Week 11 of ‘Winter in the Midwest’ at World Equestrian Center kicked off this afternoon with a first-time win in the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35m sponsored by CWD Sellier for Richard Rinehart and Allison Vinatieri’s La Dolce Vita VDL (Zapatero VDL x Tilly). The pair bested a field of 14 entries, with five horse and rider combinations managing double clear rounds in the class. The course for this afternoon’s class was designed by Michael Pegg of Ontario, Canada, and featured 14 jumping efforts including two combinations and multiple bending lines. The jump-off track included one combination and two inside rollback turns, ultimately rewarding those who maintained a galloping pace.
First in the order and first to jump double clear were Kieley McQuaker and her own Clash Heldenlaan Z. The pair earned a tri color last week at World Equestrian Center in the Low Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper 1.20m and stepped up to the Welcome Stake this afternoon. McQuaker and Clash Heldenlaan Z jumped a clear first round in 71.765 seconds, well under the time allowed of 82 seconds, which was eventually adjusted down to 77 seconds. The duo continued straight to the jump-off of the Table II 2b event, keeping a steady pace and taking inside turns to fence 7 and the combination, stopping the clock at 50.958 seconds with all rails up.
Shortly after, Leann Kelly and Jack Shainman’s Equinox HS (Ikoon x Tikina) laid down a pair of double clear rounds. They took top placings at World Equestrian Center in the 1.30m jumpers during the 2019 WEC Fall Horse Shows and moved up to the 1.35m Welcome Stake this afternoon. Kelly and the 10-year-old KWPN mare managed a clear first round in 73.544 seconds and advanced straight to the jump off. The pair were quick, galloping between fences and hugging the inside turns. They stopped the clock at 46.965 seconds, setting the new time to beat.
None were able to beat Kelly’s time until halfway through the order when Nicki Wilcox and Marjorie Martin’s Hannibal V (Tornesch 1042 x Danique Du Lys) took to the course. The pair topped last week’s Welcome Stake against tough company and returned to the Sanctuary Arena this afternoon in hopes of claiming another victory. Wilcox and the eight-year-old KWPN gelding navigated a clear first round in a time of 73.069 seconds and continued straight to the jump-off. The duo charged through the short course, stopping the clock at 45.342 seconds and moving into the top spot. Wilcox later returned aboard Halifax VDM (Caruso La Silla x Dorsina VDM), who is also owned by Marjorie Martin. The pair were more conservative in the first round, leaving all rails up in a time of 75.089 seconds and continuing straight to the jump-off. Wilcox and the eight-year-old KWPN gelding picked up pace in the jump off, leaving all rails up in 48.622 seconds and moving into third place.
Wilcox and Hannibal V’s time seemed unbeatable until Richard Rinehart and Allison Vinatieri’s La Dolce Vita VDL (Zapatero VDL x Tilly) entered the ring. The pair earned a blue ribbon last October in the $7,500 Futures Prix 1.30m and has been taking top placings in 1.20-1.30m jumper classes since then. This afternoon, Rinehart and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding stepped up to the Welcome Stake for the first time, finding a clear first round in 76.168 seconds. The duo continued straight to the jump-off, gaining speed and managing tight rollback turns to fence 7 and the combination. The pair raced through the timers at 44.382 seconds, securing the win.
Rinehart of Rinehart Farm in Carmel, Indiana took a moment after the awards presentation to chat with us ringside about his win, “It was the first time that I’ve tried a Welcome Stake with this horse, so I’m super proud of him. I’m really happy with the round and especially with his efforts. My plan in the jump-off was just to go as fast as I could without taking any unreasonable chances. I was really happy; he was right there with an answer for every question.”
When asked about La Dolce Vita VDL’s personality, Rinehart laughed, “He’s super gentle; he’s like the Labrador retriever of horses. I call him ‘Wonder Boy.’ He’s a very special horse and I’m thankful to ride him. I’m really happy for Allison Vinatieri, who owns him. He’s a lot of fun. I hope to do it again on Saturday! We’ll see how the week plays out, but I’d like to do the Grand Prix with him.”
$5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35m Results
- La Dolce Vita VDL, Richard Rinehart – 0 | 0 | 44.382
- Hannibal V, Nicki Wilcox – 0 | 0 | 45.342
- Equinox HS, Leann Kelly – 0 | 0 | 46.965
- Halifax VDM, Nicki Wilcox – 0 | 0 | 48.622
- Clash Heldenlaan Z, Kieley McQuaker – 0 | 0 | 50.958
- Kinsella, Charlotte Clark – 0 | 4 | 45.367
- Geronimo 132, Sandra Zimmerli – 0 | 4 | 45.652
- Danique Du Lys, Nicki Wilcox – 4 | 68.707
- Graf Joe, Leann Kelly – 4 | 70.301
- Quantofino, Sarah Meier – 4 | 74.147
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.