We are ringing in the new year at the World Equestrian Center as we kick off a 16-week-long stretch of top tier equestrian sport during the World Equestrian Center Winter Series of the Midwest. Riders and horses alike look refreshed, returning to the show grounds after the first two weeks of the Winter Series in December and a relaxing Holiday break. The new year brings new riding goals, with several fresh faces filling the Sanctuary Arena for this evening’s $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m. Tonight’s course, designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky, allowed riders many options. Some chose to take wider turns at a steady pace while others raced the clock, executing quick rollbacks that shaved critical seconds off of their time.
The course began with a single oxer on the diagonal headed home set toward the ingate end of the arena, allowing riders to either take a long approach from the top of the ring or take a shorter approach. Riders then piloted their horses over a second oxer on the quarter line, which bent to a vertical that led riders back to the far end of the ring. Next was a vertical on a slight diagonal at the top of the ring, which allowed for a bending approach to an oxer-to-vertical line headed home. Riders continued past the ingate and up a vertical on the diagonal, which bent to an oxer-to-vertical one stride. After galloping around the far end of the ring, riders jumped fence nine, an oxer on the quarter line which bent to a vertical across the diagonal. The approach to the next fence allowed riders two options: stay straight after the vertical and loop back around to the oxer on the short end by the ingate, or make a tidy turn between fences two and seven to approach the oxer. Riders then finished on a one stride along the fence headed toward the top of the ring. The time allowed in the first round was 83 seconds.
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. With the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m being a Table II event, the pair continued straight into the jump off, which started on the vertical across the top of the ring, then bent to the oxer on the rail headed home. The pair rolled back to jump 14, a vertical on the diagonal which set up either a tidy turn to the next fence or a longer approach around the vertical at the top of the ring. The rest of the jump off followed the remainder of the course from the first round, starting with fence nine. The pair completed their second round in a time of 35.419 seconds, an impressive 11.5 seconds under the time allowed of 47 seconds, but had an unfortunate twelve faults, which ultimately landed them in fifth place. Atkins also rode Benchmark Stables, LLC’s Undine (Ocean I x Atlanta) to a sixth place finish, jumping a clear first round in 79.528 seconds and a twelve-fault second round in a quick 36.722 seconds.
The second clear first-rounder of the night was Lauren E. DiTallo and High Finance Farm’s Wadisson (Radisson x Olivia). The pair delivered a clean first round in 78.298 seconds, well within the time allowed. They continued into the jump off, sailing through the course in a quick 36.061 seconds with just four faults. This put DiTallo in the lead, for the majority of the class, until she bested her previous ride aboard her second mount of the night, Oliver’s Army. While slightly slower in the first round than Wadisson with a time of 79.808, the pair was still clear and easily within the time allowed. Into the jump off, Oliver’s Amy and DiTallo proved that “slow and steady wins the race”, putting in an easy round in 43.342 seconds for the only clear jump off ride of the night, sending herself straight into first and second place.
Lauren E. DiTallo trains out of High Finance Farm alongside head trainer Kimber DiTallo and has been riding professionally since 2011. A highly accomplished rider throughout her career Lauren E. DiTallo has seen many successes, including finishing as a National Top 12 Finalist in the USHJA Emerging Atheltes Program (EAP) for three consecutive years (2009, 2010 and 2011). DiTallo made a connection with top professional Julie Winkle during her experience at EAP, and interned for Winkle for two years after graduating high school in 2011. Through her internship, DiTallo gained valuable experience in riding, training, young horse development, show management and horsemanship, which she still utilizes in her career today.
Familiar faces from December, Julia Curtis of Atlanta, Georgia and her own Isarus (Coopes V/D Heffink) joined us back in the arena for the $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m this evening. Curtis did not disappoint, bringing back her skillful riding and determination we saw in December, jumping a clear first round in 77.713 seconds, the fastest clean first round of the night. Curtis and Isarus kept their speed through the jump off, taking just one rail and crossing the timers a half of a second behind DiTallo at 37.005 seconds, landing the pair in a respectable third place.
Another familiar face from December was Robert Mendoza of Bowling Green, Indiana. Mendoza and Bannockburn Farm’s United M (Baloubet Du Rouet x United) were the fan favorite tonight, bringing the crowd to their feet after their clear first round, which they finished in 79.069 seconds. The pair was a blur around the ring in the jump off, completing the round in an incredible 33.839 seconds, but had two unfortunate rails, putting them in fourth place.
$5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m Results
- Oliver’s Army, Lauren E. DiTallo- 0 | 0 | 43.342
- Waddison, Lauren E. DiTallo- 0 | 4 | 36.061
- Isarus, Julia Curtis- 0 | 4 | 37.005
- United M, Robert Mendoza- 0 | 8 | 33.839
- Rodeo VDL, Liz Atkins- 0 | 12 | 35.419
- Undine, Liz Atkins- 0 | 12 | 36.722
- Calano Z, Taylor A. Flury- 2 | 84.516
- Casquinova, Stephen C. Foran- 4 | 76.503
- Compis, Stephen C. Foran- 4 | 77.450
- Elation, Michael Grinyer- 4 | 79.481