Eighteen-year-old U.S. Olympian Reed Kessler added yet another accolade to her impressive year with a win in the $100,000 President's Cup Grand Prix, presented by Events DC, at the 54th annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS). A FEI World Cup Qualifier, Kessler topped an impressive list of international competitors aboard her phenomenal mare Cylana to win in her first time competing in the class. Brazil’s Paulo Santana and Taloubet finished second, while Australia’s Matt Williams and Watch Me VD Mangelaar were third.
Anthony D’Ambrosio, of Red Hook, NY, set the course for this week’s show jumping competition at Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C. D’Ambrosio set a great course for Saturday night's grand prix, which featured 28 international horses and riders. Nine entries were able to clear the first-round course without fault to advance to the jump-off, and only four of those were faultless through the short course.
Margie Engle (USA) and Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladwinds, cleared the jump-off course in 36.42 seconds to eventually finish fourth. Matt Williams (AUS) and Samantha Tuerk’s Watch Me VD Mangelaar improved on that time in 36.15 seconds to secure the third place honors. Brazil’s Paulo Santana and Taloubet were a full two seconds faster than Williams in 34.15 seconds to take the lead, but would have to settle for second. USA’s young show jumping sensation Reed Kessler was last to go in the jump-off and shaved another two seconds off of Santana’s time aboard Cylana to win the class in 32.62 seconds.
For their victory, Kessler and Cylana were presented with the President of the United States Perpetual Cup. As Leading Jumper Rider, an award sponsored by Robin Parsky, Kessler was also presented with the Margaret Chovnick Memorial Trophy and awarded a Rolex luxury timepiece from Tiny Jewel Box. Kessler’s parents, Teri and Murray Kessler, received a special award as the Leading Jumper Owner, sponsored by The Reid Family. Paulo Santana was named the Leading International Rider.Reed Kessler has had an incredible year, competing as the youngest member in history for the U.S. Show Jumping Team at this summer’s Olympic Games in London. She can now add one of the nation’s most prestigious grand prix honors to her resume. Kessler was elated with the win, and praised Cylana on another great effort. The ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (by Skippy II x Darco) has become a superstar in her own right this year.
“This is one of the most historical classes in our country and it is my first year being old enough to do the grand prix,” Kessler noted. “Last year I was actually leading rider going into it and I wasn’t old enough to do it, so I really wanted to come back this year and seal the deal. I am thrilled; I brought the red coat for it and everythinKessler had the advantage of going last in the jump-off and knowing what she had to do. “I definitely felt lucky that I went last,” she acknowledged. “I didn’t actually watch the entire jump-off because I was warming up, but it is always great to go last and know what you need to beat.”
“I did seven strides back on the third jump,” Kessler explained. “I think that besides even the way Cylana looks, she is just like Sapphire in a lot of ways. I think how I have to learn to go fast with her is that way, doing so few strides around the turns and to the jumps, and keeping it slick. I think that my turns were really good, but she can do anything.”
Kessler has been competing at WIHS since she was a child on ponies and has had many wins throughout the years. “I can’t even count (how many years I've been coming to WIHS),” she laughed. “I think I was champion here in the small ponies when I was little, I did the equitation final, then junior jumpers for a bunch of years and then to be all the way to the President’s Cup now. It is one of my favorite shows. I have been coming here my whole life and I love being in the middle of the city.”
“There is a great interaction with the audience here,” Kessler said further. “Everyone gets really into it. Barn night is genius; they always get a huge turnout. There was quite literally a mile-long line of children asking for autographs after the Gambler’s Choice. It is a great show and the crowd gets really into it. I think it is probably one of the biggest turnouts at a show jumping event in America.”
Second place finisher Paulo Santana had great results with Taloubet this week and spoke about his round and the pressure of having Kessler, a known speedster, following him in the order. “I would try to beat her. I saw the beginning of the class and I knew she was behind me and she would run in the minutes a couple more,” Santana stated. “It was a good mix in the jump-off; Margie, Matt. I had to play a little with the risk. I was afraid to try and then have a rail really early. I had to chase my points one by one and do a safe course, but that doesn’t mean that I would beat her. To win by two seconds in an indoor competition is a lot.”Santana was very excited to qualify for WIHS this year and have the opportunity to compete for World Cup points. He praised the show as well. “For me it is one of the best, if not the best show in the United States,” he declared. “The best restaurants, hotels, the crowd, the footing; it makes everybody feel good.”“I was on the waiting list, like lighting candles to get in,” Santana laughed. “Brazilian black magic! I hope next year I don’t have to do that. I found out that I got in between three and four weeks ago. It was really kind of the organizers, who called right away; we were first on the waiting list.”
Santana also acknowledged the great crew at WIHS. “We have to always appreciate what the crew does here; they work literally 24 hours,” he added. “We show up here at 3 o’clock in the morning and somebody is already dragging the arena. We know that probably this horse show costs much more than what it gets to be done, so we really appreciate the effort that the organizers put to keep doing this tradition in the capital, inside of the city. It makes a better display for our sport. It is very nice and I hope they never quit doing this show because it would be a very big loss for the sport here in the United States.”
Third place finisher, Matt Williams, spoke about his mount Watch Me VD Mangelaar and their success this year. “I got him last year in the middle of the summer as an eight-year-old,” Williams detailed. “He jumped the HITS $1 million grand prix last year and placed sixth in that. I decided to aim him for London, then went to Florida and then went over to Europe for the summer. Since that he did three shows where he was second in every grand prix and he has had seven weeks off now, so he’s a little fresh, but he felt fantastic. I choked going to the double. I got halfway there and changed my mind. Other than that he was really on his job and I’m really happy with him.”“This show is amazing,” Williams said of WIHS. “You are so close to everything; you walk outside and the restaurants are right there. It is well-publicized, so people are coming in who know nothing about horses and learning about the sport. They have other things happening other than jumping to keep people entertained, which is nice for the riders as well, to watch some of the events that are happening here. It is nice to see something different. If you can cope with the warm-up ring, it is such a fantastic place to be in the center of the city. The arena is great, the grounds are great, the courses have been super all week and it is a privilege to be here.”
Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio also spoke about the class and his take on the results. D’Ambrosio explained, “The confines of the ring are a challenge for me as well as it is for the riders. Having had some experience now in the indoors, I have developed a system. It was very gratifying for me to see the horses jump so well, flow a little bit and act like they were in a much larger space.”“I thought the class developed beautifully; I was not surprised to see riders on fast horses figure out a way to be a bit faster than the horse before them,” D’Ambrosio expressed. “It’s what they do and they take calculated risks, but certainly know what they have to do to win. Having a good animal that can make the adjustments necessary to be faster, they often times come through. I think it just unfolded in a very nice way this evening where it had a chance to develop to be very nice for the crowd. You didn’t have to have ever seen horses jump before to appreciate a competition like that I think, and those who know show jumping could also appreciate it very much.”
For full results, more information, or to watch the free live feed of the show, please visit www.wihs.org.
Final Results: $100,00 President's Cup Grand Prix, CSI 3*-W, presented by Events DC
1 48 CYLANA REED KESSLER USA: 0/0/32.62
2 27 TALOUBET PAULO SANTANA BRA: 0/0/34.15
3 97WATCH ME VD MANGELAAR MATT WILLIAMS AUS: 0/0/36.15
4 9 INDIGO MARGIE ENGLE USA: 0/0/36.42
5 26WALDMAN Z CHARLIE JAYNE USA: 0/4/34.05
PONY LANE FARM
6 62MYSELF DE BREVE MARIE HECART FRA: 0/8/35.03
7 95WANNICK WH CHRISTINE McCREA USA: 0/8/35.46
WINDSOR SHOW STBL/TRIBBLE
8 21 ARMEGEDON SEAN CROOKS USA: 0/16/38.41
CROOKS SHOW JUMPING
9 65 ONIRA BRIANNE GOUTAL USA: 0/ret.
REMARKABLE FARMS LP
10 29 VINDICAT W JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN USA: 4/68.30
STONE HILL FARM
11 33 AIR FORCE ONE KAMA GODEK USA: 4/70.06
12 32 TEIRRA LAURA KRAUT USA: 4/71.12
HI HOPES FARM LLC
Source: Press release from WIHS.
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