DEVON, Pa.--Debby Dolan-Sweeney, riding at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair for the first time in three decades, rode her La Petite Fleur 6 to win the $20,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic on June 2, and that, combined with her win in a class on Friday made her the Amateur-Owner Jumper Champion with 25 points as well as the Leading Amateur-Owner Jumper Rider.
Dolan-Sweeney was one of four from a starting field of 23 to advance to the jump-off, which she finished in a swift 32.389 seconds to claim the Good Enough Challenge Trophy.
Christina Fisher and Conero and Jaime Auletto and Brazzaville tied for reserve championship honors in the division with 10 points.
“Today’s course was substantially bigger and more technical than Friday’s course," said Dolan-Sweeney following the class on Saturday. "Everyone in this division is so good, so I knew I couldn’t just take the easy way. I wanted to be able to say that I came into the ring and gave it my all, because I knew my horse would give it her all.”
“I paired up with this mare last August," said Dolan-Sweeney. "She is amazing. She got a sinus infection after we got her, so I really didn’t get to ride her until Florida. My children are all in school, so Florida is a ‘weekend warrior’ thing for us. To have a horse like her, where I can come down and she’s ready to go, is amazing.”
“THE LAST time I rode at Devon, no one in the division today had been born yet," she said. "It was probably 30 years ago. I have eight children, including a set of triplets, and they are my heart and soul, they’re my everything. I rode but I didn’t really compete for a long time because of them. Even leaving this weekend to come here was really hard for me because they couldn’t come. My husband also rides. The kids are everything to us so they just took precedence. Now some of my children are also involved in the sport. I love when my kids can come to shows with me. I started riding again about two years ago.”
Dolan-Sweeney trains with McLain Ward, who rode the Sweeney's Sagamore Farms' Clint to win the Devon Grand Prix.
“McLain has been amazing for me," said Dolan-Sweeney. "He has gotten me back to thinking that I can still do this. It’s really all about getting my head in the right place. This past year, I paired up with McLain. I know him so well, and I loved his dad. We’ve had a great partnership over the year. He just picked up on everything I was missing.”
“I haven’t been here in years," she said. "I came last weekend with my daughter. As soon as you step onto the showgrounds, you can feel there is a magic here. It just all came flooding back to me. I couldn’t wait to show here. This place is very special. My daughter was shocked at how big the crowds were.”
BETH BIDGOOD rode her Uprising won three classes in the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’6’’ Hunter division, which gave Uprising the overall Grand Amateur-Owner 3’6’’ Hunter Championship and Bidgod the Leading Amateur-Owner 3’6’’ Hunter Rider award.
Bidgood and Uprising returned to the Dixon Oval on Saturday after laying down impressive rounds during Friday’s classes to win two first place ribbons.
On Saturday, Bidgood and Uprising once again took top honors, receiving first place in the Handy with a score of 90.
Bidgood’s collection of Devon blues would ultimately earn her the championship and the Morris H. Dixon Memorial Challenge Trophy in the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’6’’ Hunter division.
Becky Gochman and Catch Me were the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’6’’ Hunter reserve championship.
The Sambalino Award and Sambalino Perpetual Trophy was awarded to Laura Sexton and Set to Music, a horse the judges felt best exemplifies the classic hunter horse in movement, style and presence.
“I’ve been with him a little over three years," said Bidgood of Uprising. "I try to be really careful with him and not show him too much. Honestly, this is one of my goals. I mean to be champion here, the pomp and circumstance of it, it’s just so fun. Of course it would be great to do well at all of indoors, but this horse has taken me to places I’ve never thought that I would go, and with my trainers. I really can’t even ask anything else of him, and he’s already made so many dreams come true for me. My goal is for him to happy and sound, and he is right now, he’s super happy and sound and gets lots of treats and lots of love.”
“I’m lucky to be here, I was on the waitlist," said Bidgood. "I didn’t show last summer, so I’ve just had Florida to qualify. I almost didn’t come. and then at the last minute I decided Uprising was going. I’m so glad I did! He’s just been perfect ,and my trainers have helped me and taken it to a new level with me. I’ve never thought this would happen ever. The history of Devon is amazing, and it’s really just like the old county fair, so it’s super fun. I’m just thrilled and I’m so thrilled that I could do it here!”
Lisa Arena Davis returned to Devon after an absence of six years to earn the Grand Amateur Owner Hunter 3’3’’ championship title on Balou.
In 2012, Balouwas reserve champion in the Second Year Green division with Davis’ trainer, Amanda Steege.
This year, Davis returned to Devon to pilot the 14-year old gelding to a championship in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3’’ Hunters, and ultimately the Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3’’ Hunter championship.
Davis and Balou were also awarded the Jenepher McLean Kelly Challenge Trophy in honor of their championship.
On Friday, Davis placed first in the under saddle in Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3’’ Hunters.
On Saturday, Davis on Balou won another first in the stake class with a score of 85, and In the Handy, Daivs and Balou finished second, finishing with a score of 88.
Reserve champion in the Amateur Owner 18-35 3’3’’ Hunter division went to Stephanie Danhakl riding Enough Said.
Danhaki had a first, second, third, and fourth throughout the two days of competition to earn the reserve championship title.
“Balou is 14 years old this year," said Davis. "I’ve had him since he was 6 years old. This is my first time actually showing him at Devon. Yesterday he won the hack, which was great, and he was just super both days. He really tries to rise to the occasion. I just tried to keep my nerves in check and just try to enjoy being at Devon.”
“I’ve shown here before with my other horse, but I think it’s been five or six years since I’ve been," said Davis. "It’s my first time showing Balou here, and honestly it’s such a special place. He was reserve champion here in the Second Year Greens in 2012. There’s no other horse show like it.”