Wilmington, Ohio – Thirty-three polished international athletes gathered in the Standlee Sanctuary at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington for the $15,000 Welcome Stake of Fall Classic 4. In the end, it was the luck of the Irish for Simon McCarthy (IRL) as he conquered FEI Level IV course designer Alan Wade’s (IRL) tracks aboard Rock Ridge Farm’s Gotcha (Stakkato x Zicchini).
The technical track saw rails down in various places, eliminating most riders from the jump-off at the final careful vertical, though the track was no match for McCarthy and his experienced mare.
“Gotcha is an unbelievable horse. She is twelve years old now and I have had her for three years. She is owned by Dan and Doug Towriss. She is very careful, very fast and super competitive. She has won up to the 1.50m level so this was a little bit of a step down for her. We are just keeping her going until we go down to Florida. I am super happy with her and hopefully we will do it again on Saturday,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy, of Rock Ridge Farm in Norman, Indiana, entered toward the end of the posted order looking to push Vicente Guillen (VEN) into second place.
Guillen, second to go with his own seven-year-old Italian Sport Horse mare Chacera (Harley VDL x Catch), set the pace with a double-clear effort in 27.194 seconds. The professional rider of Tranquility Farm in Ocala, Florida held the lead until bested by McCarthy, ending with the red ribbon.
McCarthy mastered Wade’s tracks and spoke highly of the internationally-acclaimed course designer, “Alan’s courses are always the best. I might be a bit biased because I’m also from Ireland,” laughed McCarthy. “I love riding his courses. They are always so fluid. He really knows how to divide everybody in the classes. Your horses always come out of his courses better. To me, he is the best in the world.”
Executing the same plan as Guillen in the jump-off, McCarthy and the 12-year-old Holsteiner mare were slightly quicker through the turns, for a winning time of 27.131 seconds.
McCarthy commented on his experiences at WEC – Ohio, “I think I actually won this class last year! I love it here. The Robert’s family does an amazing job. There are so many places to ride, the footing is unbelievable, and the jumps are so nice. I am lucky enough that it is only two hours away from my home base. I love coming here. The plan is to come back next week. I like supporting it here, they do an amazing job.”
Rowan Willis (AUS) returned to the top three with his own Cornet’s Girlensky. The 12-year-old mare produced the second double-clear effort of the evening in a time of 28.362 seconds, enough for third place.
$15,000 Welcome Stake Results:
1 Gotcha, Simon McCarthy, Rock Ridge Farms | 0 | 27.131
2 Chacera, Vicente Guillen, Vicente Guillen | 0 | 27.194
3 Cornet’s Girlensky, Rowan Willis, Rowan Willis | 0 | 28.362
4 Thunderbird Vh Scheefkasteel Z, Francios Lamontagne, Francios Lamontagne | 0 | 28.363
5 Boheme Du Moulin, Natalie Jayne, Jack Towell | 0 | 28.489
6 Mardinie, Kelly Arani, Kevin Gallagher | 0 | 29.362
7 Narcotique B, Lisa Goldman-Smolen, Stephanie St. John | 0 | 29.399
8 Copain De Picobello Z, Rachel Schnurr, Rachel Schnurr | 0 | 29.511
9 Rarity, Kyle Perkovich, Kyle Perkovich | 4 | 27.131
10 Houston, Natalie Jayne, Lynn Jayne | 4 | 31.556