Fuqua and Sasha Fierce, Champions in the Medium Pony Division (Photo courtesy of Katherine Addison Photography)
Atlanta, GA (June 28, 2018) – Kat Fuqua’s team of Champion horses and ponies got just a bit brighter this past week as the 10-year-old wrapped up two weeks of competition at the Atlanta Summer Classic I & II. Adding to her already impressive resume of hunter achievements, Fuqua topped Junior Hunters, Large, and Medium Pony Hunters in the course of the two weeks, and added two exciting new equines to her line up: Calvaro, a stunning bay Junior Hunter competitor, and Brighton, famously known as Clemens, a distinguished chestnut Large Pony mount.
After only one ride on Brighton prior to his arrival in Atlanta last week, Fuqua rode him to a Reserve Champion in the second week’s Large Pony division, and took Champion in the Hack and Model classes. “Clemens [Brighton] has a really nice canter and a big stride,” said Fuqua. “I still need to learn all of his buttons but I’m so grateful to have him. I was also thrilled to be second in the handy over fences after only one previous ride.” Trainer Michael Newman, who has guided Fuqua to much of her success over the past year, arranged the purchase for Jeff and Shereen Fuqua of Collecting Gaits Farm. “When I was approached by the Fuquas to find a pony for Kat that can compete at the highest levels, my first thought was Brighton. In my opinion he is the best large pony in the country, and I could not be more honored to have the opportunity to be a part of this talented young lady’s career. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Fuqua also saw a number of wins with her new Junior Hunter mount, Calvaro, and her steady Junior Hunter Champion, RS Levitation, aka Jett. During week one’s Junior Hunter Classic, Fuqua took first with her decorated Junior Hunter mount, Jett. Calvaro topped the first week’s Junior Hunter division, kicking off his career with Fuqua, and during the second week the pair took Champion in the Junior Hunter Classic with a score of 87 as well as a top of the class finish in week two’s Junior Hunter division. Fuqua is pointing both horses towards her first ever Junior Hunter Championships, to be held in Saugerties, New York at the end of July.
Fuqua also took top honors in the Medium Pony division during the Atlanta Summer Classic series. Sasha Fierce, Fuqua’s gray medium pony mare, was crowned Champion of the Medium Pony Division for the series, while Fuqua’s Finesse RF, aka Ladybug, secured Reserve Champion. Ladybug, who has taken Fuqua to numerous titles, contributed significantly to her #1 rankings in the Pony Hunter Derby divisions and the chestnut pony mare is currently ranked #1 in the USEF Grand Champion Pony rankings.
Wrapping up Team Fuqua’s string of successes was the large palomino pony Chic in Time, another winning pony of Fuqua’s that flourished under a new handler. Kat’s close friend and recent Pony Reserve Champion at Devon, Maddie Tosh, showed Chic in Time, aka Spicey, in the Large Pony Model class, taking second to Fuqua and her new Large Pony mount, Brighton.
The USHJA also currently ranks Fuqua and her equines #1 in the Zone 4 Horse of the Year standings for the Junior Hunters, Pony Hunter Medium, and Pony Hunter Large divisions. In the USHJA 2018 Pony Hunter Derby National Rider standings, Fuqua is on top as a rider for overall money won and her pony, Finesse RF, aka Ladybug, tops the USHJA 2018 Pony Hunter Derby National Horse Standings.
For more information on Kat Fuqua (pronounced foo-quay), visit her website at www.KatFuqua.com.
Kat Fuqua and RS Levitation (Photo courtesy of S. Hellner)
Wellington, FL (April 17, 2018) – Pony power has always been Kat Fuqua’s forte, and 2018 marks a milestone in her show career as she elevates to Junior Hunter success in addition to multiple pony and hunter titles. From her hometown of Atlanta to the sunny hunter rings of Wellington, Fuqua’s consistent top placings aboard her equine partners between January and March of 2018 have set the tone for another successful year of competition. Going into a busy spring and summer show season, her excellence in the arena has earned some of the top USEF, USHJA, and circuit pony and hunter rankings in the nation. But while this 10-year-old’s love for her horses translates to ribbons in the ring, for Fuqua the pleasure is all in just being in the saddle.
Fuqua began her year at the Atlanta Winter Classic, spending three weeks enjoying her hometown competition before heading to jump with the top hunter riders in her divisions during WEF 6’s World Hunter Week. Her small pony, Goldhill’s Arresting Charm, and medium pony, Finesse RF, both swept all three weeks in Georgia, topping out as Champions of their divisions. Fuqua’s large pony, Chic in Time, was champion twice, as was her Junior Hunter RS Levitation in both of the two weeks he was shown in the Under 15 Small Junior Hunters. After a week of traveling and a brief respite from showing, Fuqua and horses hit the ground running during World Hunter Week.
Finesse RF immediately showcased some of the savvy she’s named for right out of the gate, finishing as Reserve Champion during Hunter Week and was also Reserve Champion in the $5,000 USHJA National Pony Derby in March. Goldhill’s Arresting Charm finished third in the first round of the Pony Derby behind Finesse. Thrilled with both of the pony’s performances, Fuqua noted that Finesse, known around the barn as Ladybug, shone in their first ever competition together at WEF.
Fuqua’s final Winter Equestrian Festival placings with her ponies include 5th place in the Overall Circuit rankings with Chic In Time in addition to Champion and Reserve placings, and 4th overall Circuit Pony Rider despite only 7 weeks of competition during WEF 2018. During those seven weeks, Fuqua and her ponies were consistently placed in the ribbons, with the competitive classes consisting of 20-30 of the top pony riders in the nation.
In the USEF’s national rankings, as of April 13, Fuqua and her ponies rank as follows: 5th in the Small Pony Hunter with Goldhill’s Arresting Charm, 2nd in the Medium Pony Hunter with Finesse RF, and 2nd in the Large Pony Hunter with Chic In Time. Fuqua won the USEF 2017 Champion Leading Pony Hunter Owner and is currently ranked second in the USEF’s 2018 Pony Hunter Owner standings as of April 13. She is also ranked as the top Pony Hunter Derby rider in the nation by the USHJA, and stands as the leading rider of the division since its inception in 2017. In the USHJA’s National Pony Hunter Derby Horse rankings, Finesse RF is currently sitting in second and Goldhill’s Arresting Charm is sixth. Finesse and Chic are also ranked second and fifth in the Grand Champion Pony division, which accounts for all pony sizes.
While the ponies have always been a passion in Fuqua’s life, it is her success with her new Junior Hunter mount, RS Levitation, that is setting the foundation and capturing her imagination for future equestrian endeavors. After just three months showing in 3’6″ Junior Hunters, the pair made their Wellington debut during WEF 6. Just a year ago, in February 2017, Fuqua and High Noon 3E were Champion multiple times in the Children’s, and finished as the Circuit Champion 11 & Under at WEF 2017. With barely a year elapsed between her Children’s championships and Junior Hunter debut, Fuqua’s poise and passion in the arena continues to prove exceptional as she climbs the divisions. She and Levitation, known as Jett around the barn, floated elegantly over the spectacular hunter obstacles in Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s International Arena. Having competed in her first WEF competition ever four seasons ago at 6 years old, Fuqua noted that much of her 2018 success in the Junior Hunters is based on Jett: “He is one of a kind because he takes care of me and gives me confidence,” said Fuqua. “He jumps big and wants to win.” They currently stand tenth overall in the USEF’s Small Junior Hunter Under 15 ranking as of April 13.
The USHJA also currently ranks Fuqua and all four of her actively competing equines #1 in the Zone 4 Horse of the Year standings for the Junior Hunters, Pony Hunter Small, Pony Hunter Medium, and Pony Hunter Large divisions. In the USHJA Zone 4 Pony Hunter Derby standings, Fuqua is on top with Finesse RF and third with Goldhill’s Arresting Charm.
Kat Fuqua’s passion for horses is reflected not only in her highly decorated Pony Hunter and Junior Hunter rider results, but also in the joy and dedication she shows each time she swings into the saddle. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia and under the guidance of trainer Michael Newman of Aubrey Hill Farm in Pensacola, Florida, every aspect of Fuqua’s riding, training, and show career reflects a unique ardor for equines and horse sport. She balances her equestrian lifestyle with attendance as a full time 4th grade student and takes pride in developing alongside her horses.
For more information on Kat Fuqua (pronounced foo-quay), visit her website at www.KatFuqua.com.
Kat Fuqua and Small Suggestion Hit Their Stride in Animo Medium Pony Hunter
Wellington, FL – March 19, 2017 – USA’s Laura Chapot took first and second place in Sunday’s $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to conclude week ten at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. Chapot was aboard Quointreau un Prince for the win, and also guided Thornhill Kate to second place.
Course designer Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) concluded his duties in the International Arena for week ten with 47 starters in the 1.50m competition and 11 to jump-off. Out of six double clear rounds, Chapot first took the lead with her own and McLain Ward’s Quointreau un Prince in 34.79 seconds. She then jumped into second place aboard her own and Mary Chapot’s Thornhill Kate with a time of 35.88 seconds. Kent Farrington (USA) finished third, riding his own and Tanma Corp.’s Dublin through the timers in 36.69 seconds.
“I am thrilled,” Chapot said of her result. “I thought both horses were really on their game today, and they jumped fantastic. The jump-off was really fast, so I just took a big shot at it, and they came through for me.
“I tried to follow the same track with both of them,” Chapot said of her rounds. “There was a long distance between fence one and two, and I think that is mostly where the class was won. Once I got over fence one, I tried to really get over to fence two as quick as I could, because the rest of it you had to go by the numbers and just make the best turns you could. Both my horses are very fast, and I thought that was a place where I could use that speed to my advantage.”
Chapot has had Quointreau un Prince, a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Rosire), since he was five years old and knows the horse extremely well. “Prince” was also given the week ten Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award, presented by Laura Fetterman.
“He was really excited to show today,” Chapot said of Prince. “He has been excited all week because he loves the little bit cooler weather. I thought he was just jumping out of his skin today; he felt really super.”
Thornhill Kate is a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Courage II x Clover Hill) that Chapot has had for just over one year.
“I think we really started to bond last summer,” Chapot said of “Kate”. “She won a bunch of grand prixs over the summer and into the fall. She was second in the 1.45m on Wednesday and jumped super again today. She is a real trier. She has a strong personality, but she uses that to her benefit in the ring.”
While Quointreau un Prince was always a naturally fast horse, Chapot has been working on developing Thornhill Kate’s speed.
“I think I have turned Kate more into a ride similar to Prince,” Chapot explained. “When I first got her, she was used to going more up and down and not quite as forward and long-strided. Now she really loves to gallop and leave out strides. She actually has a very big stride, so she is becoming more similar to Prince, who is just a pleasure to ride. You just gallop with him, and if he sees a long distance, he gets there in a heartbeat.”
Chapot plans to compete Quointreau un Prince, Thornhill Kate, and her other top mount ISHD Dual Star through the final weeks of WEF competition. She will then give her string a long break before gearing up for the Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania at the end of May.
Also competing in the International Arena on Sunday, Sam Walker and Twan won the $10,000 Hollow Creek Farm Medium Junior Jumper Classic. The $10,000 Equiline Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic concluded the day with a win for Reid Patton and Twisther.
Kat Fuqua and Small Suggestion Hit Their Stride in Animo Medium Pony Hunter
Kat Fuqua of Atlanta, GA guided Small Suggestion, an entry owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, to win the championship of the Animo Medium Pony Hunter division. Throughout the winter circuit in Wellington, Fuqua has ridden the medium pony to several good placings; however, the tricolor ribbon had eluded them. The pair won the conformation class and the handy trip and placed sixth in an over fences round to clinch the championship title.
“My handy round was my favorite,” Fuqua detailed. “It feels really good to be champion on him because I haven’t been doing my best on him. I’m really happy I had some great rounds on him this week.”
Speaking of the nine-year-old liver chestnut gelding, Fuqua said, “His barn name is Ollie, and my favorite thing about him is that he loves to cuddle. He is very sweet. It takes a lot of leg to ride him because he can be really slow.”
Fuqua trains with Elizabeth Reilly and Keri Kampsen and started showing Small Suggestion during the summer of the 2016 season.
“[Fuqua’s] handy round was one of the nicest rounds I’ve ever seen her have,” said Kampsen. “She was much more consistent today than she has been. I’m really proud of her!”
While both Zayna Rizvi of Greenwich, CT and Augusta Iwasaki, of Calabasas, CA earned 17 points in the division, Rizvi walked away with the reserve title because she earned more points in the over fences portion. All 17 points of Rizvi’s were collected from over fences classes and Iwasaki amassed 16 points over fences aboard Isabella Griffin’s Happily Ever After.
Rizvi rode Smallwood Mystic, owned by Peacock Ridge, LLC, to win an over fences class, place third in the handy, fourth in another over fences, as well as fifth in the conformation. Smallwood Mystic is an eight-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding by Mapleside Wish List that Rizvi has ridden since 2015. The pair has seen much success during the 2017 winter circuit, winning the championship ribbon during weeks five, six, and eight.
The Winter Equestrian Festival continues in its eleventh week of competition on March 22-26, 2017. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Fuqua and Colvin Victorious in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Wellington, FL – March 11, 2017 – Karen Polle (JPN) and With Wings made it two-for-two during week nine at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL with a victory in Saturday night’s $380,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI 5*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, after also topping Thursday’s $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup (the grand prix qualifier). U.S. Olympian Margie Engle (USA) riding Royce, and Spanish Olympian Sergio Alvarez Moya aboard Charmeur, placed second and third, respectively.
Alan Wade’s (IRL) course got the best of many on Saturday night, as only four out of 39 entries cleared the first round without fault. In the jump-off, Polle and her 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Larino x L. Ronald) were the only pair to complete a second clear track, racing through the timers in 42.42 seconds.
Engle and Gladewinds Partners’ Royce had one rail in the double combination and finished in 43.36 seconds. Alvarez Moya and Charmeur dropped one rail at the final fence in the jump-off with a time of 43.81 seconds. Quentin Judge (USA) placed fourth, riding Double H Farm’s HH Conrad to 12 faults over the short course in 45.22 seconds.
Remarking on her win, 24-year-old Polle declared, “I feel disbelief first of all. It has not really sunk in yet. The week could not have gone any better. I won both my classes, and my horse jumped unbelievably all week, every jump. He really helped me out, and he felt great tonight, so I am really, really happy.”
Detailing her strategy for the jump-off, Polle stated, “My plan was just to go as fast as I could. There were only four, so I just wanted to go for it, because I was going to get a good ribbon either way. I just picked up a good gallop and tried to be as neat as I could.”
Saturday was Polle’s first time jumping clear, and her first time jumping off, in a Saturday Night Lights grand prix at WEF. She had the great confidence of a longtime partnership riding With Wings on her side.
“When I first got him, I did not know so much. I was still a junior, but I knew he was special,” Polle said of their seven-year partnership. “I really believed in him, and I did not ever feel like there was a jump that was too big for us, or a course that was too difficult for us. I am just really glad that we were able to win because I have always felt like he is a real winner.”
During their years together, Polle and With Wings have had the guidance of some of the biggest names in show jumping. Olympic team gold medalist and Rolex Grand Slam Champion Scott Brash (GBR), Olympian Mario Deslauriers (USA), ten-time Olympian Ian Millar (CAN), and Olympic silver and bronze medalist Paul Schockemöhle (GER) have all played a role in developing this young talent. On Saturday night, Polle was competing under the tutelage of Olympic Champion Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil.
“I have been really lucky to work with quite a few top professionals,” Polle acknowledged. “All of them have really helped me and Wings get to where we are now. I used little things that I have learned from all of them tonight to do the course, and to do the jump-off.
“I hope to win a lot more classes like this,” she added. “It is an unbelievable feeling, and this is why we do this – why we work so hard at home to then come here and be able to win a class like this. I hope I can continue to have many more of these moments and many more Saturday night grand prix wins.”
Engle was aboard her talented mount Royce for a second place finish on Saturday and was happy with her horse’s efforts.
“He has felt great all circuit,” Engle said of the 13-year-old Oldenburg stallion (Café au Lait x Grandilot). “Karen just was the one to beat this week. She was on fire. I was very happy with Royce. He has been riding very well. He jumped well on Thursday and then again tonight. I just jumped in a little big into the double (in the jump-off). He tried to get out of the way. I just needed to nip inside, but he felt great.”
Commenting on the evening’s course, Engle continued, “I thought it was tough enough. It was appropriate for a five-star event. There were a lot of technical questions. The course was long, and it was up and down. It was kind of nice to have only four in the jump-off. You knew that if you went clean, you were going to get a good piece of the prize money.”
Alvarez Moya was riding a less experienced mount for the night’s competition with his ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Charmeur (Numero Uno x Gelha’s VDL Emilion).
“I am very happy the way he jumped today. It is his first big grand prix,” Alvarez Moya noted. “He is pretty sensitive, and I was doubting actually until last night if I was going to ride him in the grand prix or not, but he is normally very brave. I was very happy when I saw there were only four in the jump-off. I knew they were fast, but I had to be a little careful at the number three. In the first round my horse did a little bit of a funny jump, and I did not want to scare him in the jump-off. I think the rest was good. He tried hard. He was very careful, and I am just very happy with him.
“I have had him since he was six,” Alvarez Moya continued. “Last year he did a few bigger classes, but not like this, and for sure not under the lights and a five-star grand prix. I always believed a lot in him. I think he is a pretty special horse. He is just very sensitive and sharp, so I took it very slow with him. I definitely think he is the one I have to replace Carlo, which is not an easy job.”
Representing Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Don Langdon remarked on the evening’s competition and praised the riders on a great night of sport.
“First of all, congratulations to the top three – Margie, Sergio, and Karen,” Langdon stated. “It is great for me, who does not ride, to participate for the last 30 years and to see the growth of what has happened in this community. Mark (Bellissimo) has built this brand far greater than any sights that we had ever imagined. Douglas Elliman is the fourth largest real estate company in the country. We are a private company, which is great. This plays right into our brand. We like to patronize the people that also patronize our company, and obviously the equestrians have been an amazing role in our success in the Wellington area. We appreciate that.”
Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo wrapped a great night with his comments. He stated, “There were people years ago who said that we would never fill the seats when we built them, and I think the reality is that we are coming consistently every Saturday with pretty much a full house. I think it is a testament to the athletes here. People here are developing a following. I think the sport is really taking hold in this community, and hopefully, that is something that can be replicated in other markets. I want to thank Rolex first and foremost. These five-stars are very important to attract the talent that we have here. Rolex is the brand that has stepped up and really transformed this facility with very heavy investment, and allowed us to get to the four five-star events.
“I am really proud of the riders,” Bellissimo continued. “To see Karen and that smile; it is great when you see someone win something for the first time. This was the first time that a Japanese rider has won a five-star grand prix here. I was very happy to see the excitement of Karen’s win, and hopefully it is the first of many.”
As the grand prix winner, Polle was presented the Herman ‘Kappy’ Kaplan Perpetual Memorial Trophy. She was also given the Leading Lady Rider Award for week nine, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Giavanna Rinaldi and Haylie Rolfe’s Caretina III won the $10,000 SJHOF Junior Jumper Classic, presented by Sleepy P Ranch. The $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, presented by Engel & Völkers, saw a win for Lacey Gilbertson and Seabrook LLC’s Baloppi. Kamille Marcussen and Bull Run’s Pistol Pete were also victorious in the $1,500 Martha Jolicoeur, Douglas Elliman Low Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class.
Fuqua and Colvin Victorious in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Junior, amateur, and professional hunter riders guided their horses around the grass derby field at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Equestrian Village on Saturday morning in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. The class was awarded in two sections, a junior/amateur section and an open section, and consisted of first and second rounds, where the top 12 competitors returned for a handy trip.
Kat Fuqua of Atlanta, GA won her second big class of the weekend. After winning the $5,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby on Friday, she bested a field of 20 juniors and amateurs aboard High Noon 3E. The pair earned scores of 83 in the first round and 84 in the second round for a combined total of 167.
Speaking of her third experience showing the gelding in a national derby, Fuqua said, “It feels really good to win the derby. This is the first horse derby I’ve placed in with him. I loved doing the victory gallop, and he felt really good on the grass field. I train with Liz Reilly and Keri Kampsen; they’ve helped me improve a lot.”
One of the youngest in the class, Fuqua started riding the 2003 Canadian Sport Horse, owned by Float On Equestrian, LLC, earlier in the winter circuit and also shows him in the Children’s Hunter and Equitation 11 & Under divisions.
“We call him ‘Hippo’ in the barn,” she continued. “He loves attention (and) treats and is really friendly. My favorite thing about him is his smooth stride. I’m really proud of my horse!”
Kira Telford of Chicago, IL claimed the second place ribbon. Telford rode Calistoga Gold to matching scores of 82 in both rounds, for an overall total of 164. The third place ribbon went Lisa Butzer of Boca Raton, FL, and CS Online, owned by Allyson Coluccio. The pair received scores of 81 and 76 in the first and second rounds, respectively, for a total score of 157.
Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL piloted Harper Lee to the win in the open section. Colvin and the six-year-old Polish Warmblood mare earned the highest scores in both trips, an 88 in the first round and a 94 in the second round, for an overall score of 182.
“She’s the easiest horse in the world,” Colvin explained. “She just goes right around the field and doesn’t look at the spooky jumps or anything. In the handy round, the horse before me was really nice so I had to go for it, and she was amazing. I just let go and cantered around.”
Laura Karet has owned the mare for two years and recently started showing her in the Low Adult Hunters.
“We’ve been bringing her along slowly, and this is really exciting,” said Karet. “This is her second derby. She’s really never done anything like this so we didn’t know what to expect. We’re very proud of her!”
Colvin also picked up the third place in ribbon in the open section guiding Caliber, another entry owned by Laura Karet, to a first round score 84 and a handy score of 90, which resulted in a total score of 174. Kim Barone of Watertown, MN received the second place ribbon aboard Easy Street HU, owned by Raven Ridge Farm, with scores of 87.5 and 91 in the first and second round, respectively, to earn a combined score of 178.5.
The ninth week of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival concludes on Sunday with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic in the International Arena. The Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC Large Pony Hunter division will determine championship and reserve honors in Ring 11. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Kelley Farmer and Because (Photos courtesy of Equinium Sports Marketing)
Andrade Secures Second Consecutive Win in Grand Prix
West Palm Beach, FL (February 18, 2017) – The sixth week of The Ridge Palm Beach Series welcomed back the popular monthly hunter showcase, Hunter Derby Days, as well as the circuit’s standard $15,000 1.40m Grand Prix and full hunter and jumper divisions at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. With the winter equestrian season now in full swing, the Palm Beach Series full hunter and jumper divisions run each week from Wednesday to Sunday, with unique show offerings each week including USEF Equitation Tuesdays, the unique and spectacular venues of the Turf Tour, the elegance and performance of Hunter Derby Days, and, newly launched in 2017, Schooling Dressage Shows. Week 6, which ran from February 8-12, featured the February 10th Hunter Derby Day and Saturday’s $15,000 1.40m Grand Prix, presented by RV Sales of Broward.
Hunters Take Center Stage during February’s Hunter Derby Day
The second of The Ridge Palm Beach Series’ Hunter Derby Days commenced February 10th, featuring a $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, and a $5,000 USHJA Pony Derby. Held under the spectacular covered arena at Jim Brandon, the three classes featured a challenging and beautifully designed course, as well as some of the top horse and rider combinations showcasing the athleticism of the performance hunter. Friday’s events kicked off with the USHJA National Derby, continued to the International Derby in the afternoon and concluded with the Pony Derby under the lights in the evening.
Julie Oliver and Bossa Nova Win $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Bossa Nova, piloted by Julie Oliver, danced over the beautiful hunter course set for the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, besting a class of 26 horses to finish on a score of 186. Kim Barone rode Easy Street HU to reserve honors, and her other mount, Dolce Vita, to third place. Dolce Vita, with Barone in the saddle, was the USHJA National Hunter Derby Champion at January’s Hunter Derby Day.
Kelly Farmer and Because Top $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
With the jumps and prize money raised, the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby began with Kelly Farmer and Scripted took an early lead with 182, but eventually was bested by her own effort with Because to secure victory. Scripted’s early effort was bumped to fifth by Amy Momrow and Aeroplane, Jennifer Hannan and Flamingo-K, and taking reserve honors, last month’s USHJA International Hunter Derby champions, Louise Serio and Rock Harbor.
The Dutch-bred gelding Because, who was purchased in Ocala barely a year ago with Jane Gaston, had only the highest accolades to his name from Farmer, who rode him to his first Derby victory, and from Gaston, who has ridden him to numerous championships and Horse of the Year Honors in the Amateur Owner divisions. “He is an extraordinary animal, with potential to be one of the best Derby horses I’ve ever ridden,” stated Farmer. “He usually pulls double duty with me and his owner, and has won in everything, now from the Derbies to the greens, 4-foot, and Amateurs.”
Owner Jane Gaston had equally rave reviews, stating, “He has huge range & scope, and is a total gentleman. Originally started as a jumper, he has made great progress with Kelley and I in the hunter ring, and we are thrilled with his first Derby win.”
As one of the top hunter riders in the world, Farmer is a regular on The Ridge at Wellington’s Hunter Derby Days series, taking top honors in the International Derbies in 2016 and now a win with Because in 2017. “Nona and George do a great job, they’re very accommodating, and this is a great venue and show for a young horse to learn what horse shows are without getting thrown into a very intense environment. This, for a derby horse, is a bit like starting a Grand Prix horse: they get to jump at a real horse show on nice footing, real jumps, nice course designers, and are still doing the real thing without the pressure. Nona and George have done a beautiful job creating the perfect conditions for effectively bringing along horses.”
Kat Fuqua and Somekindawonderful Sweep $5,000 USHJA Pony Derby
From the big leagues to the ponies, the covered arena transformed once again into a miniaturized version of the International Derby course and welcomed a group of talented ponies and riders. An exceptional round by Kat Fuqua and Somekindawonderful led the field for the evening’s $5,000 USHJA Pony Derby from beginning to end. Fuqua and her Captain America, who were the champions of January’s USHJA Pony derby, finished third, with Augusta Iwasaki and Small Suggestion taking reserve honors.
Consistently attracting top names in the sport, including Olympians, medal finalists, and international champions, the Hunter Derby Day competitions offer an exclusive way to gain national and international experience, as well as qualifying scores, in a utopian show atmosphere.
Emanuel Andrade and Belita Secure Second Consecutive Victory in Saturday’s $15,000 1.40m Grand Prix Presented by RV Sales of Broward
For the second week in a row, Venezuela’s Emanuel Andrade and Belita ruled the Grand Prix, putting in impressive double clear rounds that proved to be uncatchable. The first double clear round went to Ilan Bluman and Eax Run Run LS, who finished on a final jump off time of 34.385. Soon after, Lauren Crooks and Columbeille de Reve stole the lead from Bluman, only to have it stolen almost immediately by Andrade and Benita. The athletic bay mare and the Venezuelan young rider put in a blazingly fast jump off round, taking a commanding lead over the rest of the field with a 29.431. A late effort by Kelly Cruciotti and My Flores bumped Crooks into third, but no horse & rider combinations were able to challenge Andrade’s lead, despite a field full of accomplished international Grand Prix competitors including Daniel Bluman, Darragh Kenny, Pablo Barrios, and Peter Jordan.
The Ridge at Wellington’s Palm Beach series continues with full hunter and jumper divisions each week, Wednesday – Sunday, as well as February 24th’s Turf Tour at Polo West, USEF Equitation Tuesdays, and each week a $15,000 1.40m Grand Prix on Friday and a $5,000 1.30m Open Stake on Saturday.