Australia's Ryan Wood captured the win in the $20,000 Preliminary Essex at the Mars Essex Horse Trials in Far Hills, New Jersey on Saturday. Riding Ruby, owned by Summit Sporthorses Ltd. of Ringoes, New Jersey, the pair led from start to finish going clear on both cross-country and show jumping to finish on their dressage score of 27.70.
"This event is phenomenal. This was my first time here and I can't wait to come back. I will be promoting it to everyone in Pennsylvania," said Wood. "It means a lot to win here and to win for Ilona [English] on her homebred horse. To come to Essex and take out the top division and win the silver cup is very special."
Wood, who is based out of West Grove, Pennsylvania, entered three mounts in the Preliminary Essex and he needed every one of them to secure his victory.
"I was lucky to have two practices on the course before piloting Ruby around. I was a victim of a rail on each of my other horses," said Wood. "It was interesting to see the rails coming down. The first jump looked like the softest one on the course, but it came down more than any other jump and the treble looked tough and it jumped better than any other combination on the track. It was all very well thought out. Chris Barnard is a master at designing show jumping tracks."
Michael Walton and Brave New World moved up from sixth place following cross-country to the runner-up spot scoring 32.90. Hallie Coon finished in third place on Cooley SOS with a score of 36.20, moving way up from spot 21 after dressage and top 12 after cross-country.
In the Open Preliminary division, Kaitlin Clasing of Unionville, Pennsylvania, took top honors riding Warren LVS with a final score of 29.80. They were second going into show jumping and clinched the win going clear after final rider Elizabeth Bortuzzo and Belongs To Teufer knocked down three rails to finish second with a score of 35.10.
"We were double clear on cross-country. My horse is so talented and really special. He really handled it like a pro," said Clasing of the Morgan Rowsell-designed cross-country course. "They put so much care into the courses and the footing. Everything is so well done here for the lower level horses, which is important for a horse like 'Beans' because this could be a stepping stone for things to come in the future. It was a great day."
Juliana Hutchings-Sebring of Fair Hill, Maryland, won the Preliminary Rider division on Welbourne, winning on their dressage score of 37.50.
"I heard the announcer say that we were in the lead in show jumping and then I heard my horse nick a rail and I was saying to myself, 'please don't fall, please don't fall,' because I knew I couldn't afford to have a rail. He's turned into a really great horse," said Hutchings-Sebring. "This is such a fantastic event, it was really exciting. It felt like a much bigger event than for the level that I competed in. It felt like the atmosphere of a two-star or even bigger because of the spectators, so it was exciting for us. It's nice to take a win home to my students."
Three Novice divisions were also held on Saturday. Jennifer Eddy and Fernhill Cascum Marco took top honors in the Open Novice division. Lauren Chumley and Santa Barbara DASH won the Novice Rider A division and Tara Brienza won the Novice Rider B division on Highlander.
The Mars Essex Horse Trials, located at the historic Moorland Farm, also offered a host of family friendly activities including a Mars Candy Hunt and a Children's Activity Center, sponsored by The Willow School. The Essex Fox Hounds paraded their pack of hounds in the arena on Saturday and on Sunday the Tewksbury Foot Bassets will have their turn. In addition to exciting competition, Sunday will also feature a classic car show and plenty of shopping in the Essex Market.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching day camp experience for approximately 300 Newark-area youths per day for six weeks during July and August.
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About Essex Horse Trials
For three decades, the Essex Horse Trials was one of the highlights of the equestrian calendar, attracting top American and international competitors as well as thousands of fans who enjoyed its social aspects as well. The event was originally conceived in 1968 as a competition for young riders. Proceeds from the event benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching day camp experience for approximately 300 Newark-area youths per day for six weeks during July and August.
Mars, Inc., the original sponsor of the Essex Horse Trials, returned in 2017 and continues as the event's title sponsor. Presenting sponsors include Open Road Auto Group, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, RWJ Barnabas Health, and Running 'S' Equine Veterinary Services.
For additional information and tickets, please visit www.essexhorsetrials.org.
About Mars, Incorporated
Mars, Incorporated is a private, family-owned business with more than a century of history, $35 billion in sales, and six diverse business segments producing some of the world's best-loved brands: PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, IAMS®, BANFIELD® CESAR® (Petcare); M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY®, TWIX® (Chocolate); DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT®, 5™, SKITTLES® (Wrigley); UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® (Food); ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® FLAVIA® (Drinks); and COCOAVIA® (Symbioscience). Headquartered in McLean, Va., Mars operates in 421 facilities across 78 countries, where our more than 80,000 Associates - all united by the company's Five Principles of Quality, Efficiency, Responsibility, Mutuality and Freedom - strive every day to create relationships with our stakeholders that deliver growth we are proud of.
For more information about Mars, Incorporated, please visit www.mars.com.
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