Early this morning, the WEC Grand Arena hosted a competitive field of 23 horse-and-rider combinations ready to contest the $15,000 WEC Ocala Welcome Prix. FEI Level III course designer Marina Azevedo of Brazil set a winding track that featured multiple combinations and complex bending lines with a time allowed of just 77 seconds. Only five entries managed clear first rounds and three jumped double clear, but it was Diego Bilbao and Wyndmont Inc.’s Tinker Bell that ultimately earned the win.
Spain’s Diego Bilbao and his new mount Tinker Bell by Chacco Blue have already received great success. The pair won two classes last week and took third place in the competitive $15,000 WEC 1.40 Jumper Classic. “She is a super fun horse and is amazing to ride. She wants to win every class,” said Bilbao.
Bilbao and the 11-year-old Warmblood mare set the pace for the remainder of the class, producing double clear rounds toward the end of the order. The duo jumped a clear, fast first round in 71.740 seconds, well under the time allowed of 77 seconds. Bilbao describes Tinker Bell, “She is a little unique because she has so much quality and so much blood that we just keep it simple for her. We don’t jump too much in the warm-up to keep her as relaxed as possible so she can do the best job in the ring.”
Bilbao and Tinker Bell advanced straight to the jump-off, choosing an alternate number of strides to the double combination. “I ended up doing 8 strides to the double combination, which was one more than other riders were taking. Tinker Bell gets too fast and wants to be too careful, so I wanted to slow down and balance to the double, so she would keep it up, then I went as fast as possible for the rest.” Bilbao and Tinker Bell flew through the rest of the course stopping the clock at 34.624 seconds for the win.
Last Saturday night’s $75,000 Yellow Pony Pub & Garden Grand Prix winner Kristen Vanderveen grabbed second place in today’s Welcome Prix with Bull Run’s Risen. Vanderveen and the 15-year-old KWPN gelding held the lead in the class from the very beginning, being the first entry to enter the class. Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Risen (Utopie x Violette) delivered a flawless first round, stopping the clock at 73.828 seconds. The pair advanced straight to the jump-off flying through the course, stopping the timers at 35.437 seconds, leading the class until Bilbao and Tinker Bell snatched their time.
Kyle Dewar and Joan Burke’s Tybo VD Tojopehoeve Z rounded out the top three. Dewar and the 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding produced a smooth and clean first round, leaving up all the rails to stop the clock at 76.722 seconds, just under the time allowed of 77 seconds. Dewar and Tybo VD Tojopehoeve Z (Turbo Van Het Gestelhof x Queeny VD Tojo Pe H Z) jumped-off immediately, taking inside turns to stop the clock at 39.163 seconds.
$15,000 WEC Ocala Welcome Prix Results:
1. Tinker Bell, Diego Bilbao, Wyndmont Inc.: 0 | 0 | 34.624
2. Bull Run’s Risen, Kristen Vanderveen, Bull Run Jumpers, Inc.: 0 | 0 | 35.437
3. Tybo VD Tojopehoeve Z, Kyle Dewar, Joan Burke: 0 | 0 | 39.163
4. Conreu, Kim Farlinger, Alan Chesler: 0 | 4 | 36.371
5. Con Spirit, Natalie Petschenig, Natalie Petschenig: 0 | 4 | 38.628
6. Quentin, Valentina Maury, Valentina Maury: 1 | 77.508
7. Clever Van De Helle, Kyle Dewar, Kyle Dewar: 1 | 77.794
8.Universe D’Or, Angela Covert, Angela Covert: 2 | 78.308
9. My Love Carthago, Fancie Nilforushan, Ali Nilforushan: 3 | 79.942
10. Valentino Z, Francie Nilforushan, Ali Nilforushan : 4 | 75.864
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.