Jos Verlooy and Sunshine clear the Puissance wall at 2.13 meters (6’11”). Photos © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Harley van de Bisschop Win $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final; Caelinn Leahy and Lacey Gilbertson Triumph in Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers
Small Affair Earns Grand Junior Hunter Championship; Colvin Wins Best Child Rider on a Horse and Leads WIHS Equitation Finals Hunter Phase
Washington, D.C. – October 23, 2015 – The 2015 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) featured a variety of fantastic competition on Friday, concluding in the evening with its annual $25,000 The Boeing Company International Jumper Puissance at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. In his first trip to WIHS and competing in his first Puissance ever, Belgium’s Jos Verlooy cleared the wall up to 2.13m (6’11”) to earn the winning prize with his top mount, Sunshine.
In other jumper competition, Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Harley van de Bisschop topped the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final, sponsored by Rushy Marsh Farm and AAA Equestrian. Caelinn Leahy and Esquilino Bay and Lacey Gilbertson aboard Easy Money triumphed in the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers.
Victoria Colvin dominated the hunter and equitation competition. The young rider guided Small Affair to the Grand Junior Hunter Championship and was named Best Child Rider on a Horse in her last year as a junior competitor. She also led the way in the hunter phase of the WIHS Equitation Finals, presented by SAP.
Anthony D’Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY is the course designer for the jumpers at WIHS this week and fittingly holds the 32-year indoor Puissance record for his win at 7′ 7 1/2 ” aboard Sweet ‘N Low in 1983. He set the wall for the evening’s $25,000 The Boeing Company Puissance, starting at 1.73m (5’8”) in height, and continuing up to 2.13m (6’11”) in four rounds of competition.
The Puissance course began with four fences to clear, including an oxer, vertical and triple-bar leading up to the wall set at a starting height of 1.73m (5’8”). Seven combinations started in round one and all cleared the first height. In round two, the first two obstacles were removed, leaving just the triple bar and the imposing wall, which moved up to 1.89m (6’2”). Charlie Jayne (USA) and Bassandra were the first pair out of the competition, clearing the wall, but dropping an unfortunate rail over the triple-bar on the way. Kama Godek (USA) on Apollo Mission and Kaitlin Campbell (USA) aboard Artani 2 each had the wall down in round two to complete their nights.
Continuing into round 3, the wall moved up to 1.97m (6’5 1.2”), over which Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Venturo 9 dropped the blocks to finish their first Puissance together. The fourth and final round brought the wall up to 2.13m (6’11) with only three competitors remaining. Jos Verlooy and Sunshine were first to go and cleared the height easily. Verlooy then watched as Aaron Vale (USA) and Zippo II, as well as McLain Ward (USA) and Bueno, each faulted over the final summit. Nineteen-year-old Verlooy and Sunshine, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Diamant de Semilly x O’Diamand), proudly celebrated their first Puissance win to the applause of a great crowd at Verizon Center.
They were awarded The Sweet ‘N Low Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Tober, as well as The Armed Forces Cup, presented by The Boeing Company. Verlooy also accepted The Congressman’s Challenge Trophy, donated by the Late Honorable Rogers C. B. Morton and the Late Honorable F. Robert Watkins, on behalf of Axel Verlooy and Euro Horse Bvba as the owner of the winning horse.
Verlooy has ridden Sunshine for almost one year and plans to compete the gelding in Saturday night’s World Cup qualifying grand prix. This was the first Puissance for both horse and rider.
“He is a very talented horse,” Verlooy stated. “I thought it could be good to jump a few nice rounds in the Puissance, and in the end I won, so it is even better. I really liked it. It is really fun if you have the right horse. Today, I had the right horse.”
“It was scary, yeah. I was looking this morning for a few videos and I saw a few falls,” Verlooy admitted. “I did not want to do that. I was a little bit stressed, but I should not have been because my horse is really relaxed. He jumped it very safely. He made the jump easy for me.”
In his first trip to WIHS, Verlooy enjoyed the Friday night crowd and great atmosphere at one of the top show jumping competitions on the calendar in North America.
“It’s a very good experience. It is a real American show and I really like the American shows,” he stated. “I come often to America to show and I really like it over here.”
Nicola Philippaerts Takes International Speed Final
Prior to the Puissance, a $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final was held in a faults converted format, sponsored by Rushy Marsh Farm and AAA Equestrian. Last year, Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts won the competition, and this year it was his twin brother, Nicola, who took top honors.
Twenty-one entries jumped the Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) designed course, and Philippaerts earned the winning prize with a clear round in 53.48 seconds aboard Ludo Philippaerts and Ben Beevers’ H&M Harley vd Bisschop. Colombia’s Daniel Bluman was close behind with a clear round in 53.86 seconds aboard Blue Star Investments’ Conconcreto Believe to finish second. Ireland’s Conor Swail had the best time of 52.81 seconds riding Susan & Ariel Grange’s Cita, but one rail came down to add four seconds to his time and put the pair in third place.
Commenting on his plan, Philippaerts detailed, “I was not sure about some of the lines, but I saw a few doing six (strides) to the last one and then five strides from #8 to 9. My horse has quite a big stride, so I was sure I had to do that. It was a good decision. I came quite short to jump #2, so I had to follow (through). Then at the combination I had seven strides normal, and the wall came quite fast. It was difficult. You needed to be quite careful.”
“My horse is only eight years old, so he does not have much experience yet, but I know it is a fast horse,” Philippaerts continued. “It looked fast enough today, so I was happy. I do not want to do too much with him. I think he is for sure a very promising horse for next year. I wanted to take him as a second horse here and have him grow a little bit at the higher level. He does it well for the moment.”
“He is very scopey, very careful,” the rider added. “He has a lot of blood, but he always seems to stay quite quiet. It is really good because as they get older they will get quieter themselves. He is just a super horse.”
WIHS has been a great show for the Philippaerts family in recent years and Nicola enjoys the great competition and atmosphere each year.
“It is a fantastic show. I’m always happy to come back here every year,” he acknowledged. “It is always nice when the crowd is cheering you on. It is very motivating. It’s nice to ride here with this crowd.”
Colvin Leads Junior Hunters
The Junior Hunter divisions concluded their second day of competition at WIHS on Friday morning with the presentation of their championship awards. The Grand Junior Hunter Championship was awarded to Small Affair, ridden by Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL. They were presented with the Ides of March Perpetual Trophy, donated by Linda Lee and Lee Reynolds. Colvin then earned the award for Best Child Rider on a Horse and earned the special DiVecchia Perpetual Trophy. That award was sponsored by Gotham North; the trophy donated by Mr. and Mrs. Frederick DiVecchia.
On the way to earning the grand championship, Colvin and Small Affair won the top tricolor in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division, sponsored by Chansonette Farm. The pair won two classes over fences, placed second in the handy, and also finished second under saddle. They were awarded the Chance Step Perpetual Trophy, donated by Brooke Carmichael McMurray-Fowler and Pam Carmichael Keenan. Parker’s Inclusive earned reserve honors in the division with Colvin in the irons for first and second place ribbons over fences and Emma Kurtz aboard for a fourth place finish under saddle.
Colvin began riding Small Affair this winter and had consistent results with the gelding all season. The 12-year-old Selle Francais (by Elf d’Or) is owned by Lyn Pedersen and currently leased by Dr. Betsee Parker. The pair also completed the best Junior Hunter stake round with a high score of 90 to earn the Lyrik Challenge Trophy, donated by Ashley and Courtney Kennedy.
“I think I was champion the first show I rode him in. He is my most solid ride I would say. We always know that he is probably going to do well,” Colvin noted. “Now we are getting hack ribbons too, so it has gotten better and better. We started out not getting hack ribbons. He hunches in a little. He is a little crooked sometimes and he tries to cut in around the turns, so he needs more jumper type flatwork, not just a loose hunter ride. You have to do half passes and lateral work to make him straight and more supple. He is a little one-sided.”
Detailing her rounds with Small Affair this week, Colvin noted, “Our first round he was very good; he won that class. He felt like he was holding himself a little in the first round. He was a little low and trailing behind, but he went in and won that. His handy, he was amazing and jumped much better. I just hit one jump and Inclusive won that one. Today he went the best. He just went in there and jumped amazing.”
“You have to kind of hold him before the jump,” Colvin said of figuring out the ride. “He gets a little nervous. He kind of holds his breath, but by his third round he just canters right around. In the beginning you just have to hold his hand and leg him a little bit so he knows you’re there.”
This is Colvin’s final year competing in the Junior Hunter divisions, and she has already moved up to show her talent in the international jumper classes with a win in Thursday’s $35,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake. She also finished second in Thursday night’s $20,000 Gambler’s Choice Costume Class, presented by the Winter Equestrian Festival. Along with a full schedule of hunters and jumpers, she has her sights set on winning this year’s WIHS Equitation Finals, presented by SAP, and took the first step towards making that dream come true with a fantastic round in the hunter phase on Friday. She took the early lead riding Dr. Betsee Parker’s Patrick to scores of 93 and 90 from the two judging panels for an overall high score of 91.50 in the first round of competition.
The WIHS Equitation Finals will continue on Saturday with all riders returning for the jumper phase. The hunter and jumper scores will then be averaged out to determine the top ten riders who will participate in the final work-off. The riders change horses by determination of a random draw by lot and then compete over the jumper course for final scores.
After the hunter phase, Hunter Holloway sits in second place with a score of 89, Mckayla Langmeier scored an 88.25, Morgan Ward finished fourth with an 87.50, and Kelli Cruciotti stands fifth with a score of 86.875.
“Patrick was perfect. He jumped the first jump phenomenal and he landed left thankfully. I had one hard rub, but other than that he felt fantastic,” Colvin detailed. “We tried to save him all year and I think it worked. He was fantastic at Medal Finals, so let’s hope it goes well tomorrow.”
Concluding the Junior Hunter divisions on Friday, the Small Junior Hunters 15 & Under, sponsored by Riverview Farm, awarded championship honors to Isabelle Aldridge’s Kahlua. Emma Kurtz rode the mare to two wins over fences and a fifth place finish under saddle. Laura Wasserman’s Fine Design jumped to second, third and fourth place ribbons and a sixth place finish under saddle to take reserve honors with Katherine Dash aboard.
In the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under division, sponsored by Entrust, Hunter Siebel jumped Mountain Home Stables’ Pure Abundance to championship honors with first, second and fourth place ribbons over fences. Leah Toscano led her own Estandar to the reserve championship, placing first and third over fences and third under saddle.
The Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division, sponsored by Sheila and Britton Sanderford, also presented championship honors on Friday. That division saw a win for Kaitlyn van Konynenburg’s Triton Z, ridden by Morgan Ward, with two wins over fences and a second place finish under saddle. Donald Stewart, Jr.’s Cold Case earned reserve honors with Ashton Alexander, earning first, third and fourth place ribbons over fences and a fifth place under saddle.
The final award of the morning was the presentation of the Georgetown Trophy, which went to Vivian Yowan for her high score of 88 riding her own horse, Ransom.
Caelinn Leahy and Lacey Gilbertson Triumph in Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers
WIHS hosted the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers in their first jump-off classes of the week on Friday afternoon with wins for Caelinn Leahy aboard Equilino Bay, and Lacey Gilbertson riding Easy Money.
The $5,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper time first jump-off class, sponsored by Staysail Farm, saw 21 starters and nine in the jump-off. Kelli Cruciotti was first to clear the short course in 32.23 seconds and eventually finished third aboard Serenity Equestrian Ventures’ Wallenberg. Lucy Deslauriers cleared the track next with a jump-off time of 32.63 seconds to place fourth riding Lisa Deslauriers’s Hamlet. Lacey Gilbertson followed with the winning time of 29.77 seconds riding Seabrook LLC’s Easy Money. Last to jump-off, Anna Dryden jumped into second place with her own Petrushka III in a time of 31.46 seconds. For the win, Gilbertson and Easy Money were presented the Cover Story Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres Farm.
The $2,500 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper time first jump-off was held earlier in the afternoon, sponsored by The Strauss Family, with 23 entries and 16 advancing to the jump-off. Seven entries also cleared the short course, with Caelinn Leahy clocking the fastest time of 29.72 seconds aboard Bellis Ltd.’s Esquilino Bay. The pair was awarded the Eleanor White O’Leary Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ashton Hill and Miss Linden Joan Hill.
Sima Morgello and Double S Farm LLC’s Zopala finished second with a time of 31.10 seconds. Sheer Levitin and her own Nabuco placed third in 31.76 seconds. Francesca Dildabanian and her own Catika van de Helle and Samantha Schaefer aboard her own Sugar Ray both tied for the fourth place prize with a time of 32.33 seconds.
Competition continues on Saturday with the opening classes for the pony hunters followed by the $7,500 Senator’s Cup Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, sponsored by The Strauss Family, and the $15,000 Ambassador’s Cup SJHOF High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, sponsored by Staysail Farm. The jumper phase for the WIHS Equitation Finals, presentation by SAP, will close out the afternoon session.
The evening session begins at 7 p.m. with the WIHS Equitation Finals work-off with the top ten riders. The $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, will conclude the night.
CORRECTION: Aaron Vale and Quidams Good Luck Win $20,000 International Jumper Gambler’s Choice Costume Class, sponsored by the Winter Equestrian Festival
The $20,000 International Jumper Gambler’s Choice Costume Class, sponsored by the Winter Equestrian Festival, was held on Thursday evening during the show’s always-popular Barn Night, presented by Dover Saddlery. WIHS apologizes for a miscalculation in scores and would like to congratulate Aaron Vale and Troy Glaus’s Quidams Good Luck on the win. Upon further review of their rounds, it was confirmed that Vale earned the victory with 1110 points.
Laura Kraut (USA) finished second aboard Stars and Stripes’ Andretti S with a score of 1090. Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Chaqui Z placed third with a score of 1080. McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Ashley were declared the fourth place finishers with a total of 1070 points. Charlie Jayne (USA) placed fifth with Alex Jayne and Maura Thatcher’s Bassandra with a score of 1050.
For the win, Vale earned the Crown Royal Trophy, donated by Crown Royal, as the winning rider, and Quidams Good Luck earned the Sue Ann Geisler Memorial Trophy, donated by the Washington International Horse Show, as the winning horse.
For the costume competition, Vale was dressed as Quidams Good Luck’s owner, Troy Glaus, a former Major League Baseball player. Vale carried a baseball bat as he cantered into the ring and threw baseballs personally autographed by Glaus into the Barn Night crowd. Vale later explained that Glaus’s wife, Ann, is an amateur rider and originally imported the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Quidam’s Rubin x Grannus) from England and rode him herself. She originally did eventing and trained with Buck Davidson, who Vale is good friends with. When Glaus decided to make the switch to show jumping, she began training with Vale since they live in the same town.
“She was riding him, but it got to a point where she thought he was a little better than where she was at the moment, so she let me take him on as an eight-year-old,” Vale detailed. “He won a couple grand prix last year and he has won three or four this year, including two FEI classes in Kentucky in the spring. He has had a super record. He is a really competitive horse; he is really fast. I am lucky to have the ride on him right now.”
Speaking of his winning Gambler’s Choice track, Vale explained, “I had a plan, which was pretty similar to what I ended up doing. I went to the top of the stairs to watch the first couple go to see how everything flowed together and what turns looked smooth from above – you can get a better viewpoint from up there. I modified my plan to be just a little bit simpler than it originally was. I thought my course was pretty much a simple figure eight. I could not really get the 70-point fence into my course, but on average I think I was jumping a fence every 3.3 seconds or something, so I felt like I should just ignore those fences. Places I was picking up the 30 and the 40-point fences within three strides were just like jumping the 70 and having to canter around a fence to get to it. I thought it was a smooth course, it was simple for my brain, it was something that fit in my horse’s comfort zone, something that he could do pretty easily I thought, and it worked. He ended up jumping really well. I felt like it was a pretty solid trip, and it would be pretty hard to beat, and luckily it actually ended up that way. It was good fun.”
For full results, please visit www.wihs.org.
About Washington International Horse Show, www.wihs.org
Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of the most prestigious equestrian sporting events in the U.S. More than 26,000 spectators attend the six-day show, which includes Olympic-level competition along with community and charity events. More than 500 top horses and riders come to D.C. from all over the globe to jump for more than a half a million dollars in prize money. Event highlights include the $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, for the President’s Cup (Saturday night), The Boeing Company Puissance high jump competition on Military Night (Friday) and Kids’ Day (Saturday), a free, fun and educational community event. The Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition and is recognized as a Top 25 Horse Show by the North American Riders Group. WIHS is rated CSI4*-W by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the world governing body for horse sports.