Wilmington, Ohio – December 17, 2022 – Jumper competition stole the spotlight Saturday at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington during Winter Classic III. At the conclusion of the special Gamblers Choice classes, top-notch athletes were welcomed back into the Sanctuary for the $30,000 WEC – Wilmington Grand Prix. It was the day of Darby Pease (USA), as she claimed her third ever grand prix win in the highly anticipated $30,000 WEC Grand Prix aboard Louisa Robb’s Carel Van Donderen.
Bobby Murphy (USA) crafted a towering, yet delicate track for the field of 22 horse-and-athlete combinations. Exhibitors alike flocked to the stands to watch the nail biting, elite competition. Starting with a wide oxer quickly out of the turn, riders were asked to maintain their horse’s balance through the entirety of the track to ensure a clear round. Eight combinations qualified for the jump-off round where they returned to tackle two bending lines, a roll-back and an oxer-vertical combination.
Pease of Danville, Kentucky, was the first athlete to lay down a clear first round aboard her top mount, Carel Van Donderen (Acolino x Terania Die Hoeghte). The pair is a force to be reckoned with at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington as they have continuously proven their winning ways through the entire fall and winter series.
Returning first in the order of go for the jump-off phase, Pease left no room for error and forced the rest of the class to chase her. The 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding saw no challenge in the technicality of the jump-off, remaining on a large gallop and balancing beautifully to the base of each obstacle. The pair left all the rails intact and landed through the timers in 36.195 seconds to secure their third grand prix victory together.
“This was such a great way to end the season and I am so proud of her (Darby Pease) for all her hard work. I am so proud of this entire team, and I am so thankful for the group of people here at WEC – Wilmington,” remarks Pease’s trainer, Teri Knowlton, on their winning day.
Second place was awarded to another frequent WEC – Wilmington winner, Michael Burnett (USA). Burnett of Burnett Farms in Lebanon, Indiana, piloted his winningest mount, Chagrand, to a double-clear effort right on Pease’s heels. The duo was in top form after their win in Thursday’s $10,000 WEC Welcome Stake and looking to earn another blue. The 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding made clear that he was not touching the rails, however one extra stride in the roll-back turn earned the pair the red ribbon with a time of 36.499 seconds.
Luis F. Saenz (GUA) and VDL Maverick rounded out the podium in the $30,000 WEC Grand Prix. The 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding jumping in textbook form, making exceptional efforts over each obstacle. The young horse boasts an impressive list of FEI ranking classes and continues to build on his experience and success with Saenz in the irons. With a double clear effort and a jump-off time of 37.722 seconds, the duo went home with the yellow ribbon.
WEC – Wilmington sponsor Vitalize presented the Blazin’ Fastest Four Faulter $1,000 bonus in the $30,000 WEC Grand Prix to Genevieve Munson (USA) and Charlene, who earned 67.562 seconds in the first round, finishing tenth in the class overall.
Final Results – $30,000 World Equestrian Center Grand Prix
1) Darby Pease (USA) & Carel Van Donderen, Louisa Robb – 0 – 36.195
2) Michael Burnett (USA) & Chagrand, Michael Burnett – 0 – 36.499
3) Luis F. Saenz (GUA) & VDL Maverick, Amanda Harris – 0 – 37.722
4) Izzy Beisel (USA) & Vegas H, David Beisel – 0 – 39.088
5) Kama Godek (USA) & Conny 409, Kama Godek – 4 – 36.744
6) Richard Rinehart (USA) & Vincent, Ron Caraway – 8 – 37.237
7) , Izzy Beisel (USA) & Diaz Barbotiere, Izzy Beisel – 8 – 45.975
8) Charlotte Clark (USA) & Kinsella, Charlotte Clark – 12 – 40.620
9) , Genevieve Munson (USA) & CharleneGenevieve Munson – 4 – 67.562
10) Megan Bash (USA) & Jackson VDL, Cleveland Equestrian – 4 – 73.161
Source: Press Release from World Equestrian Center
Photos: © WEC / Andrew Ryback Photography