This afternoon saw a return to the Winner’s Circle for Jill Gaffney and Freestyling Farms LLC’s Z Love Story (Hunter x Elli) in the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m sponsored by CWD Sellier. The pair have been on fire in 2019, winning the Welcome Stake and taking second place in the $7,500 Futures Prix 1.30 m just three weeks ago during Week 7 of the Winter Series of the Midwest. As always, Gaffney was very complimentary of Z Love Story, saying that the twelve year old bay Holsteiner mare is extremely brave and very fond of her job.
The course for this afternoon’s $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m sponsored by CWD Sellier featured two one-stride combinations, three lines and plenty of inside turn options. The course began with entries jumping a five stride line heading up the diagonal, rounding the top of the ring, jumping an oxer, then bending down the diagonal over a second line. Next, entries rode past the ingate and up a one stride combination, then bent to a single oxer. From there, entries jumped a vertical at the top of the ring, then continued down the diagonal over a third line. To finish, entries rode up the rail through a one stride combination, then continued up the rail and over an oxer.
The jump off course saw entries beginning over the single vertical at the top of the arena, then continuing to the in element of the line heading home and rolling back to the one stride combination on the rail. From there, entries looped back to the out element of the second line heading home, then finished the course by jumping the first line on the diagonal heading away from the ingate.
Near the top of the order of go was David Beisel aboard his own Essince W (Chacco Blue x Rossan). The pair have a history of strong finishes at World Equestrian Center, having taken first place in the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix during Week 3 of the Winter Series and regularly taking top placings in the 1.35 m Jumpers throughout the 2019 Winter Series. Essince W’s signature jumping style wowed the crowd again tonight, as the scopey dark bay cleared every jump with plenty of room to spare. Beisel and Essince W posted a clear first round in a time of 69.706 seconds, well within the time allowed of 74 seconds, and continued straight to the jump off of the Table II event. The pair were impressive, making good time and leaving all of the rails up as they started to turn toward the last line of the jump off, then surprised everyone, taking an inside track between the CWD vertical and the one stride combination to approach the final two fences. Their skilled turn paid off as they crossed the timers at 35.353 seconds, setting a time to beat for the remainder of the entries.
Shortly after Beisel and Essince W’s rounds, Jill Gaffney and Freestyling Farms LLC’s Z Love Story (Hunter x Elli) entered the ring. Fresh off of their win in the Welcome Stake just three short weeks ago, the pair were prepared to give Beisel some competition. Gaffney and Z Love Story rode the quickest first round of the class in 64.772 seconds, leaving all of the rails up and continuing to the jump off. The pair were bright and energetic, but had an apparent drive to win behind their ride that gave them even more of an edge. Gaffney and Z Love Story mirrored Beisel’s inside track to the last line, jumped clear and crossed the timers at an unbelievable 32.948 seconds, placing themselves atop the leader board.
Near the end of the class was Beisel’s student, Logan Taylor, aboard Ariel Black’s First Finch (Amadeus x Silvia). First Finch is a lease of Logan Taylor’s that she has been steadily moving up with this season. The pair have recently moved up to the 1.35 m classes and have been putting in stellar rounds, sometimes just with a rail down. This afternoon, Taylor and First Finch came to play, jumping a clear first round in 67.796 seconds and continuing to the jump off. The pair were quick around the course and mimicked Beisel’s inside track to the last line flawlessly. Taylor stopped the clock with a second clear round at 35.099 seconds, knocking her own trainer out of second place and receiving high fives from the crowd as she exited the ring.
Jill Gaffney stopped after the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m to chat about her winning ride in the class. “I went in on my first one (Jordan) and had a rail, which was kind of just my ride. So I went in on my next one, Z Love Story, and my husband (Trevor Gaffney) was like, ‘Alright, it’s all down to this one!'” Gaffney commented on the impressive turn ridden by the majority of the entries in the jump off, “I knew with David and his riders behind me that I’d better go fast! The inside turn to the last line put you out of the line a little, but the five didn’t ride as long as it walked. If you had a big strided horse or you knew your horse’s stride, then you could take the in of the line at a little bit of an angle, and then sweep back. Once David did that turn, we all had to if we wanted to get a prize!” Gaffney noted Z Love Story’s fantastic ability to be quick around the course, “This mare is super fast across the ground. She’s really keen and she loves her job. She’s a Holsteiner, but she’s bred to event, so she’s always quick, bold and always on it.”
Watch Jill Gaffney and Z Love Story’s winning round courtesy of ShowNet
$5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m Results
- Z Love Story, Jill Gaffney – 0 | 0 | 32.948
- First Finch, Logan Taylor – 0 | 0 | 35.099
- Essince W, David Beisel – 0 | 0 | 35.353
- Wadisson, Lauren DiTallo – 0 | 0 | 35.612
- Colato Sabata, Emily Reder – 0 | 0 | 36.084
- Gotham, Rachael Howard – 0 | 0 | 41.048
- Oliver’s Army, Lauren DiTallo – 0 | 4 | 35.219
- Jordan, Jill Gaffney – 4 | 65.370
- Angelo, David Beisel – 4 | 66.371
- Five Star, David Beisel – 4 | 69.093
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.