Wellington, FL – February 21, 2016 – Week six of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded on Sunday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, with hunter and jumper action across the show grounds.
The $25,000 Artisan Farms U25 Grand Prix, sponsored by EnTrust Capital, as well as the $50,000 WEF 6 National Grand Prix, were both held on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC. The win in the U25 class went to Madison Goetzmann aboard Wrigley. Katie Dinan jumped to victory in the national grand prix with Dougie Douglas.
Hunter competition concluded in the International Ring for the week featuring the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial Adult Hunter Classic, the $5,000 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunter Classic, and the $5,000 WCHR Junior 3’3″ Hunter Classic. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Richard Jeffery (GBR) set the final course on the derby field for Sunday’s $50,000 National Grand Prix, with 20 competitors and three clear rounds. Harrie Smolders was first to go over the short course and set the pace with a clear round in 41.77 seconds to eventually finish second aboard Copernicus Stables’ Aiyetoro. Katie Dinan was next to go aboard Grant Road Partners’ Dougie Douglas and crossed the finish line in the winning time of 39.59 seconds. Last to go, Wilton Porter placed third with his four-fault round in 40.09 seconds aboard Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Patriot.
Class winner Dougie Douglas is an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (ARD VDL Douglas x High Roller) that Dinan just began competing at the beginning of January. She purchased the gelding from English rider Holly Gillott, who had been riding the horse for most of his career from the age of four onwards.
“I must say that she did an unbelievable job producing him because he is a joy to ride, and he seems to love show jumping as much as I do,” Dinan said of her mount. “He has had a lot of experience on big grass fields, so it was always my plan to jump him in the grand prix here on the grass field this week. I am very happy with how it went. I could not have hoped for it to go better and he loved being out there.”
Commenting on the jump-off, Dinan stated, “There were only three in it, so I knew I was going to get a good ribbon no matter what, and it seemed like a good moment to try to be competitive. I saw Harrie go before me, and I knew that he is always a very fast rider, and he looked quite fast. That, in a way, took the pressure off a little bit because I had to go fast and see what happened. It was my first time trying to go fast with this horse and he got really excited and very into it. We were having fun out there, so it was really a nice feeling. Also, Wilton is fast too, so it was not over until it was over.”
Dougie Douglas has a lot of experience jumping on grass fields, which Dinan explained made her job a little easier.
“He is very brave,” she noted. “This class used to be a derby, and originally I was hoping it still was a derby, but it was nice that they included the hedge jump, and the water jump, and the planks. It was something a little bit different for the horses and to diversify our winter for the horses is great.”
Dinan is completing her final semester at Harvard University and looks forward to getting back to riding full-time in May. She has been training with Swiss equestrian and Olympic team silver medalist Beat Mändli for two years now.
Clocking in a close second to Dinan, Harrie Smolders was happy with his finish aboard Aiyetoro, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmlood gelding (Concorde x Colino) owned by Copernicus Stables. Smolders got the ride on the gelding a little over a year ago.
“Originally he is from England, and I think you could see that today, just like Katie’s horse,” Smolders detailed. “They used to have more of those natural fences when they were young over there. I never did a course with him like this, but I felt that he was also quite comfortable with it. I think you could see the horses that did well knowing those fences. I must say, Katie did a very good job today. Her horse jumped very well, and she rode fantastic, so she really deserved to win.”
Katie Dinan and Dougie Douglas in their winning presentation with ringmaster Christian Craig. Photo: Sportfot
“I was pleased with my horse,” Smolders continued. “I know he is not the fastest, but he was jumping very well and I was pleased any way with where I ended up. Maybe I could have done one less to the last fence, but the rest was quite smooth every where on the inside track.”
Wilton Porter continued a consistent day of competition with his third place finish in the grand aboard Patriot after also placing third in the morning’s Under 25 Grand Prix with another mount, Delinquent JX.
Porter’s mount for the national grand prix was his longtime partner, Patriot, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Colman x Sir Shostakov) that he has been riding for five years.
“We have had a great career together,” Porter stated. “This is the perfect class for him because these jumps impress him a little bit and he is really fit right now, so the length was not too big of a deal. I let him shift a little over those planks (in the jump-off) and I think that is why we had it down. We were obviously trying to catch Katie’s fast time, but overall I had a great day. I cannot really complain.”
In addition to help from longtime coach, John Roche, Wilton Porter and his brother, Lucas, will be training with renowned World, European, and Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) throughout the 2016 season.
The Porter brothers began training with Dubbeldam at the beginning of WEF in January, but this was only their third week of training together since the Dutch rider is traveling back and forth from Europe.
“It is going great,” Porter said of the new venture. “He is an incredible horseman, and he is teaching us so much. It is really just the beginning. We will be going to Europe after this, and we will keep learning there. We have been working a lot on the connection with the horse and getting them to jump in a great shape and learning to be competitive in these bigger classes.”
Patriot also has a great background competing on the grass and Porter has jumped him in derbies at Spruce Meadows and the Hampton Classic as well, so the horse is a veteran in those kinds of classes. In addition to his horse’s experience, Porter had the advantage of coming off a great finish in the previous class of the day.
“I was in a little bit of a groove from the first class this morning. I had a lot of confidence going in and that definitely played a role,” Porter acknowledged.
The Winter Equestrian Festival continues in its seventh week on February 24-28, 2016. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Final Results: $50,000 WEF 6 National Grand Prix
1. 1687 DOUGIE DOUGLAS KATHERINE DINAN GRANT ROAD PARTNERS LLC: 0/0/39.590
2. 4507 AIYETORO HARRIE SMOLDERS COPERNICUS STABLES LLC: 0/0/41.772
3. 2387 PATRIOT WILTON PORTER SLEEPY P RANCH LLC: 0/4/40.098
4. 4932 VASCO ADAM PRUDENT PLAIN BAY SALES: 4/80.120
5. 6358 PRIMO DE REVEL PAUL O’SHEA MICHAEL HAYDEN: 4/82.703
6. 4474 QUINTANA JULE LUENEBURG MARTENS & KUEHL GMBH & RASMUS LUENEBURG: 4/86.122
7. 7009 WHIN WHIN RODRIGO LAMBRE MARIO ONATE: 4/88.765
8. 4373 ESPRIT SLOANE COLES THE SPRINGLEDGE GROUP: 4/89.692
9. 5736 ANTARES PABLO BARRIOS PABLO BARRIOS: 4/90.325
10. 1439 GALOUS DENISE WILSON BLUE GATE FARM LLC: 8/88.738 11. 5169 A-FRIEDA-O SANDRA DALMAN SOUTHVIEW INC: 8/92.176
12. 4937 SI BELLA ADAM PRUDENT HENRI PRUDENT: 12/83.455