Pamukcu Claims First Victory to Kick Off 2023 Essex Horse Trials

Pamukcu Claims First Victory to Kick Off 2023 Essex Horse Trials

Sunday to Feature Cross-Country, Awards and Peter Chesson Memorial Classic Car Show 

The Essex Horse Trials returned to the historic Hamilton Farm, home of the USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ, on Saturday with a packed schedule of dressage and show jumping. Among the busy competitors in multiple divisions was Caroline Pamukcu of Riegelsville, PA, who piloted her 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding HSH Blake to top honors in the Advanced Combined Test. 

The Essex Horse Trials has become a tradition for families looking to spend an exciting and fun-filled weekend in their own backyard. Featuring some of the nation’s top riders with their Advanced and Intermediate horses competing in the thrilling sport of eventing, the two-day sportfest concludes Sunday with the exhilarating cross-country phase at historic Moorland Farm in Far Hills.

Pamukcu, 28, rode HSH Blake to an early lead in the Advanced Combined Test with a dressage score of 30.7, giving her one rail in hand over the 34.8 earned by Shannon Lilley of Kennett Square, PA, aboard Ideal HX, Alex Lilley’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, and Hannah Sue Hollberg of Kennett Square, PA, aboard Christa Schmidt’s 16-year-old Holsteiner gelding Capitol HIM. Pamukcu’s lead helped tremendously in the show jumping phase, as a dropped rail at the second fence didn’t keep her from claiming victory.

“I wasn’t coming here to win, but I knew he had a good dressage test and that we had a rail in hand,” Pamukcu said. “I wasn’t nervous going in today, and I didn’t do any of my normal prep work because I wanted to make it a bit more challenging for me and not such a big deal for him. We’re just using this as training before we hopefully win the gold medal in Poland later this month.”

Pamukcu and “Blake” are heading for the Nations Cup event in Strzegom, Poland, for their next competition, with their biggest goal to make the Pan American Games in October. After they competed in the Ocala CCI3*-L in April for their last required Games qualification, Blake had a few weeks to rest in the field, and this was his only third jump back.

“I think he’s really ready to rock and roll,” Pamukcu said. “He did the Arena Eventing at Devon last week, and then we set him up for this. At home, we do a lot of fitness work focusing on trot sets and long gallops, but this had been great for those final finishing touches before the rest of the season.

“Blake is only 8 and still young,” she added. “He did do the Young Horse Championships in France last year and finished in the Top 10, so he doesn’t mind the atmosphere too much, but any opportunity we have to get him exposed to more without putting too much stress on his legs is always great. The team and I brought 18 horses with us this weekend; it’s one of our most favorite venues.”

Lilley maintained second place with a fault-free round in show jumping, finishing on her dressage score of 34.8, while Hollberg’s rail at Fence #8 dropped her into fourth on 38.8. Taking third with 35.7 was Matthew Brown of Kennett Square, PA, aboard Shelley Onderdonk’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Alderwood.

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Essex Horse Trials | The Essex Horse Trials is a USEA and US Equestrian-sanctioned competition, held on the grounds of beautiful Moorland Farm in Far Hills, New Jersey, in the heart of the Somerset Hills region.