Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 17, 2019 – David Oberkircher (USA) claimed the biggest victory of his career on Sunday, winning the $25,000 Hermès U25 Grand Prix at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (ADGF) Derby Field. The U25 series moved to the grass during Week Six of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), giving riders a fresh venue and a chance to test their abilities on the field.
The field started with 39 horse and rider combinations that were competitively narrowed down to 13 for the jump off. The time allowed was not an issue on Sunday morning and many riders who went clear used the field to their advantage. Oberkircher and the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding Upper, owned by Southfields Farm LLC navigated tight turns and the opportunity to gallop in the jump-off to secure their spot in the winner’s circle with a second round time of 35.70 seconds.
The change in venue from the International Arena to the Derby Field proved to be difficult for many combinations. Multiple horse and rider athletes found themselves with faults due to stops and rails falling down, mainly at the double combination at fence 3 and the water jump. The triple combination also played a factor Sunday, set near the end of the course, the “B” element proved difficult for some horses to get across after jumping in from a tight six stride line, causing heartbreak for many.
Second place finisher Abigail McArdle (USA) took the lead in the jump-off about half-way through with the Victorio Equine Group LLC owned entry Victorio 5. McArdle and the 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion crossed the timers in 35.86, eventually being bested by Oberkircher and Upper. Jennifer Gates (USA) and her mount Oaks Redwood took an early leading time of 37.71 in the jump-off, and would eventually end in third place. Oaks Redwood, a 14-year-old gelding `owned by Evergate Stables LLC, is a new mount for Gates who she has high hopes for. Gates and Oaks Redwood’s time of 37.71 was just a fraction of a second over fourth place finisher Clara Hallundbaek (DEN).
The Hermès U25 Series returns to WEF during Week Eight of competition for the semi-final competition, leading up to the final during Week Eleven.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
David Oberkircher – $25,000 Hermès U25 Grand Prix Winner
He’s an 11-year-old out of Diamant De Semilly, I’ve had him for about a year and a half, and last winter we kind of stepped up into the U25 classes. He’s been great and it’s been a great partnership, he’s a super brave horse. He can be a bit of a slow mover, so I knew I had to do all the leave outs in the jump off – just be as tight as possible. I knew Abby and Jen were both pretty fast, so I couldn’t take my foot off the gas the whole way around. I think I won maybe in my turn back to 14, the black vertical. I really sliced it and he handled it well, so maybe that’s it. But it was very close, I mean milliseconds!
On the U25 series
I’m 23, and last year was my first year doing it, so this was my second year. It’s been great, this is actually my first FEI win ever, so it’s a nice feeling, and all the hard work has paid off! I have a great team around me that’s supporting me and I fly back and forth between Washington DC and Florida to work during the week, so to come down here and have all the hard work pay off is really great.
On the course
I thought it was a good course, it was pretty clear, we had 13 clear so a good number out of a pretty big field. But it’s nice to get out here, I think the horses jumped really well. After five or six weeks being at WEF, some of them get a little stale, so to come to a big open field, in a new environment, a lot of the horses you see them jump really well. The time allowed had some room in it, so you didn’t have to rush around like you normally would in a smaller ring. So that was nice to be able to take a little breather in a few places. But I thought it was a nice course.
On his plans for the rest of season
I’m going to keeping jumping the U25s, the semifinal, and hopefully the final.
Abigail McArdle – Second place
On how her horse went today
It felt fast! I started with him at the end of this summer. He’s just so so nice, I can’t say that enough. So honest and so nice. I felt like I was on it, the one place where I took time was where David actually did one less. I think he did nine and I did ten back on that, I wanted to be really sure on that. I think that’s where I lost it, but it was really close and I think it was a good competition.
On the U25 series
I’m 24, and I’ve been doing this for a really long time actually. But I’ve had a lot of horses that I’ve sold through here and I think it’s been a great showcase for them.
On her plans for the season
I think I’m going to be doing a couple of the 2*s, deciding on the horse to do in the next U25. Just going sort of week by week, I want to do well in everything.
Jennifer Gates – Third place
On her horse
His name is Oaks Redwood, I acquired him about a month ago, and he’s just been excellent moving up through the ranks. My trainer, Harry Smolders, has wanted us to start jumping 1.45m this week, with the hunters over at WEF we thought it would be a good opportunity to test him out and see how he rode (on the grass), and he was absolutely excellent so I’m really happy with him. This was my first jump off with him, we were definitely a bit slow in some of the turns, and I’m hoping that as our partnership progresses I’ll be a little more confident there. He took everything in stride and I’m really excited about the future with him.
On the U25 series
I’m 22, and I’ve been doing this division on and off sporadically for about three or four years with different horses. It’s really nice to use it for some veteran mounts who are maybe jumping 1.45m, 1.50m now, but also for some newer combinations to really get to know them on technical tracks.
On her plans for the rest of season
WEFs a really long circuit so it’s nice to be able to move horses up and down between divisions. With Oaks Redwood, I’d like to keep progressing our partnership, whether that’s in the U25 or in the other FEI classes. Hopefully to compete well in the semifinal and final for the U25.
$25,000 Hermes U25 Grand Prix:
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Upper / David Oberkircher / USA / Southfields Farm LLC / 0 / 83.24 / 0 / 35.70
2.Victorio 5 / Abigail McArdle / USA / Victorio Equine Group LLC / 0 / 87.18 / 0 / 35.82
3.Oaks Redwood / Jennifer Gates / USA / Evergate Stables LLC / 0 / 82.34 / 0 / 37.71
4.HH Best Buy / Clara Hallundbaek / DEN / Clara Hallundbaek / 0 / 83.99 / 0 / 37.72
5.Bukato / Jacob Pope / USA / Tressdale Farms / 0 / 84.34 / 0 / 37.81
6.Dynamo / Clare Schreder / USA / Ceahorse LLC / 0 / 83.15 / 0 / 38.02
7.Aletta / Maria Brugal / DRP / Maria Brugal / 0 / 83.96 / 0 / 38.84
8.Chaplin W / Yasmin Rizvi / Peacock Ridge, LLC / 0 / 85.14 / 0 / 38.95
9.CHS Krooze / Daniel Coyle / IRL / Daniel Coyle / 0 / 82.97 / 4 / 34.49
10.H5 Jemousin / Carlos Hank Guerreiro / MEX / 0 / 82.97 / 4 / 34/49
11.EL Berlin / Tatiana Andujar Iglesias / PR / 0 / 86.70 / 4 / 41.02
12.Baloucento 2 / Ailish Cunniffee / USA / 0 / 82.37 / 10 / 53.13