Victoria Colvin and Ovation. Photos © Sportfot.
Bull Run’s Eternal and Kristen Vanderveen Top $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m Speed
Wellington, FL – February 14, 2015 – World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) competition welcomed hunter riders to center stage Saturday evening under the lights of the International Arena at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The country’s top professional, amateur, and junior hunter riders jumped for top honors in the $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular, where Victoria Colvin went one-two and notched her fourth consecutive win in the event. She piloted Ovation for Dr. Betsee Parker to his third straight WCHR win and took second with Parker’s Small Affair.
The hunters highlighted this week’s competition, which concludes on Sunday, February 16. All of Sunday’s jumper competition at The Stadium at PBIEC will be available live online. The $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix speed class, presented by EnTrust Capital, will begin at 8 am followed by the $34,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. Watch both classes at: http://bit.ly/1z64TGV. Sunday’s $50,000 Equestrian Sotheby’s Jumper Derby will begin at 2 pm at: http://bit.ly/1zu8q0x.
The historic hunter event returned to two rounds this year and welcomed 31 qualified entries with the top 12 returning over a handy test in round two. Scores were tallied from three panels, including judges Scott Fitton and Chance Arakelian on panel one, Mary Lisa Leffler and Scott Williamson on panel two, and Karen Healey and Jim Clapperton on panel three. First round scores were combined with handy scores for a two-round total and final score.
Colvin and Ovation first approached the course from the 26th position and jumped to the top of the leader board, returning in round two on a high score of 89.33. “I wasn’t sure he was going to be able to come back and win for a third time, but he went in and went right around and was perfect,” said Colvin who has been partnered with the 15-year-old Warmblood gelding throughout her near-end junior career. “The course wasn’t spooky, and I was confident that it was going to go well. He [Ovation] is more of an open and flowing horse and there weren’t any exact lines in the course, so it suited him.”
Sitting in the eighth position after round one, Brady Mitchell and Emily Perez’s Cassanto returned to post a 90 early in the handy round and take the lead. “I knew I had a lot to make up for, and I did what I could,” said Mitchell, referencing an all-or-nothing approach to the final hand-gallop fence of the second round. “Andre [Dignelli] gave me some great advice to let his nose out a little, and it changed his jump in the second round. I wanted to get a good prize and he’s a trustworthy horse, so I went for it.”
Representing Heritage Farm, Mitchell made a splash in his first year as a WCHR Hunter Spectacular competitor at WEF and his lead held until Colvin returned with Small Affair. Their 88.83 combined with an 87.33 from the first round gave them the advantage by less than a single point.
When Ovation returned in the final spot, Colvin had the class won, but still had the opportunity to keep not just one, but two streaks alive. “I knew Small Affair was on top, but I went tighter and handier on Ovation – I was a little faster to the hand gallop jump and when I landed I was confident that he was going to be on top,” she said.
Colvin’s confidence proved correct when judges scored their round a 90.08, which coupled with their 89.333 from round one handed them the win and bumped Small Affair to second.
Brady and Cassanto settled for third, but he was elated with the event as a whole. “I have been riding hunters for a long time and this is the class that every hunter rider wants to ride in and do well in. It feels special to be here under the lights where hunters have the opportunity to take over Saturday night,” he said. “I’m ecstatic to be third. Tori rode beautifully, and I’m happy to be third behind her. We kept it in the family tonight – Heritage Farm had a good night tonight being one-two-three.”
Purchased after a pre-green career with Shawn Casady, Cassanto also competes in the Junior Hunters with owner Perez.
Tara Metzner and Come Monday, owned by Davlyn Farms, Inc., capped the top four with scores of 85.66 and 89.16. In her third year participating in the WCHR Hunter Spectacular, Metzner made a significant improvement over last year’s 11th-place finish.
“She’s a brave, awesome horse so I knew there was nothing she was going to look at – she’s great in these conditions where things are more impressive, and I knew if I found the jumps she would give me all she’s got,” said Metzner of Come Monday.
“I keep moving up, so Tori better watch out next year,” she laughed.
Less than a point behind Metzner, Scott Stewart and Stephanie Danhakl’s First Light rounded out the top five.
For Colvin, her third consecutive win with Ovation was bittersweet knowing it would be their last together. Parker announced at the close of the Hunter Spectacular that the cherished gelding will retire at the Washington International Horse Show this fall. “It was a historic night for him [Ovation] – this will be the last time we ever see him in this ring,” she said. “He is the most decorated junior hunter in history, and it’s moving to see this magnificent horse go out winning.”
Colvin admits that saying goodbye to Ovation is difficult, but couldn’t imagine a junior career with a better horse. “I knew this year that it would be our last season together, and it’s very emotional because he’s such an amazing horse,” said Colvin. “To have been with him throughout my entire junior career is special.”
Junior Hunters Crowned in the International Arena, Amateur-Owner Champions Named
To start off Saturday morning competition in the International Arena, Daisy Farish rode Triton Ventures Farm’s Demarco to championship honors in the Charleigh’s Cookies Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under. The pair won the handy round yesterday and finished second in the stake class today.
Hidden Creek Farm’s Graffito was guided to reserve championship honors in the Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under by Emma Kurtz. Kurtz finished third and fifth over fences paired with a win in the under saddle.
This week was Farish’s first show with Demarco, but despite little practice time, Farish was ready to step into the show ring. “I was very confident walking in the arena because I knew he [Demarco] would be great. As long as I did my part, I knew that he would do his,” Farish commented.
Hunter competition continued with the Equestrian Sotheby’s International Realty Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under. Championship honors were awarded to Lilli Hymowitz ridding Rose Hill Farm’s Enjoy. The combination earned two seconds over fences paired with a win in the under saddle. Hymowitz explained, “He [Enjoy] has a really good personality and is always happy. He jumps great and acts the same at home as he does in the ring.”
Kurtz returned to the winner’s circle in the Small Junior Hunters 15 and Under after being named reserve champion with Southpointe Farm’s Entourage. The duo won two of the three over fences classes.
After the two younger Junior Hunter divisions crowned champions, the older Junior Hunters took up the spotlight. Tori Colvin and Small Affair, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, took home championship honors in the Antares Sellier France Large Junior Hunter 16-17. Small Affair topped two of the three over fences classes. The reserve championship was awarded to Stellar, ridden by Sophie Michaels and owned by Further Land Farm. Stellar was second and third over fences and topped the under saddle.
No stranger to the winner’s circle, Colvin was happy with how Small Affair went today. “He [Small Affair] loves this ring!” Colvin stated, “He is very alert. When it is a little spookier, he jumps much better and he felt great today.”
Colvin continued her winning streak in the EnTrust Capital Small Junior Hunter 16-17. Ovation, owned by Parker, topped two of the three over fences classes, along with the under saddle, with Colvin in the irons. All smiles, Colvin remarked on the different feel of having the hunters in the main ring. “I love having the hunters in the International arena. I ride my jumpers in the ring, and I always think that they should put hunters in here. Most hunters love the ring, and Ovation felt great today,” Colvin explained.
Vivian Yowan rode Saddle Ridge LLC’s horse, Ransom, to reserve championship honors in the EnTrust Capital Small Junior Hunter 16-17. Yowan and Ransom earned two seconds and third over fences.
Stephanie Danhakl dominated the Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division claiming both champion and reserve champion. Aboard her own Golden Rule, she was first and second over fences to take champion, while second under saddle and in the handy with her mare Starina B for reserve.
“I have had Golden Rule for just under a year and I’m the most confident on him out of all my horses – he finds the right distance every time,” said Danhakl. “I only got Starina B last week, so this is my second ride on her and she’s the opposite of Golden Rule. She’s much hotter, but I think we started to click this weekend.”
Danhakl admits that her expectations for WCHR week were blown away. “This is my third week back after three months off with a broken collarbone, and it was exciting to come in and have such a great horse show,” she concluded.
In the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter 36 & Over division, John Ingram and his own Airport 48 held the top spot after winning both the handy and stake before placing third under saddle.
Airport came to Ingram’s barn destined to be an equitation mount after leaving a career in the jumper ring behind, but has found a starring role in the hunter ring. “He’s a pleasant surprise,” said Ingram. “He’s done the jumpers, derbies, now the amateurs, and he just gets better and better. We got him a year ago, and this was the perfect weekend for it all to come together.”
The reserve championship was awarded to Becky Gochman and David Gochman’s Last Call with a blue under saddle and second in the stake.
Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Eternal Top $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m Speed
While hunter competition took main stage across the street, jumper action continued in the International Ring at The Stadium at PBIEC on Saturday afternoon with a $34,000 1.45m speed class, sponsored by Spy Coast Farm. Richard Jeffery (GBR) set the track for 33 entries and saw 12 clear rounds. Early in the order, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Eternal set the winning pace at 60.98 seconds and held on for the win. Peter Leone (USA) and My Pleasure finished second in 63.16 seconds. Harrie Smolders (NED) and Exquis Walnut de Muze were third in 63.39 seconds.
Bull Run’s Eternal is a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Toulon x Mellinor) that Vanderveen has ridden for almost two years. Vanderveen has had a lot of great results with Eternal and spoke about how she used her experience with the horse to her advantage in Saturday’s round.
“Everything we have is for sale and most of them get sold right away. They do well in one class and then they’re gone, but we have been able to keep him for a couple of years, so I really know him. I can pull him out and we’re on it,” Vanderveen stated. “He is really a gamer. In the ring, he knows his job and he is super-fast. For being such a big horse, he is shockingly fast. He has a really big step, so I kind of went with that advantage today because there were not a lot of inside turns that you could do. In the ring, I am really able to use his stride to his advantage.”
“At home, he is like a pony,” Vanderveen laughed. “He is quiet. He can go on the long rein, and he is really easy. You would never guess he is any high athlete at home; he is just like one of the school horses.”
Going early in the order, Vanderveen was a bit unsure of her plan with the big gelding, but relied on her horse’s big stride to get a fast round.
“I was actually a little bit nervous,” she admitted. “I normally don’t ask the other riders their plans, but the lines were a little questionable, whether you could leave out an extra step or not. I had asked a couple of people who said it was absolutely not a smart move. I ended up just going with my gut because I do know him pretty well. I’m glad I didn’t watch the ones before me because nobody else really did the numbers I was thinking. I think at the end that really is what was able to keep our forward rhythm the whole way around.”
Also competing on Saturday, Richard Neal (22) of Pasadena, CA rode Quadam to the win in the $10,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Welcome, presented by EnTrust Capital. The class was a speed format, and Neal and Quadam were the fastest of 18 clear rounds in a time of 64.205 seconds for victory. Sarah Bagworth and Goldfinger VD Hengstenpoel were second in 64.53 seconds, while Jessica Springsteen rode Zero to third in 64.627 seconds. There were 60 entries in the Welcome, the fourth class of the popular Series.
While Neal has shown at WEF for four years, this is his first time competing in the Series. “I love it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just perfect for what I’d like to do for myself and for my horse. It’s a fantastic series,” he stated.
Neal has ridden the nine-year-old Hanoverian stallion by Quite Easy I x Stakkato for a year. “We bought him in Europe off a video tape that Leslie (Howard) sent me,” he smiled. “He’s an up-and-coming 1.50m horse. We jumped our first 1.45m last year. Getting him out in this division early in the season, he’s showing us quite some promise. I think I’m going to have a long and successful relationship with him.”
Week six of the Winter Equestrian Festival, sponsored by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, concludes on Sunday at The Stadium at PBIEC with the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix speed class, presented by EnTrust Capital, at 8 am, followed by the $34,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, and then the $50,000 Equestrian Sotheby’s Jumper Derby, which starts at 2 pm.
WCHR week concludes tomorrow with the Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Classic and WCHR Amateur Owner Junior 3’3″ Hunter Classic in the International Arena.
For full results and more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.