Valentine’s Day had us looking through rose-colored glasses and seeing hearts all week long with plenty of fun events to celebrate the holiday. There is no better way to say “I love you” than a good cup of coffee, so WEC sponsor Osphos provided complimentary coffee for all exhibitors on both Wednesday and Thursday at Dark Horse Coffee Co. The Ohio Appaloosa Association joined us in Vendor Village on both Wednesday and Thursday with plenty of sweets, treats and even roses for their bake sale, with proceeds going toward their Youth Group trip to Youth Worlds. On Friday evening, a group gathered in the Paddock Club for a Valentine’s Day-themed painting party, and the creativity rolled over into Saturday as all were invited to decorate Valentine’s Day-themed cookies in Vendor Village. Saturday saw some serious competition, and we’re not just talking about the horses. After the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix, an inflatable bungee race was set up in the Sanctuary Arena and races went on well into the night.
There was no shortage of thrilling equestrian sport this week, beginning on Thursday where Ireland’s David O’Brien and Spy Coast Farm’s Kir Royal SCF (Amaretto D Arco x Werly Chin de Muze) dominated the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m sponsored by CWD. In an exciting performance the pair stole the win near the end of the Table II event. An early time to beat was set by Megan Bash aboard Cleveland Equestrian’s Dayla 6 (Ogano Sitte x Layla). The pair sped through the first round, jumping clear in a time of 67.942 seconds, well under the time allowed of 72 seconds. Bash and Dayla 6 continued straight to the jump off and were careful and precise, jumping the short course clear in a time of 33.240, setting a tough pace for the remaining entries. Bash and Dayla 6 held their lead for a good deal of the class, but David O’Brien and his mount, Kir Royal SCF, were up to the challenge. The pair jumped a clear first round in a time of 70.164 seconds, then continued to the jump off, landing and barely taking one stride after the first oxer before they had rolled back for the next fence. This incredibly skilled turn shaved crucial seconds off of the pair’s time, allowing them to concentrate on riding their track and jumping a clear round. O’Brien and Kir Royal SCF did just that, crossing the timers at 31.266 seconds, sending them right to the top of the leader board for the win in the class.
Friday saw a fantastic win in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby by Gabriella Conte and CKE Horse Enterprises’ Cavallotto (Hunters Argentus x Ela Noir PJ 3). Many of the twenty horse and rider combinations scored well into the eighties in both the first round and the handy round of the class, but Conte and Cavallotto were the only pair to score into the nineties. The pair were impeccable in the first round of the Derby, delivering a lovely, steady rhythm with plenty of style and taking all four high options to earn a score of 90. Conte and Cavallotto returned for the handy round, laying down a second impressive course, jumping with brilliance and taking all handy turns with ease. The pair jumped all four high options and earned a score of 85 in the second round, bringing their two round total to 175, easily the highest score in the class. Conte and Cavallotto were rivaled by Melissa Donnelly and Jessica Tygielski’s Persuasion, though, who scored an 85 in the first round and an 82.5 in the handy round, bringing their two round total to 168.5.
Saturday’s Jumper action saw a crowd-rousing win by Ireland’s Kevin McCarthy aboard his own Catch A Star HSS (Sheraton x Tolinda) in the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix. McCarthy’s skillful riding began in the first round of the class, where he and Catch A Star HSS blazed around the course, jumping clean with a time of 78.853 seconds, five whole seconds under the time allowed of 84 seconds. Fellow Irishman David O’Brien was determined to give McCarthy a (quite literal) run for his money, however, as he and Cleveland Equestrian’s Pourkoipa Fontaine (Royal Bravour x Iberiade D’Hublais) jumped a clean first round in a time of 80.514 seconds. O’Brien and Pourkoipa Fontaine returned first for the short course, jumping quickly and setting a brisk pace with a clear round and a time to beat of 40.370. McCarthy and Catch A Star HSS rode near the end of the jump off, with O’Brien still atop the leader board. The pair laid down a tidy, incredibly fast, clear round taking several inside turn options in a time of 39.050 seconds, just beating O’Brien and Pourkoipa Fontaine for the win in the class.
Saturday also saw a special win for one of the youngest riders in the $7,500 Futures Prix 1.30 m sponsored by Voltire. Seventeen year old Olivia Epple and LivHaven Stables LLC’s Itile Horta (Didas de L’esperance x Putile Of Colors) were unstoppable in the class, jumping a speedy, clear first round in a time of 78.216 seconds, almost six seconds under the time allowed of 84 seconds. They continued straight to the jump off, executing expert inside turns that shaved crucial seconds off of their time. The pair stopped the clock at a blistering 36.034 seconds with another clear round. Fourteen entries attempted to beat Epple and Itile Horta, but none succeeded. In fact, the closest to her and Itile Horta’s time, Logan Taylor aboard REV Media Marketing, LLC’s With A Little Help Sir (Sir Shutterfly x Hauptstutbuch Lissy), was still two and a half seconds slower. Epple was not expecting the win in the Futures Prix, and could not have been more excited.
The $2,000 Non Pro Hunter Derby 2’6″ on Saturday evening sponsored by Chagrin Saddlery in the Roberts Ring saw a great win by Traci Ribeiro aboard Kalanov Equestrian’s Abudabi. This is not the pair’s first trip to the winner’s circle in the Non Pro Derby, also winning the class during Week 4 of the Winter Series of the Midwest at World Equestrian Center. The pair also did well this week in the Intermediate Adult Equitation, taking Reserve Champion in the division.
Join us at the World Equestrian Center for the second half of the Winter Series of the Midwest. The prize list is available online at www.wec.net, and entries are being accepted via www.horseshowing.com and through Equestrian Connect. Reservations for stalls, hay and bedding as well as RV spaces may all be made online at www.horseshowing.com. Be sure to watch the live stream daily on www.shownet.biz or from our home page at wec.net.
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.