The $34,000 Suncast® 1.45 FEI Welcome boasted the largest number of entries in the FEI division at Tryon Summer 1 to date, with 43 combinations testing the Ken Krome (USA) designed track in the George H. Morris Arena in the Tryon Stadium. The class, which started off the second day of competition at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) this week, was moved to the morning to help the FEI contenders escape the on-setting heat.
Andrew Welles (USA) and Boo Van Het Kastanjehof paid no mind to the increasing temperature and secured the win as the last pair to go in the 10-horse jump-off with a dominating time of 35.006 seconds. Mark Bluman (COL) and Uitteraard finished in second, crossing the timers in 35.842 seconds and Alise Oken (USA) aboard Kaid Du Ry rounded out the top three, completing the jump-off track in 36.276 seconds. FEI competition is highlighted at TIEC with the $127,000 Adequan® Grand Prix FEI CSI 3* on Saturday, June 26, with gates opening at 6pm and competition beginning at 8pm.
Welles was thrilled with the duo's win and said "Boo" has been knocking on the winner circle's door for quite some time now. The pair went last in the jump-off order following an incredibly quick round from Mark Bluman, which Welles didn't anticipate beating.
"I'm absolutely overjoyed right now. I've had her for five years and probably been second in eight or nine Grand Prix classes, but we've never actually been able to pull off the win," commented Welles. "I've never won a Grand Prix on her, and today is just a great start to the morning! I watched the first couple go and I saw Mark's time and I thought I was riding for second. He was absolutely flying, and he rode as slick of a round as he could ride. I knew we were fast and to see that come up on the scoreboard was amazing."
The course perfectly suited the pair, who typically excel in tight situations and have performed incredibly well during their time at TIEC, collecting a fourth place finish in the $210,000 Tryon Grand Prix for the Governor's Cup presented by Rolex in Week 8 of the Tryon Spring Series.
"Ken Krome has been a great course designer for a very long time and I thought he built a very fair test and I think all of the horses will come out jumping just as good, if not better, than when they went into the ring," commented Welles. "It was a great jump-off track and there were a lot of options. There were a lot of places to go fast and a lot of places where you could accumulate faults if you pushed the speed that way."
Welles rode a risky and bold round in the jump-off, knowing that there were several areas around the course he could use to his advantage, which ultimately helped him slip into the coveted top spot.
"To be honest, I was fortunate to go last in the jump-off, and I think that's where a lot of our second place finishes have come from. We always seem to have that happen and then someone catches me at the end," he explained. "I talked to my friend John Roche before going in and he said, 'If you do this, this, and maybe this, there's a chance you can catch him,' so I went for it."
"Boo" has been a career altering horse for Welles, who attributes much of his success to the lessons he has learned from the 2001 Belgian Warmblood mare, owned by his father, Peter Welles.
"She's just one of those horses that you will remember for your entire life. She, as of now, is absolutely the most important horse that I've ever had in my career and I think she will be for many years to come," he remarked. "She's a horse that I absolutely love to death. She's a part of the family and my parents have been incredibly supportive of my career. In the barn she knows she's in charge. It's her barn and we all work for her."
Welles' team has called TIEC home for several weeks and he is planning to keep the venue as a staple in their competition schedule for years to come. Based in Kentucky, the trip is worth it according to Welles, who commented he's never seen his horses so content at a competition.
"This facility is absolutely amazing and I think that just going into the ring, each of us feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to compete at a facility of this caliber and I personally want to thank Mark Bellissimo, Roger Smith, and the entire team for putting this show on," he said. "I know its unseasonably hot and I want to thank J.P. Godard and the rest of the crew to make the decision to allow us to go at 8am. My horses are so relaxed and it has been an absolute pleasure to compete here."
Final Results for $34,000 Suncast® 1.45 FEI Welcome:
1. BOO VAN HET KASTANJEHOF, 2001 Belgian Warmblood mare by Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve x Kacha Vh Kastanjehof ANDREW WELLES (USA), Peter Welles: 0/0/35.006
2. UITTERAARD, 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Numero Uno x Natosca MARK BLUMAN (COL), Stransky's Mission Farms, LLC: 0/0/35.842
3. KAID DU RY, 1998 Selle Francais gelding by Brett Saint Clair x Candy Des Champs ALISE OKEN (USA), Hi Hopes Farm: 0/0/36.276
4. ENTRE NOUS, 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Conan Z x Topia Van De Padenborre LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms, LLC: 0/0/37.242
5. DIAMONTE DARCO, 2005 Great Britain Sport Horse mare by Unbelievable Darco x Kriska WILTON PORTER (USA), Sleepy P Ranch, LLC: 0/0/37.37.753
6. KISMET 50, 2001 Belgian Warmblood mare by Kannan x Famosa Z CANDICE KING (USA), Bellissimo LLC: 0/0/38.02
7. BINKIE, Dutch Warmblood gelding by Larino x Whisper B DAVID BLAKE (IRL), Pine Hollow Farm: 0/0/38.598
8. QUABELLE, 2004 Selle Francais mare by Helrios De La Cour II x Ba Belle Van't Roosakker BLYTHE MARANO (USA), Riverview Farm, LLC: 0/0/38.598
Source: Press release from Tryon International Equestrian Center.
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