Another gorgeous day of sun and blue skies set the scene for a fun-filled Saturday at the WEC July I show. Visitors flocked to the show grounds for the First Annual Hotrods and Horsepower Car Show on the lawn in front of the Paddock club, then made their way to the outdoor complex to watch fierce competition in both the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix and the $7,499 Futures Prix 1.30 m sponsored by Voltaire Design. All enjoyed a pizza-filled exhibitor party by the ring while watching the thrilling Jumper action.
$25,000 WEC Grand Prix
The $25,000 WEC Grand Prix saw intense competition between many WEC regulars and several new faces. The field of entries included a mix of both young and experienced professionals, making for an exciting class. Competition was stiff, but it was crowd favorite Robert Mendoza who prevailed, taking both first and third place aboard Bannockburn Farm’s Java Van De Kleinheide (Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve x Eclinta Van Der Bosrand) and Bannockburn Farm’s United M (Baloubet Du Rouet x United), respectively.
Near the top of the order was Robert Mendoza and Bannockburn Farm’s Java Van De Kleinheide (Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve x Eclinta Van Der Bosrand), a ten year old Belgian Warmblood mare. The pair are frequently seen at WEC competing in the Futures Prix and Grand Prix and earning ribbons, but had yet to secure a win. Mendoza and the bay mare were determined to give their competitors a run for their money today as they entered the ring. The course for this afternoon’s $25,000 WEC Grand Prix was designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky and featured multiple combinations, forward lines and a triple bar to start the course. Mendoza and Java Van De Kleinheide never wavered, navigating the course with expert precision and jumping the first clear round of the class in 73.254 seconds, well within the time allowed of 83 seconds.
Mendoza returned to the ring later aboard Bannockburn Farm’s United M (Baloubet Du Rouet x United), hoping for a second clear round. The duo compete regularly in the WEC Grand Prix, often placing in the top five. Mendoza and the nine year old KWPN mare even took second place by just one second during Week 12 of the 2019 Winter Series of the Midwest. This afternoon, the pair blazed through the course, but pulled one heartbreaking rail. However, their quick time of 70.034 seconds was enough to make them the fastest four faulter.
Mendoza and Java Van De Kleinheide remained the only clear round until the end of the class when Taylor Kain and The Gelt Group’s Shuttergold (Silvio I x Famose) entered the ring. Kain and the nine year old Hanoverian mare have taken several top placings at WEC Grands Prix. In their usual style, the pair were forward and accurate throughout the first round, crossing the timers with the only other clear round of the class in 73.876 seconds.
With just two in the jump off, it was a true head to head battle for first place. Mendoza and Java Van De Kleinheide were first to attempt the short course, galloping between the third and fourth fences to eliminate valuable seconds and taking inside turns at every opportunity. The pair raced through the timers with all rails up at 39.829 seconds, challenging Kain and Shuttergold to best their performance. Kain and Shuttergold were set on doing just that, mirroring Mendoza’s inside track, but pulled an unlucky rail before crossing the timers at 39.698 seconds, leaving Mendoza and Java Van De Kleinheide in first place.
Mendoza took a few minutes to chat with us ringside about his win. For their win, Mendoza and Java Van De Kleinheide received the lion’s share of the prize money, along with a prize pack from Horse First and a $100 Dandy Products gift certificate. Java Van De Kleinheide’s groom also received the Groom’s Award for the mare’s stunning turnout, which included $100 cash and a $50 WEC Gift Card. “Java’s been struggling with confidence, so my ride was a little hectic today; we tried a little harder than we needed to, but she was superb. Everything I asked her to do, she just came right up and she did it. In the jump off, I don’t even know how she went clean. I dared her at the second, I was really long after the in and out and she just kept coming. When I said, ‘Woah,’ to the last fence, she almost stopped moving. I was like, ‘No, not that much!’ She was fantastic,” laughed Mendoza.
When asked about Java Van De Kleinheide, Mendoza replied, “She’s a ten year old Belgian Warmblood mare. Her owner, Allyn McCracken who owns Bannockburn Farm, imported her as a six year old. She was a late six year old. She currently has two babies on the ground. We collect her eggs. She’s actually a Mom, that’s supposed to be her job, we just do this on the side. She’s always been fun. She’s a little quirky, she likes things her way…she’s a little bit of a girl that way. But, when she likes you, she’ll do anything for you. She’s all heart.”
Mendoza also commented on third place finisher, United M, “Allyn also imported United M, or ‘Effie’ as we call her in the barn. She got her as a yearling to be a broodmare. She also has two babies on the ground. She’s nine; she’s a year younger than Java. I started her from scratch. I did everything with her. She’s really cool for me because every jump, every course, everything she has ever done has been with me. She’s super. I was actually really sad when she finished because I didn’t know she knocked down that one jump, so I thought she was clean. She’s another one that just tries. Her form is a little unorthodox, but she always gives me everything she has. I love them both, they’re both great. They’re very different horses: Effie’s a machine, you put her in gear and go, and Java’s a little bit of a mix and match, but they both try really hard.”
Mendoza concluded by adding, “Thank you to Allyn McCracken of Bannockburn Farm. She breeds fantastic horses and lets me play with them, so I can’t thank her enough. I also can’t thank my wife, Kezie, enough. She goes to all of these things with me and helps me out and deals with me when I’m grumpy when I don’t win and stuff like that. It’s been great. We have a nice team going, so it’s really nice.”
$25,000 WEC Grand Prix Results
- Java Van De Kleinheide, Robert Mendoza – 0 | 0 | 39.829
- Shuttergold, Taylor Kain – 0 | 4 | 39.698
- United M, Robert Mendoza – 4 | 70.034
- Darius, Sean Jobin – 4 | 70.883
- Gilded, Taylor Kain – 4 | 72.593
- Kioki Coffee SCF, Maria Moore – 8 | 65.483
- Kinsella, Charlotte Clark – 8 | 66.557
- Metro Lass, Patricio Rodriguez – 8 | 69.103
- Charlie Brown, Taylor Avann – 12 | 74.160
- Kroner Z, Jennifer Strickland – 13 | 91.192
$7,499 Futures Prix 1.30 m
The $7,499 Futures Prix 1.30 m sponsored by Voltaire Design was equally as exciting as the Grand Prix with plenty of tough competition and just three entries continuing to the jump off. Though times were close, it was Melissa DeCaster-Lesch and her own Twin Creek’s Ciela (Inductro x Maja Van Hof Ten Velde) that took home the blue.
The Futures Prix saw a similarly laid out course by Bobby Murphy, but with many of the fences reversed. First in the order was Shannon Clifford aboard Texas De Limache, LLC’s Christie Z, a twelve year old Zangersheide mare. The pair were quick to set the pace in the class, jumping a clear round in 68.569 seconds, well under the time allowed of 84 seconds. The pair continued straight to the jump off of the Table II 2b event, riding a second clear round and setting the time to beat at 30.410 seconds.
Next to jump clear was Mark McKone and his own Fearless (Heartbreaker x Zacha), a nine year old Dutch Warmblood stallion. The pair have a great rapport, taking top placings in many 1.30 m Jumper classes. This afternoon, McKone and Fearless powered through their first course, crossing the timers with all rails up at 70.572 seconds. The pair continued to the jump off, riding a quick round in 30.442 seconds, but pulling two unfortunate rails.
Later in the order, and last to jump clear, was Melissa DeCaster-Lesch and her own Twin Creek’s Ciela (Inductro x Maja Van Hof Ten Velde), a twelve year old Belgian Warmblood mare. The pair regularly take top placings in the Low Junior A/O Jumpers. DeCaster-Lesch and Twin Creek’s Ciela took to this afternoon’s course with confidence, also riding a quick, clear round in a time of 69.874 seconds. The pair continued to the jump off with the same attitude, knowing what it would take to win the class. DeCaster-Lesch and Twin Creek’s Ciela sped though the course, but were careful to leave all rails up, crossing the timer with a clear round at 29.447 seconds for the win in the class and moving Clifford and Christie Z into second place and McKone and Fearless into third.
DeCaster-Lesch stuck around after the class to chat with us about her win. “I’ve had her for a couple of years now. I mainly do her in the Low Junior A/Os and step her up here and there. This is our first Futures Prix with her, so it was very exciting. She’s just on form this week, so it’s been a lot of fun,” said DeCaster-Lesch.
When asked about Twin Creek’s Ciela, DeCaster-Lesch replied, “She’s not a cuddler, she would prefer to get treats, be appreciated, then be left alone. She’s easy to live with, comes out ready to do her job every single day and gives her all all of the time.”
DeCaster-Lesch also gave us a brief history of her riding career, “I was born and raised in Greenbay, Wisconsin and live in Heartford Wisconsin right now with my husband. I’ve been in the horses for about twenty five years. I went to Young Riders, then I got married and had a baby, and I’m now just starting to step back up through the ranks again. This is a good way to kick it off.”
DeCaster-Lesch also added, “We just love it here [at WEC]. We appreciate everything that everybody does to put on a great show and we always have a really great time.”
$7,499 Futures Prix 1.30 m Results
- Twin Creek’s Ciela, Melissa DeCaster-Lesch – 0 | 0 | 29.447
- Christie Z, Shannon Clifford – 0 | 0 | 30.410
- Fearless, Mark McKone – 0 | 8 | 30.442
- Illusionist II, Shannon Clifford – 4 | 68.127
- Ardragh Rock Star, Harriet McCord Chang – 4 | 69.473
- Billy, Jamie Alnwick – 4 | 75.957
- Cassuro TSP, Kate Sippel – 4 | 82.651
- Cornetta KF, Charlotte Clark – 8 | 68.526
- Here I Am, Joshua Tabor – Elim.
Our Summer horse shows continue next week with the July II horse show. Stalls are FREE and braiding is not required. Be sure to get your entries in now for our August 7-11 horse show – the last show of the Spring / Summer Series which features a $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. An added plus: there is no braiding required! Reserve your stalls and submit your entries at www.horseshowing.com.
Photos courtesy of Winslow Photography.