Wellington, Fla. – March 29, 2018 – Hunter competition saw a familiar face take home the championship ribbon in the Green 3’6” Hunter division on Thursday afternoon during Week Twelve of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Chris Payne rose to the occasion with Ovo, a mount he has only been riding since fall 2017.
The 8-year-old Swedish Warmblood was purchased by Melissa Jacobs from The Hunt, a European hunter auction organized by Chris Sorensen in the Netherlands, that took place in November. Payne took over the reins this winter and has already had multiple top results with the gelding.
The pair took home third place in the undersaddle as well as a blue ribbon over fences with a high score of 88. In the stake round, judges awarded Payne with an 87 to win the class. Ovo proved his rideability in the handy phase, where he scored an impressive 84.5 against 30 other horse-and-rider combinations.
Owner Jacobs has also ridden her new partner in the Amateur-Owner Hunters to much success this winter.
Coming in reserve behind Ovo was Stephanie Bulger’s Moonshot, ridden by Sandy Ferrell. The 9-year-old Holsteiner was third over fences with an 84 and took the third place ribbon again in the stake round with an 85.
In the Green Conformation Hunters, Stacey Robichaud’s Eastwood was piloted by Kelley Farmer to capture the division title. The 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood was second in the undersaddle and finished up in the top spot in the handy, stake and over fences classes. Reserve champion honors were awarded to Kat Fuqua’s Casanova, ridden by Hayley Barnhill.
Hunter competition during the final week at WEF will resume on Friday morning in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring, starting with the Amateur-Owner 36 & Over 3’3″ Hunter division.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Chris Payne – Green 3’6” Hunter division champion
“He’s an amazing horse. He’s a big horse in a little package. I forget how little he is until I stand next to him, but he’s got a big stride, a big jump and a big heart. He’s just wonderful and is really a delight to ride.”
On Ovo’s performances throughout the 2018 WEF season:
“He hasn’t been doing it very long. He came out of The Hunt auction in November in Europe and just started [competing in the hunters at WEF] this winter. He went straight to the Green 3’6” division and has been champion several times.”
On Thursday’s performances:
“He was fantastic today. He just rode nice and light and went nicely down the bending line. He rode wonderfully.”
Matthew Trent – Trainer of Eastwood, Green Conformation Hunter division champion
“He went great today. He’s been in the barn since the beginning of circuit. He’s 9 years old.”
On Eastwood’s performances throughout the 2018 WEF season:
“Kelley [Farmer] started with him during Week Three. She showed him in the 3’ one week and then went ahead and started him in the 3’6”. He has been really consistent throughout and was reserve champion in the High Performance Conformation a few weeks ago.”
On Thursday’s performances:
“With his limited showing, he’s been great. He’s a super consistent horse and he’s shown maybe four or five times. He really matured well and is jumping better and better for Kelley.”