By: Violet Forbes on Oct. 20th, 2017

Molly Ashe of Wellington, Fla., and Picobello Choppin PC, owned by Louisburg Farm, raced to the top in the $35,000 Keystone Classic, sponsored by the World Equestrian Center. Ashe had aimed for the speed class all season, so the win made the trip to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund, especially meaningful.

"This class was our main focus for "Chops". This was the one that I really wanted him to do well in," said Ashe. "We won the first night in the 1.45m class. I didn't go all out with him then, but I wanted to get him acclimated because I never showed him indoors and then he was amazing again tonight."

The field of 18 horse and rider combinations yielded seven clear rounds on the Bernardo Cabral-designed course. Hayley Waters (USA), going third in the order, had the first clear in 58.96 seconds on Galous, owned by Chuck Waters. Several more riders had faulty rounds until Kelli Cruciotti (USA) went clear on Chamonix H, owned by Serenity Farm, and two seconds faster to finish in a time of 56.83. Francois Lamontagne (CAN) went just a bit faster on Vigo Massuere in 56.72 seconds to take over the lead for about a minute. Ashe followed the Canadian entry and shaved off even more time going clear in a time of 54.06. Beat Mandli (SUI) posed a threat going clear in 55.81 seconds on Dibatsja, owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC for second place.

"I had a plan," said Ashe. "As I was warming up there was only one slow clear so I thought I was going to back off a little bit and then Francois went clear right before me like a flying Ninja, so I thought there goes that plan. I ended up doing six strides from fence one to two instead of seven. He was just so handy that I was able to take off some time there. He's just a quick horse. He's true to the jump, so that makes him even faster because you can take a shot.

"This horse is one of the barn favorites. He's got so much personality, so it's nice to have it all come together for him and turn into such a good horse," said Ashe of the 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood. "That's what means the most to me, I am so grateful to his owners, my sponsors and the team behind him. It's nice to win the class for them."

Lamontagne and Vigo Massuere were named Open Jumper Speed Champions, receiving the Showday Farm Challenge Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ziff. Ashe and Picobello Choppin PC were Reserve Champions.  

On Friday afternoon, the Amateur Owner Jumpers were featured in the final class of the division, in the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur Owner Jumper Classic, sponsored by the Doubleday Foundation. Jazz Johnson Merton took the fastest track on Corona SB to top the four horse jump-off and win the class as well as the Amateur Owner Jumper Championship and the Leading Amateur Owner Jumper Rider title. It was an emotional win for the Oldwick, N.J., resident.

"I'm so excited," said Johnson Merton. "I just turned 40 a few days ago, so it's so great to win. I remember watching the Amateur Owner Jumpers while doing the A/O Hunters and thinking that I'll never be good enough to do that. I just can't say thank you enough to the people who have helped me."

Half the field of eight moved forward from the first round into the jump-off with two riders going clear. Kelly Tropin set the mark on Don't Stop O, owned by Libertas Farm LLC, going clear in a respectable time of 28.550 seconds for the runner-up spot.

"I thought my time was beatable," said Tropin. "There was one place where I could have done one less stride, but my goal was to ride an efficient round. The jump-off course was hard, so I was hoping that my clear was enough, but I'm really happy with my horse."

Johnson Merton left out a stride going into the third fence, which seemed to make the difference, stopping the timers in 27.307 seconds.

"In the jump-off I just went for it and I trusted my horse and she saved the day," Johnson Merton. "I trust her so much. I have been showing her now for three years and I just thought I should probably add a stride, but I didn't and she completely saved my butt. She's such an amazing animal and I'm just incredibly lucky to have found her and be able to do this. I wasn't thinking about placing, the less that I think about the ribbon, the better I am able to show my horse a good ride and then the winning and success follows."

Olivia Chowdry riding Darcness Z, owned by Atlas Equine Holdings, LLC, had a rail for four faults as well as Haley Schaufeld on Harley 86, owned by River Farm Sporthorses. Schaufield was on track to take the lead, and in the end had the fastest time in the jump-off going in 27.041 seconds, but knocked down the last fence for third place. The Leesburg, Va., resident earned enough points in the division to be named Reserve Champion.

"It is really exciting to win the Reserve Championship," Schaulfeld. "I usually don't go fast, but I was having so much fun out there that I ended up having the fastest time, and then knocked down the last rail unfortunately, but my horse was great and I am really happy with him."

Johnson Merton received the Hunterdon Challenge Trophy as the Amateur Owner Jumper Champion, sponsored by the James V. Tanzola Family. She also was named Leading Amateur Owner Jumper Rider, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wolf, and was presented with the E. Corbett Rider Memorial Perpetual Trophy.