Claire Marie Diamond and Stoneledge Special Request Secure $5,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Championship – West Win
Claire Marie Diamond rode Stoneledge Special Request to victory in the $5,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Championship – West. Photo by McCool Photography
June 26, 2022 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – Claire Marie Diamond made an 11-hour trip from her hometown in Utah to Blenheim EquiSports in San Juan Capistrano, CA, for the $5,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Championship – West, and the 13-year-old made the trip very worthwhile. Aboard her own Stoneledge Special Request, Diamond clinched the win in the derby championship class, held on Saturday, June 25, during the Blenheim June Classic III.
“It didn’t feel real for a while; it was unbelievable!” said Diamond of her win. “I competed in it last year, and I got 10th, which was really big for me at the time, but I’ve wanted to win this for years.”
Diamond and Stoneledge Special Request were one of 32 entries to take on the Scott Starnes-designed classic hunter style course before the top 12 returned for the handy round. At the end of the first round, Diamond held the lead with an average score from the two judging panels of 86.25. Sitting tied in second place with a score of 83.5 were Kathryn Padilla on Buzzworthy and Kalea Iuliano riding So Dapper.
Claire Marie Diamond and Stoneledge Special Request. Photo by McCool Photography
“I usually do get really nervous, but after a really hard week in the [West Coast Pony Challenge] the previous two days, I wasn’t really expecting much so I wasn’t very nervous going into my first round,” said Diamond, who trains with Devon Gibson of Seahorse Riding Club. “My second round, I was really calm at first; warming up I was fine, and then when I walked up to the gate, I got really nervous right when I was about to go in.”
Any nerves Diamond may have had did not show, as she and Stoneledge Special Request earned a handy round average score of 82.5 to guarantee them the win with an overall total score of 168.75. In addition to the championship honor, the pair earned the High Score Large award.
“She was great; she’s usually really good,” said Diamond of Stoneledge Special Request, a 15-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare that she has had for three years. “It’s been such a fun experience getting to learn and grow with her. She has made a huge impact on my riding career; she is definitely not the fanciest pony at the ring, but she has the biggest heart.”
High Score award winners Claire Marie Diamond on Stoneledge Special Request, Madeline Luddy on Northwind Just Josh’n, and Kathryn Padilla on Buzzworthy. Photo by McCool Photography
With a second-round score of 83.25 and a 166.75 total score, Padilla and Buzzworthy, owned by Highland Farm, LLC, took the reserve championship honor and the High Score Small award. Iuliano and her own So Dapper rounded out the top three with a handy score of 79 for a total score of 162.5. Fourth place and the High Score Medium award went to Madeline Luddy riding Northwind Just Josh’n.
For the win, Diamond was presented with a Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks belt, an Essex Classics show shirt, a pair of Parlanti paddock boots, a custom embroidered scrim, an engraved picture frame, a saddle pad, a flower garland, a trophy, and more. As the winning trainer, Gibson was awarded a tack room pillow, sponsored by Nick Byassee of Equestrian Design, LLC.
Smallwood Mystic and Why Not? Win in Blenheim West Coast Pony Challenge, presented by USHJA Zone 10
In addition to hosting the $5,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Championship – West, the Blenheim June Classic III featured the Blenheim West Coast Pony Challenge, presented by USHJA Zone 10, and a cupcake party and ice cream social, sponsored by Pegasus Show Stable and San Marcos Training, respectively.
Earning victories in the West Coast Pony Challenge were Lauren Padilla and Smallwood Mystic in the $2,500 West Coast Pony Hunter Classic, presented by Asuncion Valley Farm, and Chloe Eynon and Why Not? in the $1,000 West Coast Green Pony Hunter Classic, also presented by Asuncion Valley Farm.
Padilla and Smallwood Mystic, owned by Highland Farm LLC, earned scores of 84 and 88 for their winning 172 total.
“[Smallwood Mystic] is so fun to ride,” said Padilla of the 13-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding that she’s ridden for the past year. “He is pretty easy, except in the beginning, I have to really strike up my canter and make sure he’s moving off my leg. Then after that, it’s good.”
“I’ve been coming to Blenheim for forever,” continued Padilla, 12, who trains with Christa Endicott at Pegasus Show Stable. “I like showing at Blenheim because they make stuff fun. I love the grass fields because normally a lot of other shows down here do not have grass; it’s really nice and spacious here.”
For Eynon and Why Not? a second-round score of 80 helped them secure the win in the $1,000 West Coast Green Pony Hunter Classic.
“It feels really special because I’ve only had [Why Not?] for two months,” said Eynon, 11, of the 6-year-old gelding “It feels really great that he has been so willing to do everything; being able to do the West Coast Pony [Challenge] is like a dream come true. Obviously, I wanted to do well, but I was just hoping to do well and get the distances. I never expected that I would win it!”
Eynon, who trains with Seahorse Riding Club, continued, “I’ve been showing at Blenheim for three years. I like that a lot of my friends are there, so it’s fun to do the shows with them. I like that we all get to support each other; I think that’s cool.”
All Pony Hunter champions and grand champions during the June Classic III received an embroidered scrim sheet from Outdoor Outfitters; all champions and reserve champions received a box of Harlow’s Heavenly Horse Treats; and all reserve champions and reserve grand champions received Blenheim gift bags. For their victories, Padilla and Eynon each also received riding gloves from American Equus, a Shady Lady face covering, and $50 gift certificates to Loushia. All grand champions also received $50 gift certificates to Loushia.
Chloe Eynon and Why Not?. Photo by McCool Photography
Both Padilla and Eynon will now set their sights on the USEF Pony Finals in Lexington, KY, in August.
“We qualified for Pony Finals, and my goal is to place there,” said Eynon.
For Padilla, she hopes to continue to improve each time out. “I just want to be consistent on him. I would like to progress with him and get better and better and better every time that I ride him.”
For full results of all pony competition held during the Blenheim June Classic III, visit blenheim.showgroundslive.com.