We saw fantastic equestrian sport at last week’s World Equestrian Center Winter Classic #2. The first show of 2019 started the year off with a bang, seeing stellar rides from familiar faces like Charlotte E. Clark and Ashleen Lee, as well as fierce competition from first time WEC exhibitors. We started the show on Wednesday as horses and riders enter the show ring for the first time after the Holiday break. The break did not affect the competitors, though, as evident by s countless fantastic rounds in both Hunter and Jumper rings. One stand-out rider, fresh off of her own eleven month long break from showing, truly wowed us. Georgina Lockwood-Taylor took home two first place victories early in the week, one aboard her own Luxella, and the other aboard Christine Clawson-Judd’s Sly Fox. Georgina’s talent, along with her kind demeanor and love for animals, landed her in this week’s Sunday Spotlight. Read all about Georgina in last week’s Sunday Spotlight article here.
Thursday brought tough competition to the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m. The Table II event saw riders jumping off immediately after their first clear round. The first clear ride of the night was Liz Atkins and Benchmark Stables, LLC’s Rodeo VDL (Wittiner VDL x Lorena). Atkins, owner of Benchmark Stables in Hampshire, Illinois, piloted Rodeo VDL through a clean first round in a time of 82.399 seconds. The pair continued into the jump off and stopped the timers at 35.419 seconds, an impressive eleven and a half seconds under the time allowed, but had an unfortunate twelve faults. The next clear first-rounder of the night was Lauren E. DiTallo and High Finance Farm’s Wadisson (Radisson x Olivia). The pair was quick in the jump off, completing the round with just four faults in a time of 36.031 seconds. This set the pace for the rest of the class. No one was able to best DiTallo’s ride, until she entered the ring on her second mount of the night, Oliver’s Army (Ogano Sitte x Linotte De Sohan). The pair jumped a clear first round, then rode a steady jump off for a clear round in 43.342 seconds to win the class, knocking Waddison into second place.
Friday’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby saw twenty eight entries contest for the win over a stunning natural course designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky. The jumps were sat at 3’ with four 3’5” options in both the first round and the handy round. While several rides scored well into the eighty’s, it was Ashleen Lee and her own Honor (Quality) that brought home the blue. The pair’s effortless performance earned them scores of 89 and 88 for an overall score of 177, eight points above second place finishers Catherine Kramer and her own Casares, whose overall total was 169. Ashleen Lee and Honor had, quite possibly, the biggest and most enthusiastic entourage ever to be fit in an awards photo. After the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, exhibitors and spectators alike gathered in the Paddock Club for a delicious prime rib dinner and a great performance by DJ Jacoby.
Saturday was full of exciting Jumper action, with both the $7,500 Futures Prix and the $25,000 Grand Prix to show. The $7,500 Futures Prix was first in the ring, and saw two particular horse and rider pairs from the class battle head to head for the win: David Q. Beisel and Maarten Huygens’s Angelo (Conthargos x Grand Ronja) and Michael D. Burnett aboard his own Iron (Iroko x Ikurrina Timbera). Beisel was earlier in the order of go for the class, setting the pace with a clear first round and continuing straight into the jump off for the Table II event, jumping a clear second round in a quick 33.853 seconds. His time seemed impossible to beat, but Burnett and Iron were dead set on winning. After jumping a clear first round, the pair continued into the jump off, stopping the timers at 33.848 seconds, knocking Beisel and Angelo out of first by just fractions of a second.
Next in the ring was the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix. Just one entry was the obvious winner in the Grand Prix: Charlotte E. Clark and her own Kinsella (Capitalist x Jerpoint Mist). The pair was nothing less than impressive, riding a consistent clean first round, then returning for the jump off and turning up the power. The pair jumped another clean roundin a speedy time of just 39.019 seconds. Clark was thrilled with her and Kinsella’s win, and received a prize pack from Horse First as well as a $100 Dandy Products gift certificate, along with a check, a cooler, and a ribbon. Clark’s groom, Lissy Naber, received the Groom’s Award for Kinsella’s gorgeous turnout, which included $100 cash and a $50 WEC gift certificate. After the Grand Prix, the dogs took to the arena for the ever-popular WEC dog races!
Between the Futures Prix and the Grand Prix, we took a moment to honor artist Kristi Rauckis for her extraordinary donation to World Equestrian Center, a 155′ x 20′ mural aptly named ‘4 Horses’ that now graces the far end of the Sanctuary Arena. World Equestrian Center is incredibly grateful for Raukis’s gift, and is honored to have her masterpiece as a permanent fixture in the Sanctuary Arena.
Also on Saturday, the $2,000 Non Pro Hunter Derby 2’6” saw twelve lovely entries compete for top prizes, including a cooler sponsored by Chagrin Saddlery. While all rides were fantastic, it was Lexie Kern aboard her own Drago that took home first place. Kern and Drago were joined in the arena by their excited team.
We look forward to seeing everyone at World Equestrian Center for the rest of the Winter Series of the Midwest!
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.