Category Archives: Hunter/Equitation

McLain Ward Closes Out WEF Premiere

McLain Ward & Catoki. Photo © Sportfot.

The $75,000 Prestige Italia Grand Prix wrapped up Premiere Week in the International Arena on Sunday, January 7, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). While there proved to be an exciting lineup of horses and riders, two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward and the little bay superstar, Catoki, simply could not be caught.

The class consisted of twenty-six riders over a challenging thirteen-obstacle course designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA), including a triple combination that caused several rails. The class started off with a bang, including several early clear trips, but as it unfolded the clear rate slowed. The first four to jump clear and make the time allowed were Chris Ewanouski (CAN), Matt Williams (AUS), Jimmy Torano (USA), and Ward. Richard Vogel (GER) and Michael Murphy (USA) in the latter half of the draw then joined the jump-off list.

McLain and his sportscar of a horse, Catoki (Catoki x Caretello B) owned by Marilla van Beuren and Bob Russell were the quickest and most precise by more than three full seconds in the jump-off, to land them with an exciting win. They crossed the timers in 29.003 seconds, while Australia’s Matt Williams finished second riding Meadowvale Cruise in 32.959 for owner Wyndmont.

“He’s feeling great,” said Ward of his 2009 Holsteiner gelding. “He’s always great after a little bit of rest. He’s won so much and goes so fast; he almost gets a little bit like a racehorse. So, we gave him a long break after Toronto and he came back a little more mellow.”

Jean Sheptoff’s Verdict Tops Hunt Ltd. 3’6” Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter Division

The Hunt Ltd. 3’6” Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter division was the exclamation point on hunter competition during WEF Premiere and saw Jean Sheptoff’s Verdict pinned as champion.

Verdict, a 2011 Zangersheide gelding by Verdi, earned two wins over fences in addition to a second and third-place ribbon for the tri-color at the conclusion of the week. “Verdict jumped beautifully this weekend,” she said of the mount, which is coming off a long break since indoor competition in the fall. “He’s feeling his best as we start to gear up for [WCHR] hunter week [during WEF 6].”

Sheptoff has had the ride on Verdict since he joined her string as a six-year-old pre-green horse. They have progressed into a solid partnership that is now earning champion honors in the highly competitive amateur-owner hunter ranks.

“The handy yesterday was a really fun course and my horse rises to the occasion in the handy, so that was a great day,” said Sheptoff of her handy victory on Saturday. “I have basically been the only one riding him since we got him, so he always tries hard for me.”

Communications and Media Relations
news@wellingtoninternational.com
Wellington International | (561) 793-5867
www.wellingtoninternational.com

John French and Milagro Win WEF Premiere $25k USHJA International Hunter Derby

John French & Milagro. Photo © Sportfot.

John French set a high bar for the 2023 hunter season at Wellington International with Milagro on Friday. The pair jumped around effortlessly to steal the win in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during opening week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Thirty combinations set out to conquer the classic derby format class as a highlight to professional, amateur, and junior hunter competition during WEF’s 2023 debut.

Right behind French came Michael Britt-Leon and Bacchus, a 2013 Hanoverian gelding owned by Kelly Sims, in second place, followed by Greg Crolick and Zanziebar R Z, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jon Cotton, in third place.

French and Milagro, the coming eight-year-old gelding owned by Kent Farrington, LLC, claimed the derby victory over an interesting course plan in front of two panels of judges.

“The course was different; it wasn’t your typical turns, so you had to really pay attention to where you were going. There were times you thought you’d be going left, but really you were turning a little sharper to the right,” he said after posting a first-round combined score of 186. “Sometimes you do that in the handy, but there were a lot more turns today. It was definitely a true derby course and not your normal hunter course.”

Tomas Yofre Has What It Takes in Bainbridge 1.40m Speed Challenge

Argentina’s Tomas Yofre is off and running at WEF with a victory in the Bainbridge 1.40m Speed Challenge on Friday riding Eliante Z, a 2013 Zangersheide mare by Ermindo W. From a starting field of 62 over a course designed by Eric Hasbrouck USA, Eliante Z proved she had the speed to top them all for owner by Stellium Sport Horses LLC.

“I am so thankful to Olivia Broder and her family for trusting me with this special mare,” said Yofre of the mount he’s only been partnered with since the end of the 2022 season. “She gets better and better. She is super careful and competitive, and I think she can win any class she wants.”

Sweeping the rest of the podium, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny took second on California Pie, owned by Oakland Ventures, and third aboard Cicomein VDL for owned HKC Collection LLC.

Communications and Media Relations
news@wellingtoninternational.com
Wellington International | (561) 793-5867
www.wellingtoninternational.com

Richard Vogel Wins 35k Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Premiere Round

Richard Vogel & Codex 28. Photo© Sportfot.

The highly anticipated 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season debuted this week at Wellington International. Germany’s Richard Vogel launched into the new year with a victory in the $35,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Premiere Round on Thursday. All eyes were on Vogel and his mount, Codex 28, as the pair stormed to victory over 11 other jump-off contenders.

A total of thirty-one entries jumped course designer Eric Hasbrouck’s (USA) first round. Of the twelve pairs that advanced to the tie-breaking round, eight were double clear. Vogel and Codex 28 (Contendros 2 x Espri) were the ones to beat, and they showed off an effortless and speedy final round finishing a quarter of a second ahead of two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward and Catoki.

Vogel and Codex 28, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Sportpferde Herbert, have a dynamic history together as the pair began their journey when the talented gelding was five years old. After competing for a time at the national level with its owner, Codex 28 is now back under the direction of Vogel and is pointed towards lofty goals. Vogel said that the athletic mount has to be one of his most “promising horses for the future.”

Scott Stewart Shines during Opening Week

An ever-present “one to beat” in the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hunter ring, Scott Stewart collected tri-colors in three divisions during the first two days of professional hunter competition at WEF. The first championship came in the Equine Tack & Nutritionals 3’9” Green Hunter division in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Stadium on Thursday.

Stewart, of Wellington, FL, piloted Jordan, a 10-year-old Selle Français gelding by Paname de Varnel owned by Sophie Gochman. Earning first, second, and third-place ribbons across the board, Jordan posted two scores of 88.5, 87, and 88 throughout four rounds of jumping.

“It’s exciting to be back – I love it here. I brought out a small group of horses and they all did well this week,” said Stewart of the start to his WEF season. “Sophie bought Jordan at the end of last year and he was champion throughout indoors. He’s such a good jumper and a real trier.”

Communications and Media Relations
news@wellingtoninternational.com
Wellington International | (561) 793-5867
www.wellingtoninternational.com

Callan Solem and Horion De Libersart Capture $25k Masters Golf Cars Grand Prix at HITS Ocala

Callan Solem and Horion De Libersart. ESI Photography.

Ocala, Fla. – Dec. 18, 2022 – Callan Solem will have two more reasons to smile this holiday season after capturing two of the top three spots during Sunday’s $25,000 Masters Golf Cars Grand Prix at HITS Ocala. Solem piloted Horion De Libersart to victory during the four-horse jump-off and placed third aboard her first mount in the tiebreaker, Essenar Crixus.

Read more.

Comissario Commands $2,500 HITS Holiday Hunter Prix with Morgan Ward

It was a very merry Saturday for Morgan Ward during the HITS Ocala Holiday Classic as she and her veteran partner Comissario dominated the $2,500 HITS Holiday Prix. The 17-year-old Warmblood gelding only competes during special events, and he once again shined in the show ring, earning scores of 92 and 95 to garner the winning title. The duo was also honored with this week’s Healthy Horse Award, sponsored by Omega Alpha.

Read more.

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

Tracy Fenney and MTM Caepten Dash for the Cash in $25k Ocala/Marion County VCB Grand Prix

Tracy Fenney and MTM Caepten. Photo by: ESI Photography.

Ocala, Fla. – Dec. 4, 2022 – Sunday marked the conclusion of the first week of the HITS Holiday Series, with Tracy Fenney capturing her second big victory of the week with MTM Caepten. After winning Friday’s $10,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, the pair was revved up and ready to go. They bested the seven-horse jump-off during the $25,000 Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau Grand Prix by over a full second to take home the lion’s share of the prize money.

Read more.

Morgan Ward and Party Time Celebrate $1,500 HITS Hunter Prix

The HITS Ocala Holiday Series is in full swing at HITS Post Time Farm, with hunters highlighting the action on Saturday during the $1,500 HITS Hunter Prix. Morgan Ward was ready to celebrate after leading the two-round event from start to finish aboard Party Time. Saturday marked Party Time’s hunter prix debut with Ward, and with the new year underway for USEF, she was thrilled to kick off the season with a victory.

Read more.

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

Kat Fuqua Rounds Out 2022 with National Honors in Hunters, Jumpers, and Dressage

Fuqua jumping Nate Archibald to a 3rd place finish in the Zone 4 HOTY Medium Jr./Amateur Jumpers (Photo by Sportfot)

Atlanta, GA (December 3, 2022) – It’s rare for an equestrian to be versatile and multi-talented enough to compete in multiple disciplines; even more rare is the skill to place at the top of the sport in multiple disciplines in the same year. But Atlanta, Georgia’s Kat Fuqua has achieved just that in 2022, finishing off her busy show season with multiple accolades at the 72nd Annual South Florida Hunter Jumper Association Charity Show, and adding to an impressive resume of multi-discipline wins. Her 2022 successes include a Reserve Champion finish in the FEI Prix St. Georges at the US Dressage Finals, multiple Grand Champion Junior Hunter wins, a top 3 finish in the Zone 4 Horse of the Year (HOTY) Medium Junior/Amateur Jumpers, and even a Reserve Champion finish at the 2022 Kentucky Maclay Regional Championships. Fifteen-year-old Fuqua was also named a USEF Dressage Emerging Athlete for 2022, was the first young rider to compete in both Jumping and Dressage at the 2021 North American Young Rider Championships (NAYC), and for 2023 aims to make the USEF European Young Rider team in dressage.

With the classical dressage as her foundation, and under the tutelage of Olympic Bronze Medalist Michelle Gibson, Fuqua stepped onto the dressage scene officially in 2021. In 2022, she and Dream Girl, a 14-year-old KWPN mare, rocketed up through the stratosphere to take Reserve Champion at the US Dressage Finals, just a few percentage points off the win in the FEI Prix St. Georges Open division. The mare was also awarded the Lloyd Landkamer Perpetual Trophy, honoring the highest scoring FEI mare. Prior to the US Dressage Finals, Fuqua was named a 2022 USEF Dressage Emerging Athlete, and was ranked 4th in the country for USDF Horse of the Year FEI Intermediaire I Open.

As her inaugural competitive discipline, Fuqua’s 2022 resume in the Hunters is no less stellar. With the elegant bay gelding Grand Remo, Fuqua won Junior Hunter Grand Champion at Devon, Grand Champion at the USEF Jr. Hunter Finals in 2021, Reserve Champion Junior Hunter Youngers at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Reserve Champion Junior Hunter at the Washington International Horse Show, and was chosen as the cover of this summer’s Chronicle of the Horse June issue. Just this past week, they were also the 2022 Best Junior Hunter Champion at the 72nd Annual SFHJA Charity Horse Show. Together with Grand Remo and her other hunter partners, Fuqua has amassed 8 USEF Horse of the Year titles, 2 Grand Champion titles at the National Horse Show, Grand Champion at Harrisburg, 10 WEF Circuit Championships, Grand Champion at Pony Finals, and to date is the highest earning Pony Derby Rider.

With the Junior Hunters in a sweep and Dressage a new-found success, the jumpers were the next target for Fuqua to set her sights on. She began trying her hand in the discipline less than 2 years ago, and in 2022 finished 3rd in the Zone 4 Horse of the Year Medium Jr./Amateur Jumpers with her own Nate Archibald. In 2021 she made history as the first rider to compete in both the Jumpers and Dressage at the North American Young Rider Championships, and was 10th in the National Devon Championship for High Junior Jumpers with her jumper Gargarin. This indoor season she competed in the High and Medium Junior Jumpers at the Washington International Horse Show, finishing 8th in the $5,000 High Jr./AO 1.40m Jumpers with Nate Archibald.

As icing on her triple threat cake, Fuqua also has been a up-and-coming competitor in the ASPCA Maclay Medal Finals. In 2022 she finished as Reserve Champion at the Kentucky Maclay Regional Championships and was in the Top 25 at the 2021 USEF Dover Seat Medal Finals in 2021.

Just this past week, Fuqua rounded out her 2022 competition schedule at the 72nd Annual SFHJA Charity Horse Show, claiming multiple accolades with her horses. She won the USET Talent Search with Class Act, owned by Emily Smith, and also took the overall win with Smith’s Quite Cassini in the Washington International Horse Show Equitation. Grand Remo remained worthy of his name with Champion in the Junior Hunters Under 15, Champion in the Jr./AA Classic Hunters, Champion Zone 4 Jr. Hunter, and earned Fuqua the title of Best Jr. Hunter Rider.

“Riding horses is what I truly love, whether it’s in a major competition or just enjoying their company at the farm,” said Fuqua. “This fall I began working with Emily & Ken of Ashland Farms, and love their calm but effective training. My goals are to continue to level up in the Jumper ring and get the Equitation down! My heart for the Hunters will never change, remembering back to big pony trainer and judge Mindy Darst who brought me to my first WEF in 2014 and was one of the founders of the USEF Pony Finals. I’ll never give up being a role model for the new pony kids comping up and my goal is to be a top rider in all of my disciplines.”

Kat Fuqua is becoming a household name in multiple equestrian disciplines, known not only for her versatility as a rider but also for the quality of her rides. She began competing at double AA Hunter/Jumper shows at the age of 6, and at 11 years old won the USEF Pony Finals & Grand Champion. She repeated the honor the following year as a 12-year-old, and added the USEF Marshall & Sterling Pony Medal. Her Junior Grand Hunter Championship wins include the 2022 Devon Jr. Hunter Grand Champion, 2021 USEF Jr. Hunter Finals Grand Champion, 2020 & 2021 National Horse Show Jr. Hunter Grand Champion, and 2021 Pennsylvania National Horse Show Jr. Hunter Grand Champion. In the Equitation, she won 2022 Reserve Champion at the Kentucky Maclay Regional Championships and finished Top 25 at the 2021 USEF Dover Seat Medal Finals.

In 2020 she began actively competing in both dressage and jumping, as well as the hunters. She made history as the first rider to ever compete in both disciplines at the 2021 NAYC, where she received 3 Bronze Medals in dressage and finished 4th overall in the Children’s Jumper Team competition. She earned her USDF Bronze and Silver Medals for USDF Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I in 2021, and was named the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions Junior Champion that year. In 2022 she was named a USEF Dressage Emerging Athlete.

Fuqua is currently a full-time freshman at Holy Innocence Episcopal High School in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. She also is a contributor to Elite Equestrian Magazine, writing her own Kat’s Korner column about her horses and life as an upcoming young equestrian.

“I like to inspire riders but showing how even though being a competitive equestrian is tough and a fail often, I get back up and try again to achieve my goals and dreams,” said Fuqua. “I have a lot of pressure going into 2023, but I spend a lot of time at my home base, Collecting Gaits Farm, personally taking care of my horses when I can to build the bond that I think leads them to work harder for me in the show ring. I feel very lucky that so many people want to help me succeed.”

For more information on Kat Fuqua, visit her website at www.KatFuqua.com.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Melissa Strawser and Darwin De Mars Master $20,000 HITS Open Prix at Culpeper Finals

Melissa Strawser and Darwin De Mars. Photo by: Alison Hartwell.

Culpeper, Va. – October 2, 2022 – On Sunday, Melissa Strawser celebrated her one-year anniversary with Darwin De Mars in winning style, earning the victory in the $20,000 HITS Open Prix at the Culpeper Finals. Their partnership began at the same competition last year, and together they have become a dominating force – besting Sunday’s three-horse jump-off after also winning Friday’s $10,000 Open Prix to close out the season at HITS Culpeper.

Read more.

North Shore Nabs $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Win with Isabella Bertozzi

Hunter competition took center stage on Saturday during the HITS Culpeper Finals at Commonwealth Park. Once again, Isabella Bertozzi claimed the winning title in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, this time aboard her veteran partner North Shore. Although it was Bertozzi’s first Hunt & Go Derby, she stayed smooth under pressure to lead the class from start to finish with her talented mount.

Read more.

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

Tom Struzzieri Steps Down as CEO of HITS LLC

Saugerties, NY – September 8, 2022 – HITS LLC announced that as planned, founder Tom Struzzieri will be stepping away from his role as Chief Executive Officer at the end of the 2022 season, after more than 40 years at the helm of HITS LLC. Under Struzzieri’s leadership, HITS has become the premier brand known for producing world-class hunter/jumper competitions in the United States. HITS LLC will be led by their world class management team, while the Company actively engages in a search for a new CEO.

Struzzieri will remain a part owner and Director of HITS LLC, and will continue to provide strategic consulting to the Company as well as significant involvement in the launch of the Del Mar, California Showpark in 2023.

Struzzieri commented: “I have been extremely fortunate over the 4 decades of running HITS to have a terrific group of employees who have been by my side through some very hard climbs as we together have grown the company. I remain committed to those people and will be in constant touch as a consultant as we face the next challenges together. On a parallel course, I have also been blessed to have very loyal clients, and because of that loyalty they too can continue to count on me as a liaison to all things HITS related. The future of HITS is bright and I plan on doing what I can behind the scenes to help it shine.”

“It has been a pleasure to witness the industry through Tom’s eyes. He has been, and will continue to be, a guide and advisor to us all,” said Mortimer Singer, Managing Partner of Traub Capital Partners.  “Tom has built a great business and we look forward to continuing our work together as partners.”

With six locations in New York, Florida, Vermont, Illinois, Virginia, and now California, HITS will continue its mission of providing top quality competitions for riders at every level, while improving its facilities, technology and overall customer experience. Exhibitors can expect exciting new developments at the beginning of 2023 as the HITS Ocala Winter Show Series kicks off at Post Time Farm, as well as at Del Mar Showpark, where teams are already in place to begin renovations.

As Struzzieri steps away from his role as CEO, he is fulfilling his life-long goal of cycling across the United States, and will be supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) with Team Alpha. If you would like to consider making a donation, you can do so here: https://www.alphabikeride.com/team.

For more information, visit HitsShows.com.

Jordan Coyle and Centriko Volo Conquer $100,000 HITS Grand Prix at Saugerties

Jordan Coyle and Centriko Volo. Photo by: ESI Photography.

Saugerties, N.Y. – September 4, 2022 – Returning from his home country of Ireland, Jordan Coyle brought a bit of luck back to the United States with him this week, jumping to victory in the $100,000 HITS Grand Prix during HITS-on-the-Hudson VII with Centriko Volo. Coyle proved that his horses are in top form ahead of the HITS Championship’s $405,300 Grand Prix CSI5*, which will be held Sunday, September 11, by besting the seven-horse jump-off to claim the winning title.

Read more.

Hannah Isop and Believe Bring Home $5,000 HITS Hunter Prix

The final event ahead of the $200,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final was held on Saturday during HITS-on-the-Hudson VII ahead of the HITS Championship. Riders gathered at the Outside Course to vie for the win during the $5,000 HITS Hunter Prix, presented by Patti Howard of Compass Real Estate. At the end of the day, it was Hannah Isop and Believe who led the class from start to finish with two impressive scores of 88 to earn the victory.

Read more.

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

Evan Coluccio and Christian D’Or Make Dominating Debut in $20k HITS Open Prix in Culpeper

Evan Coluccio and Christian D’Or. Photo by: Alison Hartwell.

Culpeper, Va. – August 21, 2022 – Sometimes, a new partnership comes together right from the start, and on Sunday that proved to be the case for Evan Coluccio with his new mount Christian D’Or. The 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood owned by Sea Sporthorses LLC arrived at Coluccio’s farm just 10 days ago, and the $20,000 HITS Open Prix marked their competition debut. They showed their new partnership is a winning one by besting a five-horse jump-off to take home the top prize, kicking off an exciting future together.

Read more.

Isabella Bertozzi and Cousteau Best $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Perfect weather greeted riders during the Winston National at HITS Culpeper as they gathered at the Main Hunter Ring to contest the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Junior rider Isabella Bertozzi laid down a flawless handy round aboard Cousteau, jumping up from third place after the first round to capture the winning title and lead the lap of honor during Saturday’s highlight event.

Read more.

Daniel Kelly and Galena Gallop to $10,000 HITS Open Welcome Victory

It was a race to the finish in Friday’s $10,000 HITS Open Welcome at HITS Culpeper. Daniel Kelly of Purcellville, Virginia galloped home with the victory aboard Galena as the fastest of three double clears during the day’s highlight event. He was able to edge ahead of Jackson Schurtz and Imago Z by just 1/10th of a second, while Juliana Thorbecke and King’s Treasure Evo placed third with a conservative clear round.

For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.