Scott Stewart and Catch Me. Photos © Sportfot.
Marilyn Little and Clearwater Top $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic; Lucy Deslauriers and Hester Win $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Welcome
Wellington, FL – February 18, 2017 – For the second year in a row, Scott Stewart and Catch Me won the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, the highlight class of week six on Saturday, February 18, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.
Over the 21-year history of the class, Stewart has been a dedicated participant, but it wasn’t until 2016 that he found himself in the winner’s circle. This year, Stewart piloted not only the stunning ten-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding to a repeat victory, but also a green six-year-old KWPN gelding, Private Life, to the second place position.
The WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular takes place during World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at WEF as the feature “Saturday Night Lights” event. The United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) founded WCHR in 1992 to recognize hunter riders and the Hunter Spectacular debuted shortly after. Each year, hunter riders look forward to the chance to compete under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Stewart took the top two spots, while Elizabeth Boyd and Maraschino finished third, and rounding out the top four was Maggie Jayne and Standing Ovation.
Thirty of the country’s top professionals, juniors, and amateurs tackled the two-round course, which is offered at three heights (3’6″, 3’9″, and 4′) and designed by Patrick Rodes. The top 12 riders returned for the second round. Each of the competitors qualified for the class by winning either champion or reserve in one of the specified hunter divisions during WCHR week at WEF or through another WCHR designation.
Scores came from three panels of judges, including Rick Fancher and Tammy Provost on panel one, Jim Clapperton and Shane George on panel two, and Chris Wynne and Mary Lisa Leffler on panel three. Overall placings were decided by combining scores from the first and second rounds.
Stewart, of Wellington, FL, and Catch Me topped the first round with a score of 94.00, and while their score of 88.66 wasn’t the highest in the second round, their two round total of 182.60 was enough for the win. Catch Me is owned by Gochman Sport Horses, LLC and is no stranger to the winner’s circle. The gelding by Casiro was recently named 2016 USEF’s National Horse of the Year and has been champion numerous times during the 2017 winter circuit.
“He’s been really good this whole circuit,” Stewart detailed. “I think he’s an even better horse than last year. He was a blast to ride, and after knowing that last year he was so good, I could relax a bit more this year and just have fun. The course rode nice, and it was inviting for the horses.”
As Becky Gochman, who also rides Catch Me in the Amateur-Owner Hunters, put it, “Everything is icing on the cake at this point. I’m thrilled with past performances, and I look forward to future performances. Whatever happens, I feel relaxed and filled with gratitude. This sport means a lot to me and my family.”
Stewart rode Private Life to a second place finish in the gelding’s first Hunter Spectacular. Dr. Betsee Parker owns the 2011 KWPN gelding by Verdi. The gelding was sitting in third place with a score of 88.66 going into the second round, but after topping the second round, earning a 92.33, he finished in second place, tallying 180.99 total points.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Stewart explained. “He’s always brave and rides like a made-up horse, but he’s only just turning six years old. This was his fourth horse show at 3’6″. I was really thrilled with him. He couldn’t have been any better.”
Earlier in the week, Stewart and Private Life swept the High Performance Working Hunter Division, impressively winning all four classes for the championship title and a coveted spot in the feature Saturday night class. The Hunter Spectacular is limited two entries per rider and although Stewart qualified several more experienced mounts, he opted to compete Private Life as one of his two mounts.
“He went really well this week,” Stewart stated. “Even though he’s the greenest, he’s probably my easiest horse to ride. He just acts really grown up and rides like a junior hunter. Not only does he jump well, but he’s really comfortable to ride.”
Elizabeth Boyd knows just what it takes to win the feature event, having won the class on several occasions including the inaugural year. After an unexpected dismount from her first ride, Boyd of Camden, SC returned to redeem herself. Boyd guided Lily Bennett’s Maraschino to a total score of 176.83 for third place. Maraschino is a ten-year-old Warmblood mare that Boyd has ridden on and off since 2014.
“She’s a great mare,” Boyd praised. “She’s definitely not the typical chestnut mare. She’s super happy and wonderful to be around. The Langmeiers started her; they sort of brought her along as a First Year horse. Then we bought her for a client named Lily Bennett. Now Lily is doing jumpers primarily, and she’s for sale. I’m fortunate enough to get to ride her, and she’s such a trier. I’m really proud of her.”
Describing her plan going into the second round, Boyd said, “[Scott and Maggie] did it so well because [they] went inside to the one big oxer and then around to the third jump. [They] just went forward and flowing. I just tried to copy what they did; they rode forward.”
Maggie Jayne of Elgin, IL rode a new mount, Standing Ovation, to an overall score of 176.49 and fourth place. Standing Ovation is a 2007 stallion by Last Man Standing. The pair earned scores of 87.83 and 88.66 in the first and second rounds, respectively. The stallion was purchased by Pony Lane Farm in December and has only competed in the hunters a handful of times. Jayne qualified her mount for the class by earning the reserve ribbon in the High Performance Conformation Hunter division.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Jayne explained. “After the first round, I knew the second round would be even better, because he normally gets better as he goes. He was sensational. Maddy [Thatcher] rides him in the Amateur-Owners, and I normally do him in the green conformation, but this week I did the Regular Conformation. He’s a stallion and he knows he’s a stallion, but he’s an absolute gentleman to ride.”
Jennifer Bliss finished in fifth place aboard Poker Face, an entry of Harris Hill Farm, LLC, with scores of 87.00 and 88.33 for a 175.33 total. Previous winner of the Hunter Spectacular, Victoria Colvin earned scores of 84.33 and 88.00 for a total of 172.33 aboard Koala for a sixth place finish.
Junior and Amateur Hunter Champions Crowned in International Arena
The Junior Hunters took their turn in the International Arena on Saturday. Augusta Iwasaki of Calabasas, CA topped both 15 & Under divisions, while Sophie Gochman of Palm Beach, FL captured the two reserve titles. Iwasaki piloted Lyn Pederson’s Small Affair to the championship award in the Engel & Völkers Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under division. The pair won the handy and an over fences round, as well as placing fourth under saddle and third in the stake.
“He was perfect this week,” Iwasaki praised the 2004 Selle Francais gelding by Elf d’Or. “He’s funny because he thinks he can get away with whatever he wants. He’s a great horse though.”
The gelding has a strong track record in the division this year, winning the championship weeks one, two, and three of WEF. Sophie Gochman guided Garfield, an entry of Rose Hill Farm, to a win in the stake round and a second place finish over fences to earn the reserve ribbon. The striking chestnut gelding by Coriano has a long list of accolades collected over the years with numerous junior riders.
In the Small Junior Hunters 15 & Under, Iwasaki and Illusion, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, were named champions after wins in the stake and handy rounds. Illusion is an 18-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Lord Sinclair. Gochman and Mythical placed second in both the handy and an over fences round, and third under saddle to secure the reserve title. Mythical is a 13-year-old Westphalian gelding by Cornet Obolensky that has been a part of the Gochman family since 2013.
Iwasaki enjoyed showing her veteran mount in the International Arena. “Riding in the International is a lot of fun,” she said. “You get to gallop more because it’s bigger, which is exciting. [Illusion] felt really good and more excited than normal in the ring today.”
Taylor St. Jacques of Glen Allen, VA and Emma Kurtz of Wellington, FL each won a champion and reserve ribbon in the Junior Hunter 16-17 divisions. St. Jacques and Rose Hill Farm’s William Hill found their way to the Staller Small Junior Hunter 16-17 championship. In addition to placing second under saddle, the pair topped two over fences classes with scores of 90 and 91. Kurtz and Wisdom, an entry of Rivers Edge, settled for reserve honors after winning the under saddle and placing second and third over fences.
“He was absolutely incredible today,” St. Jacques said of the 2010 Bayer gelding by Coronas. “As soon as we walked into that ring and started trotting around, I knew he was ready to win. I could feel it. Being here means a lot to me. Not everyone gets this opportunity, so it’s pretty special.”
Emma Kurtz and Dedication came out on top in the Bruno Delgrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division. The pair won the under saddle and stake round and placed third over fences and sixth in the handy. Kurtz has ridden Dr. Betsee Parker’s coming 12-year-old gelding by Casado since last summer. In the over fences portion, St. Jacques and Point Being, owned by Derby Lane, LLC, earned two seconds and a sixth place ribbon to claim the reserve honors.
“I thought the ride went really well,” Kurtz detailed. “The course was nice. It was fun and interesting for the horses. Dedication can be grumpy. He’ll wait for a treat with his ears straight back. He’s awesome though, and we love him.”
The Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division was dominated by Callie Seaman of Greenwich, CT. At just her third show following back surgery, Seaman took the champion and reserve titles aboard her own Chicago and Skorekeeper, respectively. Chicago is a new mount for Seaman.
The nine-year-old Warmblood gelding won two over fences classes and placed second under saddle, while Skorekeeper finished first in the handy, second in the stake, third over fences, and fourth under saddle for the reserve honor.
“He’s a really special horse,” Seaman said of Chicago. “I didn’t come out expecting to be champion this weekend. I’ve had a few really good rounds with him, but I’m still figuring him out so it was really exciting to be so consistent and solid on him.”
John Ingram of Nashville, TN narrowly beat out Jane Gaston of The Plains, VA for the championship award in the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunters Over 35. A difference of half of a point determined who received the championship and reserve awards. Ingram rode his long-time partner Airport 48, owned by John & Stephanie Ingram, LLC, to a win in the stake round and two second place finishes over fences. Gaston rode her own Because to two wins and a fifth place finish over fences, and sixth place under saddle.
“Airport is like a comfortable pair of shoes,” Ingram described of his 2003 Holsteiner gelding. “You know what you’re going to get, and he just likes this week. I’ve been very fortunate to qualify [for the WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular] the last two years so maybe the third time is the charm. Maybe I’ll make it to the second round!”
Marilyn Little and Clearwater Top $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
USA’s Marilyn Little won the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Clearwater on Saturday of week six at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival.
Jumping a course set by Richard Jeffery (GBR) on the derby field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Little and Karen O’Connor’s Clearwater topped a class of 34 and a three-horse jump-off to take victory. They cleared the short course in 39.27 seconds.
France’s Marie Hecart and Myself de Breve stopped the clock in 41.96 seconds for second place. Mavis Spencer (USA) and Neil Jones Equestrian’s Chacco finished third with four faults for a rail, as well as one time fault, in the jump-off.
Saturday’s win was a quick comeback for Little, who was leading the $100,000 Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase two weeks ago when she and her mount, RF Scandalous, took a bad fall on the cross-country course. Although RF Scandalous was unharmed, Little hit her head and took some time to recover.
“The last time I was out here I had a fall in the Eventing, so this is a little bit of redemption for me on the field,” she acknowledged. “After the fall, I have been getting better and better. Yesterday was the first day that I really felt like I was back to myself. A week ago, it was dicey. I hit my head pretty hard. Luckily, I had an airvest on and a great helmet that really cushioned me. It could have been a lot worse, but here we are. We are still playing the game, and I am happy to be here.
“It was a great course today. It was really exciting, and Clearwater is so much fun to ride in the jump-offs,” Little continued, speaking of the ten-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Clearway x Come On). “He is young, but he really loves the fields. He has been a little bit unlucky over the last few weeks, but he has been getting progressively better over the last year. He has jumped some really big classes, so this was nice to back him down to the 1.50m.”
Speaking of her winning jump-off, Little explained, “I knew that Marie’s horse in particular can be very fast. I have known that horse for a long time. It is clever, and fast, and Marie is always super competitive. Initially, I thought if I laid down a good clear round, Mavis would have to chase me, but then once I knew that Marie was in the jump-off, everything changed. I knew that I was going to have to lay down something that could win no matter how many people were in the jump-off. Luckily, he is a really quick horse. This was his first time out on that field, so he was a little bit lost, but he really looks. He is always looking for the flags; that is what we say about eventers.”
Lucy Deslauriers and Hester Win $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Welcome, presented by EnTrust Capital
Lucy Deslauriers (17) of New York, NY guided Lisa Deslauriers’ Hester to victory in Saturday morning’s $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Welcome, presented by EnTrust Capital, on the derby field at PBIEC. The 2015 winners of the Under 25 Series overall, the pair perfected Richard Jeffery’s (GBR) speed track in 69.57 seconds.
Forty-eight entries started over the first round speed course, and nine completed clear rounds. Second place went to Mackenzie Drazan (USA) and Waliba VDL in 70.85 seconds. Third place was presented to Jessica Mendoza (GBR) riding Horst van de Mispelaere with a time of 72.42 seconds. Lauren Fischer (USA) took fourth and fifth place honors, guiding Tosca de Feugre through the times in 73.74 seconds and stopping the clock in 75.83 seconds riding My Pleasure, both horses under the ownership of Cheryl Fischer.
“He’s back!” Deslauriers smiled after Saturday’s win. “He has been on a break since the National Horse Show (in November). Besides yesterday’s warm-up class, this is his first real class back this year, so I really could not be happier. He is really happy to be showing, and I am so happy with him.”
Deslauriers (17) is a full-time student in New York City and travels to compete in Wellington every weekend. She trains with her father, Olympian Mario Deslauriers, and mother, former international show jumper Lisa Deslauriers. She has been a top junior rider, as well as a winner of many Under 25 and international competitions throughout North America.
Many of Deslauriers’ victories have come aboard Hester, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker) that she has ridden for almost four years. Saturday’s course caused problems for many competitors, but Deslauriers and Hester’s experience together was a great advantage.
“I thought it was a pretty steep track, especially for the welcome,” she noted. “The last few jumps were quite big and the double liverpools definitely caught a few people. Luckily, Hester is quite brave, so I do not really have to worry about that. There was a careful plank, and the short turn to the double in front of the bank caught a bunch of people as well. Throughout the course there were a lot of tough places.
“He really thrives on grass fields,” Deslauriers detailed. “He has a huge stride, and he just gets to open up, and really show what he can do. I really just stay out of the way and let him do his thing.”
Deslauriers has also been showing some young horses that she is bringing along with her father this winter and hopes to move up to compete with Hester in some FEI classes now that the gelding is back in action.
The Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, continues with its $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Entrust Capital, on Sunday, February 19.
The series was expanded to ten events in 2017, offering a total of $245,000 in prize money for the circuit. Developed as a bridge to the international level of grand prix competition, the Series gives athletes, both human and equine, an opportunity to compete under a myriad of conditions, including jumping on grass, under the lights at night, and in team competition; all important elements that competitors will face as their international careers progress. The series concludes with a $50,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Final, which the top 30 riders in the point standings will be invited to contest on Sunday, April 2.
The sixth week of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival concludes on Sunday with the $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series, presented by EnTrust Capital and $50,000 National Grand Prix on the derby field at Equestrian Village at PBIEC. Hunters wrap up competition in the International Arena with three classics. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.