Jessica Springsteen and Lisona. Photo © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Olivier Philippaerts and Carlito C Top $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final; Firestone and Holloway Triumph in Junior/Amateur-Owners Jumpers; Inclusive Earns Grand Junior Hunter Championship; Abbygale Funk Named Best Child Rider on a Horse
Washington, D.C – October 24, 2014 – The 56th annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) continued on Friday with an exciting day of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The $25,000 International Jumper Puissance, presented by The Boeing Company, was the highlight class of the evening with a win for 21-year-old Jessica Springsteen (USA) aboard Stone Hill Farm’s Lisona after clearing the wall up to 6’10” (2.08m).
In other competition, Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) topped the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final, Christina Firestone and Hunter Holloway triumphed in the Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, and T. J. O’Mara led the WIHS Equitation Finals Hunter Phase. Inclusive and Victoria Colvin also earned the Grand Junior Hunter Championship, and Abbygale Funk was named Best Child Rider on a Horse. WIHS continues through Sunday, October 26. The $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup qualifier presented by Events DC, will be the highlight class on Saturday
Anthony D’Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY is the course designer for the jumpers at WIHS this week and fittingly holds the 31-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 Puissance presented by The Boeing Company, starting at 5’6” (1.70m) in height, and continuing up to 6’10” (2.08m) in four rounds of competition.
For the win after clearing all four heights, Lisona became the first recipient of a brand new trophy named in Sweet ‘N Low’s honor, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Tober. Springsteen was presented with The Sweet ‘N Low Trophy as well as The Armed Forces Cup, presented by The Boeing Company. She also accepted The Congressman’s Challenge Trophy, donated by the Late Honorable Rogers C. B. Morton and the Late Honorable F. Robert Watkins, as the owner of the winning horse.
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 5’6” (1.70m). Five combinations, including Kevin Babington (IRL) and Goodwins Loyalty, Kama Godek (USA) and Sandra Zimmerli’s Apollo Mission, Todd Minikus (USA) aboard Coverboy Group’s Vougeot de Septon, Springsteen and Lisona, and Leslie Howard with The Utah Group’s Utah all jumped clear in round one and continued on. The second round had a triple bar set before the wall at 5’11” (1.80m), and all five horses and riders once again jumped clear. In round three, the imposing 6’5” (1.96m) wall came down for Babington, Godek and Minikus, leaving all three tied for third place. Springsteen and Howard each cleared the 6’5” height, but Howard took second place honors after choosing not to return. Springsteen and Lisona secured their victory with a fourth and final round as the only pair to jump the wall set at 6’10”, and they cleared it with ease.
Watch Jessica Springsteen and Lisona clear the 6’10” Puissance wall.
Friday marked Springsteen’s third win in as many days at WIHS after topping the $10,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake aboard Davendy S on Wednesday and also taking top prize in Thursday’s $20,000 International Jumper Gambler’s Choice with Lisona.
An added incentive for the international riders this year includes new cash bonuses that will be awarded to riders accumulating the most points in the division. A $15,000 bonus will go to the overall leading international rider, sponsored by The Boeing Company, and a $10,000 bonus will be awarded to the overall leading rider 25 years of age or younger, sponsored by Sleepy P Ranch. Although Springsteen had originally not planned on jumping the Puissance, her trainers Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton encouraged her to do the class when they found out it counted toward the bonus. She took their advice and was obviously happy with the outcome.
“I had a feeling that Nick would convince me because he is also the one that made me do it two years ago,” she stated. “I knew that once he found out that it counted towards the leading rider points he would make me do it, but it was really fun. Lisona jumped it so easily, so it gave me a lot of confidence and I am happy I did it.”
Watch an interview with Jessica Springsteen.
In 2012, Springsteen jumped the WIHS Puissance with her horse Temmie and cleared 6’3” (1.90m), but was eliminated in the third round after failing her attempt at 6’9” (2.01m). Her success at 6’10” with Lisona is an exciting feat accomplished with great confidence in her mount.
“I doubt she has done a Puissance before, but she has so much scope and she is actually better the higher the fences, so we had a feeling that this would be a good class for her,” Springsteen said of the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (OBOS Quality x Porsch). “She gets impressed by it, and she felt like she was just flying over the wall.”
“I felt confident,” the rider stated. “She is such a scopey and brave horse that I knew nothing disastrous would happen. Classes like this, you kind of have to have fun with it, so we were all just having a good time. It is important to have a brave horse that wants to do it and she did. I think she enjoyed it actually.”
Springsteen also had added confidence in her own ability after many big wins this year and let that momentum take her into the challenge of jumping the biggest height of her career.
“Winning definitely gives you confidence. Your spirits are high, but you can’t get overly confident. That is one thing I have learned in this sport,” she remarked.
Another thing Springsteen learned is that riding to a Puissance wall is much different than cantering to your standard jump. “I didn’t know you had to ride a wall that size differently,” she admitted. “It is so big that you just want to gallop down to it, but you are supposed to go really slow and get close to it so that they kind of climb over it. That is kind of the opposite of what your instinct is telling you to do, so it takes a couple of times to really learn how to ride it correctly.”
The high jump competition is a fan favorite at WIHS as spectators watch the incredible power and athletic ability of horse and rider attempting to clear a wall set at record heights, and the fans were in full force on Friday night as they took in the competition.
“It is so fun. It is not normal in the States when you have so many people that come to watch, and they really know what’s going on,” Springsteen stated. “You have all of the younger kids that are really excited about it, like the pony riders, so it is really fun. It makes it an exciting event for the riders, and I think the horses feel it too.”
“I have been coming to this show since I was maybe ten years old on ponies almost every year. Last year was one of the first years I didn’t come, so I have spent a lot of time here and it is nice when the crowd knows you,” she added. “The experience has changed a lot over the years. I think I was actually more nervous when I was coming for the pony hunters and the equitation finals. There is a lot of pressure in those classes. I think it is actually much more relaxing doing the open division.”
Belgium Is Best in International Speed Final
Prior to the Puissance, a $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final was held in a faults converted format with 22 entries and a victory for Olivier Philippaerts (21) of Belgium riding Franz Lens’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Carlito C (by Kannan). The pair was one of five entries to clear the course without fault and finished with a time of 54.79 seconds.
Beezie Madden (USA) and Coral Reef Via Volo also jumped clear and finished second in 55.68 seconds. Daniel Bluman had the fastest time of 54.15 seconds, but four faults were added to place third in 58.15 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) and Kessler Show Stables LLC’s Ligist also had one rail down, adding four seconds to their time, to place fourth in 59.24 seconds. Leslie Howard (USA) and Moondoggie were clear in 59.49 seconds to earn the fifth place prize.
Philippaerts started showing Carlito C in June after his brother, Nicola, showed the horse for several months. With the new partnership, he has had a great season with several top finishes competing throughout Europe and Canada, and looks forward to continued success. “He is a very particular horse and he is a very big horse, and in the beginning I thought in this ring it would be quite hard for him. It’s a big horse in a small ring, but in the end, he did really well,” Philippaerts stated. “He has been great the whole year, so if he keeps continuing, then hopefully we can keep it up for a while.”
Detailing his plan for the night’s course, Philippaerts noted, “I was looking a bit and walking the course, and I didn’t really know what to expect since it’s the first indoor show for him. I didn’t really know how he was going to react, but he did very well. I made my plan and it worked out and I was quick enough.”
“I’m here for three shows: Washington, Kentucky, and Toronto. He’s a very quick horse, and he has won a lot of classes, so I thought maybe I would take him,” Philippaerts said of the decision to bring the horse abroad. “It looks like I made the right decision and hopefully I’ll do well the other two weeks as well.”
This is Philippaerts’ third year competing at WIHS and he has enjoyed the fantastic crowd and great event. “I think first of all, it’s a great show. I really like coming to these three shows, and also for the World Cup points,” he remarked. “It counts in Europe as well, but that’s what we are here for. They do a very good job here in Washington to make the show. It’s a very small place for the horses, but they make it fit. I’m very happy they keep organizing this show.”
“Tonight was very good,” he continued. “It was more people than I expected to come. They really were motivating the riders to go quicker, and it’s very nice. I’m very happy to ride for such a crowd.”
Junior Hunters Award Championships
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 Dr. Betsee Parker’s Inclusive ridden by Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL. They were presented with the Ides of March Perpetual Trophy, donated by Linda Lee and Lee Reynolds.
On their way to earning the grand championship, Colvin and Inclusive won the tricolor in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division, sponsored by Chansonette Farm, after topping all three classes over fences. They were awarded the Chance Step Perpetual Trophy, donated by Brooke Carmichael McMurray-Fowler and Pam Carmichael Keenan. The division’s reserve champion was Kerry Anne LLC’s Imagine ridden by Kerry McCahill. The pair won under saddle and placed second, third and sixth over fences.
“Inclusive has gone amazing this week,” Colvin stated after their win. “He has an amazing jump. His stride is not the biggest, so you have to go a little forward, but he is really fun. You know he is never going to spook. He would jump anything and leave from anywhere, and he is an amazing ride.”
Inclusive made a big comeback this year after a year-long break due to problems with sciatica in 2013. He came back to win at the Devon Horse Show in May and most recently the PA National Horse Show in Harrisburg just last week.
“It is important to remember this this is a comeback for him because last year he was not here,” owner Dr. Betsee Parker stated. “The year prior to that he had what is known as the ‘triple crown of indoors’ when he was champion at all three indoor shows. As of today he is poised to possibly do that a second time and that has never happened before in the history of indoors, but who knows, anything can happen.”
Inclusive now has a lighter training schedule in between competitions, but he knows his job and goes to work when he gets to the show ring.
“He flats for 20 minutes every day, and he rarely jumps,” Colvin detailed. “He maybe jumps once before coming to the show, but he is better that way. Less is more with him.”
A benefit to Colvin’s riding is her focus on the equitation this year and the additional help of top trainers including the legendary George Morris. “I have a better position, and I know how to flat more for equitation,” she acknowledged. “I have gotten a couple lessons from George Morris, so basically all of my hunters are flatted like that and I know my position is better around the course.”
Colvin also earned a championship tricolor in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division, sponsored by Dogwood Hill, riding Dr. Betsee Parker’s Canadian Blue. The pair placed first, first and fourth over fences and fifth under saddle. Meridian Partners LLC’s Good Humor and Megan MacPherson earned reserve honors, placing first, second and third over fences.
“Canadian Blue felt good,” Colvin said. “He is still a little green. His first round yesterday it was his first time jumping around here since last year and he was a little looky and quick, but he got better each round he did. His handy he felt unbelievable. He is so special because he jumps so high. Anything you put him at, he will jump very, very high. He was on this week.”
In the Large Junior Hunter 15 & Under division, sponsored by Entrust, Abbygale Funk guided West Coast Equine Partners LLC’s Neander to championship honors after placing first, first and second over fences and fourth under saddle. The pair also had the best Junior Hunter stake round of the day with a high score of 88 to earn the Lyrik Challenge Trophy, donated by Ashley and Courtney Kennedy. Lili Hymowitz and Rose Hill Farm’s Tiffani placed first and fourth over fences to earn the division’s reserve championship. They were also awarded the Georgetown Trophy, sponsored by Sheila and Britton Sanderford, as the high score Junior Hunter riding his or her own horse.
For her success aboard Neander, 13-year-old Abbygale Funk of St. George, KS was named Best Child Rider on a Horse and earned the special DiVecchia Perpetual Trophy. The award was sponsored by Gotham North; the trophy donated by Mr. and Mrs. Frederick DiVecchia.
Trained by her mother, Funk showed at WIHS in the pony hunters five years ago and this is her first time back and a memorable first WIHS win. “Winning is just amazing. I never thought I would be able to do it,” Funk smiled. “He is the most amazing horse I have ever ridden.”
Funk has ridden Neander, a 14-year-old Warmblood gelding by Nimray B, for just a few months. His owner was kind enough to let her keep riding him to get to indoors, and it ended in wonderful success.
“Last year I qualified, but the horse sold to somebody else to do indoors with,” Funk explained. “We took Neander and he got better and better, and we got qualified. We didn’t expect it, but we did. He has been amazing this whole time. He doesn’t spook at anything, and he never misbehaves.”
“This is very different with riding all night long and no sleeping, but it’s amazing to do the show in the middle of the city and do this with him,” Funk noted. “He has proven over and over that he doesn’t care about anything. He came here and went in the ring and was totally perfect. I have never won a Best Child Rider before and it is amazing. I just wanted to go around and be good. I didn’t expect to win and be champion or any of it.”
Concluding the hunter division’s for the day, the Small Junior Hunters 15 & Under awarded championship honors to Autumn Lane, owned by Eugenie Kilb and ridden by Grady Lyman, with two wins over fences. Reserve honors went to Melissa Wight’s Chromeo with Samantha Wight in the irons, placing second and fourth over fences and third under saddle.
Firestone and Holloway Triumph in Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers
Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers competed in the afternoon in their first jump-off classes of the week with wins for Christina Firestone and Hunter Holloway. The $5,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper time first jump-off class, sponsored by Ellen and Daniel Crown, saw the second win of the week for Hunter Holloway of Topeka, KS, riding Hays Investment Corp.’s I Love Lucy. Twenty entries showed in round one with eight advancing to the jump-off. Four were able to clear the short course without fault and Holloway blazed to victory in 32.85 seconds to earn The Cover Story Perpetual Trophy donated by Rolling Acres Farm.
Victoria Colvin and Karen Long Dwight’s Chanel B finished second in 33.85 seconds. Virginia Ingram and Riverview Farm’s Urban placed third in 34.11 seconds, and Chloe Reid stopped the clock in 34.91 seconds aboard Chloe D Reid LLC’s Athena to earn the fourth place prize.
The $2,500 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper time first jump-off class was held earlier in the afternoon, sponsored by The Strauss Family with a win for Christina Firestone aboard M/M Bertram Firestone’s Zodiac. The competition saw 22 entries with eight clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Only two were able to go double clear over the short course, and Firestone and Zodiac completed the fastest time of 31.13 seconds for the win. They were presented with The Eleanor White O’Leary Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ashton Hill and Miss Linden Joan Hill.
Nikki Prokopchak and her horse Sofia Car finished second in 37.18 seconds. The fastest four-fault round in the jump-off belonged to Katie Tyler and Seattle 6 in 30.49 seconds to place third.
Equitation Begins with Hunter Phase
In addition to Junior Hunter championships during Friday’s day session, WIHS hosted the hunter phase of the WIHS Equitation Finals with an early lead for T. J. O’Mara riding Walstib Stables LLC’s Kaskade to the high score of 90.
Hunter Holloway finished second after riding Hays Investment Corp.’s Any Given Sunday to a score of 89.125. Michael Hughes and Jordyn Rose Freedman’s Finnick scored the third prize with an 88.500. Victoria Colvin scored an 88.250 aboard Dr. Betsee Parker’s Clearway, and Caitlin Boyle finished with an 87.500 riding Micaela Kennedy’s Loredo.
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.
The competition will also continue 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 Ellen and Daniel Crown. The jumper phase for the WIHS Equitation Finals 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 President’s Cup Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup qualifier presented by Events DC, will conclude the night.
For those who cannot make it to the show, it will be live streamed in its entirety, sponsored in part by The Nutro Company, at www.wihs.org, and is also available on USEF Network at www.usefnetwork.com.
About the Washington International Horse Show
An equestrian tradition since 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is the country’s premier metropolitan indoor horse show. Each October, more than 500 world-class horses and riders, including Olympic medalists, arrive in Washington for six days of exciting show jumping and hunter competition. Highlights include the $125,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix (a World Cup qualifier), the Puissance (high jump) and the WIHS Equitation Finals, an important goal for top American junior riders. Exciting equestrian exhibitions, boutique shopping and community activities, such as Kids’ Day and Breakfast with the Mounted Police, round out this family-friendly event. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition and recognized as a Top 25 Horse Show by the North American Riders Group.
Since its debut, the Washington International has been a Washington, DC, institution attended by presidents, first ladies, celebrities, business and military leaders, as well as countless horse enthusiasts of all ages. Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.