Following lengthy appeal proceedings, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed and upheld the FEI Tribunal’s decision in the case against Andrew Kocher delivered in June 2021, which saw the US Athlete suspended for 10 years for the use of electric spurs on several horses throughout a prolonged period of time.
Other sanctions in the FEI Tribunal decision rendered two years ago also included the disqualification of results from eight FEI events between June 2018 and November 2019 where evidence supported the athlete’s use of electric spurs on horses, alongside a CHF 10,000 fine and legal costs to the amount of CHF 7,500. Kocher appealed the said FEI Tribunal decision on 1 July 2021, seeking to eliminate or otherwise reduce the sanctions imposed.
The FEI Tribunal decision was the result of a lengthy investigation by the FEI, starting in June 2020 following allegations of electric spur use reported to the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU). It was alleged that Kocher had used electric spurs on a number of FEI registered and national horses in international and national events, as well as during training.
Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the FEI formally opened disciplinary proceedings against Kocher in October 2020. During the proceeding before the FEI Tribunal, it was also discovered that Kocher instructed his employees to use the electric spurs on specific horses. For that purpose, Kocher provided to his employees several electric spurs devices which he manufactured himself.
In its decision, the CAS Panel reached the same conclusion as the FEI Tribunal, to the effect that a ten-year suspension was merited, during which Kocher is barred from participating in or attending, in any capacity, including as a spectator, any competition or event that is authorised or organised by the FEI or any National Federation. The provisional suspension served by Kocher since 28 October 2020 shall be credited against this period of suspension, which will therefore come to an end on 27 October 2030. The CHF 10,000 fine was also upheld, and Kocher is furthermore ordered to pay costs of CHF 7,500.
“We are extremely satisfied with this outcome and that the sanctions the FEI Tribunal imposed, to reflect the severity of the offenses committed by Mr Kocher, have been upheld by CAS,” said FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch.
“It may have taken two years to complete this process, but it confirms that we had the right decision to start with, and that there is no room for leniency when it comes to cases of horse abuse.
“We have rules and regulations in place to protect the integrity of our competitions and the wellbeing of our horses, and when these rules are breached and their welfare is jeopardised, we will continue to seek to impose maximum sentences.”
The FEI Tribunal has suspended US Jumping athlete Andrew Kocher for 10 years and disqualified him from eight events between June 2018 and November 2019 for using electric spurs on horses. The athlete has also been fined CHF 10,000 and ordered to pay costs of CHF 7,500.
The FEI Legal Department notified the athlete on 29 June 2020 that an investigation had been opened following allegations about electric spur use reported to the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU). It was alleged that Mr Kocher had used electric spurs on a number of FEI registered and national horses in international and national events, and during training.
Following the investigation, the FEI formally opened disciplinary proceedings against Mr Kocher in October 2020. He was provisionally suspended on 28 October 2020 pending a hearing before the FEI Tribunal, and this period will be credited against the full suspension, meaning that the athlete is ineligible through to 27 October 2030.
During the suspension, the athlete is barred from participating in or attending, in any capacity, including as a spectator, any competition or event that is authorised or organised by the FEI or any National Federation.
The sanctions also include disqualification of all results obtained at events for which the FEI Tribunal was provided with photographic evidence establishing the athlete’s use of electric spurs. The eight events are: CSI4* Hickstead (GBR), 21-24 June 2018; CSI3* Lexington (USA), 14-18 May 2019; CSI2* Lexington (USA), 22-26 May 2019); CSI5* Calgary (CAN), 5-9 June 2019; CSI5* Calgary (CAN), 27-39 June 2019; CSI3* Traverse City (USA), 7-11 August 2019; CSI3*-W Columbus (USA), 2-6 October 2019; and CSI4*-W Toronto (CAN), 5-9 November 2019.
These sanctions form the operative part of the FEI Tribunal decision. The full reasoned decision will be published here in due course. Parties can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days of receipt of the full decision.
Andrew Kocher & Darius de W. Credit Tom von Kap-herr.
Bromont, August 3, 2019 – Andrew Kocher and Darius de W took first place in the Modified Grand Prix of the 44th edition of the International Bromont at the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park.
FEI4* course designer Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) had prepared a difficult course for this 1.45 m class. With 13 obstacles for 16 efforts including a double combination halfway and a triple almost at the end, the Modified Grand Prix saw only five pairs make it to the jump-off, four of whom were experienced riders. That is how Andrew Kocher & Darius de W, Jonathan McCrea & Fernando H, Ali Ramsay & Bonita VH Keizershof Z & Alberto Michan & Gletscher EIS E were joined by Caroline Di Vittorio & Auburn des Rosiers.
Right from the start in the jump-off Kocher and Darius de W (Berlin x Zuera de W), an 11-year-old KWPN bay gelding owned by Eye Candy Jumpers, took the lead with a clear second round in 37.72 seconds. No other team could match their performance.
Bromont, July 27, 2019 – Andrew Kocher (USA) with Cosmona won the Modified Grand Prix presented by Cofina, while Quebec rider Isabelle Lapierre & her mount Lamaze OBF take the lead of the Hunter Derby at the International Bromont, held at the Olympic Equestrian Park.
Kocher qualifies four horses Andrew Kocher rode four horses, which all qualified for the jump-off. In total, eight pairs took part in the second round: Andrew Kocher with Cosmona, Dyrusa H, Darius de W and Cuata, Alex Jamael with Cassini Quid, Ali Ramsay with Bonita VH Keizershof Z, and Susan Horn with Chacca Keeps II.
Isabelle Lapierre takes the lead and third place in the Hunter Derby Quebec rider Isabelle Lapierre places two horses in the top 3 in the Hunter Derby at the International Bromont. On Lamaze OBF, owned by Margot Clarke Smith, she takes first place. She finishes third with Carrera S, owned by Johannie Legare, right behind Courtney Thomas and her horse Zazou.
Mattias Tromp (left) and Andrew Kocher (right). Photo: The Book LLC.
Devon, Pa. – June 2, 2018 – Since Tuesday, international horses and athletes have been competing for valuable points towards the week’s coveted Open Jumper championship. Following their top performances throughout the 2018 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, Top Line Sport Horse International, LLC’s Kahlua, ridden by USA’s Andrew Kocher, and Beyaert Farm Inc.’s Eyecatcher, ridden by USA’s Mattias Tromp, were crowned the 2018 Open Jumper champions and winners of the Little Big Man Challenge Trophy. Both horses tied with 16 points at the conclusion of Saturday’s $70,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake CSI4*, sponsored by Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar – Radnor, which was won by Kocher and Kahlua.
Lisa Arena Davis and Balou Fulfill Devon Dream with Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunter Championship
The Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions crowned their respective champions on Saturday at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, where Lisa Arena Davis returned to Devon after six years to earn the Devon Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunter championship title aboard Balou.
Miller Young Fina and Maximum Velocity Find Victory in English Pleasure Saddle Seat Championship
The Dixon Oval hosted the English Pleasure Saddle Seat championship on Saturday evening, where 11 competitors put on their best show to vie for the tricolor ribbon. At the end of the evening’s class, it was Miller Young Fina who claimed the top prize with Maximum Velocity. Reserve champion was awarded to Elizabeth Ruffner and SSL Ringo.
Scott Stewart and Private Life. Photo: The Book LLC.
Devon, Pa. – May 30, 2018 – Few people have had as much success in the hunter ring as Scott Stewart, but being able to come to the prestigious Devon Horse Show and secure this year’s Devon Grand Hunter Championship and Devon Leading Hunter Rider award with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Private Life was as rewarding as ever for the renowned hunter rider and trainer.
Andrew Kocher Clinches Second FEI Win in $35,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4*
International show jumpers returned to the Dixon Oval on Wednesday to compete in the $35,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4*, sponsored by Herr’s. Pennsylvania native Andrew Kocher (USA) outpaced 28 horses and athletes with MKO Equestrian LLC’s Zantos II to ride away with the win and the George T. Pew Jr. Memorial Perpetual Trophy in the one-round speed competition.
Debra Taylor Fulfills Devon Dream Picking Up Ladies’ Side Saddle Championship
Ladies’ Day at the Devon Horse Show featured the long standing tradition of the Ladies’ Side Saddle championship. Horse-and-rider combinations competed in an undersaddle class, a hunter hack and an over fences class. At the end of an impressive show of skills from all competitors, it was Debra Taylor and Hypnotic (with trainer Susan Sisco riding over fences) who accumulated the most points to take home the championship ribbon.
Wellington, FL – February 9, 2018 – Friday’s $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic CSI 5* marked the second major win in as many days for U.S. Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward, who captured the Friday victory at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) aboard Bellefleur PS Z.
The $35,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic had 54 entries contesting the speed track set by course designer Kelvin Bywater of Great Britain. Seventeen of those entries completed the course without fault, but none were faster than Ward, who was fresh off a win in Thursday’s $132,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 aboard his 2017 FEI World Cup Final champion mount HH Azur. This time, Ward tripped the timers in 55.88 seconds riding Bellefleur PS Z, a nine-year-old Zangersheide mare owned by Ward’s godmother, Susan Heller, and Ward’s daughter, Lilly.
Andrew Kocher and Kahlua Victorious in $35,000 Equiline 1.45m Classic CSI 2*
In the $35,000 Equiline 1.45m Jumper Classic CSI 2*, Andrew Kocher (USA) was victorious riding Kahlua, owned by Top Line Sporthorse International LLC. They were fastest in an 18-horse jump-off from an original line-up of 83 entries with a time of 30.27 seconds.
Alonso Valdez Prado (PER) and his own Chichester 3 finished second with a time of 30.59 seconds. Third place went to Felipe Amaral (BRA) and Germanico T, owned by Roberta Romalho, who had a time of 31.05 seconds.
Baylee McKeever and Valor Win Washington International Horse Show Pony Equitation
Baylee McKeever and her mount, Valor, owned by Lee McKeever, claimed the blue in Friday’s Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Pony Equitation class. The pair set a high bar to beat in ring 11 as they finished with a high score of 84.
New York, NY – September 14, 2017 – The U.S. Open $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Puissance will return to Central Park for the second consecutive year, showcasing the courage and finessed communication between participating horse and rider combinations. Always a spectator favorite, the U.S. Open $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Puissance will begin after the conclusion of the U.S. Open $40,000 CSX FEI Speed on Thursday, September 21, and is set to start at 9:00 p.m. in Wollman Rink.
The competition will begin with a traditionally decorated brick-wall obstacle set at 4 feet, 6 inches high. As combinations clear the jump, the wall is raised for reach round and the thrilling competition continues until only a single combination remains. Who will clear the towering wall as it grows taller and taller? Join us and find out!
Last year’s competition saw a tie for McLain Ward riding Evergate Stables’ ZZ Top VH Schaarbroek Z and Andrew Kocher aboard Eagle Valley Partners’ C’Havinia. Seven entries started over the imposing Puissance wall and the competition continued up through four more rounds as Ward and Kocher jumped head-to-head at the final height of 6’9″. Neither rider was able to clear the wall at that height, leaving them tied for the win.
Ward entered 2016’s competition at the last minute, though he’s no stranger to Puissance competitions. In fact, he has won many (including seven times at the Washington International Horse Show), and noted that the highest he has cleared is a staggering 7’3″.
“I also attempted to jump an 8-foot wall six different times, but never cleared it. I have no intention of doing that again!” Ward laughed. “2016 was interesting though, because I thought in the second to last round my horse jumped it better, and I thought in the last round Andy’s horse jumped it better. So it was pretty even at the end. I thought it was a nice, exciting class with horses jumping very well.”
Kocher was a first-year competitor at the RCPHS last year, and he had only attempted the Puissance a few times prior. “That mare (C’Havinia) has never done anything like that,” he said. “I have done the Puissance three times at the Washington International Horse Show, and the first time was really bad, but this time I have been practicing for a few weeks. I didn’t have a big enough wall, so I put some hay bales in there to stack it up. It was fun,” he laughed.
Kocher is excited to return to this year’s competition, and commented, “I really like the Central Park Horse Show. It’s just really exciting because it’s right in the middle of New York City, and they have a big crowd. I love the Puissance and I love the high jump. It’s one of my favorite classes and I wish they had it at more horse shows.” He added, “These classes really highlight everything we are supposed to be. We are supposed to be fearless and tough, we have to go out there and go for it.”
Regarding the addition of the Puissance competition to the Rolex Central Park Horse Show in 2016, Ward added, “It is a fun way to end the evening. It gets everybody into the competition, and I think the draw of this class is that it is something that everybody can easily understand-how high can you jump?”
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Mill Spring, NC – July 8, 2017 – Andrew Kocher (USA) piloted Navalo De Poheton to an impressive FEI win, topping the $130,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 3* at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). The duo sped to a jump-off time of 38.89 seconds to finish ahead of Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Casper who collected second place with a jump-off time of 39.194 seconds. Richie Moloney (IRL) and Button Sitte rounded out the top three placings after stopping the timers in 40.379 seconds.
Kocher and Navalo De Poheton bested a large class of 53 entries, as each horse and rider combination tried to capitalize on the difficult track set by Oscar Soberon (MEX). Only seven pairs advanced to the jump-off round, with three of the qualified riders incurring four jumping faults. The time was tight to beat in the first round, nearly adding five more combinations to the jump-off, but a single time fault kept them from taking their turn around the short course.
“I think course building is hard. It’s hard to get it right, but I thought that Oscar [Soberon] did a great job tonight,” said Kocher. “He used a lot of old fashioned elements around the track. There was that hedge and some filling in the jumps that I think made some horses look or even get a bit more careful.
“The smaller ‘S’ curve in the middle of the track caught people off guard and A to B of the triple combination started to back people off a bit, but he got seven in the jump-off, which was the number you were really looking for,” he added.
Knowing that a strong contingent of fast riders was slated to enter the George H. Morris Arena behind him in the jump-off, Kocher was prepared to produce a fast round, but wanted to try and avoid making risky errors, which he admitted are typically is downfall.
“The mistakes that I usually make are going way too fast and having rails down. I knew I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to go fast, but be comfortable and try to leave two out in the last line. I got lucky with Kristen [Vanderveen]. I think she could have left three out and would have beaten me by a mile,” he laughed.
Navalo De Poheton, a 2001 Selle Francais gelding (Cumano x Double Espoir) owned by MKO Equestrian LLC, spent most of his upper level international career with U.S. rider Schuyler Riley before changing hands to Kocher and team earlier this season. Originally purchased as a potential sale horse for an amateur rider, Kocher quickly realized the gelding had not yet had enough of the grand prix atmosphere.
“He was Schuyler Riley’s top horse for many years. He injured himself shipping back from Spruce Meadows and had been laid up and rehabbing for some time. I anticipated selling him as a Low Child/Adult jumper, but he can get a bit strong and has an attitude, so I decided to try and jump him myself and the rest has been history,” he explained. “He’s probably my top horse at the moment. When we first started together, he won two grand prix classes in Tulsa, OK and then we went to Devon and won there too.”
Kocher has been extremely pleased with how the pair’s partnership has started since his purchase, as they took top honors in the Welcome Stake CSI 4* at Devon Horse Show earlier this spring and also placed well during the Upperville Horse Show CSI 4*. The gelding has seen some of the biggest tracks in the world, adding an additional and versatile threat to Kocher’s ever-growing string.
“He is older so I’m trying to be conservative with him too. He hasn’t jumped a single fence since Upperville, which was at the beginning of June. He did well in the Welcome Stake here on Thursday too,” elaborated Kocher. “His next class won’t be until the FEI World Cup Qualifier in Bromont, Quebec later this summer.”
With Kocher’s father, Kelly Kocher, based locally in the Tryon area, it’s always a pleasure and highlight for Kocher’s team to return to the venue and hopes to, at some point, use the area as a summer base for his operation. He explained, “I bought some property here and love to see this venue keep growing. In the future I’d like to base here for the summer and use that property to be able to be here more often.”
Attesting to and recognizing the crowd size and enthusiasm of the night, Kocher commented on the engaging and electrifying atmosphere surrounding the George H. Morris Arena, which always gets him excited to compete under the lights.
“This is one of the best rings in North America. I’ve been everywhere and go to a lot of smaller shows that most professionals wouldn’t go to, just in some of the more obscure areas,” he said. “This is one of the best venues that I’ve ever been to. Of course, it’s a beautiful facility, but they do an amazing job getting a great crowd here week in and week out. We love it here.”
Kristen Vanderveen captured the FEI Leading Lady Jumper Rider Award presented by Meg Atkinson of Town & Country Realtors once again this circuit, based on her winning performance in the $35,000 Suncast® Commercial Welcome Stake CSI 3* on Thursday aboard Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili and her fifth place finish in this grand prix. Andrew Kocher’s groom, Chance Williams, was presented with the Absorbine® FEI Groom’s Award, which honors the groom of the winning grand prix combination, shining well-deserved light on their hard work and commitment to the care and well-being of the winning mount.
Jennifer Bliss and Taylor St. Jacques Claim Wins in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Wellington, FL – March 31, 2017 – The young horses of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) got their opportunity to compete on the main stage on Friday, as the Five-Year-Old, Six-Year-Old and Seven-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classics were featured in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL.
Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Farona won the $20,000 Spy Coast Farm Seven-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic, Andrew Kocher (USA) and G Star were victorious in the $15,000 Spy Coast Farm Six-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic. Coyle also rode Khaleesi to top honors in the $10,000 Gut Einhaus Five-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic.
Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER) set the courses for the Developing Jumper Classics. In the $20,000 Spy Coast Farm Seven-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic, Petersen saw 58 entries and 19 clear rounds to jump-off. Nine entries also jumped clear over the short course. It was Daniel Coyle’s time of 38.46 seconds that took the win riding Farona for Ariel and Susan Grange. Mario Deslauriers (USA) and Lisa Deslauriers’ Cooper Royal finished a very close second in 38.47 seconds. Ramiro Quintana (ARG) and Auer Sport Horses’ Ceitasi placed third in 38.98 seconds.
“Farona is a star!” Coyle said of the winning Dutch Warmblood mare (by Baltic VDL) bred by NHG Broeders. “We bought her at the [WEF Sport Horse] VDL Auction here last year, and ever since the day we bought her, she has been amazing. She went to Spruce Meadows last summer and won I don’t even know how many classes. She won the six-year-olds at Angelstone, then came down here and did a few 1.40m classes. She won a couple of seven-year-old classes here this winter. She has done so much.
“We were aiming her to win this class,” Coyle continued. “She is that type. You can really go to win. She has a lot of blood. She can be a little frustrating sometimes because she has so much blood, but she jumps so great you have to forget about it. I am so happy that [owner] Sue [Grange] found her. Sue is wonderful at finding young horses.”
Speaking of his jump-off, Coyle stated, “She is naturally very fast. Mario was very close to beating me, but thankfully he did not. If you ride her right, she is not going to knock a jump down. She is very special. I think she will turn out to be one of the best horses we have. She is one of those horses, whenever you are just hoping it all goes right, she is the one that you can always count on.”
Kocher Wins Six-Year-Old Classic
The $15,000 Spy Coast Farm Six-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic saw a win for Andrew Kocher (USA) riding his own G Star. Fifty-two entries contested the Six-Year-Old Classic, with 14 clear rounds, and four double clear over Petersen’s short course. Kocher and G Star clocked the winning time of 39.10 seconds.
Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farm’s Vienna placed second in 39.97 seconds. Lauren Tisbo (USA) guided Tequestrian Farms’ Graffiti Boy to third place in 41.51 seconds, and Gustavo Prato (ARG) jumped Nelson Pessoa’s Carioca ZE to fourth place in 43.13 seconds.
G Star is a Dutch Warmblood mare (Carambole x Karshmire van Schuttershof) bred by I. Huijbregts. Kocher co-owns the mare with Willem Greve, who purchased her as a yearling and brought her along.
“I bought my part of her around Christmas,” Kocher stated. “I was looking through tapes, and I liked the way she looked. She is really good. We have only shown her maybe three times. This was awesome. It was a really fun class, and it is nice to jump for a little prize money with the young ones. I was really happy with her.”
Young Irish rider Jordan Coyle showed G Star early in the circuit before Kocher took over the ride just this week. With Kocher, she jumped clear in all three classes this week.
“She can have a little attitude, but she is easy to ride, and easy to manage.” Kocher detailed. “She is fast. She goes like a Thoroughbred; she is very light. She was great in the jump-off. I had a lucky day, so I was happy.”
Coyle Tops Five-Year-Olds
Daniel Coyle also guided Ariel and Susan Grange’s Khaleesi to victory in the $10,000 Gut Einhaus Five-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic earlier in the day. The Dutch Warmblood mare (Gaillard de la Pomme x Sir Corland) was bred by W.A.M. Tilbeke and purchased as a four-year-old by Brady Hayes.
Eighteen entries showed in the class and five qualified for the jump-off. Coyle and Khaleesi jumped the faster of two double clear rounds. Their time of 41.78 seconds took top prize. Yannick Patron (FRA) rode Valhalla Equestrian Centre’s Inshalla V.A. to second place in 42.69 seconds. William Hickey (USA) and Pony Lane Farm’s Karlton placed third with four faults in the jump-off in 44.21 seconds.
“Brady Hayes works with us at Lothlorien, and he had this horse that he wanted to sell,” Coyle detailed. “She was really nice, a good jumper, so Sue decided to buy her. The mare jumps brilliant. She is only five, so she is still a little green, but she felt really good today.”
Coyle continued, “We have prepared her for this class, and she jumped phenomenal today. That is the first time I have actually asked her to jump a clear round and be a bit competitive. I am sure Sue is happy and so am I. Thanks to Brady for finding her for us.”
Khaleesi showed at the start of the circuit with Keri Sutherland before Grange made the purchase and Coyle took over the reins.
“I showed her seven or eight times and she has just gotten better and better,” Coyle stated. “She will get a bit of a break now and show this summer in Toronto.”
Breeder and Rider Awards
Several special awards were also presented on Friday to recognize the riders and breeders of the circuit’s top young horses. Brendan Williams (riding Hercules) was presented the award for Best American Rider 25 and Under in the five-year-old division based on cumulative clear rounds in each section of WEF 1-12, excluding the classic. Theodore Boris (riding Flip de Hus Z) earned the award in the six-year-old division. Sarah Hubbard riding Farrero was the winner in the seven-year-olds. The under 25 rider awards were sponsored by DiAnn Langer.
The Best Rider 26 & Over was also awarded in each division, sponsored by Spy Coast Farm and Lisa Lourie. In the five-year-old division, Yannick Patron earned the award riding Inshalla V.A.
The six-year-old division awarded Vasco Flores, the rider of Manhattan. The best rider award in the seven-year-old category went to Armando Hassey, rider of Lomax.
Special U.S. Breeders Awards were also presented in the Six and Seven-Year-Old divisions, sponsored by Spy Coast Farm, based on individual horse money won from WEF 1-12, excluding the classic. Gotham Enterprizes’ Manhattan earned the six-year-old award, home bred by owner Georgina Bloomberg, and sired by her winning mount Metropolitan (x Lancer III). The gelding showed throughout the winter with Puerto Rico’s Vasco Flores.
The seven-year-old U.S. Breeder Award was presented to Spy Coast Farm and Lisa Lourie for Kimmel SCF, a Belgian Warmblood stallion ridden by Shane Sweetnam and sired by his famous former mount Amaretto d’Arco (x Lester).
Also competing in the International Arena on Friday, the Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series hosted a 1.40m speed class, with a win for Rogelio Pellerano (DOM) riding Temporelle de Fritot.
Jennifer Bliss and Taylor St. Jacques Claim Wins in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Jennifer Bliss, riding Sugarman, and Taylor St. Jacques, riding Di Samorano, impressed on the derby field at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s (PBIEC) Equestrian Village to win their respective sections of the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby on Saturday.
Ken Krome of Westminster, MD set the courses for the USHJA National Hunter Derby, which was awarded in two sections, a junior/amateur section and an open section. Competition consisted of a first round and handy trip where the top 12 riders from each section returned to determine the final placings.
Bliss, of Wellington, FL, and Sugarman, owned by Harris Hill Farm, LLC, posted the top scores in both rounds of the open section with a 91 in the first round combining with a 93 in the second round for a total of 184. Maria Rasmussen of Oak Creek, WI finished in second riding Subject to Change, owned by Corporate Way, LLC, after scores of 86 and 92 for a combined total of 178. Rachel Kennedy of Brookeville, MD rounded out the top three ribbons riding Dubai for owner Casey Millis after scores of 88.5 and 88 combined for a total of 176.5.
Sugarman, a ten-year-old gelding, joined Bliss’s string four years ago before embarking on successful Pre-Green and First Year campaigns. In 2015, the pair competed in their first-ever international derby competition together at WEF.
“He was tenth in his very first international derby, so we had high hopes for him,” said Bliss. “Unfortunately, he was injured at the end of that season and we had to step back and give him a lot of time. We tried to go slow and do it right because we love him and believe in him. Hopefully, now we are on the right track and we can get him back to the international derbies.”
The USHJA National Hunter Derby during WEF 12 marks Sugarman’s third horse show back in the competition ring, as well as the horse’s fourth derby class ever.
“This class has been our goal for the circuit because he is typically great in this kind of venue,” said Bliss. “I absolutely love riding him because he has the most laid-back attitude, is absolutely fearless to the jumps, and so scopey. He is a blast to ride in these venues with a little more atmosphere.”
Speaking further about riding on the derby field at PBIEC, Bliss noted, “It is such a treat at the end of WEF to have a change of scenery, and you can really gallop and show off your horse’s style. We always look forward to showing out here at the end of the season.”
In the junior/amateur ranks, 17-year-old St. Jacques of Glen Allen, VA piloted her own Di Samorano to the first-place ribbon on scores of 88 and 83 for a combined total of 171. Samantha Schaefer of Westminster, MD earned the second-place ribbon riding her own Stallone on scores of 85 and 83.5 for a combined score of 168.5. Rounding out the top three, Hannah Doherty of Westwood, MA piloted her own Vondel DH Z to the yellow ribbon with scores of 83 and 84 combining for a 167 total.
Di Samorano, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Samorano, also serves as a top equitation mount for St. Jacques and was previously owned by Heritage Farm, where St. Jacques trains with Patricia Griffith and Andre Dignelli.
“Andre imported him to sell as a young equitation horse,” said St. Jacques. “He was a very good boy, so they put me on him and it was a great match. He has been absolutely perfect ever since.”
St. Jacques, who is well-known for catch riding in the hunter, jumper, and equitation rings, was pleased to win a derby on her own horse, noting, “It is a special feeling. I love winning on my own horses because I also do a lot of the work myself, so it is really rewarding. I love being out on the big field, and I think it is really fun to compete against the professionals”
“I have really been focusing on the equitation with Di Samorano this season, so I thought it would be fun to do a little derby with him during the last week,” concluded St. Jacques.
Competition continues on Saturday at PBIEC featuring the $216,000 The Wanderer’s Club Grand Prix CSI 4* during Saturday Night Lights, round one of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on the Derby Field at the Equestrian Village (AGDF show grounds), and champion presentations in the Junior Hunter divisions. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.