Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 16, 2019 – While the sixth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) marks the halfway point of the popular circuit in Wellington, Florida, it means much more for hunter riders as it signifies the arrival of World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week, which is highlighted by the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular that takes place annually under the lights in the International Arena. Spectators witnessed Victoria Colvin and Brad Wolf’s Private Practice demonstrate two stellar trips to trump the other 31 pairs in the class and earn the winning title after being awarded the WCHR Hunter of the Year Award and the Peter Wetherill Cup prior to the evening’s festivities thanks to the their stellar results over the past year. Colvin’s victory on Saturday night marked her fifth time winning the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, having championed the class four times during her impressive junior career.
One of the most popular hunter events in the United States, the Hunter Spectacular has been running for 23 years and never fails to attract an enthusiastic crowd of hunter riders and fans. One of the most unique aspects of the class is that it is open to junior, amateur and professional riders, all of whom must qualify throughout the week by earning either the champion or reserve champion ribbon in their mount’s respective hunter division.
The classic round, which was designed by Ken Krome, consisted of 11 jumps that would help to determine the top-scoring pairs who would qualify for the handy round. The natural fences began at 3’6” in height, and then were raised to 3’9” and finally the cups were set at 4’ to allow riders to jump the corresponding height of the division from which they qualified. While the majority of the class tackled the course over the 3’6” height, five riders jumped over 3’9” fences and just two riders navigated the 4’ track.
As the fourth pair on course, Cheryl Olsten’s LaFitte De Muze entered the ring with professional rider Amanda Steege in the irons and jumped to the early lead after being awarded a combined score of 92.33 from the two judging panels. They would maintain their lead for the remainder of the first round. The pair started their partnership just one year ago and since then has won the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix in Saugerties, New York in September 2018, followed by another win one month later in the $50,000 WCHR Pro Challenge at the Capital Challenge Horse Show.
Colvin piloted Private Practice, a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Lordanos, to an excellent round only three trips later, earning a combined score of 90, just missing the top spot and sliding into second place with the majority of the class left to ride. Jordan Allen emerged in the third position after her ride aboard Kind Of Blue, owned by Float On Equestrian LLC, following a combined score of 89.41. All three pairs were part of the 3’6” section.
The handy round invited back 12 of the highest-ranked pairs to try their hands over the second course, which tested horses and riders with a high-option barrel fence, a bounce made of logs and hay bales and a combination made up of a natural birch vertical and oxer headed towards the in-gate. Returning in reverse order, combinations attempted to move up in the placings, but ultimately the top three riders from the first round, Steege, Colvin and Allen, would remain in the top three spots. Allen, who is a talented junior rider in all three rings as well as a working student for Ken and Emily Smith at Ashland Farms, returned with the 8-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding and laid down a near-perfect round to earn a combined 88.16 on the scoreboard.
Colvin was next in line, and she performed a brilliant handy round to finish with a score of 92.66 with the mount she got the ride on just one year ago after the gelding made the switch to the hunter ring with Madison Goetzmann after doing the jumpers. His short career as a hunter has been an extremely rewarding one, with the gelding already amassing numerous championship titles including the prestigious 2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship in Lexington, Kentucky. Steege was the final rider of the evening, and despite putting forth yet another quality performance which garnered a combined handy score of 89.83, it was not enough to move into the leading spot ahead of Colvin. Private Practice culminated the evening with a composite score of 182.66 from both rounds to secure the win, while Steege and LaFitte De Muze finished in second place with a score of 182.16. Rounding out the top three spots, Allen and Kind Of Blue finished with a total score of 177.57 attached to their names to capture the third place ribbon.
More hunter championships will be crowned at WEF on Sunday as the final day of WCHR Hunter Week concludes, with the highlights coming in the form of the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic and the $5,000 WCHR Junior Hunter 3’3” Hunter Classic.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Victoria Colvin – $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular winner
On her fifth win of the class :
“It means a lot. This is the first year winning it as a professional. When I did it as a junior I don’t think I realized how significant and how amazing it is. It’s probably one of the biggest hunter classes, especially at WEF. For me, to be able to come back and win it as a professional means even more to me. I had really great horses as a junior, which I’m so grateful for, and now I have great horses as well, but to come back and do it as a professional means a lot.”
On her progress with Private Practice:
“I rode this horse in the class actually last year, but that was actually when we first got him and he was right out of being a jumper, so he kind of went in there and acted like a jumper a little bit. He was a lot more tame today and he went around like a champ. His handy round, to me, kind of felt like it did at Derby Finals, so he went incredible and as good as he could have gone.”
On their partnership:
“I feel like we know each other quite well now, preparation-wise and everything. We have his niche down and how I like to get him ready. Going into the ring, he’s quite brave but he did actually look at that end jump that everybody else was, so I was patting him on the neck a little bit. I was like, ‘You’re fine. You don’t spook. We’re good.’ I feel like we get along really well and I’m able to ride him at the barn some, as well. We get to know each other a bit more than just riding here at the show.”
Amanda Steege – $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular second place
On LaFitte De Muze:
“I was hoping that he was going to be a competitor out there, so I think he definitely went beyond those expectations. We’ve had him for a year now. He got to do this class last year when he was a First Year horse and it was his third show in America, so it was amazing to feel how much more mature he is a year later.”
On the handy round:
“I was really happy with my handy round. I thought that he jumped amazingly. I made the conscious choice to go around the red vertical to jump one. Tori’s horse has won Derby Finals and is a bit more experienced than my horse, but my horse is working his way up to being able to do those types of things. I wanted to just make the very best decisions I could for him to make this the most positive experience as possible. Other than that, I thought his handy was handy – he was very adjustable, very smooth and he handled the bounce perfectly. His jumping style felt amazing.”
On competing in the International Arena:
“I think it depends on the horse. As a rider I love to ride out there, and it’s a lovely ring to ride in. We have so much space, so many spectators and the jumps are beautiful. I think it’s not easy for all horses to go out there, especially some of the more green horses, but I definitely really enjoy getting to come here and particularly getting to show in that ring.”
Jordan Allen – $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular third place
On her third place finish:
“It is beyond exciting. It’s my last junior year and everything is sort of shaping up. I’m so lucky to have incredible horses to show, especially Kind Of Blue, I have been showing him for two months now and I just know him like the back of my hand. This is by far one of the greatest accomplishments. I’m so excited. In the first round, I thought he jumped absolutely incredible. I thought he was amazing in both rounds obviously, but in the second round I think he really stepped it up with the brilliance and I thought he was just amazing. I knew I didn’t have to go crazy but he just always steps up to the plate. He’s so good.”
On her future plans:
“I’m going to start at the University of South Carolina in the fall. I am going to ride on the equestrian team, so I’m super excited about that. I’m taking a pre-med track, but I think after school I will come back as an amateur for a couple of years and then possibly go professional.”
On working with Ken and Emily Smith:
“I’m a working student for [Ken and Emily Smith] and I can’t put it into words. They’re like a second family to me. I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities that they have given me. I don’t own any horses, and each week they have so many horses for me to show or they get horses for me to show. I’m beyond grateful for everything they’ve done for me, as well as Brady Mitchell who has helped me with Kind Of Blue, and Adam Graham, Alvin Menendez and Dana Schwartz who is the owner, a huge thanks to her. I just feel so grateful to be a working student and I enjoy spending time with the horses. I’ve learned so much, not just in the saddle but how to watch a horse, learn what they need and their preparation. I love it.”
$100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 / R2 / Total
1. Private Practice / Victoria Colvin / Brad Wolf / 90 / 92.66 / 182.66
2. LaFitte De Muze / Amanda Steege / Cheryl Olsten / 92.33 / 89.83
3. Kind Of Blue / Jordan Allen / Float On Equestrian LLC / 89.41 / 88.16 / 177.57
4. Tradition / Elizabeth Towell Boyd / Maggie Hill / 86.66 / 88.33 / 174.99
5. Small Anecdote / Jamie Taylor / Iwasaki & Reilly / 86.41 / 88.33 / 174.74
6. SKF On My Own / Maria Rasmussen / 86.91 / 87.33 / 174.24
7. Bright Side / Scott Stewart / Stephanie Danhakl / 86.16 / 86.66 / 172.82
8. Cassanto / Elizabeth Towell Boyd / Maggie Hill / 86 / 84.66 / 170.66
9. Consent / Kelley Farmer / Larry Glefke and Kent Farrington LLC / 80.33 / 86 / 166.33
10. Hobbs Lane / Maria Rasmussen / Sunset View Farm LLC / 79.66 / 81 / 160.66
11. Small Occasion / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 85.33 / 71.66 / 156.99
12. Bond / Isha Swani / Shadowfax Equestrian LLC / 81.66 / 66.66 / 148.32
For full results, click here.