Articles From the November 1995 Unification News


The 1995 Autumn Classic Horse Show

by Mark Turegano-Port Jervis, NY

The 7th annual Autumn Classic Horse Show took place September 5th through the 10th this year at New Hope Farms in Port Jervis, NY and marked a brilliantly successful completion of one cycle of this premier competition's evolution as one of the major international horse shows in the world.

Over 900 horses participated in the 6-day event, coming from as far away as California and Canada. The featured competition once again was The $100,000 Autumn Classic Grand Prix that was cited by all the riders who came this year as the most exciting and the largest Grand Prix of the 1995 show jumping season.

Warming the hearts of all in attendance was a special ceremony that took place before the Grand Prix competition involving The Make-A-Wish foundation. Make-A-Wish is the charity organization that arranges for terminally ill children to spend a day with one of their heroes from the sports or entertainment field.

Lesa Ellanson, Special Event Coordinator for The Autumn Classic Horse Show, contacted the Orange County Make-A-Wish Foundation in August and learned that there were numerous terminally ill children in the area that wanted to meet Grand Prix riders from the show jumping field. Subsequently, the director of Orange County Make-A-Wish asked if two children could come to the show this year as special guests of The Autumn Classic. The Show Committee wholeheartedly granted the request.

One of show jumping's foremost riders, Debbie Stephens, volunteered to spend time with the two children during Grand Prix day and made their visit a special one. Debbie is an accomplished equestrienne and has represented America in numerous international competitions. She also appeared in the recent Julia Roberts movie, Something to Talk About, as a Grand Prix rider playing herself. The movie has a Show Jumping Grand Prix competition as one of the main sub-themes of the story line.

To begin the ceremony, the two children were given a carriage ride around the arena in front of the 3,000+ capacity crowd. They were then met by Debbie Stephens and Lisa Mangano, Miss Quarter Horse New Jersey, who hugged and kissed the children and showered them with presents. The two children were beaming and ecstatic, and the crowd was in tears at the scene. The Orange County Executive, Joseph Rampe, who was also in attendance at the show, addressed The Autumn Classic spectators proclaiming September as "Make-A-Wish Foundation Month" for Orange County in New York State.

The Kleenex came back out during the presentation of the second award of the evening. It was a memorial award given to the wife and daughters of Jim Garvey, former Town Supervisor of Deerpark and also former Sheriff of Orange County. Jim had been a close friend of New Hope Farms for many years; sadly, he died this January after a long battle with throat cancer.

Jim began his career of public service as a New York City police officer. He was decorated for valor after being seriously wounded in a shoot out in the city. He and his family moved to the Town of Deerpark in 1976 where Jim later served as Town Supervisor and finally as Orange County Sheriff till his death. Jim, as well as his family, was loved by the entire community. Not unexpectedly, many in the crowd gave Jane Garvey, his wife, and Karen Garvey, his daughter, a standing ovation upon their receiving the award.

The warmth that filled the atmosphere was soon enhanced by the electricity of world class competition in the Grand Prix itself. Thirty three of the best riders in North America were vying for the coveted top prize of $30,000 as well as a chance to improve their standings in the IBM/USET computer rankings. Leopoldo Palacios, South America's leading course designer, crafted a very sophisticated course of jumps and turns that challenged the stellar field of riders and their mounts to their limits.

Among the riders this year was Rev. Moon's third daughter, Un Jin, who was coming off a noteworthy accomplishment at The Nations Cup competition in Falsterbo, Sweden this summer during which she garnered one of only three at-large spots for Asian riders in The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. With that performance, Un Jin became the first Korean in the history of the Olympics to qualify for three Olympic Games in a row.

Also competing at this year's show was Margie Goldstein, two-time Rider of the Year and a previous winner of The Autumn Classic, as well as Lisa Jacquin, a member of the Silver Medal American team at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Lisa was a sentimental favorite for many in the crowd who had seen her finish second in two previous Autumn Classic Grand Prixs. Adding to Lisa's crowd appeal was the fact that she was riding the oldest horse in the field, 21 year old For The Moment (whose nickname is Fred), and that she herself had recently broken her collarbone and was riding with a severe injury.

Much to the audience's delight Lisa Jacquin turned in the first clean (fault free) round and had cleared the first hurdle on the way to earning top honors at the show. Un Jin Moon, regarded by many in the industry as one of America's top amateurs, nearly became the second clear round with a sensational ride on her 1992 Olympic mount Equador. Disappointingly, Equador pulled one rail and finished with a four fault performance that was extremely respectable in the world class field but was not good enough for a spot in the jump off.

Ultimately, 6 riders, including veteran Eric Hasbrouck, Debbie Stephens, and 21-year old sensation Laura Chapot, made the final jump- off. Laura Chapot is the daughter of a husband wife team who both competed for America in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy: Frank and Mary Chapot. Laura was riding the legendary, solid white gelding named Gem Twist, who (with Greg Best aboard) won the individual Silver Medal at the Seoul Games. Gem Twist was, during the late 80's, widely considered one of the top three horses in the world. After a few quiet years, Gem Twist, has made a comeback on the Grand Prix circuit under the tutelage and training of Laura's father Frank.

Lisa Jacquin was the first to go in the jump off and had the crowd on their feet as she sped around the intricate jump off course. Dishearteningly, For The Moment slid at one of the jumps and threw Lisa to the ground. The audience gasped in apprehension, fearing that Lisa might have re-injured her shoulder, but breathed a sigh of relief when she regained herself and left the arena under her own power.

Eric Hasbrouck turned in a solid performance in the jump off and seemed the sure winner. But the night was to belong to young Laura Chapot who went for the win in the jump off and took the talented Gem Twist deftly through the course at a blistering pace to bring home the blue ribbon and $30,000 in prize money.

The final tears of the evening were tears of joy that came from Laura's parents who were both in the stands watching her compete. The win catapulted her into first place for Rookie of the year honors, a title she is now highly favored to win as no other rookies have won a major Grand Prix of similar stature to The Autumn Classic. The Autumn Classic finished its seventh year in both an exciting and a heart-warming fashion and proved a fitting testimony to the vision of Rev. Moon, who has provided enormous internal support for the show throughout its history. While Rev. Moon was not able to attend this year's show because of The True Family and I speech in Boston on the same day, nonetheless, this year's success is largely due to the spirit and standard he has set for the show from its inception.

Next year The Autumn Classic has been guaranteed coverage on ESPN and will be seen by up to 47 million people, the viewing audience of ESPN. ESPN is widely considered as the foremost broadcaster of Show Jumping competitions in the country.

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