Tag Archives: Winter Equestrian Festival

No Worries for Akuna Mattata in Adequan WEF Challenge Cup

Nicole Shahinian-Simpson & Akuna Mattata. Photo © Sportfot.

Fifteen years together has created a winning partnership between U.S. rider Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata. The pair topped a field of 64 to win the CHF37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 2 on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village on Friday afternoon.

Shahinian-Simpson has known Akuna Mattata since she was born, one of three triplet fillies by embryo transfer out of her former mount SRF Dragonfly de Joter. Akuna Mattata, a 2008 Holsteiner mare (Quinar Z x Landwind II), took some time to develop and hit a winning stride with Shahinian-Simpson in the international ranks.

“There were so many clear, I was questioning whether I was going to jump-off to get ready for Sunday,” admitted Shahinian-Simpson. The decision to give it a go, however, paid off.

“She feels fit and strong, and I don’t show her a lot, so I figured why not. The jump-off was nice with a lot of gallops. She covers the ground so fast. When you gallop the jumps on her you never really think about the clear, you just go to the jumps and she does the rest.”

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Tic Tac Back to Winning Ways with Ben Maher

Ben Maher & Tic Tac. Photo © Sportfot.

Tic Tac felt right at home on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village to kick off week two of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on Thursday. Olympic Champion Ben Maher (GBR) piloted Tic Tac, a 2003 Belgian Sport Horse (Clinton x Panama du Seigneur) owned by Jane Forbes Clark, to win the CHF37,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI3* 1.45m Speed.

Maher and the 20-year-old Tic Tac have a longstanding partnership that has made them an often-unbeatable pair. “Tic Tac knows everything now, so it’s more about just keeping him fit and enjoying everything,” said Maher of Tic Tac, who has taken up permanent residence in Florida. “He stays here year-round; we don’t travel him to Europe. We’re very fortunate with the staff and team at home looking after him. He knows his job and he loves this arena.

“I’ve said this before, but I think this arena is one of the nicest grass arenas in the world,” said Maher of the derby field at Equestrian Village. “It’s really old-school ground here and I think as an older horse, he likes the brighter jumps and loves the ground.”

Amber Broder Claims Ariat National Adult Medal

The Ariat National Adult Medal started Thursday morning in the Rost Arena with Amber Broder and her stunning 2005 warmblood gelding, Tip Jar, sealing the deal for the win.

“It rode really nice,” said Broder of the track. “Last week, I made a mistake in a roll back, so my big goal was to do that, and I didn’t ride it perfectly in the first round, but I got a chance to redeem myself in the test and give him the ride he deserves, because he’s the best horse in the world.”

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Jad Dana Ends WEF 1 on a Win

Jad Dana & After Eight. Photo © Sportfot.

The first FEI week of the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season ended with the CHF37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic in the international Ring on Sunday, January 15. Jad Dana (LBN) won the day aboard After Eight as the sun set over Wellington International.

Nick Granat (USA) designed a tricky twelve-obstacle course with a time allowed of 72 seconds. Fifty-nine riders vied for a clear round to take them into the jump-off. Only ten pairs managed to make it to the second round. In the end, it was Dana and his super mare, After Eight, a 2010 Swedish Warmblood (Diarado x Cardento) owned by Springhill Farm, with the quickest time of 37.70 seconds.

“She’s amazing and she’s been in top form; she won a grand prix two weeks ago and then she came out, was great in the first round and an even better jump-off,” said Dana of the mount he had a little over a year. “That was so fun to ride, and she makes it fun.”

Julie Hogan Takes Adult Amateur Tri-Color

The Vogel Adult Amateur Hunter 36-49 (Sec B) class helped conclude an exciting first week for hunters at WEF. The stars of the day were Julie Hogan and her lovely mare, Latoya, a 2013 mare by Languster Prydsholm, owned by The Ridge Farm LLC. Hogan and Latoya won three over fences classes and the under saddle to collect championship points.

“Everything went really smoothly today,” she said. “We had a really great day yesterday, winning both over fences, and we won the flat today, and I just wanted to go in today and put in a solid performance in the two over fences classes. My mare jumped really well and she’s a star.”

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Darragh Kenny Is Best in CHF140,000 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix

Darragh Kenny & Volnay du Boisdeville. Photo © Sportfot

A wave of unseasonably cold weather for Wellington, FL worked to Darragh Kenny’s advantage during “Saturday Night Lights”, giving Volnay du Boisdeville a little extra spring in his step. Together, they topped the CHF140,000 Southern Arches CSI3* Grand Prix during week 1 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

“He’s an incredible horse and he’s better when he’s fresh,” said Kenny of Volnay du Boisdeville, a 2009 Selle Français stallion (Winningmood x Jaisco B) owned by Vlock Show Stables. “The cold weather was a good factor for us tonight because it had him a little fresher than normal.

“You can trust him at the jumps and he’s very fast in jump-offs,” continued Kenny. “I knew it was a competitive jump-off, so I just tried to go as quick as I could and hope that the jumps stayed up.”

Gochman Clinches CP National Grand Prix

The $30,000 CP National Grand Prix set the afternoon tone in the International Arena on Saturday with a win for 18-year-old Mimi Gochman (USA) aboard Cosmos BH.

The entry list included forty pairs, all very eager to put forth a clear round inside the time allowed (76 seconds). Five riders advanced to the jump-off: Laura Chapot (USA), Alison Robitaille (USA), Mario Deslauriers (CAN), Rebecca Conway (USA), and the eventual winner, Gochman.

Gochman gushed over her budding partnership with Cosmos, saying, “I always knew he had talent and stride and scope but he’s going to be amazing. He’s one of those stallions that stands proud.”

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Tanner Korotkin and Quinn Have Wings in Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI3* 1.45m Speed

Tanner Korotkin and Quinn 33. Photo © Sportfot.

The Wellington Equestrian Realty CSI3* 1.45m Speed highlighted Friday, January 13, in the International Arena at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). It was a foot race to the finish, and the win went to Tanner Korotkin for the USA aboard Quinn 33.

The international entry list included fifty-four horses and riders jumping against the clock. Nick Granat (USA) designed a technical 1.45m track, with twelve obstacles total and a time allowed of 72 seconds.

The fastest time of the day was posted by 21-year-old Korotkin and his 2010 Holsteiner gelding (Quidam De Revel x Contender). The pair finished just below the minute mark in 59 seconds for owner Eickendorf Horses.

“The course designer definitely gave us a lot of options to go very fast today,” said Korotkin. “The horse that I’m on I’m very confident with, and we have had a lot of wins recently. I thought it was a very solid course for his style and how he likes to go.”

Taylor Madden Tops Talent Search

Standing out in the equitation ring on Friday, Taylor Madden won the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2*. Thirty-four riders showed off in the two-phase class that tested each pair over fences and on the flat.

Twelve riders were called back for the flat test, and Madden, of Wellington, FL, aboard Mac One III, a 2009 Anglo European gelding (Luidam Elite x Lagos), ended at the top of the list.

“It felt good; this was his first time showing since Maclay Finals, so we were both a little rusty,” said Madden, 20. “The flat class went well. I would say that is a strong suit for both of us. He can really show off in the extended work and I’ve known him for a really long time so that’s very helpful.”

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McLain Ward Closes Out WEF Premiere

McLain Ward & Catoki. Photo © Sportfot.

The $75,000 Prestige Italia Grand Prix wrapped up Premiere Week in the International Arena on Sunday, January 7, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). While there proved to be an exciting lineup of horses and riders, two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward and the little bay superstar, Catoki, simply could not be caught.

The class consisted of twenty-six riders over a challenging thirteen-obstacle course designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA), including a triple combination that caused several rails. The class started off with a bang, including several early clear trips, but as it unfolded the clear rate slowed. The first four to jump clear and make the time allowed were Chris Ewanouski (CAN), Matt Williams (AUS), Jimmy Torano (USA), and Ward. Richard Vogel (GER) and Michael Murphy (USA) in the latter half of the draw then joined the jump-off list.

McLain and his sportscar of a horse, Catoki (Catoki x Caretello B) owned by Marilla van Beuren and Bob Russell were the quickest and most precise by more than three full seconds in the jump-off, to land them with an exciting win. They crossed the timers in 29.003 seconds, while Australia’s Matt Williams finished second riding Meadowvale Cruise in 32.959 for owner Wyndmont.

“He’s feeling great,” said Ward of his 2009 Holsteiner gelding. “He’s always great after a little bit of rest. He’s won so much and goes so fast; he almost gets a little bit like a racehorse. So, we gave him a long break after Toronto and he came back a little more mellow.”

Jean Sheptoff’s Verdict Tops Hunt Ltd. 3’6” Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter Division

The Hunt Ltd. 3’6” Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter division was the exclamation point on hunter competition during WEF Premiere and saw Jean Sheptoff’s Verdict pinned as champion.

Verdict, a 2011 Zangersheide gelding by Verdi, earned two wins over fences in addition to a second and third-place ribbon for the tri-color at the conclusion of the week. “Verdict jumped beautifully this weekend,” she said of the mount, which is coming off a long break since indoor competition in the fall. “He’s feeling his best as we start to gear up for [WCHR] hunter week [during WEF 6].”

Sheptoff has had the ride on Verdict since he joined her string as a six-year-old pre-green horse. They have progressed into a solid partnership that is now earning champion honors in the highly competitive amateur-owner hunter ranks.

“The handy yesterday was a really fun course and my horse rises to the occasion in the handy, so that was a great day,” said Sheptoff of her handy victory on Saturday. “I have basically been the only one riding him since we got him, so he always tries hard for me.”

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Conor O’Regan Scores First Win of WEF Season

Conor O’Regan & Mendini DR. Photo © Sportfot.

Ireland’s Conor O’Regan has been producing Mendini DR since the mare’s six-year-old year. The now 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Hunter’s Scendix x Cassini I) carried O’Regan to victory in the $25,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic, the opening event of the 2023 1.50m Championship Jumper Series at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Mendini DR, owned by Erin and Jimmy Walker’s Dynomite Ranch, had a deep cheering section on Saturday afternoon as she raced to the finish line in 41.185 seconds with a second to spare over runner-up Luis Fernando Larrazabal (VEN) riding Condara for owner Victoria Heurtematte. They stopped clock at 40.477 seconds.

Of the 28 horses that started the class, five advanced to the tie-breaking jump-off over a course designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA).

“I’ve produced this horse and we are still in a building stage with her, so to get the win today is a bonus,” said O’Regan. “She’s always had a good brain, but her style is quite unique. The biggest thing with her was just to take my time and make sure she is comfortable jumping bigger. I think she proved that she can today.”

The Boys Are Back: Men’s Team Wins Battle of the Sexes

The first “Saturday Night Lights” event of 2023 started off with a bang, bringing in huge crowds and tremendous fun on January 7 with the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center. This crowd favorite event highlighted Premiere Week of the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), which runs for 13 weeks through April 2. The men’s team broke an 11-year winning streak for the women in the 14-year history of the event.

The women’s team for Battle of the Sexes consisted of team captain Nicole Jayne, Kelly Soleau-Millar, Heather Caristo-Williams, Delaney Flynn, Samantha Mackenzie, Mia Mannis, Abigail McArdle, Catherine Pasmore, Alexis Sokolov, and Ally Worthington.

The men’s team, led by captain Charlie Jayne, also included Christian Coyle, Daniel Coyle, Jordan Coyle, Alex Granato, Luis Larrazabal, Tony Stormanns, Sohnke Theymann, Michael Tokaruk, and Simon McCarthy.

The Battle of the Sexes consists of three phases, with the first being a Table C faults-converted speed course where the riders go to head-to-head over the same course, and the one with the fastest time gains a point for their team. Following the first phase, the men’s team had a commanding lead at nine to one.

In the second phase, each team had three relay groups, where a trio of riders each did a section of the course. The women’s team fought back in the second phase closing the gap by ten points.

The final phase was a match race where riders competed at the same time over a course that mirrored itself in the ring. Scores started at 11 to 14 with the men still leading, but by the penultimate match they were neck and neck. Christian Coyle brought back hope to the men’s team by overtaking Nicole Jayne in their match race with only one match remaining.

“Going into the match race, I wanted to try and be as slick and neat as possible because my horse is naturally fast,” said Christian Coyle. “I saw after number three that Nicole was still close and then going to the skinny, I thought she was a little ahead, so I took a risk to the second-to-last and it paid off. Then I could be a little cautious and make sure I left the last up. It’s a great class. There was brilliant atmosphere here tonight and it is good fun for everyone.”

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John French and Milagro Win WEF Premiere $25k USHJA International Hunter Derby

John French & Milagro. Photo © Sportfot.

John French set a high bar for the 2023 hunter season at Wellington International with Milagro on Friday. The pair jumped around effortlessly to steal the win in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during opening week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Thirty combinations set out to conquer the classic derby format class as a highlight to professional, amateur, and junior hunter competition during WEF’s 2023 debut.

Right behind French came Michael Britt-Leon and Bacchus, a 2013 Hanoverian gelding owned by Kelly Sims, in second place, followed by Greg Crolick and Zanziebar R Z, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jon Cotton, in third place.

French and Milagro, the coming eight-year-old gelding owned by Kent Farrington, LLC, claimed the derby victory over an interesting course plan in front of two panels of judges.

“The course was different; it wasn’t your typical turns, so you had to really pay attention to where you were going. There were times you thought you’d be going left, but really you were turning a little sharper to the right,” he said after posting a first-round combined score of 186. “Sometimes you do that in the handy, but there were a lot more turns today. It was definitely a true derby course and not your normal hunter course.”

Tomas Yofre Has What It Takes in Bainbridge 1.40m Speed Challenge

Argentina’s Tomas Yofre is off and running at WEF with a victory in the Bainbridge 1.40m Speed Challenge on Friday riding Eliante Z, a 2013 Zangersheide mare by Ermindo W. From a starting field of 62 over a course designed by Eric Hasbrouck USA, Eliante Z proved she had the speed to top them all for owner by Stellium Sport Horses LLC.

“I am so thankful to Olivia Broder and her family for trusting me with this special mare,” said Yofre of the mount he’s only been partnered with since the end of the 2022 season. “She gets better and better. She is super careful and competitive, and I think she can win any class she wants.”

Sweeping the rest of the podium, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny took second on California Pie, owned by Oakland Ventures, and third aboard Cicomein VDL for owned HKC Collection LLC.

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Richard Vogel Wins 35k Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Premiere Round

Richard Vogel & Codex 28. Photo© Sportfot.

The highly anticipated 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season debuted this week at Wellington International. Germany’s Richard Vogel launched into the new year with a victory in the $35,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Premiere Round on Thursday. All eyes were on Vogel and his mount, Codex 28, as the pair stormed to victory over 11 other jump-off contenders.

A total of thirty-one entries jumped course designer Eric Hasbrouck’s (USA) first round. Of the twelve pairs that advanced to the tie-breaking round, eight were double clear. Vogel and Codex 28 (Contendros 2 x Espri) were the ones to beat, and they showed off an effortless and speedy final round finishing a quarter of a second ahead of two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward and Catoki.

Vogel and Codex 28, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Sportpferde Herbert, have a dynamic history together as the pair began their journey when the talented gelding was five years old. After competing for a time at the national level with its owner, Codex 28 is now back under the direction of Vogel and is pointed towards lofty goals. Vogel said that the athletic mount has to be one of his most “promising horses for the future.”

Scott Stewart Shines during Opening Week

An ever-present “one to beat” in the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hunter ring, Scott Stewart collected tri-colors in three divisions during the first two days of professional hunter competition at WEF. The first championship came in the Equine Tack & Nutritionals 3’9” Green Hunter division in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Stadium on Thursday.

Stewart, of Wellington, FL, piloted Jordan, a 10-year-old Selle Français gelding by Paname de Varnel owned by Sophie Gochman. Earning first, second, and third-place ribbons across the board, Jordan posted two scores of 88.5, 87, and 88 throughout four rounds of jumping.

“It’s exciting to be back – I love it here. I brought out a small group of horses and they all did well this week,” said Stewart of the start to his WEF season. “Sophie bought Jordan at the end of last year and he was champion throughout indoors. He’s such a good jumper and a real trier.”

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Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen Takes Final FEI Win at WEF in $50k CabanaCoast Grand Prix CSI2*

Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen and Forever SFN. © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – April 3, 2022 – The final day of the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded 13 weeks of competition on Sunday, April 3, with the last international jumper class of the circuit on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village as well as the closing classes across all divisions at Wellington International. Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen (USA) emerged as the last international victor as she and Forever SFN won the $50,000 CabanaCoast Grand Prix CSI2*.

Guilherme Jorge (BRA) built one final challenging effort for the 45 two-star competitors in the class. He tested the entries with an early triple combination, but the efficient time allowed of 74 seconds was only the deciding factor for two duos. Thirteen more had their hopes dashed with the fault of a single downed obstacle. As the first round concluded, the returning line-up consisted of 11 representatives from four different nations prepared to battle it out over the jump-off track.

Cruciotti Vanderveen was the second to return for the short course and established the first clear round over the track with Springpaarden Fonds Nederland’s 12-year-old KWPN gelding Forever SFN (Azteca VDL x Non Stop) in a time of 38.18 seconds. Five other horses would go clear over the track, but none would come close to the leader’s blazing time.

Fabio Leivas Da Costa (BRA) and Bonne Chance Farm LLC’s Ilex put in another top effort to take second place in the class. Da Costa skillfully navigated the nine-year-old KWPN gelding (Baltic VDL x Chin Chin) through each obstacle but fell still two seconds shy of Cruciotti Vanderveen’s top time to finish in 40.14 seconds. The USA landed in both the first and third positions as Katherine Dinan galloped into third place with Dijon Terdoorn Z. Dinan piloted the Grant Road Partners LLC’s 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Diamant De Semilly x Lord Z) to a final time of 40.19 seconds just behind Da Costa.

Nicola Philippaerts Closes Out WEF with Victory

The final class in the International Arena was the $50,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m National Grand Prix. With 51 entries in a starting order stacked with six Olympians and riders from 13 countries, course designer Ken Krome (USA) had his work cut out for him. He set a formidable test that only brought back six for the jump-off. Rising to the top of the class was Belgian Olympian Nicola Philippaerts riding his own Gijs.

Philippaerts came back third in the jump-off, chasing a time of 44.446 seconds set by Darragh Kerins (IRL) and Intuitive, owned by Eve Jobs, which would hold up for third place. Philippaerts and Gijs brought the winning time down to 41.421 seconds. Second place went to 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games individual gold medalist Ben Maher, who rode Point Break, owned by Maher, Pamela Wright, and Charlotte Rossetter, to a clear round in 43.344 seconds.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.