“I’ve been doing the Junior Hunters for a really long time, but to end like that is really amazing,” said Augusta Iwasaki about her win aboard Small Love in the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic. The Friday afternoon class inside the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, marked her last competition as a Junior competitor in the hunter divisions.
Iwasaki and Small Love, a 9-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Iwasaki and her mother, Elizabeth Reilly, garnered 182.5 points from the judges panel over two rounds—a classic and a handy—to claim the win.
Iwasaki began her partnership with “Honey” only this year, but that hasn’t stopped them from topping the leaderboard. “She’s learned really, really fast and I think she’s a really special horse.”
The horse-and-rider combination has racked up wins, including the $22,000 3’3”/3’6” JR/AO Hunter Classic NET Finals Championship in Temecula, California. “This season has just been incredible,” said Iwasaki.
In second behind the duo was Michael Britt-Leon and Private I, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Kelly Sims, with a score of 176.5. Rounding out the top three was Greg Crolick piloting Carole Chase’s 11-year-old Mecklenburg gelding, Chappy, for a score of 174.
A Big Weekend for Iwasaki
Though the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic may have been her last hunter class as a junior, Iwasaki still has a big weekend ahead of her to finish out her Junior career.
Later on Friday evening, Iwasaki rode Fresca, a gelding also owned by Reilly, to a fourth place finish in the $10,000 Junior Jumpers. On Saturday, she’ll compete in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix.
And Sunday marks Iwasaki’s final year competing in the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, which she has challenged six times before. Having shown in the Alltech Arena multiple times this week, she feels prepared for the equitation finals.
“I think I definitely have an advantage because I got to do the hunters and the jumpers here before the equitation on Sunday. Not everybody gets to do that. I’ve gone around the ring many times. [The Maclay] is obviously a very different course, but I do definitely think that’s an advantage,” shared Iwasaki.
Michael Britt-Leon: Proud of His Competition
Britt-Leon calls Private I his “horse of a lifetime.” As for his performance in the $50,000 Hunter Classic, Britt-Leon said, “Private I always comes to play. He never lets me down. He always tries to shine.”
In 2020, Britt-Leon and Private I were second in the same class, but being second to Iwasaki this year didn’t bother him one bit. “I want to add how incredibly special it is that that was [Iwasaki’s] last junior hunter round. That is absolutely incredible that she got to finish on that.”
Greg Crolick and Chappy
Crolick and Chappy performed a textbook handy round to boost them into third place. “Chappy is just a wonderful horse. We’ve had him for two years now. He’s become a really shiny element in our string of horses. He loves the handy, he loves the derbies. He’s such a cool horse.”
“This classic really makes you want to achieve a qualified class, and we’ve come so close the last few years,” continued Crolick. “It’s my first time at the National Horse Show getting the tricolor, and first time doing this class … so very exciting for myself, the client, and of course our whole staff. It’s all so special. You know we do this for the athletes—we try really hard. It takes timing, good luck and a really good horse.”
Keep Up with the 2022 National Horse Show
For full results, click here.
Competition resumes tomorrow, November 5, at 11:20 a.m. EST with the Children’s Hunter Classic.
To watch the 2022 National Horse Show live, click here.
Thanks to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2022 National Horse Show, including rider interviews, competition reports, photos, videos and more!