As America’s oldest running horse show, the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (UCHS) has helped launch the careers of many young athletes. This year’s competition, presented by St. Bride’s Farm, brought together some of the best athletes in the world for the $216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI4*, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds and Mr. and Mrs. Michael A. Smith. On Sunday afternoon in front of a packed crowd, the United States’ own Ali Wolff scored the biggest win of her professional career when she bested an eight-horse jump-off with a double-clear effort aboard her veteran partner Casall.
“We’ve had our partnership together for about six years, so as well as we know each other we’re still figuring each other out,” she said of Casall. “On a hot day versus a cold day, in daylight or at night. I just kind of have to go in and ride the horse that I feel at the time.”
Thirty-one international athletes challenged Brazil’s Marina Azevedo’s first round track in the main grand prix arena, and the field was eventually narrowed down to eight combinations returning for the jump-off by clearing the course.
Ireland’s Cormac Hanley was the pathfinder with Heathman Farm LLC’s VDL Cartello, returning first for the tiebreaker. The duo made the short course look easy and crossed the finish line in 43.09 seconds with all of the rails intact.
The next four pairs to tackle the course were either too slow or their quick time came at the expense of rail. It wasn’t until fellow Irishman Kevin Babington and Shorapur, owned by Shorapur LLC, entered the ring that the crowd saw the lead change hands. Upperville marked the 13-year-old mare’s first major competition back in the ring following an injury, and despite being somewhat careful, Babington was still able to be quick across the ground and the careful horse never touched a rail. They slid through the timers in 43.01 seconds, just 8/100ths of a second faster than Hanley to take over the top spot.
Babington would not hold the lead for long though, with two athletes left to compete. Saving the best for last, Wolff had an opportunity to watch the other competitors and see where she could make changes. She trusted her longtime partner and it paid off.
They left out a stride to the first fence and kept their fast pace going to each fence, making sharp turns and wasting no time in the air. They galloped across the finish line in 41.50 seconds, capturing the biggest win of Wolff’s career and etching her name into the history books of one of America’s most prestigious horse shows.
“I just had to stick with my same plan,” said Wolff. “I watched a few go and I watched some pretty fast rounds – McLain had a really fast round. And then I saw some 4 faulters, so decided I have to ride my best around, I can’t go anybody else’s speed but my own. I really didn’t have any other plan than that. I was fortunate enough to go last. Sometimes that’s more nerve-wracking, but it played out in my favor this time so I’ll take it!”
Wolff is no stranger to success, as the hard-working athlete has won North American Young Rider gold and represented the United States during Nations Cup competitions on numerous occasions. She is consistently in the top of the grand prix rankings, however, the $216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI4* marks Wolff’s first international grand prix victory.
$216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI4*, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds and Mr. and Mrs. Michael A. Smith
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Casall / Ali Wolff / USA / Blacklick Bend Farm / 0 | 81.15 / 0 | 41.50
2. Shorapur / Kevin Babington / IRL / Shorapur LLC / 0 | 78.76 / 0 | 43.01
3. VDL Cartello / Cormac Hanley / IRL / Heathman Farm LLC / 0 | 80.39 / 0 | 43.09
4. Akuna Mattata / Nicole Shahinian-simpson / USA / Silver Raven Farms / 0 | 81.04 / 0 | 43.71
5. HH Gigi’s Girl / McLain Ward / USA / Double H Farm / 0 | 79.57 / 4 | 40.63
6. Clearwater / Marilyn Little / USA / Karen O’Connor / 0 | 79.11 / 4 | 41.55
7. Viva Colombia / Brianne Goutal-marteau / USA / Rose Hill Farm / 0 | 81.47 / 4 42.26
8. Nektarina B / Christine Mc Crea / USA / Candy Tribble / 0 | 81.58 / 4 | 44.98
9. Zambia Mystic Rose / Victoria Colvin / USA / Haras Rosa Mystica / 1 | 83.25
10. Fee Des Sequoias Z / Juan Gallego / COL / Juan Gallego / 1 | 84.62
11. Butterfly Tibri Z / Lindsay Douglass / USA / Lindsay Douglass / 1 | 84.80
12. Darlon Van Groenhove / Clementine Goutal / USA / Remarkable Farms LP / 1 | 85.13