Sophia Pessoa and Gregory Peck Garner Children’s Pony Hunter Finals Grand Champion at New York Horse & Pony Show :: HITS


Sophia Pessoa and Gregory Peck Garner Children’s Pony Hunter Finals Grand Champion at New York Horse & Pony Show

Saugerties, N.Y. – August 4, 2023 – The Children’s Pony Hunter Finals returned to the New York Horse and Pony Show at HITS-on-the-Hudson, showcasing top young riders and their ponies throughout the weekend. The three-phase competition was held over two days, providing Children's Pony riders with experience in a finals-type setting. Climbing to the top of the overall standings with high scores in all three sections and following her family’s winning tradition was Sophia Pessoa with Gregory Peck, who earned the Medium Children’s Pony division championship and the Children’s Pony Hunter Finals Grand Championship.

Sophia Pessoa and Gregory Peck. Photo by: ESI Photography

“I think it is important to have a Children’s Pony Final because if you are not going to Pony Finals, it is a good chance for others to get that moment and have the opportunity to show in these divisions we don’t normally get,” explained Pessoa. “It is really exciting and cool to be in the big ring because normally we are up in the little ring. I was really happy with [Gregory Peck], and all my ponies were super brave going around the ring.”

Regan Capone and Tia Maria. Photo by: ESI Photography

The format was created to mimic the USEF Pony Finals, with three phases of competition. The phases included a model, under saddle, and over fences phase, with scores counting 10%, 30% and 50%, respectively, with sections for Large, Medium and Small ponies. Awards were presented to the winner of each phase in each section, the top ten in each section, and the top ten overall, including the Grand Champion – Pessoa with Gregory Peck – and the Grand Reserve Champion – Regan Capone with Tia Maria.

“I think it is such a great experience having the kids get to hack and model on the first day, come in and walk the course, jump a course in a bigger ring, and rise to the occasion. I love that HITS does this,” added trainer Vanessa Roman.

Sophia Pessoa and Gregory Peck. Photo by: ESI Photography

The pair kicked off the weekend with a score of 78 in the model and then went on to earn an impressive score of 88 during the under saddle. The most important phase was Friday’s over fences class, where Pessoa beautifully led Gregory Peck to a great score of 85.5. Their performance brought their overall score to just over 169 points to top the Medium Children’s Pony Hunter section and also capture the Children’s Pony Hunter Grand Championship. Capone and Tia Maria captured the Medium Children’s Pony reserve championship title by following about half a point behind Pessoa’s total score. Capone and Tia Maria also garnered enough points to be the Grand Reserve Champions.

“I think this shows the kids that they are capable of more. Sometimes the children division makes the kids feel a little bit less than those in the pony division, but this shows them that they can strive toward something and they have their own final and it looks just like [USEF] Pony Finals,” mentioned Roman.

Earning the Large Children’s Pony Hunter Championship was Caitlin Saddlemire and Greystokes Jamaican Vacation, while the Small Children’s Pony Hunter Championship went to Cleary Phillips and Rosmel’s Fairy Glow.

Sophia Pessoa and Gregory Peck. Photo by: ESI Photography

Hunter action for the summer series at HITS-on-the-Hudson concludes Sunday afternoon, but showing will continue underway at the world-class facility in September. The HITS Championship is scheduled for September 6-10, and will feature the inaugural $20,000 Tiny Bit O’ 2’ Hunter Derby and $20,000 Bit O’Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby, in addition to the $50,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby, $50,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. For more information about the HITS Saugerties Series, visit