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Phoenix Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue Bring Home Adult Jumper Championship at Devon Horse Show

by Phelps Media Group | May 31, 2016, 9:34 AM EST

Phoenix Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue (Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group)
Phoenix Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue (Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group)
Devon, Pa.
- After a long road together, Phoenix Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue will bring home the best thing of all: a Devon blue ribbon. The pair produced the only double-clear effort in the $7,500 North American League Adult Amateur Jumper Classic at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. Their impressive performance was also good enough to earn the Adult Amateur Jumper Championship after two days of competition.

"This is a big one for us," said Cooke. "We have been working really hard all year. Devon has been the big goal. It's always exciting just to qualify. It's an honor just to be here."

Nine entries advanced to the final tiebreaker during Monday night's highlight event, but in an effort to set a fast pace the rails fell throughout the course. Barbara Rochford and Chili Pepper were the first to incur four faults, but their slower time of 41.296 seconds would only hold up for fourth place.

Sheila Ann Sadighi and Ulano (Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group)
Sheila Ann Sadighi and Ulano (Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group)
Sheila Ann Sadighi and Ulano bested Rochford, despite lowering the height of a vertical on their way to a time of 39.488 seconds. That time would eventually earn Sadighi second place. The third place ribbon went to Maureen Blackstone and CL Debutante, whose four-fault time of 40.073 seconds slipped between Rochford and Sadighi.

Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue entered the Dixon Oval midway through the tiebreaker for their chance at the blue ribbon. Despite seeing the competition struggle for a speedy and clear round, they still went for the time and secured it. The duo clocked the fastest round of the night in 39.311 seconds and left all the rails intact, galloping away with the win.

Skys Burnin Blue is a 10-year-old Appendix Quarter Horse that Cooke's trainer Stefanie Portman rescued six years ago. Together, Portman and Cooke worked to slowly bring the talented young mare up through the ranks.

"It was tough for me," admitted Cooke. "I did hunters for 12 years and I had never been on a speedy horse. We worked from the bottom, and we did the 2'6" jumpers for a while. I've always liked the projects and I've always liked to work hard for things in life."

Cooke graduated from college in 2015 and currently works at J.P. Morgan, while also trying to balance her competitive equestrian dreams. "I just started a new position and there is a lot to learn," said Cooke. "I go from work to the barn and luckily, Stephanie is willing to wait for me. She's hard on me, but it pays off and that's what makes good horsemanship. She always makes horsemanship the number one priority."

Phoenix Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue Win $7,500 NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Classic (Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group)
Phoenix Cooke and Skys Burnin Blue Win $7,500 NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Classic (Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group)
Skys Burnin Blue has been the perfect partner for the young adult, who tries to ride four-to-five days a week. "She is very brave and very honest," said Portman. "For a working adult it's a nice thing to go in the ring and not have to worry. Skys Burnin Blue is way more than we ever thought she would be.  We started her off as a hunter for a year just to get the basics. She was just too sparky to do the hunters, so we tried the jumpers. We had goals and we thought it would be great if she did the 3' and she has just been so much more. She never lets you down. She's so much fun!"

Monday night marked the conclusion of the Adult Jumper division, but on Tuesday the Open Jumpers will get underway with the $50,000 Devon Welcome Stake, the first of the FEI CSI4* events at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. Highlight events during the week include the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*.

The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is the longest running and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the United States. With the grandeur of Philadelphia's prestigious Main Line setting the stage, the event features a world-class field that annually ranks among the most prominent internationally. The event also includes the Country Fair that offers world-class shopping, rides and games for kids, multiple dining options and special entertainment events. 

For more information, please visit www.DevonHorseShow.net.

RESULTS: $7,500 NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Classic
1    1164    SKYS BURNIN BLUE     Phoenix Cooke     0    0    0    60.819    0    0    0    39.311   
2    205    ULANO     SHEILA ANN SADIGHI     0    0    0    65.053    4    0    4    39.488   
3    1010    CL DEBUTANTE     MAUREEN BLACKSTONE     0    0    0    63.011    4    0    4    40.073  
4    139    CHILI PEPPER     BARBARA ROCHFORD     0    0    0    65.851    4    0    4    41.296   
5    107    ORLANDO     HOPE BATCHELOR     0    0    0    66.965    4    0    4    42.475   
6    140    VEGAS GENTLEMAN     WENDY CHAPOT NUNN     0    0    0    61.193    8    0    8    38.430   
7    138    FACE VALUE     WENDY CHAPOT NUNN     0    0    0    62.027    8    0    8    41.600   
8    585    CONTENDRA     SAWYER EVANS     0    0    0    62.422    8    0    8    41.672

Strong Start for Nick Haness and Chris Payne in Professional Hunter Divisions at Devon Horse Show  
Nick Haness and Technicolor (Lauren Baker/Phelps Media Group)
Nick Haness and Technicolor (Lauren Baker/Phelps Media Group)
It's Memorial Monday at the Devon Horse Show, and amidst a sea of red, white and blue spectators, the professional hunter divisions took center stage in the Dixon Oval.

The First Year Green Hunter division kicked off the morning, with California-based rider Nick Haness stealing the show on Technicolor. The duo's back-to-back scores of 91 and 92 secured them the blue ribbon in both over fences classes.

"When I got on him today to show, I knew he was on his game," Haness said. "I know him pretty well, and today he for sure came out feeling like it was going to be a good day. Today was extra special for me because I've never won a class at Devon before. Winning one gave me goosebumps all morning, so winning two, I'm still in shock. It's very exciting. I'm just happy that it went well and he was good."

Haness said he imported Technicolor in 2015 and sold him to Lindsay Maxwell, who trains with Archie Cox and shows in the Amateur Owner Hunters. Haness described the 6-year-old gelding as a natural athlete.

He is pretty much the most amazing feeling horse to ride," Haness said. "It's nice to be able to ride a horse that is so natural and that you don't have to create anything. He just goes around the course and does it himself. He's my ride. I think that's why we get along. It's nice to be able to let go and just go to the jumps. He gets there and just fires over them, so it's a lot of fun."

Taking second place to Haness in the first over-fences class were Kelley Farmer and Publicized with a score of 89. Third place went to Jennifer Alfano and The Exchange with a score of 88.

In the second round, the results were the same, with the second place ribbon going Farmer and Publicized, who earned a score of 90, while Alfano and The Exchange placed third with an 88.

Hunt Tosh and Patriot (Lauren Baker/Phelps Media Group)
Hunt Tosh and Patriot (Lauren Baker/Phelps Media Group)
The Green Conformation Hunters were the next to show, with Kelley Farmer and It's Me claiming the blue in the first class with a score of 91. The red ribbon was awarded to Scott Steward, who earned a score of 90 aboard William Hill. Hunt
Tosh and Patriot claimed the third place ribbon with a score of 88.5.

In the second class, Tosh and Patriot came back and caught the judges' attention, earning a score of 93 to edge out the pack. Stewart took home both second and third on Denver and Fun, respectively.

In the Green Conformation Model, the judges pinned the blue ribbon on Stewart and Fun, while Larry Glefke and It's Me took second. Third place went to Farmer and Clever Conversation, while Tosh and Patriot ended up fourth.

Chris Payne and Truman (Lauren Baker/Phelps Media Group)
Chris Payne and Truman (Lauren Baker/Phelps Media Group)
The Second Year Green Hunter division rounded out the day's hunter action, where Christopher Payne and Truman's high-scoring rounds of 90 and 91 earned them both of the blue ribbons over fences.

"He didn't show last year here, so I was wondering if he would be intimidated by the crowd," Payne commented. "In the first round, he held his breath a little bit, but he really let go in the second round and just rode beautifully."

Payne said the bay gelding seldom has a bad day, and he loves the horse for his personality.

"He's wonderful to ride," Payne said. "He tries so hard. It may not always play out in our favor, but he always tries with everything he has. He never has a bad day, even in the stall. He's a happy, happy horse constantly. I just love him."

In the first class, Stewart and Dominik took home second with a score of 89. Third place went to Haness and Countdown, who earned an 88.

Returning for the second class, Haness and Countdown moved up to the second place spot with a score of 89. Megan Young and Comanche took home third with their score of 88.

The professional hunter divisions will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the championships being awarded for the First Year Green Hunters, the Green Conformation Hunters and the Second Year Green Hunters on Tuesday.

The Grand Hunter Championship will be awarded on Wednesday, with the highlight $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby following on Thursday.

The final feature event during the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair will be the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*, which takes place on Saturday evening.

The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is the longest running and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the United States. With the grandeur of Philadelphia's prestigious Main Line setting the stage, the event features a world-class field that annually ranks among the most prominent internationally. The event also includes the Country Fair that offers world-class shopping, rides and games for kids, multiple dining options and special entertainment events.

For more information, please visit www.DevonHorseShow.net.

Richard O'Donnell Drives Away with the Horse Pairs Championship at Devon Horse Show     
Horse Pairs Champion Richard O'Donnell (Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group)
Horse Pairs Champion Richard O'Donnell (Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group)
On Memorial Day Monday, Richard O'Donnell drove away with the Horse Pairs Championship at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. With 19 points accumulated among three classes, O'Donnell held a two-point edge over Reserve Champion, Linda Weinberg, to win the Challenge Trophy and tricolor ribbon.

"It's an honor to be named Champion, especially here at Devon," O'Donnell, President of the Board of Directors of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair Inc., said. "It's special. It's where champions meet. I've competed her for over 40 years and to be named champion, speaks volumes."

The O'Donnell team drove to victory in comfort in their 1880 Spider Phaeton. The Philadelphia-native carriage is one of 16 vintage vehicles the O'Donnell's own and have on display in their home-base museum.

"It makes the horses feel better when they hear the crowd cheering," O'Donnell added about the Devon Horse Show spectators. "It means the world to me to see the community enjoying the hard work that went on behind the scenes to put this event together."

Single/Pair Pony Champion Nicole Cable (Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group)
Single/Pair Pony Champion Nicole Cable (Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group)
The focus shifted to ponies for the evening events. Lisa Koehler's Koehler Gig, driven by Nicole Cable, received the Joseph M. Pierce Challenge Trophy in the Single/Pair Pony Driving Championship for the third consecutive year. Their consistent record in Sunday and Monday's classes, including wins in Monday night's Single/Pair Pony - Pleasure Turnout and Sunday's Single Harness Two Wheeled Vehicles, placed them ahead of the competition. The reserve championship in the competitive division went to Rebekah McNeil, who drove a McNeil Saylor Wagon and had the fastest time in the Scurry Driving class to earn her the blue ribbon.

The coaching division was also a featured event in the Monday evening session. John White drove away with the first victory in the coaching and appointments division in a Road Coach Excelsior. The coaching classes will continue throughout the week at the Devon Horse Show.

Ladies Day Will Sparkle With Silver & Gold 
There is still time to buy a ticket for this year's Ladies Day festivities on June 1. This year's Silver and Gold theme honors the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair's 120th anniversary.

Carson Kressely with the 2015 hat contest winners: Best Hat and Purse - Pam Targan; Best Hat to Toe - Patti Lynn Fitzgerald; Carson Kressley; Best in Show - Pam Bastings; Most Fascinating (or best fascinator) - Amy Holzapfel. (Brenda Carpenter Photography)
Carson Kressely with the 2015 hat contest winners: Best Hat and Purse - Pam Targan; Best Hat to Toe - Patti Lynn Fitzgerald; Carson Kressley; Best in Show - Pam Bastings; Most Fascinating (or best fascinator) - Amy Holzapfel. (Brenda Carpenter Photography)
"Ladies Day is not to be missed; dozens of contestants from all around the tristate area 'wow' spectators with their imaginative hat creations and matching outfits," said Laura Wood, senior Chair of the event.

The hat contest will be judged by several notables, including Carson Kressley, celebrity fashion expert.

"I'm excited to be back," Kressley Tweeted. "Devon ladies always bring their A game!"

Kressley will be wearing a custom designed hat by famed milliner Christine A. Moore, known for her 'racetrack fashion,' creating hats for the Kentucky Derby, Breeders' Cup, and other high-profile equestrian events. Moore will join Kressley at the judges' table, along with Caroline O'Halloran of Savvy Main Line; Anthony Weagley, President and CEO of Malvern Federal Savings Bank; Sam Dangremond, Town & Country Web Editor; Adam Joseph, 6abc Action News Meteorologist; Michael Smyth of Jaguar Land Rover Main Line; Brenda Waites Bolling, milliner and boutique owner in New York City; and Kristin Detterline of Philadelphia Style Magazine.

Ladies will compete in several categories: Best in Show, which offers the Grand Prize for the hat that best incorporates this year's theme; Most Fascinating for the best 'fascinator' topper; Best Hat to Toe for the best overall ensemble outfit; Best Hat and Purse for the best hat and purse pairing; and Best of Devon for the hat that best captures the spirit of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. By popular demand, a new category - Best Group - has been added to this year's judging.

Contest winners will receive exciting prizes provided by Hats by Katie, J McLaughlin, Louella, Land Rover Jaguar Main Line,Tiffany Moon, Consuela and Caracol Jewelers.

"In addition to the parade of finery, Ladies Day hosts a reception with live musical entertainment and terrific raffle prizes contributed by our Country Fair vendors," said Wood. "It's an incredibly fun, memorable occasion for everyone."

Ladies Day registration opens at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1. Tickets can be bought online before June 1 for $65. Tickets sold on Ladies Day online or at the gate will cost $80. Special thanks go out to sponsors Malvern Federal Bank and Polka Dots, Christine A. Moore, Millinery, Cottage Flowers, Philadelphia Style Magazine, Surrey Services, The Scout Guide, Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar, Wayne Magazine, Palm Bay and Golia Vodka.