In our first show review from the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, Double H Farm's Quentin Judge shares his thoughts on the festival, and the first five star week of the season in Wellington. Quentin is a professional rider at Double H Farm, a world-class competition, sales and breeding operation based in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and Wellington, Florida. Quentin has been a member of two winning Nations Cups teams for the United States and campaigns top show jumpers like HH Dark de la Hart.
"Things are starting to heat up here as last week, week 5 of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, was the first CSI 5* rated show of the season. We have seen some great competition and high number of entries leading up to week 5, but this week was spectacular on both fronts.
The number of horses competing in the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup on Thursday set an all-time record with 119 horses entered in the class. We began at 1:30 and the class did not finish until around 6:30 pm! With so many entries, the class was split "California Style", where there were two pinnings of prizes, so that the first and second place finishers of the class became first and first and worked the way down the list from there. The dual winners of the class were Ben Maher with Jane Clark's Urico, and Tiffany Foster with Artisan Farms' Victor. Both Ben and Tiffany had amazingly fast jump-offs and deserved every bit of the winner's shares. Other top finishers included Reed Kessler, Beezie Madden, Cian O'Connor, and Scott Brash. The WEF Challenge Cup serves as the qualifier for the Grand Prix each week and this week being a World Cup qualifier as well as having good prize money had most of the riders using their top horses.
The $370,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix presented by Rolex was held on Saturday night under the lights. Saturday nights have become a real draw for equestrians and locals alike, and on an evening such as last week's, with many of the world's best riders competing on their best horses with nearly full stands, you could understand why. The courses last week were designed by Bob Ellis and I think most of the riders would agree that he did a wonderful job with the Grand Prix. Kent Farrington noted that the lines and related distances he used were similar to what you would expect to find in an indoor ring and made the large main ring of WEF ride like an indoor. Seven riders were clear in the first round, the first of which was Tiffany Foster, this time with Artisan Farms' Verdi III. She was followed by Audrey Coulter with Acorte, Mclain Ward with Rothchild, Scott Brash with Ursula XII, Lucy Davis with Barron, Charlie Jayne with Chill R Z and Ben Maher with Cella.
The jump-off was an exhibition of fantastic riding for everyone watching. As many of the jump-offs here tend to do, it only got faster and more exciting as it progressed. After Scott Brash finished, it would be safe to say that many believed he could not be beat, but Ben Maher and the amazing Cella gave everything they had to come in just ahead of Scott's time to win the class. Ben and Scott are a familiar sight battling against each other in the big classes here in Wellington and it goes to show how strong the Brits are looking these days. It is so interesting to watch someone on top of their sport such as Scott Brash go about their work. Every round seems to be so organized and well thought out, and his quiet confidence seems to make every horse jump well.
Sunday's Suncast 1.50 classic again proved to be a very large class with ninety five entries, and difficult, as only ten combinations made it to the jump-off. The woman on fire, Tiffany Foster and her wonderful Victor won the class to cap off an amazing week. Tiffany is a good friend, and I am so happy to see her do so well. She is an extremely hard worker and has really seemed to hit her stride with her group of fantastic horses.
We at Double H Farm also had a good week as I was clear in the WEF Challenge Cup with HH Dark de la Hart, had four faults with HH Donnatella in our first five star Grand Prix together and had a few nice 1.40 rounds with our new horse HH Copin van de Broy. We are all looking forward to the rest of the winter and if the first five weeks are a gauge for where we are headed, we should be in store for some great competition to come!"
Double H Farm strives for the best in equestrian sport, with goals of producing quality offspring through their stallions, providing exceptional sales horses and aiming to win at the best horse shows in North America and the world by supporting talented riders. Find out more at www.doublehfarm.org.
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