Hunter and Equitation Action During Week 9 of WEF

Rob Carey Pilots First Watch to Perfect Products USHJA Hunter 3’ Championship

Thursday’s competition featured an impressive championship win by Rob Carey, of Bolton, ON, Canada, and First Watch, owned by Barbara Mitchell, in the Perfect Products USHJA Hunter 3’ division.  The pair mastered the course set in ring 11 and prevailed with three firsts and a third over fences, with a second in the under saddle.

Rob Carey and First Watch. Photo by Sportfot Photography

When asked about his goals going into today’s competition, Carey said, “We weren’t focusing on anything in particular, just winning! We wanted to get [First Watch] back to his winning ways.”

The seven-year-old Oldenburg is a recurring WEF competitor, having returned to Wellington to show for three years in a row. Carey and the young gelding competed in the Pre-Green 3 & 4 Year Old division in 2016, and continued on to capture the top tricolor more than once in the Green Hunter 3’3” division for WEF 2017, with multiple scores in the 90s. This week’s win marks First Watch’s second time back in the show ring after eight months off.

“He is the nicest hunter I have ever ridden,” said Carey. “Everything about him is absolutely fantastic.”

Carey hopes to show the seven-year-old during weeks 11 and 12 at WEF and plans to move him up to the 3’3” height.

“I think that it will be a really easy transition for him,” said Carey. “He can jump some big jumps!”

Riley McKesson Captures $5,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Victory

Ten-year-old Riley McKesson of Wellington, FL, triumphed in the $5,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby riding Rollingwoods Stickler, owned by Annakate Long.

Riley McKesson and Rollingwood’s Stickler. Photo by Sportfot Photography

McKesson and Rollingwoods Stickler scored an 87 in the first round – the highest score of the class – and added an 82 in the second round to come away with a total score of 169 and the win.

Kat Fuqua and her own Finesse RF scored 84 and 83 for a 167 total for second place. Third place went to Olivia Markman and her own Glynhafan Red Kestral, who had a 156.50 total.

McKesson and Rollingwoods Stickler have been paired together for a year and moved up the Medium Pony Hunter division from the Children’s Pony Hunters. McKesson, who has been riding since she was two years old, goes to American Heritage School in Delray Beach, FL.

“He’s smart,” said McKesson of the 12-year-old Welsh Pony gelding by Sleight of Hand and out of Rollingwoods Stuck on You. “He likes to have fun with me. He’s really comfortable, and he really loves me. He’s really sweet.”

It was a satisfying win for McKesson in her third attempt in the derby.

Riley McKesson and Rollingwoods Stickler in their awards presentation ceremony with ringmaster Steve Rector. Photo by Sportfort Photography

“I thought my rounds went really good in this class,” she said. “I love jumping on the grass, but I was kind of nervous in the beginning. But after I did the first round, I felt really confident to do the second round. It feels really good because I don’t always win. I don’t win first [place] a lot. And I’ve never won first [place] on the derby field, so it was really excellent.”

Jennifer Bliss Goes One-Two in Open Hunter Derby

Jennifer Bliss of Loxahatchee, FL, continued her derby field success by repeating her 2017 victory in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Open, presented by Equiline. Last year, she took the victory on Sugarman. This year, she led the victory gallop on Game Face, a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Harris Hill Farm LLC. She also placed second on Poker Face, also owned by Harris Hill Farm LLC.

Jennifer Bliss and Game Face. Photo by Sportfot Photography

Game Face scored an 87 in the first round and 85 in the second round. They picked up four bonus points in each round by jumping the high options as well as their handy bonus and ended up with a winning total of 180.

On Poker Face, Bliss also received four bonus points in each round, and with scores of 88 and 81, she was second on a total of 177. Michael Desiderio rode Dru Cederberg’s Zero Tolerance to third place on double scores of 84 with four bonus points for a 176 total.

Click to watch their winning round!

Bliss started riding Game Face, called “Rocco” in the barn, last summer and has taken her time bringing him along after finding him through James Lala.

“We just started showing in the First Years this circuit,” she said of the horse, which is originally from Argentina. “We really bought him in the hopes of developing him into a derby horse. He actually did his first international derby last week. We are using this opportunity in this beautiful venue to give him some derby mileage. We’re really happy with how it’s coming along.”

Bliss termed Game Face as “really brave and scopey and fun at the jumps.”

“He’s made some green mistakes along the way, but I think in the end he’s going to be a really great horse,” she continued. “I was really proud of how he handled the second round, the handy. He stayed smooth and focused.”

Jennifer Bliss and Game Face in their presentation with Kelly Molinari of Equiline and ringmaster Steve Rector. Photo by Sportfot Photography

With her veteran Poker Face, Bliss was happy to have a strong performance after working on new issues recently.

“To be honest, with him we’ve had some rideability issues we’ve been working on,” she said of the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve. “It gets easier, but never easy! The old horses that you know like the back of your hand, you’re always still working on.

“It’s so competitive down here, so it’s always a nice confidence boost that we’re heading in the right direction, especially with the younger horses that are coming along,” she concluded.

Meredith Lipke and For Love Win Junior/Amateur Derby

Meredith Lipke of Weston, MA, rode For Love to the win in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby for Junior/Amateurs, presented by Equiline.

Meredith Lipke and For Love. Photo by Sportfot Photography

Lipke and For Love scored 85 and 86, plus picked up four bonus points in each round, for a winning total of 179. Lipke, who trains with David Olinyk, bought For Love through Jennifer Bauersachs in 2017. Out of the ring with an injury for most of the year, Lipke has just started to cement her partnership with For Love.

“I fell in love with her the first time I saw her in the First Year Green [Hunters],” said Lipke of the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Argentinus. “Now I get to ride her; it’s a dream come true. I’m just coming back, and she’s a pro. I just really have to stay out of her way, and then we’re good. She’s a dream to ride. She’ll jump anything you point her at; the bigger, the better. She’s all business every day and comes out the same every day. She lives up to her name. She’s a love.”

Click to watch their winning ride!

Lipke praised the beautiful course and excellent footing and said that For Love enjoyed it as well.

She said, “She certainly loves it. She loves getting the gallop going. She was fabulous; I was a little rusty.”

Winning the derby, though, is “a huge confidence booster.” Lipke continued, “I’m just getting back into showing and re-acclimating from the ring to outside takes me a little longer, but fortunately not her. It’s all about having the right horse, and she’s the right horse to teach me how to do it.”

Kelly Molinari of Equiline and ringmaster Steve Rector join Meredith Lipke and For Love. Photo by Sportfot Photography

Farah Rizvi and Jarinka Capture ASPCA Maclay Section A Presented by Solic Capital

Sunday’s equitation competition in ring nine began with a first-place finish by Farah Rizvi and her mount, Jarinka, an entry owned by Emma Callanan, in the ASPCA Maclay Section A presented by Solic Capital.

Rizvi has only been paired with the nine-year-old Warmblood mare for a few weeks, and today marked the duo’s first win together.

Farah Rizvi and Jarinka. Photo by Sportfot Photography

“I went into the ring today hoping I could do well and fix some mistakes from last week,” said the 14-year-old Rizvi. “Last time we showed, I was really pushing through the distances, and I feel like I have really improved. This shows me that working hard can significantly improve your riding, and that if you try very hard you will see better results. I also feel like I get along with my horse really well, and this win shows me that [Jarinka] is even more perfect than I thought before!”

Before her introduction to Rizvi, Jarinka was previously showing in the Medal and Maclay divisions with Callanan. When asked about how the mare rode in the ring on Sunday, Rizvi added, “I just let her do what she is amazing at! I was really focusing on myself as a rider and making my position better. I just try to support her the right way for each distance.”

Rizvi expressed her admiration for the course’s caliber.

“I really enjoyed today’s course,” said Rizvi. “I definitely thought it was challenging, but it let me focus on a lot of things I need to work on, such as slowing down gently, fitting in lines, getting up forward lines, and keeping my body tall in the bounce.“

The young rider from Greenwich, CT, hopes to take home another win next week and possibly pursue showing at the Tryon International Equestrian Center after her time here in Wellington, FL.