Champey Sisters Unbeatable in $5,000 John Fritz M&S/NAL/Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, in memory of East Side Drive

Hunter Champey and Caprice. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Hunter Champey and Caprice. Photo by Paws and Rewind

GLADSTONE, N.J. — May 3, 2019 — Weekend competition at the 2019 Garden State Horse Show, produced by the Junior Essex Troop, kicked off on Friday morning with the second day of jumper competition followed by afternoon equitation classes. Hunter Champey and Caprice proved unbeatable yet again in the day’s $5,000 John Fritz M&S/NAL/ Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, while Emma Sameth sealed the deal in the THIS National Children’s Medal .

This is the first year that the Garden State Horse Show is being hosted at the United States Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters, the iconic Hamilton Farm. Top ‘AA’ rated hunter and jumper competition continues through Sunday, May 5.

The Champey sisters, consisting of Hunter, Morgan, and Dakota, have been on fire across the jumper divisions and sealed the top five placings in Friday’s Classic. Hunter, just 14, set a blazing jump-off time of 37.352 seconds with her champion mare, Caprice, and picked up the red ribbon with Andy Kocher’s Hill Top Van Het Gavershof. Hunter and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Dulf Van Den Bisschop x Virena Van Het Gavershof) crossed the timers in 39.290 seconds to finish just behind herself and MDHT Equestrian, LLC’s 11-year-old Warmblood mare (Kashmir Van Schuttershof x Jalisca Houtheem Z) leading time. Hunter’s older sister, Morgan, piloted the MDHT Equestrian LLC’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Diego, to the third spot after ending in 40.158 seconds and MDHT Equestrian, LLC’s Flash to fourth. Dakota, also 14, rounded out the top five on Baronesse.  

Hunter Champey and Hill Top Van Het Gavershof. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Hunter Champey and Hill Top Van Het Gavershof. Photo by Paws and Rewind

While there is definitely sibling rivalry between the girls, the three sisters look out for each other both at home and in the show ring.

“Obviously, we want our entire team to do their best,” the girls explained, “so, while we’re competitive, we are always looking out for each other in the show ring and giving each other pointers on course.”

“We do a lot of group lessons at home that include gymnastics and a majority of flatwork together,” they continued. “Morgan started riding first, but we quickly followed in her footsteps and we also have a younger sister that has started showing her ponies recently as well.”

The Classic was named in honor of John “Jack” Fritz who held the title of Director of Horsemanship and Commandant of the Junior Essex Troop after serving in both WWII and Korea. He is fondly remembered by members of the Junior Essex Troop as a mentor and consummate horseman. In addition to John Fritz’s memory, the class was also dedicated to East Side Drive, an incredible equine athlete owned and loved by Patricia Byrne. East Side Drive started his life as a western trail horse but after partnering with Byrne, the gelding was quickly discovered to have an affinity for jumping. He went on to have a long, successful career in the Amateur-Owner and Open Jumper divisions, was ASHA National Champion in 1977 and reserve champion the four years following. Byrne remembers him as her horse of a lifetime and always a crowd favorite.

Morgan Champey and Diego. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Morgan Champey and Diego. Photo by Paws and Rewind

In the afternoon equitation classes, Emma Sameth picked up a win in the THIS National Children’s Medal with Contiko. Sameth returned in the second-place position with Windham Hill’s 17-year-old Westphalian gelding after only four of the 20 original competitors were asked to return to test. Those accompanying Sameth included Logan Thomas, Autumn Siliato, and Elizabeth Dinorcia. Sameth’s plan with trainer Michael Meyers was to stand out to the judges and it paid off as she moved up from second to take home the blue ribbon.

“My trainer and I decided that after watching the first couple of horses go, we needed to stand out if we were going to move up in the class,” she said. “We decided to make our approach to the first fence a little bit tighter and different than what the others had done, and it paid off.”

Emma Sameth and Contiko. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Emma Sameth and Contiko. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Sameth’s mother, Kristen, is also an avid horsewoman and won Wednesday’s Adult Amateur Hunter Classic. “It’s so much fun getting to share this sport with my mom and with my siblings as well, we really have fun doing it together as a family.”

Second place was awarded to Elizabeth Dinorcia, third to Logan Thomas, and Autumn Siliato rounded out the top four.

Competition at the Garden State Horse Show will resume at 7:00a.m. on Saturday, May 4 with the highlight class featuring the $25,000 EquiJet Grand Prix. For a full schedule, please visit www.horseshowing.com.


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Carrie Wirth