Ocala, FL – Week IX of World Equestrian Center – Ocala’s 2023 Winter Spectacular Show Series showcased Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) three-star competition. The week saw many new and familiar faces take home top honors. Jaqueline Steffens Daly piloted Eye Candy Jumper’s Freaky to a thrilling win in Thursday’s $50,000 Wheels Up Welcome Prix CSI3*. The $150,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI3* saw a competitive four horse jump-off where last to go, Samantha Schaefer captured the victory aboard her new partner James Bond HX. Read on for additional highlights.
On Sunday morning, McKayla Langmeier and Bahira S were the only pair to navigate a clear first round in the $50,000 Lugano Diamonds National Grand Prix to secure the win.
“When you walked, it seemed like it was going to ride nice, but actually riding it, there were some challenging parts to it. Alan Wade set a good course today with some tricky jump placements. It’s also a bit difficult during this time of day, because there are always a few shadows that play a roll. The lines were tough and you really had to think throughout the track.”
Samantha Schaefer and James Bond HX owned by Bonne Chance LLC had a license to thrill in the $150,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI3*.
“I never dreamed in a million years I would be using him in this class tonight and by a twist of fate and a touch of a mix up, here we are. This was the biggest track I have ever jumped on him, and I couldn’t be more proud. He has continued to surprise me in our short time together. At the beginning of circuit, I would have been happy to just compete him in the 1.40m Speed class.”
Richard Spooner and Halcon captured their third $15,000 Buckeye Nutrition Futures Prix victory.
“I just wanted to win,” laughed Spooner. “Once I left that stride out from one to two, I just let it persist. He’s a machine of a horse. You wind him up and let him go. I just try to stay out of his way because he’s an extraordinary athlete.”
Aaron Vale earned his second consecutive win of the week aboard I Adermie R 4 in the $40,000 1.45m CSI3* Two Phase Special.
“Alan Wade is a world-class course designer, and he has been creating great courses all week. The first phase let you jump around a bit and then the second phase had some fun elements. There was a hard inside turn from the Wheels Up jump to the fan vertical. It was hard to get inside to that smoothly, a lot of horses stopped or jumped a bit funny because it was a tough angle. I didn’t get there as smoothly as I wanted, but Adermie is quick footed enough that she kept it up. Then I found the rest forward and to my advantage Adermie is the type of horse the faster you go the better she jumps.”
Early on Friday morning, a strong field of top-level athletes competed in the $15,000 Taylor Harris Insurance Services 1.45m Jumper Classic over a sweeping Alan Wade-designed track. Luis Sabino Goncalves (POR) bested the field aboard Sigma Stables LLC’s Sigma with a time of 34.017 seconds.
Daniel Geitner conquered World Equestrian Center – Ocala’s Hunter Derby Friday winning both the $20,000 Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby and $15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby.
Geitner secured the $20,000 Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby victory aboard Laura Cramer’s Easy Money.
“I had the advantage of being the last one in and knowing some of the other high scoring riders had made some mistakes. I realized I needed an 84 to win so I played it safe to the second jump and chose the low option, then he was so on everywhere else. I just opted to turn inside and jump all three other high options. It was his day.”
His first win of the day was aboard Don Stewart’s Story Hour in the $15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby.
“I started riding him last week for Don Stewart and he’s such a cool horse. He’s a beautiful mover and jumper. He did the First Years and Green Conformation classes this week. I think he has all of it. He tries super hard, so it’s great for him to get a little experience doing some softer jumps and gets good mileage.”
Isabelle Ehman scored her second consecutive win aboard Jagerbomb in the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby.
“Jagerbomb is a very calm horse so I wasn’t too worried about the crazy winds today. I wanted to stick with my plan and stay as tidy ad consistent as possible.”
Jacqueline Steffens Daly piloted Freaky to victory in the $50,000 Wheels Up Welcome Prix CSI3*.
“I tweaked my plan after I watched Chloe do eight strides so nicely from one to two. I tentatively had nine planned, but watching the eight ride so well, I thought I better try to do that, and it actually showed up perfectly. Then I did seven down the middle and rode the final fence off my eye.”
Aaron Vale earned his first victory of the week with I Adermie R 4 in the $40,000 1.45m CSI3* Speed.
“On ‘Adermie’ I was a bit more aggressive and caught the first fence coming forward. I think that was the difference. She is a little bit of a smaller strided horse, so when everyone does seven, the horse with the smaller stride is faster. Then I caught the wall on a really nice angle.”
The opening FEI CSI3* victory went to Santiago Lambre and his own Casey in the $6,000 1.40m CSI3* Speed.
“It was a perfect course for an opening class. Many riders enter this class to give their horses a chance in the ring and have a nice school. Casey has been in this arena many times, so I was able to take some inside turns and go quick, but I didn’t want to do anything too crazy.”
Congratulations to all athletes on a thrilling week of equestrian sport! The 2023 Winter Spectacular Show Series has three weeks left of hunter/jumper action. Don’t miss it! Spectators are welcome and there is no charge for admission or parking.