Bloomberg and Vale Lead the Way with Victories During Military Night at WIHS

Washington, D.C. – Oct. 26, 2018 – The 60th Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) continued on Friday, October 26, with some of its most exciting competition yet, featuring the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final, won by Georgina Bloomberg of New York, NY, on Paola 233. Reaching great heights with victory in the $25,000 Land Rover Puissance were Aaron Vale of Williston, FL, and Finou 4. The classes were part of a full schedule of exciting competition and entertaining exhibitions during Military Night, presented by Caterpillar, Inc.

Georgina Bloomberg Bests $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final

Riding over a faults-converted speed course designed by Olaf Petersen Jr. of Germany, Georgina Bloomberg and Paola 233, an 11-year-old Westphalian mare by Pontifex owned by Gotham Enterprizes LLC sped to victory in the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final. The handy grey mare and Bloomberg finished clear in 52.90 seconds, edging out McLain Ward (USA) on Walstib Stables LLC’s Queen Jane, who recorded a time of 53.15 seconds.

Third place went to last night’s winner, 17-year-old Brian Moggre (USA), this time riding MTM Vivre le Reve, owned by Major Wager LLC, in 53.39 seconds. Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Catoki’s Son Z, owned by Ilan Ferder & Tal Milstein, were fourth with a time of 53.52 seconds. Aaron Vale (USA) and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Major were fifth in 54.66 seconds.

Georgina Bloomberg and Paola 233 Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Georgina Bloomberg and Paola 233
Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography

Bloomberg used Paola’s natural ability to rise to the top of the class.

“She has a good enough stride, but she doesn’t need to leave out strides. She’s really quick in the turns, and she’s very quick in the air,” said Bloomberg. “Given the option, I always play it safe, and I add a stride because I know I can be quicker other places. Really any of the other options of leaving out strides I didn’t love for her. I felt like I could just be quicker by turning and using her natural speed.”

With a light competition schedule since the Hampton Classic Horse Show in late August, Bloomberg aimed Paola for WIHS.

“We brought her here with these two [speed] classes at WIHS in mind. This was my goal for her,” said Bloomberg of the speed final. “I’m a little bit rusty with her, and that showed a little bit last night. I wasn’t really happy with the way I rode. I felt like I sort of needed a class to get with her again. It was nice to be able to go in there, get out of her way, and not make any mistakes.”

Bloomberg has competed at WIHS since the pony hunters and consistently ever since through the junior hunters, amateur jumpers, and international open jumper division. But consistent success at WIHS has eluded her.

“Ever since I was a pony kid, I’ve struggled to have wins here at Washington,” she admitted. “I’ve never had the best luck here. All through my junior career, it was just the one show I didn’t ever conquer. I had a little bit of luck when I was an amateur, and then it sort of evened out a little bit.

“It’s one of those shows that I always enjoy coming to,” she continued. “I love the city; I love the hotel; I love the horse show; I love being in the middle of a city and having a crowd that doesn’t usually get to come to showjumping. But personally for me, it’s one of those horse shows that I always leave a little bit disappointed, so it’s really nice to come and get a victory.”

For her victory, Bloomberg was presented with the General Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by the late Arthur J. Morris.

Aaron Vale Soars to Great Heights to Win $25,000 Land Rover Puissance

The $25,000 Land Rover Puissance is one of the most popular classes at WIHS to attend, and Friday night’s feature class didn’t disappoint. Aaron Vale and Finou 4, owned by Thinks Like A Horse, jumped to a height of 6’11 ½” to capture victory for the third year in a row.

Aaron Vale and Finou 4 Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Aaron Vale and Finou 4
Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography

With a small field in the class, it came down to two very game riders that kept going over five rounds of competition. The wall started at 5’9” and was raised to 6’2”, 6’6”, 6’8 ½”, and finally to 6’11 ½”. Vale and Finou 4 stayed clear, while Andy Kocher and Blaze of Glory II, owned by Erica Hatfield, made it to the final round before knocking blocks off the top of the wall to finish in second place.

“I was just hoping somebody could hang in there a while, so we could get a decent class for the crowd,” said Vale. “It was great. Andy’s horse jumped it well and hung in there until the last round. It made a really good class and worked out the way that I wanted. I got a little competition, but I still got the blue!”

This is Vale’s fifth win in the puissance class at WIHS, with previous wins coming in 1996 with Big Joe, in 1998 on Happyness, and now three consecutive years with Finou 4, who seems to have a certain something that makes him successful over the big wall – despite blindness in his left eye.

“He’s got a lot of ability,” said Vale of the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by For Pleasure. “He’s very limber, plus he’s got a lot of power, so it just seems to be easy for him. I think they could keep raising it, and I’d keep riding him to it.”

With their three wins in a row, Vale and Finou 4 have retired the Congressman’s Challenge Trophy, donated by the Late Honorable Rogers C.B. Morton and the Late Honorable F. Robert Watkins, which is presented to the winning owner, Thinks Like A Horse.

“Ever since I was a kid, the puissance was a class I was interested in,” said Vale, who rode in his first puissance at the age of 13. “I’ve always had a love for the class. It’s about the only one left in the country, so it’s special to come do it, and they always get a great crowd. It’s always a fun night – especially when you have a horse that’s pretty good at it. I’ve always ridden in the class, even if I didn’t have a horse that was good at the job. I always threw myself over and tried to bring the horse with me. At this point, it’s kind of nice to have a horse that’s good at it.”

As the winning horse, Finou 4 was presented with the Sweet ’N Low Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Tober, who were at Capital One Arena to present the trophy. Vale was presented with the Armed Forces Cup.

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