DEVON, Pa.--Alex Matz of Cochranville, Pa., on Cashew CR won the very first Open Jumper class he had ever ridden in at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, the $38,700 Jet Run Welcome Stake, on Tuesday evening, May 30.
And to make it even more memorable, the Welcome Stake was named in honor of Jet Run, one of the top horses that his father Michael had competed.
"Devon is all about history, to to win a class named in honor of Dad's best horse was something special," said Matz. "I've competed here before in pony jumpers and amateur owner jumpers, but that was the first time I rode in an open jumper class here."
Matz turned pro a couple of years ago, and he has been consistently getting better and better.
The Welcome Stake was a time first round speed class, and Matz finished clean in 56.32, a second and a half better than second placed World Championship team gold medalist Devin Ryan of Long Valley, N.J., on Eddie Blue, clean in 57.83.
Roberto Tehran, an Olympic veteran from Columbia, on BP Wakita was third, clean in 58.02, and Olympic team gold medalist Mclain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., on First Lady was fourth, clean in 58.73.
"CASHEW is just naturally very quick," said Matz. "He's fast across the ground, and he's naturally very careful. He likes to go at a pretty good pace."
"I've had him since he was 8, and he's 15 now," said Matz. "He's won a lot. This year he's jumped 75 to 80 percent of all his classes clean, and he's won two classes. He's very competitive. He's the most special horse I've ever had."
Matz plans to compete Cashew next in the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix Thursday evening at Devon.
Both Matz' mother DD and father Michael were at Devon Tuesday evening to see his historic win,
"I called Mrs. Dixon this morning, and she was thrilled," said Michael, referring to Jet Run's owner.
"It's nice to see Alex has the opportunity to do some of the things I did," said Michael. "It's our pleasure to help him along the way. I'm a proud father,"
"It was exciting," said Matz' mother DD, who was a Pan Am team gold medalist. "We bought Cashew to be Alex' amateur horse, and he's just kept going. He's a really special horse. I like to ride at least one horse every day, and he's the one I usually ride."
"It was obviously very special to have Alex win the class that honored Michael's top horse, Jet Run," said DD, who is a devoted follower of her children's equestrian careers and was back at Devon the following morning to see her daughter Lucy ride their homebred Starstruck go clean in the 5-Year-Old Jumpers.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Scott Stewart of Flemington, N.J., rode Colter to win the Green Hunter 3'6" Championship with Nick Haness on McQueen Reserve Champion.
"Colter was purchased last fall for Sophie Gochman to show in the amateur owner division," said Stewart. "Sophie has been very successful with him, and she'll show him Friday and Saturday here at Devon."
Front Page, ridden by Colin Syquia, was Green Hunter 3'9" Champion, with Drumroll, ridden by Kelly Mullen, Reserve Champion.
In Green Conformation, Haness rode both the Champion and Reserve, with McQueen Champion and Pavlova Reserve Champion.