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Press Release


Annabella Sanchez and Zersina

Annabella Sanchez and Zersina_

Annabella Sanchez and Zanta Fee Van T Hofterrijckel

Kelsey Thatcher and Stella Luna

Kelsey Thatcher and Hannah

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Annabella Sanchez and Zersina Zip to Victory in $7,500 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic at Chicago Festival of the Horse

Written by: Devaney Iglesias
Client: Lamplight Equestrian Center
Release Date: 2016-07-31

Wayne, Ill. – July 31, 2016 – Annabella Sanchez closed out the first week of the Chicago Festival of the Horse on a high note. The young athlete not only competed in her first junior classic, but also rode away with the victory aboard her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Zersina.  

Sanchez had two mounts entered in the $7,500 Cavalor Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic, and earned the highest of honors on both of them. After winning the highlight event aboard Zersina, Sanchez took home the division champion with 19 points, and just three points behind, was Sanchez and her second mount, Zanta Fee Van T Hofterrijckel. The pair earned the reserve championship with a total of 16 points.

“I’m so excited and happy, because it’s my first time showing in the juniors,” Sanchez expressed. “I didn’t completely expect the outcome. I was just going for two clear rounds, but I’m also really competitive. My trainer has to tell me to slow down and remind me that I have to go clear. I’m so happy that I won. I’m really proud of both of them, they really tried their best.”
Sanchez was only able to qualify for the jump-off aboard Zersina, lowering the height of the sixth obstacle aboard Zanta Fee Van T Hofterrijckel during the first round. Zersina and Sanchez were able to produce a second clear effort during the tiebreaker, crossing the finish line in 39.584 seconds, just a split second quicker than Kelsey Thatcher and Chaviana’s time of 39.662 seconds.

“Zersina is so honest and great,” Sanchez said. “She’s very smart. I can always depend on her to help me if I need it.”

Sanchez ended the day with two tricolor ribbons and a first- and third-place finish, as Zanta Fee Van T Hofterrijckel was the fastest of the 4-faulters.

While Thatcher settled for a red ribbon in the Junior/Amateur-Owner class, she had earned a victory just an hour before in the $1,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Aboard Stella Luna, Thatcher had a two-second margin over her other mount, Hannah to claim the top two spots on the leaderboard.

Thatcher had double-clear rounds on both her horses. While Stella Luna clocked in at 38.104 seconds, Hannah finished in a time of 40.068 seconds.

“Stella Luna jumps better, higher and pays more attention the faster you go,” Thatcher said. “She’s always there for you and has a great little motor. She’s really fun.”

The 10-year-old bay also earned the championship honors with a total of 20 points. Her closest competitor was Heather Zuber and Phoenix, who took home the reserve championship with a total of 12 points.

Sanchez and Thatcher have been showing at Lamplight Equestrian Center for multiple years.

Sanchez shared, “I’ve been showing here since I was 8-years-old. I think the arenas are great. I like seeing people that I’ve shown with since I was younger. The atmosphere is amazing and all the people here are nice. It’s really fun. “

With similar sentiments, Thatcher expressed, “This is my ninth year showing here. The Jayne’s Farm [Our Day Farm] is only 15 minutes away. It’s great to have a world-class facility in your backyard.”

The SmartPak Grand Prix arena kicked off with the $500 Low Child/Adult Jumper Classic Sunday morning. Sixteen athletes took on the course and nine qualified for the first jump-off of the day.

Molly Shapiro and Iris had the quickest double-clear round of the class. The rider-and-horse duo earned the blue ribbon with a time of 38.553 seconds. Just a second behind Shapiro was Amelia Jenson and Luc, who settled for second place with a time of 39.145 seconds.

Following the first class of the day was the $1,500 WIHS/NAL/M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic. Jane Gemellaro and Mr. Brightside edged out Heidi Schuessler and Fly Away by less than a second for the victory. Gemellaro crossed the finish line in 41.187 seconds to beat Schuessler, who clocked in at 41.946 seconds.

The two were awarded with tricolor ribbons and champion and reserve honors for their week’s performances. With a total of 13 points, it was Schuessler who rode away with the title of champion, while Gemellaro came in two points behind to earn the reserve championship with a total of 11 points.

The morning continued with the $1,000 Modified Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic. Although Lauren Hall and Grandis Van T Heike had the fastest time during the jump-off, finishing in  39.380 seconds, they would settle for the red ribbon after incurring 4-faults. Angelica Allegro and Vespringt secured the win with the sole double-clear round and a time of 44.800 seconds.

The second week of competition for the Chicago Festival of the Horse will pick up Tuesday, August 2. Spectators will have the opportunity to witness world-class athletes compete in the $5,000 National Hunter Derby, $25,000 Welcome Stake, $25,000 Jumper Derby, $25,000 International Hunter Derby and $75,000 Grand Prix.

For more information on Lamplight Equestrian Center's Chicago Festival of the Horse Equifest Show Series, please visit A downloadable prize list is accessible online.


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