

Paige Matthies – $3,750 Junior Jumper (second round), sponsored by Fusion Academy, winner

On Dirkie Z:
“He is very sweet, very forgiving and very responsive. He has a going type of ride and he takes me to the jumps, which is the kind of ride I like in a jumper. My other horse (Climbus) is like that as well. I have to thank Melissa Hirt, my trainer, and Nancy Whitehead for setting me up with those pairs. Nick Novak used to own both of them, with Nancy Whitehead training. She actually trained my trainer, Melissa, when she was a junior. I am grateful for his and Nancy’s support, and of course that of my grandparents, who own my horses.”

On her rounds on Friday:
“[Dirkie Z] was my second horse in the first round. On my first horse, Climbus, we had the last rail down so when I went in on [Dirkie Z], I really showed him because I had a feeling that might be a tricky spot and he really pulled through. He is still somewhat new to me. I have never shown him in a ring this size or under the lights, even though he has. It was definitely a new experience. Going in to the jump-off, I knew that [Caitlyn Connors] had been the only clear so far and that the last fence was still being tricky. I went in and stuck to my original plan, which I am very glad about. My trainers had me stick to that and I was a lot more comfortable. He was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for any more from him.”

On going in to Saturday’s final round of the Junior Jumper championship:
“I’m very happy that tonight was a night class and was set a little bit bigger than yesterday so I am more comfortable with the experience going into tomorrow. I know my horses can do it, I just have to trust myself and trust that I can do it with them.”

On winning her first Devon blue:
“It has always been a goal of mine. I never could have imagined that this would have happened, especially since I got both of these two horses not too long ago. I’m very grateful for all of my training and the support that has helped get me here. The courses have been great, the footing is amazing and the show is run really well.”

RESULTS

$3,750 Junior Jumper (second round), sponsored by Fusion Academy:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Round One Faults / Round Two Faults / Time
1. Dirkie Z / Paige Matthies / Barbara Smith / 0 / 0 / 40.779
2. Express Blue GP Du Bois Madame / Caitlyn Connors / Caitlyn Connors LLC / 0 / 0 / 44.627
3. Helene VE / Alexandra Pielet / Co-Pielet, LLC / 0 / 4 / 38.806
4. Prestigious / Madison Goetzmann / Madison Goetzmann / 0 / 4 / 40.325
5. Street Hassle BH / Mimi Gochman / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 / 4 / 41.885
6. Carola BH / Sophie Gochman / Gochman Sport Horse LLC / 0 / 4 / 43.036
7. Shaq / Kaitlyn Williams / Ramble On Farm / 0 / 14 / 52.260