The youngest rider in the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix took top honors on Saturday, Jan. 19, as 18-year-old Reed Kessler and Ligist jumped to victory during the highlight event of week two at the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival.
With riders representing 14 different countries competing in the class, the United States took the top seven placings, and the young women placed first, second and third. Kessler and Ligist topped Katie Dinan, 19, and Nougat du Vallet, and Brianne Goutal, 24, aboard Nice de Prissey.
Luc Musette of Belgium set the course for last Saturday night’s $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix. The riders were all complimentary of Musette’s course for the evening. “I thought it was amazing. I thought this course was beautifully built and spot on with the number of clears,” Goutal said.
Kessler agreed. “I thought the course was outstanding,” she said. “I love really natural-feeling courses and I thought the whole thing felt so natural and smooth. There were options for your horses, and I thought it was fantastic. He actually reminded me that this was the second grand prix I have won that he designed. He designed the 2* in Paris that I won when I was 16, and I love his courses.”
Fifty-four entries started the class in round one, and nine advanced to the jump-off with four jumping double clear.
Katie Dinan and Grant Road Partners’ Nougat du Vallet were the first pair to clear the short course and set the time to beat at 38.19 seconds in the jump-off, eventually finishing second. Ken Berkley and Ax-Cent, owned by Rivers Edge, also cleared the jump-off course and stopped the clock in 39.12 seconds to place fourth. Reed Kessler and Ligist were next to go and blazed through the course in 37.81 seconds to take the lead. Last on course, Brianne Goutal and Cloverleaf Farm’s Nice de Prissey, cleared the short course in 38.53 seconds to secure fourth place honors.
Kessler was thrilled with the effort of her horse Ligist in the evening’s class. Kessler and the 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding recently jumped up to 2.10m in a six-bar class in Geneva, and the rider feels that the class really “raised his sights.”
Second-place finisher Dinan was also very pleased with her mount Nougat du Vallet. Dinan, who is currently in college at Harvard University, is off from school for the month and making the most of her time in Wellington.
Goutal went last with her mount Nice de Prissey and had the opportunity to see both riders go in the jump-off, but had to take into account her horse’s large stride.
Garfield and Alexandra Crown jumped their way to championship honors in the Antares Large Junior Hunters 16-17 division during week two of competition at WEF. Crown, of New York City, and her 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding nearly swept the division after winning all four over fences classes. The pair placed fourth in a competitive under saddle class on day two of competition for the division.
The reserve champion title went to Southfields Farm’s Bishonen and David Oberkircher. The 11-year-old Warmblood gelding, trained by David Raposa, placed second over fences during day one of competition. Bishonen and Oberkircher took home the blue in the under saddle class on day two after earning fifth and third-place ribbons in the over fences rounds.
Crown and Garfield were also named junior owner/rider champion for earning the most points of any owner/rider combination in the division. Crown purchased Garfield in late 2011 after deciding to move up from the pony hunter divisions.
“[Trainer] Scott Stewart had shown him for a year before me, so he knew he would be a perfect first year hunter for me,” Crown said.
Stewart was onto something; Crown and Garfield competed up and down the east coast in 2012 before being named Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under Champion at the Pennsylvania National in Harrisburg. The pair had strong performances at the Hampton Classic, Capital Challenge, and Washington International horse shows as well.
The Winter Equestrian Festival features 12 weeks of competition that conclude March 31. More than $6 million in prize money will be awarded through the circuit. For full results, visit www.showgroundslive.com.
The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is located at 14440 Pierson Road, Wellington. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com or call (561) 793-5867.
Above: Reed Kessler aboard Ligist.