Wellington, Fla. – March 1, 2019 – CSIO4* week at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) saw rare competition take place under the lights on Friday night in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) as the under 25 riders were highlighted in the $36,000 Hermès U25 Semi Final Grand Prix. Forty-eight competitors took to the Steve Stephens (USA) and Nick Granat (USA) first round 1.45m track, with six moving on to the jump-off. In the end, it was David Oberkircher (USA) and Upper who took top honors, as riders now look towards the final event of the series in Week Eleven.
Nerves took over for some under the lights, and clear rounds were hard to attain as riders ran into trouble at the double combination at obstacle six, the water jump at obstacle nine and the triple combination at obstacle 12. Jump one was the bogey fence, set considerably lower than 1.45m, where some horses pulled a careless rail. Time also proved to be a factor, with multiple riders collecting just 1 time fault to keep them out of contention for the top prize.
Daisy Farish (USA) and Thalie D’Anjou posted the first clear when she went 11th in the order and was then joined by Oberkircher and Upper to guarantee a jump-off. Daniel Coyle (IRL) riding CHS Krooze made it three in the jump-off before the halfway drag break. After the break, it was Ailish Cunliffe (USA), the current leader in the Hermès U25 series standings, who rode the first clear in the second half with her mount Baloucento 2. Sophie Gochman (USA) riding Carola BH and Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) with the ride on H5 Quantador 3 followed right after with clear rounds for a total of six in the jump-off.
First to go in the jump-off, Farish had 4 faults at fence three to put her out of the top placings. Oberkircher went next and set the winning time, going clear in 35.12 seconds with the 11-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by Southfields Farm LLC. Coyle tried to catch his time but narrowly missed in 36.12 seconds, putting him in second place with his own CHS Krooze, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare. Cunliffe’s clear round in 36.23 seconds would garner third place with her mount Baloucento 2, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Whipstick Farm LTD.
Week Eight at WEF continues through Sunday, March 3. The highly anticipated $150,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4* is set to take place Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in the International Arena under the lights.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
David Oberkircher – $36,000 Hermès U25 Semi Final Grand Prix winner
On winning the U25 two weeks in a row:
“It’s been amazing. I did this series last year and had some good results. I was just looking to improve this year. To come out on top two weeks in a row is just amazing. My horse has been jumping great so I’m thrilled.”
“He is a very reliable horse. He’s an 11-year-old Selle Français. I’ve had him for about a year and a half now. I purchased him to move up to some 2* and 3* classes and to jump this series. He has been really amazing. He is very brave and solid. I can point him at any jump and any distance and he’s going to go. As an amatuer, he’s a good horse to sit on.”
On the jump-off:
“I have a slower moving horse but he has a massive stride. Tonight, I just had to do the least amount of strides as possible everywhere. I ended up doing six strides [to the last fence] instead of seven so that probably helped, but it was really close.”
On his post-WEF plans:
“I haven’t figured out my plans yet. I’ll probably try to jump some 2* and 3*, maybe at Old Salem [Farm]. I’m juggling a job and riding so that can be hard. I’m a financial analyst so I just have to figure out my work schedule before I can work out a riding schedule.”
Daniel Coyle – Second place
On the track:
“Tonight wasn’t simple. The water caused a problem for many. The water was just one of the problems though, it was a proper course all around.”
On CHS Krooze:
“The horse I have tonight is one of my own horses and kind of new to me. I bought her at the end of last year and I haven’t really moved her up. This is the first big step for her and she really came through. She’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Simple things spook her. For me, when a horse jumps as well as she does, the rest isn’t important. This is her first time under the lights in this arena.”
Ailish Cunliffe – Third place
On Friday’s results:
“I was really happy with tonight. I felt a bit of pressure for sure. My horse jumped great, he really loves the big atmospheres. He is great on the field and great under the lights. The lights usually make him jump the water better because he’s a little more impressed by it. I’ve had him for two years now and this is my second year doing the series on him. He was really consistent last year and even more so this year.”
On the course:
“I went for it in the jump-off but I was a little wide in places and these boys had me beat. I thought the track was decent tonight, it was big. The water was definitely a huge issue, I think. In years past, the water jump was towards the gate, which makes the horse want to jump it a little more. Tonight it was away and people were landing just barely short of it so that was difficult. Some people ran into time issues as well. I have a naturally quick horse so it wasn’t a big concern for me.”
$36,000 Hermès Under 25 Semi Final Grand Prix:
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1.Upper / David Oberkircher / USA / SouthFields Farms LLC / 0 / 72.87 / 0 / 35.12
2.CHS Krooze / Daniel Coyle / IRL / Daniel Coyle / 0 / 72.79 / 0 / 36.12
3.Baloucento 2 / Ailish Cunliffe / USA / Whipstick Farm LTD / 0 / 73.76 / 0 / 36.23
4.H5 Quantador 3 / Carlos Hank Querreiro / MEX / H5 Stables / 0 / 73.44 / 4 / 34.47
5.Thalie D’Anjou / Daisy Farish / USA / Jose Pablo Salgado / 0 / 71.43 / 4 / 35.56
6.Carola BH / Sophie Gochman / USA / Gochman Sport Horses LLC / 0 / 70.72
7.Zartoes / Jessica Freye / GER / Santana Stables LLC / 1 / 75.2
8.Azlis Du Mesnil / Sydney Shulman / USA / Jill Shulman / 1 / 76.33
9.Bukato / Jacob Pope / USA / Treesdale Farms / 1 / 76.95
10.Dynamo / Claire Schreder / USA / Ceahorse LLC / 4 / 70.97
11.Dollar Girl / Jessica Mendoza / GBR / Jessica Mendoza / 4 / 71.23
12.Edison / Samantha Wright / USA / Melissa Wright / 4 / 73.16