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Scott Stewart and Storm Watch Unstoppable in 2016 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship

Lexington, Ky. - August 18, 2016 - Scott Stewart's name is synonymous with winning hunters, and Thursday at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show was no different. Stewart had a total of seven entries that qualified for the final round in the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, but it was Rivers Edge's Storm Watch, who was in the lead after Wednesday's second round with 520.5 points, who took home the prize. For the top thirty horse and rider combinations, it was an even playing field going into the championship round, as everyone had a clean slate.

Stewart and Storm Watch were the second pair to compete in the 3'3" section, but as soon as the 6-year-old Oldenburg landed from the final fence, it was obvious that the pair had impressed the judges as well as the crowd outside the Kentucky Horse Park's Walnut Arena. The three judging panels awarded them with scores of 91, 88, and 85.5 for a grand total of 264.5 points.

Scott Stewart and Storm Watch

Thursday's stellar performance by Storm Watch proved that Stewart had made the right decision to make time to try him out during his vacation in Holland.

"I bought him off a video. Randy Hendri sent me a video and I couldn't go over to look at him, so it was almost two months before I got to go and the horse was still there," Stewart said. "He was in Holland, and the week after the National Horse Show, we went over. We didn't go over specifically to look at horses, but he was sort of in the area so we looked. It was supposed to be a vacation, but it was on the route."

Stewart has recently returned to the show ring after time off from a pinched nerve in his neck. During his time recovering, Ken Berkeley took the reins for Stewart to prepare the horses before coming to Kentucky.

"Ken has been riding him at home, so he really got the horse ready for here," Stewart said. "I wasn't able to ride for a month or so, right after Devon. I got through the last day of Devon and this is my first show back. I rode at home last week, then came to Pony Finals. I went to some very good doctors in New York and they said I just needed physical therapy."

Scott Stewart and Storm Watch

Stewart said that Storm Watch's way of going is slightly different than what he prefers, but the gray gelding is improving everyday.

"He's pretty laid back and quiet. He's naturally a good jumper, but his balance is a little low." Stewart continued, "He doesn't pull, but it's a little of a different ride for me. I don't really like them that low, but he's getting better and better."

In addition to the tricolor ribbon, wool cooler, and generous prize money, Stewart was awarded a free lease for one year on a Sundowner Charter SE two-horse trailer.

Coming in second place was Lisa Hankin's Hanoverian, Puissance R, ridden to victory by California's Jenny Karazissis. The duo won the first round of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship on Tuesday, and Thursday's efforts in the 3'3" section proved that the mare is ready to show at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in October. Judges awarded them scores of 88, 89, and 87 for a total of 264 points.

Jenny Karazissis and Puissance R

"This is my first time doing the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship. I'm so excited to be here. We were going to chose between here and Capital Challenge," Karazissis explained. I said, 'She can come here and if she does well, she could do both.' So I'm really glad that we made the trip and it was so worthwhile."

In third place overall was Hunt Tosh and Douglas Wheeler's Chicago, who campaigned in the 3'3" section. Tosh led the 8-year-old gelding around the course to finish up with scores of 86, 84, and 92 for a total of 262 points.

Hunt Tosh and Chicago

All three hunter professionals agreed that the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship was a step in the right direction for the hunter sport. It is a great way to showcase the younger horses and it features good prize money, which attracts the owners.

The next event for hunter fans during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show is the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, which will take place over the course of two days. Some of the same hunter riders who went head-to-head today will set their eyes on the prize for the derby championship, which starts on Friday at 8 a.m. in the Rolex stadium.