Stewart and Catch Me Repeat WCHR Pro Challenge Victory
Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
The Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by World Equestrian Center, continued on Wednesday evening with a major classe for professional riders. Repeating their 2015 victory, Scott Stewart and Catch Me won the $25,000 WCHR World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Challenge, presented by The Gochman Family. The $25,000 WCHR Pro Challenge had 33 entries, and 12 were called back for the second round. Stewart and Catch Me, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Casiro owned by David Gochman, set the scores to beat in the first round with judges’ scores of 95, 93, and 92 for an average of 93.33.
While Stewart, of Wellington, FL, has been in plenty of pressure-filled situations, returning for the second round tonight gave him some trepidation. “It’s always hard coming back,” he acknowledged. “The first round felt great too, then trying to have to do it again…then I saw John [French] go, and he had such a good round, so I knew it had to be just as good.”
Luckily, Stewart was sitting on Catch Me, a horse he calls “one-of-a-kind”. They returned with judges’ scores of 95, 96, and 95 for a second round score of 95.33 and a total of 188.66. They would finish more than nine points ahead of the second place finishers. “I thought that that was probably one of the best rounds that I’ve ever had on any horse,” Stewart revealed.
For their win, Stewart and Catch Me were presented with the Little Brook Farm Perpetual Trophy, donated by Gary Duffy. Second place went to John French and Boss, who scored 88.33 and 91 for a total of 179.33. Elizabeth Boyd and O’Ryan placed third with scores of 87.66 and 88.66 for a two-round total of 176.32.
“It feels awesome,” Stewart said of his win. “He tries so hard. Even though he’s a little bit tired, he went in there, and he really tried. I think even from round one, the scores seemed higher than they’ve ever been for everybody (in the class). It seemed like it was a good class, so it means a lot to be able to do that. It’s all the horse really. That’s a special horse. There’s not too many like him. He’s a mover, he jumps great, he’s so nice to ride. It’s easy. He’s just phenomenal.”
Last year’s win was a special one for Stewart as Catch Me had recently returned to the show ring after a life-threatening illness. This year, he felt more prepared and ready to go for the win. He noted, “I think he’s even stronger this year, physically. He was good (last year), but he started to get better, better, and better. He was a little bit greener at indoors last year. He was very good here, but this year he’s even more relaxed. It feels like he has even more jump.”
Stewart thanked the Gochman family for the opportunity to ride such a special horse. “I’m lucky the Gochmans are letting me ride him. I just want to thank [them] for letting me ride him and supporting him. It’s nice to ride a great horse like that for a great family,” he said.
Riders for Friday’s $5,000 WCHR Professional Finals, sponsored by Madison Hills Farm, have been determined. Going head-to-head in the competition will be John French, Kelley Farmer, Scott Stewart, Hunt Tosh, John Bragg, and Katie Gardner.