The 73rd Annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show wrapped up Weeks I and II at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas. It was twice the fun for Christian Heineking and Peter Pletcher, as each rider won the featured Jumper and Hunter competitions, respectively, both weeks.
The tradition that surrounds this USEF Heritage horse show continues in 2018, with the first week highlighting American Saddlebreds, sponsored by Bluebonnet Farm, in addition to Hunters and Jumpers. Pin Oak is also thrilled to welcome back title sponsors Irish Day Farm and PJP Farm, for weeks II and III, respectively.
This year, Pin Oak offers Premier Hunters and USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider competition, three USHJA International Hunter Derbies with $110,000 in prize money, five Grand Prix events, sponsored by Oasis Petroleum/Amalaya Investments, The Hildebrand Fund and Wells Fargo, as well as two U25 events sponsored by Booth Show Jumpers. Big ‘thank you’ to our ring sponsors for this year, Memorial Park Hunters, Saddle Shoppe and The Lincoln Motor Company.
While celebrating Week II’s Northern Trust Fiesta Ringside Gala on Friday night, Pin Oak proudly presented a check for $198,000 to Texas Children’s Hospital. Since 1945, the horse show has now donated more than $6.8 million to the hospital thanks to the generous support of sponsors and donors.
During Weeks I and II, it was Christian Heineking who led the victory gallop in the Amalaya Investments/Oasis Petroleum $30,000 Grand Prix as well as the The Hildebrand Fund $30,000 Grand Prix.
Heineking, of Hudson Oaks, Texas, won both weeks aboard NKH Calango, a 10-year-old, Belgian Warmblood gelding.
And while his consecutive victories were impressive, what made the events even more special was that his family joined him center stage—Christian’s wife, Erin Davis-Heineking and “cousin” Daniel Bedoya finished right behind him in both Grand Prix classes. Bedoya was second riding Quattro each week and third with Quilona V Z during Week I, and Erin placed fourth aboard Leonie Week I and moved up to place third Week II.
“We’re all related, believe it or not,” said Erin. “My cousin’s daughter is married to Daniel, so, basically, he’s my second cousin-in-law. We call each other cousins, and that’s why we had to get a photo together during the awards. We’re all so close.”
Erin just started showing Leonie, a 9-year-old Oldenburg mare and returned to the show ring at Pin Oak after nearly a year off. “She’s Christian’s horse, and I started showing her last week,” said Erin. “She was in the jump-offs both times this week (also in the Welcome). She’s a really good horse.”
Erin was first to go in the six-horse jump-off during the Week II Grand Prix, with her husband, Bedoya and Briley Koerner set to chase her down. With a double-clear effort, she set the pace–but the guys caught her.
“I realized that being married to Christian, and since we go to the same horse shows, I’ve been second to him a lot,” she said laughing. “I think if we weren’t married and went to different horse shows I might have a lot more blue ribbons, but it’s worth it! It means a lot. He’s made me a much better rider.”
Koerner placed fourth aboard her impressive For Jef VD Wezelse and won the U25 section, sponsored by Booth Show Jumpers. After securing the victory aboard Calango, Christian chose not to jump off aboard his other two qualified mounts, NKH Selena, winner earlier in the week of the $25,000 Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix, and NKH Carrido. So, it was a family sweep of the top three places.
Peter Pletcher, of PJP Farm in Magnolia, Texas, topped the card both weeks in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby aboard Jamie Jarvis’ Mystique. Pletcher also took second and third places Week II with Bring It On and Quintessential.
“I think it’s great that all three horses went as well as they did,” he said. “Two of them are basically brand new rides, and Mystique is just getting really good at the derbies. She loves it, jumps great and is really careful. It all worked well.”
Jarvis, who shows Mystique in the Amateur-Owner Hunter section, was thrilled with her mare’s performances. “It’s super special to me to win here, and we’re going for the Trifecta,” she said as Pin Oak starts the third week on April 3. “It’s so nice to be back at Pin Oak and show with your friends and colleagues. Everyone pulls for everyone, and it’s really nice. I’m thankful for Peter—he puts his whole heart and soul into it.”
Pletcher also won the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby during Week 2 aboard Hollis Hughes Grace’s flashy chestnut Hoopla.
“He’s fun and super straightforward,” said Grace of the 9-year-old gelding she purchased on March 14. “When I tried him, I loved his jump and that he could take a joke like no one’s business, because I can give plenty and be a real comedian on him! And this was Peter’s first time to sit on him, right before the class.
“I showed him in two classes this morning in the Adult Amateurs and showed him the distances not to take,” Grace joked. “And, then Peter got on him and showed him the distances that would probably be a better choice.”
Dana Vollbracht’s Davidson and Amberlee Wentz won the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Week I.
Barbara Bailey’s West End Girl (Westporte—Sands Of Time) took Best Young Horse honors both weeks with Robert Moyar handling.
“She’s coming along nicely. She had a successful year this year and is about to get underway under saddle. We were blessed to have Oliver Brown join us, and what an exciting class,” said Moyar of the Virginia-based trainer/handler who traveled to Texas and earned the reserve Best Young Horse title with Diane Garza’s Rococo. “It was a wonderful victory, so we’re happy. I know Barb is extremely happy to have bred her, because you never know what you’re going to get in the beginning. And to see them grow and progress is really rewarding. This has been her year as a 3-year-old. She’s really blossomed.”
During Week I, the American Saddlebred divisions, sponsored by Bluebonnet Farm, took their turn around The Lincoln Motor Company Main Indoor Ring.
Jack Magill drove Roger Gibson’s Lulu Frost to the Fine Harness Championship in a highly competitive class. Magill also claimed the Three-Gaited Stake aboard Ridgewood’s Special Agent for owner Mary Jean Hooper.
In the Five-Gaited Stake, it was Janice Henderson’s Night Contender taking the victory pass with rider Paul Cates.
The Junior/Amateur exhibitors rode hard for their championships, as well, with Catherine Street claiming the Five Gaited Amateur/Junior Exhibitor tricolor aboard Blue Curaco. Cathy Coleman topped a strong field of nine to win the Three-Gaited Amateur/Junior Exhibitor championship aboard Alta Dare Farm’s Madeira’s Blue Ruby.
And in the largest class of the show, the Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship, it was Joan Cantrell earning top honors aboard The Musical Link under trainer Tommy Benton.
Week III of Pin Oak runs April 3-8 and features the $25,000 Pin Oak Charity Grand Prix and Sponsor Reception presented by Brookside Pine Farms on Thursday, the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and Modern Luxury ‘Bourbon, Bowties & Big Hats’ Derby Reception on Friday night, and the Wells Fargo $30,000 Grand Prix and Ringside Gala on Saturday night.
Our 2018 Honored Heroes from Texas Children’s Hospital, Lila & Gavyn, will also be honored on Saturday during the Grand Prix Opening Ceremony. Read their stories on page 8 of the Pin Oak Program.
For complete results, please visit HorseShowsOnline.