Kings Peak en route to a $90,000 second place prize.
"He was in the wrong ring for a while," says Hope Glynn of Kings Peak, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood she rode to a red ribbon and a $90,000 check in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties last month.
"Odin" had been doing the 1.2M jumpers, but his trainer, Utah-based Allison Kroff, suspected he was better suited for the hunter ring. Hope instantly agreed when Allison encouraged her to check out the horse at HITS Thermal earlier this year.
Emma Waldfogel and her family, clients of Hope and Ned Glynn's Sonoma Valley Stables, weren't really in the market for another horse at the time, but Hope sent a long text about Kings Peak and asked if they might consider purchasing him. "I told them that this was a great one that nobody knew about yet and they trusted me," the Petaluma-based trainer recalls. "He's turned out to be the horse of a lifetime."
It didn't take long to transition Odin to the hunter ring. "He would never think about stopping, but he has a peek in him," Hope explains. "He really looks at the jump and that's part of why he jumps so well."
Blessed with a great natural rhythm and plenty of athleticism, Odin just needed to learn that he could "take a deep breath, canter with his neck out and trust that feel and rhythm," Hope says. "He's a natural born hunter."
The Waldfogels bought Kings Peak in March and he came home from Thermal to Sonoma Valley Stables after the circuit. Hope's hunch about his potential was immediately validated. Because of his jumper division experience, he was not eligible to compete in the lower height First or Second Year Green Hunter classes. Hope debuted him at the 4' - 4'6" High Performance level, where he was champion or reserve each time out. In his two Hunter Derbies prior to Saugerties, Kings Peak finished fourth in the $25,000 Franktown Meadows class and won the $10,000 Derby at the Menlo Charity Show in August. From there, the Waldfogels again put their trust in Hope when she asked to take Odin back to the big New York class, in which riders can only enter one horse.
The first Hunter Prix round took place on an open derby field and included a bank, brush and up and down hills. Hope and Odin finished fourth that day when only a few points separated a pack of champs including eventual winner Jimmy Torano and La Bonita, and fellow West Coaster Jenny Karazissis and Undeniable, who finished fifth overall. The first two days' results put Hope and Odin atop the rankings, giving them the last post position on the final day, although all top 25 began that day with a clean slate point-wise. After the final day's first of two courses, the pair were third, then moved up to second after the last round.
Hope has made the cross-country trek to Saugerties every year since HITS debuted the huge money hunter class. The first year, 2011, she finished 19th on Woodstock and last year, it was a big jump up to sixth with Chance Of Flurries.
This year, she was especially pleased to reward the Waldfogels' faith with a $90,000 prize check. Equally important, 16-year-old Emma Waldfogel has even more reason for confidence in the horse with whom she's already done very well in the Junior Hunter ranks.
No Kingly Airs
"The priority is for Emma to do well with him," Hope shares. Competing at Pennsylvania's Devon Horse Show next year, along with the International Hunter Derby Finals in Kentucky, are clear goals for Kings Peak, though whether Hope or Emma will ride him remains to be determined.
The Waldfogels, and Emma in particular, have also invested a lot of time into Hope and Ned's program. They live in the Peninsula area's Palo Alto, a 90-minute to three-hour drive from Sonoma Valley Stables depending on traffic. Emma makes the drive mostly on weekends and stays the night with the Glynns or other friends. "They are a great family with really dedicated kids," Hope notes. "When you find the right situation, it's not always the one that's closest."
A high school senior, Emma is busy with academics during the week but she gets in local saddle time with help from Jill Hamilton and Nancy Thomas of Millennium Farm and dressage trainer Rachel Williamson at Stanford's Red Barn. Schoolwork prevented her from going to Saugerties this year, but she's familiar with the scene after an impressive top-25 finish with Maximilian in last September's $250,000 HITS Hunter Prix Finals.
Hope Glynn and groom Kiira Lizzie.
Emma was lessoning, or trying to, at Sonoma Valley Stables as the Finals' Sunday finale unfolded. Cell phones were abuzz as Hope called and texted with updates and a celebratory mood took over the stable. Shortly afterward, however, it was back home and back to the books for Emma, who plans to defer college next fall to finish out her junior year on the show circuit.
By all accounts, Kings Peak has no kingly airs. "He's really sweet around the barn," Emma reports. "He perks up his ears and looks at us expectantly when we come and he always tries his hardest." Apples and cookies are his favorite treats. If given the choice, he'll always go for the cookie piled high with extra goodies, Hope reports.
He's low key, low maintenance and a straight-forward ride. Other than a preference for soft ear plugs, rather than the spongy models he'll shake right out, he requires no pampering and needs no training tricks or gimmicks in the warm-up ring, no matter how high the fences or the stakes. "He is a natural born hunter and we're happy to keep him that way," Hope concludes.