Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 11, 2019 – Devon Thomas scored the top spot in Friday’s Platinum Performance USEF Jumping Talent Search 2*, marking the first equitation win of the 2019 season at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Sixteen-year-old Thomas, from New Jersey, will be competing with her hose, Diabolo, throughout the season. Her leading score over fences combined with a smooth flat phase led her to win the competitive class, taking rank just above Sam Walker and Mimi Gochman.
Twenty-two competitors completed over the 12-obstacle course designed by Oscar Soberon. The 2* Talent Search featured fences measuring 1.15m to 1.20m, including an open water jump. The open water jump was set in a tight 5 stride line that proved very tricky for many competitors as they struggled to get their horses stride back. The flat portion brought back the top 12 riders to further test their abilities. They were asked to demonstrate an extended trot, counter canter, and a lengthening of stride at the canter.
The course played well to Diablo, who has a long stride and recently made the transition from jumpers to hunters. Thomas trains with Michael Desiderio and will be aiming to qualify for the Platinum Performance USEF Jumping Talent Search Finals East in Gladstone, New Jersey later this year.
Behind Thomas was Sam Walker, taking second place aboard Angela Covert’s Bring Me Up. This follows Walker’s win in the ASPCA Maclay Finals in November of 2018.
Trailing just behind to capture third place was Mimi Gochman riding Gochman Sport Horses’ Heroy Von De Hei. Gochman, who competes under the tutelage of famed-equitation trainer Stacia Madden, is a regular in equitation, hunter, and jumper rings.
The Winter Equestrian Festival continues the equitation competition with the THIS National Children’s Medal and the Ariat National Adult Medal on Saturday at 8 a.m. in Ring 7 and the South Ring.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
On the horse:
“This is Diabolo. He is a 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood that we imported last July. We are mainly working on him being an equitation horse because he was a jumper, and he has been really good at his job.”
On the course:
“This course really helped me because Diabolo prefers to land left, so most of the places were really easy for him. He has such a big stride that it makes it easy for him to ride up and get there easily. We weren’t really sure about the inside turn to the water, but it worked out really well.”
On the rest of season:
“I will continue to do the equitation and hopefully continue to do well. I will be here for the rest of circuit and hopefully catch ride a few jumpers”
Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2*
Place / Horse / Rider
1. Diabolo / Devon Thomas
2. Bring Me Up / Sam Walker
3. Heroy Von De Hei / Mimi Gochman
4. Casper Van’t Gestelhof / Isabelle Song
5. Alligator / Catalina Peralta
6. Charisma / Addison Piper
7. Common Sense / Alexandra Pielet
8. Quinn 13 / Melissa Deryn Foster