EAST DORSET, Vt.--Jennifer Kocher of Chester, N.Y., first won the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic on Sunday, July 8, during opening week of the 25th annual Vermont Summer Festival, and then the next Saturday, July 14, she won the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix.
The Festival runs through Aug. 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, Vt.
Kocher won the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic on Miss Moneypenny during the first week, and returned the next weekend to win the Grand Prix on Carlos.
Paul Jewell of Ewing, N.J., set the courses for the Grand Prix with six horses advancing to the jump-off.
Kocher won by nearly two seconds with a clear round in 42.65 seconds riding Miss Moneypenny, an entry owned by her husband and international grand prix rider Andrew Kocher.
Elizabeth Stroh of Grosse Pointe Farms, Fla., on Canoso finished second, clear in 44.44 seconds, and Canadian Alexanne Thibault was third on Sanjay in 46.14 seconds.
CHERYL SCOTT of Franklin Lakes, N.J.,, was fourth on Justify with four faults in 48.93, and Sara Sprague of Richmond, Mass., was fifth with nine faults on Nakich Double Dutch.
Kocher, 35, has had the ride on Miss Moneypenny since the end of the winter circuit, and that has already proven to be a winning combination with several top finishes to its credit during the spring and summer seasons.
“She’s a winner,” said Kocher of the 9-year-old Holsteiner mare. “If she’s on, it’s hard to beat her, but she’s sensitive and quirky so she has to do it her own way and that’s the only way.”
Kocher started Miss Moneypenny in the low and medium junior/amateur-owner ranks, but she proved the mare’s capability to jump the bigger height in the Classic.
“There was one inside turn in the beginning that I didn’t do because she is not great at turning inside, so I risked it going around," said Kocher. "Then, I let her go a little faster because she’s naturally really fast and doesn’t spend a lot of time in the air.”
Kocher returned to the Vermont Summer Festival this summer having last competing at the event as a junior in 2002.
“It’s like a vacation and a horse show at the same time,” she said. “The weather and the atmosphere are wonderful and they have done a great job with the new footing.”
IN THE GRAND PRIX the following week, Alan Wade of Tipperary, Ireland, set the courses for a field of 19 with only two horses advancing to the jump-off.
Kevin Mealiff of Ireland went first on Goldbreaker and had one rail idown in 42.36 seconds, and Kocher, riding Carlos, owned by her husband Andrew Kocher, also had one rail for four faults, but she stopped the clock at 42.21 seconds for the win.
“We bought Carlos off a video two years ago,” said Kocher. “Andy bought him as a horse for him to ride, but he has turned out to be perfect for this level as well as the high amateurs. I started showing him in Florida this year, and he was really big and strong for me. I didn’t think I was going to be able to ride him.
“I spent a lot of time with him, took my time getting to know him really well, and I think once he realized he didn’t have to jump that big he was a different horse,” she said. “The best thing about him is that he is 100 percent brave and will never let you down. I’m getting to know his stride now so he is much easier for me to ride.”
Kocher's groom, Sara Zeerip, wionthe weekly Grand Prix Groom Award and was presented with a monogrammed jacket and coolerette.
“Sara started working for me this spring and is one of the most dedicated people to the horses that I have ever met,” said Kocher. “She rides Carlos for me at home and would spend all day and night with him if she needed to. She knows everything there is to know about him – if he needs something, if he didn’t get enough sleep, and even if he wants one more treat. That’s really important for the team to have somebody like that.”
Jennifer will give her horses a week of rest before moving on to compete in Canada, saying, “I wish I could stay here all summer. The feeling of this show is enjoyable. The footing, in my opinion, is almost perfect; the course designers are great, and the jumps are nice. I have had a really good couple weeks here!”
EMMA SCHAUDER of Greenwich, Conn.,on In The Loop won the $5,000 Hunter Derby on Thursday, July 12.,
The innovative derby course encompassed two rings with both traditional hunter jumps and derby-style fences.
Schauder scored a pair of 86s to sit on a total score of 172 after two rounds, whileLinda Orton of Stamford, Vt., earned the high score of 88 in the opening round and returned to post an 82 over the handy track to finish second on a final score of 170 riding Demi, and Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Ala., rode Jerez Mai to scores of 78 and 85 for a 163 final score and third place.
Deirdre Catani of Pembroke, MA, and Gronk 87, took fourth with scores of 71 and 83 for a 154 final, and rounding out the top five was Lindsey Demont of Littleton, MA, who scored 151 after combining scores of 72 and 79 riding Cassius T for owned Holman Imports, LLC.
“This horse is incredibly special to me,” said Schauder, 23, of In The Loop. “I picked him out from Stal Wilten on a 24-hour trip to Holland. Since then, he has done nothing but win for us. But the derbies are where this horse shines. He is so handy and loves the challenge of inside turns in the handy.
“Today there weren’t too many options to go inside, but we did from one to two and then the rest was a winding handy where pace and a consistent rhythm was most important,” said Schauder, who just turned professional in the fall after graduating from the University of Georgia in 2017. “I stayed an amateur for a year, but I really love teaching as much as I love riding, so I made the decision to go professional so I can help out my family’s business, Country Lane Farm, more.”
Led by Schauder’s parents, Fred and Christina, Country Lane Farm makes a point to attend the Vermont Summer Festival every summer.
“This is the big hurrah for our barn and we have 15 horses here this year,” said Schauder. “It’s such a special show for our barn because there are classes for everyone and it’s nice to be able to enjoy other things in Vermont as well as spend our days at this lovely show.”