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Ken Smith And Carmen Win National Horse Show Hunter Championship At 120th National Horse Show

WELLINGTON, FL – November 29, 2003 – Ken Smith, 36, of Wellington, Florida, riding Carmen for Millridge LLC, won the National Horse Show Hunter Championship on Friday night, November 28, as one of the highlights of Jumping Under the Stars at the 120th National Horse Show in Wellington, FL. The show runs from November 26-30, highlighted by the $100,000 AGA Championship on Sunday, and Dressage at the National, November 28-30.

The top 12 horses that qualified in competitions held earlier in the week were eligible to compete in the final two jumping rounds on Friday night to determine the hunter champion. Smith qualified seven horses for the final. In addition to his win, Smith also placed second, third, fifth and sixth. “We had a good night, for sure,” said Smith. “It was an accumulative score throughout the week so you really had to have a horse that was consistent. They were all good steady horses so that worked in our favor nicely.”

Carmen was second going into the evening’s competition, but managed to improve an already impressive average. “She was never under an 85 average throughout the whole five rounds, which was pretty spectacular,” said Smith. Carmen is a Second Year Green horse jumping 3’9”. Smith’s client purchased the 10-year-old, 16-hand, chestnut German-bred mare after the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg this year as a mount for him to make up for their daughter to ride eventually. Henrietta Armstrong, whose parents operate Millridge LLC, currently shows with Smith in the children’s hunters. Her mount Storyline placed second in the Championship with Smith piloting.

Smith pointed out Carmen’s attributes that impressed the judges and clinched the victory, ”One of her good qualities is she’s a beautiful mover between the jumps. She goes across the ground real nice. She has a real spectacular jump when she gets there, so it all kind of flows together nicely.”

With seven horses to show, Smith said his ground crew of 13 people produced a team effort that made the win and good ribbons possible. “We had nine grooms, plus my wife, my assistant trainer, and my barn manager, and we also had Whitney Roper help get the horses warmed up before I got on to jump them, which really helped a lot.”

The quick changes of mounts and jumping two courses twice with seven horses didn’t faze Smith mentally. “From a rider’s standpoint you try to win on every one, for sure,” he said. “But as far as changing horse to horse, that’s what we do all the time. We know the horses, we’ve shown them out there all week, so we know their ins and outs, and how they’re going to be.” The only question mark for Smith was how the horses would react to the bright lights in the Internationale Arena grand prix field. “They all really rose to the occasion. We had a lot of young horses that hadn’t been out there before that really were good,” he said and noted that the sell-out crowd and lights were a positive factor. “It adds a little excitement to it. It’s just exciting to go out there with that many people. It was a beautiful night and the jumps were beautiful and the course was beautiful. It really was a special night.”

Smith stressed that the most important factor of his winning night was the owners of the horses. “The Armstrongs owned the first two, and then I have another really great owner, the Russos – Christy owns Miracle who was third, and Elizabeth owns Cavalier who was fifth. Sue Stanley’s horse Eminence was sixth. They’re the ones that really make it possible.”

Smith summed up his win in the National Horse Show Hunter Championship succinctly, “It was probably the highlight of my career, for sure.”

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