Hello beautiful people! Happy Monday.
It was another action packed week in Wellington at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Each week seems to be passing more quickly than the last. The hunters took over the International Ring at PBIEC (Palm Beach International Equestrian Center) for Hunter Week while many of the jumper classes moved over to Equestrian Village (Adequan Global Dressage Festival) on the Stadium Derby Field.
The $132K FEI 3* Grand Prix took place on Friday evening at Equestrian Village (AGDF) in the International Ring. It is a difficult ring for many reasons and there are many challenges in the change of venue. The majority handled it wonderfully while a few looked to feel a bit claustrophobic. It certainly seems that way to me! There are a lot of jumps in that ring, certainly by comparison to the International Ring at PBIEC, which is 357 X 256. The footing is also different and to me it seemed like some of the horses didn’t feel as confident on it. Of the 45 in the first round, 7 went clear and came back for the jump off. Of those 7, 4 went double clear. Olivier Philappaerts came in at the top of the class in a time of 38.858 aboard H&M Ikker (winning $43,560). This finish for Olivier was the the second win of the week – he also won the WEF Challenge Cup (Qualifying class) on Thursday! With a jump off time of 40.389 Gustavo Prato took 2nd place aboard Carna Z. Mario Deslauriers was 3rd aboard Bardolina 2. Amber Harte and Austria 2 came in 4th and David Raposa and Iliona rounding out the top 5. You can find all of the results on the Equestrian Sport Productions website, here.
Some of Wellington’s regulars were missing from the jumper lineups this week. They were a few hours north in Ocala competing in the $450K Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup, a 2 round team jumping event.
Winning the competition was team Canada. Chef d’Equipe Mark Laskin led his team of Francois Lamontagne, Tiffany Foster, Ian Millar, and Eric Lamaze to victory.
The second place team was Brazil. Felipe Amaral, Fabio Leivas da Costa, Rodrigo Lambre, Yuri Mansur, and Chef d’Equipe Pedro Paulo Lacerda.
Third place was a tie between Ireland’s team of Daniel Coyle, Paul O’Shea, Darragh Kenny, Cian O’Connor, and Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake and team USA’s Lauren Hough, Laura Kraut, McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, and Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland.
Fifth went to Germany’s team of Andre Thieme, Christian Heineking, Markus Beerbaum, Meredith Michaels Beerbaum, and Chef d’Equipe Dietmar Gugler.
The sixth place team was Mexico’s Nicholas Pizarro, Enrique Gonzalez, Fernando Martinez Sommer, Eugenio Garza Perez, and Chef d’Equipe Stanny van Paesschen.
Back to Wellington now for Saturday’s events, which included the $35K Hollow Creek 1.50m Classic at the Stadium Derby Field and the $10K U25 Welcome. 20 of 53 went clear in the U25 Welcome speed class. Madison Goetzmann took the win on Prestigious. Noel Fauntleroy came in 2nd, Megan McDermott in 3rd, Victoria Colvin in 4th, and Ailish Cuniffe rounding out the top 5. All the details, here. The 1.50 Classic saw 27 trips, of which just 3 went clear. 2 of the 3 made it around the jump off course. Francisco Jose Mesquita Musa was victorious in a jump off time of 43.176. All the results, here.
In the International Ring at WEF, the $100K WHCR Peter Wetherhill Hunter Spectacular took place under the lights. Sara, Isla, Johnny, and I joined friends, Chris Brown (Chris Brown Design Group) and Eric Lane to watch the class. Beautiful horses, all having qualified in Specified 3’6 and up hunter divisions during the week leading up to the class as well as qualifiers from previous WCHR classes. I was happy to see that they went back to the 2 round format. A first round with a return handy round for the 12 highest scoring from the first round. 36 competitors qualified to participate in the challenge. The highest first round score was ultimately that of the winner, Louise Serio aboard Rock Harbor, with an 89.5 and a second round score of 86.75. Catch Me and Scott Stewart came in 2nd with a first round score of 83.333 and a beautiful 2nd round with score of 91. Tracy Fenney and MTM Outbid came in 3rd, with scores of 85.333 and 88.83 – this is the first time Tracy has competed at WEF. Other notable high scores in the first round were from Daisy Farrish and Cinemagic, Kelly Tropin with Chablis, Callie Seaman (who had spinal fusion surgery in July!) with Chicago, Brady Mitchell with Kind of Blue, and Kelly Farmer on Shameless – all 86 or higher. Although they weren’t at the top of the class, I was really impressed by the 2 very young riders in the class, Augusta Iwasaki and Natalie Jayne.
There was some unwelcome excitement when 2 main sets of lights went out at the in-gate end of the arena. The remaining participants had the unique disadvantage of jumping in interrupted lighting. I think it resulted in some difficulties for the riders and horses. The other subject I must touch on is the scoring. Wow! There were 6 judges, 3 pairs of 2 at 3 separate places around the ring. The first and third set were fairly in line while the second set was often very far off from the others, by as much as 30 points difference. Can that be explained by their location on the course?! I just don’t know! Being a hunter rider myself I obviously have a lot of love for the discipline, but this is when I somewhat throw my hands up and shake my head in confusion. All in all I think the end results were probably fair. I guess it is a good thing there were three sets! While that was concerning, the class overall was great and fun to watch. Seeing hunters canter up to a 4′ fence is inspiring. Precision at that level in the hunter ring is no small feat. I got a couple of fabulous items from the silent auction put on by the USHJA Foundation. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people got in on the bidding due to the location of the auction in the entry to the International Club. You should definitely check out my fabulous takeaways from the auction, this beautiful rider wristlet made by Black Knight Accessories (I have another in black that I use ALL of the time) and this awesome belt buckle made by Stacey Bradley. In serendipitous fashion I met Black Knight Accessories designer, Monique, while walking between rings on Friday. She spotted her wristlet on my belt and stopped me to introduce herself. I love those kind of chance meetings!