Katy, TX – Maddie Chenoweth, 26, earned the first grand prix victory of her career on Thursday, April 13, topping the $30,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show aboard Navaro van’t Verahof.
The first-round, Bernardo Costa Cabral-designed course narrowed a starting field of 26 entries down to eight jump-off qualifiers in the Thursday evening featured event. Frequent Pin Oak grand prix winners Nico Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy were the first pair to jump-off, and they laid down a time to beat of 36.520 seconds that would keep them atop the leaderboard until Chenoweth’s return as the penultimate entry.
With strides left out throughout the course, Chenoweth and Navaro van’t Verahof flew across the final EPIC Sporthorses oxer in a winning 34.870 seconds. Sofia Cady and ZG Bella, owned by Twist Studio LLC, were the final entry back in the ring, and they crossed the finish in 36.193 seconds to take second place. Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy then rounded out the top three, and fourth place went to Australia’s Rowan Willis and Wellington Grey Goose.
“It feels pretty unreal!” said Chenoweth, who resides in Houston and trains with Martien Van Der Hoeven. “I’ve grown up coming to these horse shows, and I’ve actually never won a grand prix before, so this is my first grand prix win, as well as I’ve just stepped up to the grand prix with this horse Week I of Pin Oak. So, it’s been a pretty unreal experience with him.”
Chenoweth partnered with the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood, Navaro van’t Verahof, in July of 2022 and has been getting to know the gelding while also balancing her full-time job selling title insurance.
“He’s my type of ride – big and lanky. Martien always jokes that we’re made for each other because I’m tall and lanky as well,” said Chenoweth. “[Because of work] in the winter, I didn’t get to horse show at all. Just being able to come for two weeks here in February and then hit the ground running at Pin Oak was really a great feeling for us.
“I’m just really grateful to be able to still do this sport,” concluded Chenoweth. “My parents have supported me the whole way. My trainer’s been really incredible in supporting me. Even on the days when I show up and I feel a little nervous, it takes a little pressure off that I’ve got a great support system behind me.”