Wellington, Fla. – April 2, 2017 – Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and Simba De La Roque, an 11-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by Susan Grange, blazed their way into first place after riding a double-clear round to win the $50,000 FEI Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Finale. The pair came out on top after 22 total trips to wrap-up the season in Wellington, Florida, with an exciting victory.
The winding course set for Sunday morning, designed by German course designer Olaf Petersen Jr., included a rollback and double and triple combinations that proved tricky for many horse and rider pairs. Of the 22 combinations to make trips around the International Arena, there were eight who jumped clear first rounds to move on to the jump-off.
With the stage set for the deciding jump-off, Coyle and Simba De La Roque completed their round in a lightning fast 39.94 seconds.
“Simba is a fantastic horse,” Coyle said. “I did get a little lucky. Jessica [Mendoza] had a very good round and just turning back over the second to last fence, I had lost my stirrup over the third to last and I made the last two jumps a little risky. So I got a little lucky there.
“The U25 is a great division to get to know a horse and get a horse to that level,” Coyle continued. “The class today was a real competitive class, which was very hard to win. Under 25 is really strong now — for every one of us here it could have gone either way. For me to get Simba going on this level is a big step, so I don’t feel like I’m that far away from the next level.”
Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza finished their clear jump-off round hot on Coyle’s heels, galloping through the finish line in 41.19 seconds aboard her own Horst Van De Mispeleare, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. This being her first season in Wellington for the Winter Equestrian Festival, Mendoza has loved the environment and the numerous opportunities to develop her horses.
“This horse is actually a new horse since December for me,” Mendoza explained. “I used this U25 series to get used to him and get him jumping. It worked out well and these classes have really helped my horse.
“I thought it was great because we got a few different kinds of classes,” she said. “My horse has had great experiences in different rings and different formats, speeds and Nations Cup formats, so I think he’s going to be a very versatile horse.”
Rounding out the top three was American rider Shawn Casady and Vanilla, a 16-year-old Danish Warmblood mare owned by Abigail Wexner. Casady and Vanilla completed their jump-off round in a speedy 43.71 seconds.
“I started riding her at the beginning of circuit,” Casady said. “She has her own personality — she’s an old mare who has her way and I have to respect that. Throughout the series, we had a lot of 4-fault rounds so it’s really nice to come out with a double-clear today.”
Going into the jump-off, Casady planned to ride Vanilla to a clear round and not take any unnecessary risks.
“Just smooth and efficient,” Casady concluded. “Not too risky. We had a lot of 4-fault rounds so I just wanted to be consistent and quick.”
American rider Lucas Porter was thrilled to end the season with the title of overall U25 champion aboard Diamonte Darco, a 13-year-old Great Britain Sport Horse mare owned by Sleepy P Ranch, LLC. Porter had his sights set on the champion title coming into this Wellington season after being within the top six in previous seasons competing in the U25 series.
“Coming back from Europe last November I really pointed Diamonte Darco at the U25 series for this Winter Equestrian Festival,” said Porter. “In the past few years I’ve been fourth and sixth in the overall, and it’s been one of my goals since I started the U25 series to win overall. I’m happy to do it this year. Took a few tries but eventually came through!”
Results: $50,000 FEI Hollow Creek Farm U25 Grand Prix Finale
- Daniel Coyle, Simba De La Roque, 0,0, 39.94
- Jessica Mendoza, Horst Van De Mispeleare, 0,0, 41.19
- Shawn Casady, Vanilla, 0,0, 43.71
- Ailish Cunniffe, Casper, 0,0, 44.66
- Wilton Porter, Delinquent JX, 0,0,44.71
- Lucas Porter, Diamonte Darco 0,4,42.58
- Haley Barnhill, Zephire, 0,4,45.06
- Sydney Shulman, Toscane De L’Isle, 0,8, 40.45
- Kerry McCahill, Charly Chaplin S, 2, 89.77
- Rogelio Pellerano, Temporelle De Fritot, 4, 80.79
- Mackenzie Drazan, Waliba VDL, 4, 81
- Eugenio Garza, Victer Finn DH Z, 5, 84.07