TAKE2 Thoroughbred Divisions Thrive at Vermont Summer Festival

After Joe, ridden by Aaron Donnan, and Rio de Janeiro, ridden by Sophia Morrell, were crowned champions of the TAKE2 Thoroughbred divisions during the first of six weeks of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival, running through August 13 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.

©Andrew Ryback Photography

After Joe, an 11-year-old gelding by A. P Jet, claimed the tri-color ribbon in the $1,000 TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumper division on Saturday, July 8, while Rio de Janeiro, a seven-year-old gelding by Golden Missile, topped the $500 TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter division on Thursday, July 6.

“The TAKE2 program is what got us involved in showing in the first place,” said Charity Donnan who owns and trains After Joe with her husband, Aaron, at their A&C Stables in Piffard, NY. “We started participating a couple of years ago and we absolutely love it. It was the perfect opportunity for us to get our thoroughbreds into the “A” shows and we are having so much fun.”

Aaron and Charity Donnan purchased After Joe at a Fasig-Tipton yearling auction in Maryland and raced the horse as a three- and four-year-old with the help of trainer, Joseph Raposa. When After Joe stopped racing, they pointed him toward show jumping. “Thoroughbreds can do anything and the TAKE2 classes gave us the opportunity to hold onto him and ride him ourselves,” said Charity Donnan. “After Joe has raced, jumped, and fox hunted, and he’s great at all of it.”

Aaron Donnan piloted After Joe to two wins as well as second and third-place ribbons to earn the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumper Championship. They also kept the Reserve Championship title in the family, as it was claimed by their 20-year-old daughter, Ingrid, riding another one of their Thoroughbred horses, Lenny.

©Andrew Ryback Photography

In the hunter ring, 16-year-old Morrell was first, first, second, and third over fences before winning the under saddle to claim the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter Division Championship riding her own Rio de Janeiro.

After one start racing under the name Country Riley, Rio de Janeiro was reinvented as a hunter. Morrell’s trainer, Linda Orton, first spotted the gelding at a horse show in Stockade, NY, and was quick to make him part of her barn.

“He’s very brave, naturally talented, and, for a small horse at under 16 hands, he has a large stride and can cover a lot of ground,” said Orton, who is based at Honor Own Farm in Hoosick Falls, NY. “It has become a lot harder over the years to compete with the Warmbloods, so the TAKE2 divisions provide a nice starting point for the Thoroughbreds with great prize money.”

Speaking about her affinity for Thoroughbred horses, Orton noted, “I like how smart they are, and the good ones are very forgiving. You can put a kid on them and they will help teach them how to find distance with their natural rhythm. If you can win their hearts, they will walk into the show ring and try to do well for you every time.”