Conor O’Regan & Mendini DR. Photo © Sportfot.
Ireland’s Conor O’Regan has been producing Mendini DR since the mare’s six-year-old year. The now 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Hunter’s Scendix x Cassini I) carried O’Regan to victory in the $25,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic, the opening event of the 2023 1.50m Championship Jumper Series at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Mendini DR, owned by Erin and Jimmy Walker’s Dynomite Ranch, had a deep cheering section on Saturday afternoon as she raced to the finish line in 41.185 seconds with a second to spare over runner-up Luis Fernando Larrazabal (VEN) riding Condara for owner Victoria Heurtematte. They stopped clock at 40.477 seconds.
Of the 28 horses that started the class, five advanced to the tie-breaking jump-off over a course designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA).
“I’ve produced this horse and we are still in a building stage with her, so to get the win today is a bonus,” said O’Regan. “She’s always had a good brain, but her style is quite unique. The biggest thing with her was just to take my time and make sure she is comfortable jumping bigger. I think she proved that she can today.”
The Boys Are Back: Men’s Team Wins Battle of the Sexes
The first “Saturday Night Lights” event of 2023 started off with a bang, bringing in huge crowds and tremendous fun on January 7 with the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center. This crowd favorite event highlighted Premiere Week of the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), which runs for 13 weeks through April 2. The men’s team broke an 11-year winning streak for the women in the 14-year history of the event.
The women’s team for Battle of the Sexes consisted of team captain Nicole Jayne, Kelly Soleau-Millar, Heather Caristo-Williams, Delaney Flynn, Samantha Mackenzie, Mia Mannis, Abigail McArdle, Catherine Pasmore, Alexis Sokolov, and Ally Worthington.
The men’s team, led by captain Charlie Jayne, also included Christian Coyle, Daniel Coyle, Jordan Coyle, Alex Granato, Luis Larrazabal, Tony Stormanns, Sohnke Theymann, Michael Tokaruk, and Simon McCarthy.
The Battle of the Sexes consists of three phases, with the first being a Table C faults-converted speed course where the riders go to head-to-head over the same course, and the one with the fastest time gains a point for their team. Following the first phase, the men’s team had a commanding lead at nine to one.
In the second phase, each team had three relay groups, where a trio of riders each did a section of the course. The women’s team fought back in the second phase closing the gap by ten points.
The final phase was a match race where riders competed at the same time over a course that mirrored itself in the ring. Scores started at 11 to 14 with the men still leading, but by the penultimate match they were neck and neck. Christian Coyle brought back hope to the men’s team by overtaking Nicole Jayne in their match race with only one match remaining.
“Going into the match race, I wanted to try and be as slick and neat as possible because my horse is naturally fast,” said Christian Coyle. “I saw after number three that Nicole was still close and then going to the skinny, I thought she was a little ahead, so I took a risk to the second-to-last and it paid off. Then I could be a little cautious and make sure I left the last up. It’s a great class. There was brilliant atmosphere here tonight and it is good fun for everyone.”