Watch Liza Boyd's winning Handy Hunter Round aboard Stella Styslinger's O'Ryan during the $5,000 WCHR Pro Finals!
Upper Marlboro, Maryland – Professional hunter competition concluded on Friday, October 6, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by World Equestrian Center, with the heralded $5,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Finals.
The top six professional hunter riders in the country went head-to-head over three rounds, before Liza Boyd, of Camden, South Carolina, emerged victorious at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center.
Boyd, Victoria Colvin, Tracy Fenney, John French, Scott Stewart and Hunt Tosh each contested the first two rounds on a borrowed horse donated for the class before bringing a horse of their own into the ring for the third and final Handy Hunter round.
Boyd earned an average score of 90 in the first round to move into the second place position and an average score of 90.50 in the second round would move her to the top of the leaderboard where she would remain through the end of the class.
“I had a little bit of luck of the draw,” said Boyd of her second mount, Redfield Farm’s Carolino. “I got the horse that was a little bit nervous the first round for Scott (Stewart), and Scott did a beautiful job of warming him up for me. So, I kind of felt like the amateur rider that got to get on after the pro rode it around. Thank you, Scott!”
The 2017 WCHR Pro Finals was one of the most closely contested Pro Finals in recent memory, with scores in the first and second rounds just fractions apart. It was up to riders to set themselves apart aboard their own mounts in the handy round, and they each pulled out all the stops.
“We had to go for it in the Handy. Everyone was amazing in the Handy,” said Boyd, who elected to ride her veteran partner O’Ryan, owned by Stella Styslinger. “I was actually probably the most nervous on O’Ryan, which I thought it was going to be the opposite going in, but I think Tori really put the pressure on us going first and doing those really, really hard turns.”
To add to the pressure, Boyd was aiming to better the leading point total posted by her close friend Tosh. The two had flip-flopped wins during the week, and Boyd was ready to take her turn.
“I did not want to do that left lead to the first jump at all—the angle that Tori did started the trend,” Boyd said. “Actually, when we walked the course, we didn’t even think about that. I almost didn’t do it, but then Hunt was so good, and I kind of wanted to beat him. We have had a little rivalry since the [age] 12-14 days, where I did win.”
“We have a picture to prove it,” added Tosh with a laugh.
“Then, this week, he beat me by half a point in the 3’6” Performance, so I was like, ‘I’m getting you tonight buddy, sorry,’” Boyd added with a smile.
Tosh collected the reserve championship title after riding Betsee Parker’s Gotham to a brilliant Handy Hunter round.
“It’s always a fun class,” he said. “We always laugh and tell jokes and try to help each other out a little bit or make each other nervous—I don’t know which it is! We had a good time.”
Following the conclusion of the class, Scott Stewart’s mount Private Life, owned by Betsee Parker, also received the Shapley’s Best Presented Award. The Far West Farms Perpetual Trophy, donated by the Karazissis Family and given to the donated horse with the highest cumulative points of the WCHR Pro Finals, was presented to Falcon, owned by The Barracks.
Check out the Capital Challenge Daily Update, below, for more results!