Daniel Deusser & Kiana Van Het Herdershof. Photo © Sportfot.
The final five-star class of international competition during Week 7 of the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) came to a close on Sunday afternoon with a win for German Olympian Daniel Deusser and Kiana Van Het Herdershof.
Fifty-three combinations readied themselves to contest Steve Stephens’ (USA) final test of the Lugano Diamonds-sponsored week as finishing touches were put on the first round of the $78,000 CaptiveOne Advisors CSI5* 1.50m Classic.
Deusser, ranked number nine in the world, produced a fault-free first round on both his winning mount and his second entry, Loui LN, with whom he finished in sixth place at the class’s completion.
Deusser and the Stephex Stables’ 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Toulon x Lys De Darmen) are no strangers to the winner’s circle at Wellington International, having won a handful of five-star events in the arena during 2021 and 2022.
“Kiana is a horse I’ve had for many years, and she is naturally very fast, so classes like this are her specialty,” explained Deusser. “If I am clear in the jump-off with her, I am normally always in the top five placings.”
Saratoga Steals Win in CSI2* Grand Prix
Alise Oken, representing the host country, and Saratoga flew around the $50,000 by Ethel M. Chocolates CSI2* Grand Prix in the International Arena to close out WEF 7. Oken, and the 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Chin Champ x Casall) owned by Hi Hopes Farm LLC, were unstoppable, finishing the speed portion of the course in a time of 38.86 seconds. They were the only partnership to post a time sub-40 seconds.
Oken and Saratoga have a relatively new partnership but growing stronger every day. “I’ve had Sara for about a year and a half now. Last year we started doing some of the bigger classes and some 1.50-meters and she’s really excelled at that level. When I first sat on her I thought she had all the scope in the world and I’ve taken my time with her and I think she will jump some of the biggest tracks, but today we also went fast which was great so I’m really happy with the results.”