Thermal, California, USA – February 10, 2023 – A little time off has proven to be no issue for Ace Of Hearts, expertly piloted by Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet to the win in Friday’s $38,700 La Quinta Resort & Club Speed CSI 3* 1.50m. At 13 years old, the Estonian Sport Horse gelding is hitting his stride after a nearly four-year break from the competition ring.
Wathelet has already taken international victories at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) and is back in winning form for Desert Circuit V, advancing this horse from National to FEI competition.
“My plan was to do a few jumps with him yesterday and go in the Grand Prix Sunday, but I didn’t want to go straight in the Grand Prix because he has less experience,” he explained. “I know that with him I can go a little bit for these classes. I don’t normally ruin the control and everything for the grand prixs; that’s normally not a big problem. And then I saw the ones before me there that were quite fast. To be in front, I had to at least try and make good turns.”
Over Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) single-round speed course, Wathelet unseated leader at the time, Kyle King (USA) with SIG International’s SIG Chiari.
King took second in the class while Karrie Rufer (USA) claimed third with Mr. Europe, owned by Morning Star Sporthorses.
Brought into Wathelet’s string as a 5-year-old, Ace Of Hearts wowed him early on and is continuing to do so eight years later. “He was jumping amazing,” Wathelet said of the horse as a youngster. He had not done any shows when we bought him. A dressage rider, and friend of mine, saw him and said we have to buy him. And I even didn’t really try him.”
The horse had scope from the beginning, and almost too much scope. “At the beginning, when he was six and seven, he was always jumping too high and too careful,” Wathelet continued. “I didn’t really have the time to ride him myself, which is why he didn’t do too much. At seven and eight he did some shows but still not many. And then he was a bit unlucky with a small injury that took him out. It kept him out of the shows for almost four years.”
Now back in the show ring for about a year and a half, Ace Of Hearts is finding his time to shine. ”I brought him here just to give him some experience, good experience, to step up a bit and hope he can be ready when they go back to Europe to do some bigger things,” Wathelet said.
Ace Of Hearts hasn’t followed the picture-perfect trajectory for a winning FEI show jumper, but Wathelet believes that doesn’t matter. “It doesn’t matter the age, we do what we think is best for the horse,” he said. “We try to find the best plan, the best program, and they are all different, which is a good thing in our sport. There are no rules for what they have to do when they are six or nine. I work a lot with the feeling and then feel what they need, what they can do, and what they have to do.”
Final Results – $38,700 La Quinta Resort & Club Speed CSI 3*
1) Gregory Wathelet (BEL) & Ace of Hearts: 2010 ESH gelding by Aliandro B x Ra Ex Romanov ESH, Gregory Wathelet – 0 – 62.29
2) Kyle King (USA) & SIG Chiari: 2012 OS gelding by Cristallo II x Landadel, SIG International: 0/63.91
3) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Mr. Europe: 2009 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Cassini, Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC: 0/63.91
4) Ali Ramsay (CAN) & Bonita vh Keizershof Z: 2011 ZANG mare by Bustique x For Pleasure, Ramsay Equestrian Inc.: 0/64.97
5) Mandy Porter (USA) & Cadeau Z: 2013 ZANG gelding by Carmena Z x Quattro B, Risen EQ Holdings LLC: 0/66.01
6) Elisa Broz (USA) & Kardenta van`T Meerhof: 2010 BWP mare by Cardento x Concorde, Hidalgo LLC: 0/66.08
7) Bretton Chad (CAN) & Grandeur WP: 2011 KWPN gelding by Whistler x Vainqueur, Stone Ridge Farms LLC: 0/67.81
8) Uma O`Neill (NZL) & Clockwiser of Greenhill Z: 2007 ZANG stallion by Clearway x Caretino 2, O’Neill Showjumping LLC: 0/68.10
9) Jennifer Waxman (USA) & Lavallino Ter Klomp: 2011 BWP stallion by Clearway x Coriano, Lost Lake Farm LLC: 0/69.33
10) Susan Artes (USA) & California Sunshine: 2013 DSP mare by Captain Z x Bollvorm’s Lauriston, Alix Fargo: 0/72.37
11) Mark Watring (PUR) & Limbossini RC RC: 2011 Holsteiner gelding by Guardus Limbus x San Patrignano Cassini, Mark Watring: 0/74.12
12) Eric Krawitt (CAN) & Cactus de Cosniere: 2012 SF gelding by Padock du Plessis x Flipper D’Elle, Eric Krawitt: 0/76.54
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photo: © DIHP / HD – High Desert Photo
Categories: CSI 3*, Desert Horse Park