By: on Oct. 19th, 2019

Harrisburg, PA - October 19, 2019 - Phoenix Cooke of Eastlake, OH won the highly competitive $12,500 North American League (NAL) Adult Jumper Final Presented by SmartPak on Saturday at the 2019 Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS).

Eight out of 31 entries qualified for the jump-off in the New Holland Arena, where Michel Vaillancourt designed a track that presented numerous options to save time. Cooke’s 13-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse mare Skys Burnin’ Blue nipped around the course easily, posting a time of 32.170 seconds, which held as the fastest clear in the deciding round.

“I have to say round one I went in feeling pretty confident. I wasn’t too nervous or anything,” said Cooke, who works as an association relationship manager for PNC. “I watched one (jump-off round) and then I had to warm up. I don’t like to watch a lot because I start overthinking. I know my track, I know what I need to do, and I just have to execute. … My goal was just to go in there and trust my horse, and it was my day so I was very happy with that.”

Skys Burnin’ Blue, also known as “Gracie,” has come a long way since Cooke’s trainer, Stefanie Portman, rescued her as a skinny, unstarted 4-year-old. The mare has paid their kindness back in spades with her efforts in the ring, which have earned impressive accolades, including the USHJA Zone 5 Adult Jumper Championship and USHJA Zone 5 Adult Jumper Horse of the Year.

“She’s a cat. She’s very sensitive. She’s very, very quick. She loves her job so much that she outthinks me,” Cooke said. “No matter what arena I go in, I feel confident that it’s going to be okay whether I make a mistake or not. We just have such a wonderful bond.”

Finishing second in the division was Angela Swanson of Chicago, IL and Zafira, who finished less than a second behind Cooke with a clear round in 32.920 seconds. Alison Flury of Minooka, IL and Role Model finished just a fraction of a second slower with a time of 33.040 in the jump-off for third place.

$12,500 NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Finals
1 Phoenix Cooke and Skys Burnin’ Blue | 0/0/32.170 | $3,250
2 Angela Swanson and Zafira | 0/0/32.920 | $2,325
3 Alison Flury and Role Model | 0/0/33.040 | $1,500
4 Stephanie King and Lexus | 0/0/33.050 | $925
5 Molly Athey and Gold Lux | 0/0/35.230 | $775
6 Charlotte Powers and Escot 6 | 0/0/37.380 | $725
7 Jeannette Pettit and Lea | 0/0/38.150 | $650
8 Stefani Green and Wender R | 0/12 | $500
9 Elizabeth Johnson and Lola | 4/54.830 | $500
10 Hannah Showell and Penn | 4/56.410 | $450
11 Jennie Towner and Britta of Berga | 4/56.950 | $450
12 Barbara Rochford and Butterfly Ambition | 4/58.400 | $450

The NAL hosts year-long series in five divisions – Children's Jumper Presented by EquiFit, Adult Jumper Presented by SmartPak, Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Presented by Horseflight, Children's Hunter and Adult Hunter.

The NAL qualifying season runs from September 1 through August 31. NAL qualifying classes are open to all competitors, but only current members are awarded points. By joining the NAL, riders can accumulate the points necessary to qualify for the West Coast Finals at the International Jumping Festival hosted by Blenheim EquiSports in San Juan Capistrano, CA, and the National Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg. Annual memberships are only $40 per rider.

At the Finals, the NAL distributed gift bags of treats for horses and riders to all entrants in each of the NAL's five division Finals. Each winner received an array of prizes. Top finishers received gift certificates generously donated by EquiFit, SmartPak and The Clothes Horse, and winners were dressed out in an NAL coolerette. The following sponsors help make the NAL Finals a popular series for junior and amateur competitors: The Clothes Horse, EquiFit, Horseflight, SmartPak, Schindler, and the Canfield Family.

For complete results of the PNHS, please go to www.Ryegate.com.

Now in its 74th year, the PNHS hosts over 1,400 of the best hunter, jumper and equitation riders from across the nation – including Olympic veterans and National Champions. USEF Premier rated for Hunters, USEF 6* and FEI CSI3* rated for Jumpers, the PNHS is a designated “USEF Heritage Competition,” an honor reserved for a select group of exceptional competitions.

Shoppers Delight
With everything under one roof, the PNHS also plays host to some of the best horse show shopping! More than 60 specialty boutique shops offer hours of shopping on two levels and range from high-end shops reminiscent of Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive including antiques, fine art, clothing, gifts, accessories, rider apparel, horse tack and much more! And stop by the Silent Auction – all 10 days in the PA Room on the upper concourse.

Established in 1945, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show hosts the country’s top competitors in one of the largest indoor horse shows. Proceeds from the horse show benefit The Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, providing support for therapeutic riding programs and equine rescue groups. Make plans to join us October 10 – 19, 2019 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. For more information on the show or to donate to the Foundation, please visit www.PAnational.org.