Ocala, FL – A fantastic Week VI marked the halfway point of the 2023 Winter Spectacular Show Series. The week featured the highly anticipated 2023 WEC Premier Equitation Cup Championship powered by Gary Yeomans Ford where Kate Egan prevailed against a field of 103 top junior athletes to drive away in a brand-new Ford Explorer XLT SUV! Read on for additional highlights from the week.
On Sunday morning, forty of the world’s best athletes vied for the top prize in the $100,000 Budweiser Grand Prix, but it was Aaron Vale who saved the best for last and found a blistering fast time in the jump-off aboard Elusive to go two-for-two in the WEC Stadium.
“It’s always an advantage to go last in the jump-off. You get to see what’s on the table. With Peter Petschenig having two, I was able to watch three or four from the stands to get an idea of the track. I got on and watched Apple from the ingate. She was pretty quick, but this course seemed to be set up for my horse.”
On Saturday evening more than 1,500 spectators gathered to watch as Kate Egan cruised to victory in the 2023 WEC Premier Equitation Cup Championship powered by Gary Yeomans Ford.
“When I walked the second round, the technicality increased a good bit from the first, but I didn’t let it get to my head. I knew I was able to do it, so I made a set plan and came up with alternatives in case something happened. I don’t remember much of the round now, but I do remember feeling incredible. I think that was the best I’ve ever competed!”
Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson and Quentin VA captured the $15,000 Buckeye Nutrition Futures Prix victory.
“I was able to watch everyone go and take some notes. I liked the seven in the first roll back to the second jump, but then I added one to the Coca-Cola vertical, because you didn’t want to slice that or else you would get to the combination too deep. The combination came right to him, then I went deep into the rail and came across left to right, so I could make a nice roll back to the vertical. I found the green light to the final fence, so I just went for it.”
Santiago Lambre and Nono VD Withoeve prevailed in the $15,000 Taylor Harris Insurance Services 1.45m Jumper Classic after the pair navigated the jump-off track in 31.785 seconds.
Jenny Miller and Erica Prockow’s MTM Nabilli scored their very first hunter derby victory on Friday night in the WEC Grand Arena in the $20,000 MARS Equestrian 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby.
“I was so thrilled to go sixteenth in the order, because I was able to watch a couple go, then I had to immediately follow. There wasn’t time for me to sit around and get nervous,” said Miller, “The jumps tonight were stunning. It looked like Bobby went into the woods and chopped down some trees! The first two jumps were just mind-blowingly gorgeous. Then the last green oxer, after the two-stride was enormous. I think Bobby thought he was building for derby finals.”
Jeff Gogul and Candy Girl earned a sweet victory in the $15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby.
“We just imported Candy Girl in October. She’s only competed in two hunter divisions, and this is her first derby. She’s already won a junior class and is doing a little bit of equitation. I rode her in the Grand Arena yesterday and she was great, then it worked out better for our schedule to do her in this class today and it looks like I made the right choice.”
Isabel Harbour scored back-to-back wins in the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby.
“It was such a big class. It feels incredible to win anything, but with that many in it, I just don’t even have words. I commend the judges, and WEC always does an incredible job. I will show here for forever, we love it here.”
Aaron Vale landed a double victory on Thursday in the $24,000 C. Jarvis Insurance Services Welcome Prix.
“My goal was to simply go fast. I ran quickly around the pond and got six in the line. I think Tracy Fenney made it in five, but I don’t think anyone else did. Elusive is not that big of a horse, so I stayed on the numbers and was pretty tight back to the double combination then I found the last two pretty quick.”
Rowan Bomar and Tobie Van De Lufkenshoeve landed the $2,000 WEC Ocala Pony Hunter Derby victory. Finley Mattos and Love Story won the $3,500 Junior Non Pro Hunter Derby and Elizabeth Simons and Willow Bay captured the $3,500 Amateur Non Pro Hunter Derby.