Molly Ashe Blazes to Victory at Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show

Molly Ashe was first in the ring and first in the standings, winning the $3,000 NAL Open Speed on Thursday afternoon at the Vermont Summer Festival running July 9 to August 17 at the Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.

Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY, set a track that included 11 obstacles and numerous options for riders to save valuable seconds as they attempted to post the fastest time.  A rail down meant a four-second time penalty, but four of the top five finishers managed to post clear rounds.

As the first rider to tackle the course, Ashe of Wellington, FL, set a blistering pace with Accanto, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding that she has been riding for the past three years.  As the pair flew through the timers, the clock flashed a time of 63.37 seconds.  All who followed attempted to better her time, but the only rider who even came close was Kimberly Mulligan, who stopped the clock at 64.72 seconds riding Butterfly Rouge.

“I didn’t realize that I went first until after I walked the course,” said Ashe, 37.  “I went like a maniac on horseback to the first three jumps.  The beginning felt a little scary, and then we fell into a rhythm.  I thought maybe I was going to die on the way to the last fence, but he was good to me.”

Ashe’s horse, Accanto, has only just begun competing at the 1.40m level – Thursday’s victory in the $3,000 NAL Open Speed marked the horse’s second time jumping at that height.

“He’s a great jumper, very careful,” said Ashe of her mount.  “When you start going fast, he’s incredibly green, so I want to give him confidence and not scare him.”

Finishing behind Ashe and Mulligan was Vermont Summer Festival regular, Jimmy Torano.  The Ft. Lauderdale, FL, native rode the young grey gelding, Quinolli, to a clear round in a time of 65.11 seconds to take third place.

Holly Orlando incurred a four-second time penalty to bring her total to 69.40 seconds riding the cute chestnut gelding, Pugnax, owned by Scott Hakim.  Rounding out the top five with a time of 77.17 seconds was Robert Mendoza and the grey Vision.

The $3,000 NAL Open Speed is a member event of the North American League.  The NAL offers a year-long Series in six divisions -Children’s Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, Open Jumper, Children’s Hunter, and Adult Hunter presented by Practical Horseman.  The Series includes classes held at hundreds of horse shows across the United States and Canada.  Finals for all divisions are held at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, in October.  For more information regarding the NAL series, including current standings, please visit

Friday’s featured event will be the $10,000 Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets.  Competition is held daily Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. and running until approximately 4 p.m.  Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children Wednesday through Saturday.  On ‘Grand Prix Sunday’, admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children.  All gate proceeds are donated to the Friends Foundation for MEMS, benefiting programs in the local Elementary & Middle School.

New England’s largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show, the Vermont Summer Festival offers over $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event in the state of Vermont.  For more information on the 2008 Vermont Summer Festival please visit or e-mail

$3,000 NAL Open Speed – Final Results

Rider    Hometown    Horse    Time

1.    Molly Ashe    Wellington, FL    Accanto    63.37

2.    Kimberly Mulligan    New Canaan, CT    Butterfly Rouge    64.72

3.    Jimmy Torano    Ft. Lauderdale, FL    Quinolli    65.11

4.    Holly Orlando    Wellington, FL    Pugnax    69.40

5.    Robert Mendoza    Newport, NH    Vision    77.17

Categories: News in the Northeast