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Wellington, Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Wellington, Florida

Catch Me Can't Be Caught in $100,000 Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular

Lenore Phillips and Caroline Nickolaus

Reporting from Wellington, Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Wellington, Florida
Saturday, February 18, 2017 :: Posted 11:17:32 PM EST

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© Lenore Phillips: Scott Stewart and Catch Me Win $100,000 WCHR Spectacular Catch Me and Scott Stewart claim the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular for the second year in a row.

Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 18, 2017 – The finest hunter horses and riders came together under the lights of the International Arena on Saturday evening to vye for the coveted $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular title, and it was the unbeatable pair of Scott Stewart and Catch Me, who rode to victory in the class for the second consecutive year.

Catch Me, owned by Gochman Sport Horses LLC, came out on top in the preliminary round with fences set at a height of 3'6" by scoring an impressive 94 points. Catch Me would remain the only horse to score in the nineties throughout the entire class.  The 2007 Holsteiner gelding has had nothing but success so far throughout the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit, competing in the High Performance Hunters with Stewart.

'Snoopy,' as he is affectionately called, was one of twelve horses who advanced to the second, shorter, round. As the final horse and rider combination of the evening, the pair proved that they couldn't be bested as they scored an 88.6 average from the three judging panels.

"He felt great, he's been really good this whole circuit," said Stewart. "I have been doing the High Performance Hunters and Becky [Gochman] has been doing the Amateur-Owner Hunters and he has been winning in both divisions so he's really in the groove this year. I think he's an even better horse than last year."

© Lenore Phillips:  Scott Stewart and Catch Me

A hush of silence fell over the crowd as Stewart and Catch Me galloped up to the final oxer heading to the in-gate, culminating their near-perfect second trip. For Catch Me, it hasn't always been an easy ride to success — the young horse suffered from and overcame botulism a few years ago.

Stewart not only earned first-place honors with Catch Me, but also took home the reserve championship ribbon with his younger mount, Dr. Betsee Parker's Private Life. At only six years old, the young hunter stepped up to the plate and proved himself in the feature class against much more seasoned mounts.

"I didn't know what to expect," Stewart explained. "He's always been brave and he rides like a made-up horse, but he's only just turned six years old. This is his fourth horse show at 3'6" so I was really thrilled with him. He couldn't have been any better."

© Lenore Phillips: Scott Stewart and Private Life

Private Life, who normally campaigns in the First Year Green Hunter division, collected an 88.66 average score in the first round over the Patrick Rodes-designed course.

As of Thursday afternoon, it was unknown to Stewart which horse he would choose to ride in the class in addition to Catch Me. All riders are limited to riding a maximum of two horses, and Stewart was deciding between Fun, Luster, and Private Life. Ultimately, Private Life's consistency sealed the deal for Stewart.

"He went really well this week. He was really good in every class, and he did really good out there. He's actually, for the greenest, probably the easiest one to ride. He just acts really grown up and rides like he is a junior hunter. Not only does he jump well, but he's really comfortable to ride," the hunter professional stated.

Liza Boyd and Maraschino, owned by Lily Bennett, executed a seamless first round to take an early lead in the class with an average score of 88.

© Lenore Phillips: Liza Boyd and Maraschino

"She's a great mare — definitely not the typical chestnut mare — she's super happy and wonderful to be around. McKayla Langmeier actually started her and McKayla was champion on her, I think two years ago, at Harrisburg," Boyd said.

"We bought her for one of our clients, Lily Bennett, who was successful in the Junior Hunters on her. Now, Lily is primarily doing jumpers, so she's for sale and I am fortunate enough to get to ride her — she's such a trier and I'm really proud of her."

Boyd was the only rider to come close to matching Stewart's score of 90 with an 88.6 over the second course, which placed them in third.

Earlier on in the class, Boyd piloted another one of her entries, Cassanto, but they had an unplanned dismount after fence six.

"I just left him too fresh and it got too long and he got excited. It was totally my fault, and I learned a good lesson," Boyd acknowledged.

© Lenore Phillips: Maggie Jayne and Standing Ovation

Maggie Jayne piloted Standing Ovation, owned by Pony Lane Farm, to fourth place.

Boyd was quick to give credit to the team behind her that helps in preparing and getting the horses to the ring looking and feeling their best. All three of the professional riders agreed that it takes the support of their entire team, especially their assistant trainers, to help them be successful in big classes, like the WCHR Hunter Spectacular.

"They [assistant trainers] have a lot of pressure on them — they're running from ring to ring, helping our other riders, preparing our horses for us. Tamara actually said to me this morning when I got here, 'Well, I hope she's good tonight. I rode her early this morning in the dark in the International Ring.' Our assistants sacrifice a lot for us," said Boyd.

Stewart had similar sentiments, "I don't like getting my own horses ready for classes like these. I'd much rather have someone else tell me, 'They're ready.' Fortunately, I have someone to do that. I get on and go."

Stewart's partner at Rivers Edge Farm, Terence Prunty, prepared Catch Me for Saturday night's class.

"I never ride them until they get to the ring. Terence Prunty rides [Catch Me] all the time and got him ready for me today, so I'm lucky that I just get on, jump a couple [of fences] and go. He did it all."

Jayne followed in agreement, "I trust that when they say they're relaxed, they are. My sister [Haylie Rolf] helps me a lot. In the summer, she'll prepare my horses and I'll prepare hers. It's just easier, because you either do too much or not enough with them."

The $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular is the highlight event of WCHR week at WEF.  Top hunter competition at the Wellington, Florida venue continues Sunday morning and the Show Jumpers will take back the International Arena next week for CSI 5* competition. The $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix will be the feature event next Saturday night, starting promptly at 7pm.

© Lenore Phillips: Poker Face and Jennifer Bliss Were the Only Pair To Compete over 4' Jennifer Bliss and Poker Face 

© Lenore Phillips:  Victoria Colvin and Koala

© Lenore Phillips: Sophie Gochman riding GarfieldGarfield and Sophie Gochman

© Lenore Phillips: John Ingram and Airport 48

© Lenore Phillips: Mindful and Kelley Farmer

© Lenore Phillips: The Palm Beach County Hunt Club exhibited their hounds before the start of the class.

Class : 199    WCHR Peter Weatherill Hunter Spectacular

Pl Number  Horse           Rider               J1    J2    J3     Round  Final


1   2696 CATCH ME        SCOTT STEWART 93.00 95.00 94.00   94.00

92.50 89.00 84.50   88.66 182.66

2   2937 PRIVATE LIFE    SCOTT STEWART 89.00 89.00 88.00   88.66

93.00 94.00 90.00   92.33 180.99

3   4501 MARASCHINO      ELIZABETH BOYD 88.50 88.00 87.50   88.00

91.00 86.50 89.00   88.83 176.83

4   430 STANDING OVATION MAGGIE JAYNE 89.50 88.50 85.50   87.83

92.00 86.00 88.00   88.66 176.49

5   1415 POKER FACE      JENNIFER BLISS 86.50 87.25 87.25   87.00

90.00 88.00 87.00   88.33 175.33

6   3159 KOALA           VICTORIA COLVIN 83.00 85.00 85.00   84.33

87.00 84.00 93.00   88.00 172.33

7   2965 WISDOM          EMMA KURTZ 85.00 87.00 86.00   86.00

85.00 85.00 86.75   85.58 171.58

8   427 LIKE I SAID     JOHN FRENCH 83.50 83.00 83.00   83.16

86.00 87.00 87.50   86.83 169.99

9   4682 BECAUSE         JANE GASTON 81.00 86.00 87.00   84.66

86.50 83.00 85.00   84.83 169.49

10  3160 AIRPORT 48      JOHN INGRAM 87.00 90.00 86.50   87.83

79.00 75.00 84.00   79.33 167.16

11  2964 GARFIELD        SOPHIE GOCHMAN 84.50 84.00 81.00   83.16

82.00 82.00 86.50   83.50 166.66

12  4680 MINDFUL         KELLEY FARMER 87.50 87.50 75.00   83.33

75.00 78.00 86.00   79.66 162.99

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