Rock Harbor and Louise Serio Sail to Victory in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular



Wellington, Florida.—- Feb. 18, 2018—- For Louise Serio, contesting the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular is always special. And this year it was particularly rewarding when she piloted Jennifer Burger’s Rock Harbor to victory, earning her third title in a class that she was instrumental in establishing back in 1997.

“You never know when you’re going to get back here again,” she said with a smile. “It’s very rewarding. Jennifer Burger, who owns Rock Harbor, has been a wonderful client for a long time and she’s been a big supporter, so to win on her horse is really nice.”

Serio, of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and the 11-year-old, warmblood gelding led after the first round with a score of 89.50. She returned for the second round to post an 86.75 and 176.25, a total no one else could catch.

Louise Serio and Jennifer Burger’s Rock Harbor in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. Credit: Tricia Booker/USHJA

“My horse was awesome tonight,” said Serio. “I thought he jumped really well. I’ve never done him in a night class under the lights, and I thought he was really on his game.”

This is the third time Serio has won this class, first in 2005 with Costello and again in 2011 with Castle Rock. Burger purchased “Harry” six years ago as a 5-year-old, and he’s steadily moved up the levels to the High Performance Hunter section. This week, he qualified for the Spectacular class in the 3’6″ Performance Working Hunters.

“He’s been such a fun horse to own,” said Burger. “I’m on top of the world. Louise is an unbelievable rider, and she found me an amazing horse. Tonight was the crescendo of those two things coming together and the best it could be. We both love him. He’s a great horse.”

Jennifer Burger’s Rock Harbor and Louise Serio are awarded the Dark Continent Perpetual Trophy, donated by Jim Greene, as well as the Let’s Dance Perpetual Trophy, donated by the late Gene Mische. Credit: Tricia Booker/USHJA

Scott Stewart and Catch Me came close to a “three-peat” after winning in 2016 and 2017 but couldn’t quite edge Serio and Rock Harbor. The 10-year-old, Holsteiner gelding owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, leapfrogged up the standings from 11th after the first round to second place overall with the best second round score of 91, for 174.33.

“I had nothing to lose,” said Stewart of the second round and his strategy. “I had a little bit of a funny jump in the first round, so I was really happy that I made it back at all in the second round. I sort of just went for it. It was probably one of the best rounds I’ve ever had, especially for the handy. Everything just worked. The jump that he took a little look at in the first round was the jump I really sliced in the handy, and he was perfect about it. It all just worked out great.”

Two-time winner of the class, Catch Me and Scott Stewart earned second place. Credit: Tricia Booker/USHJA 

Tracy Fenney, of Flower Mound, Texas, finished third aboard MTM Outbid in her first appearance in the Spectacular class. The 8-year-old warmblood gelding, owned by MTM Farm, jumped to an 85.33 in the first round and sat seventh. A tidy and bold second round moved them up to third with a 174.16 total.

“I was a little star struck when I first got here,” Fenney admitted with a smile. “Showing against all of these guys is amazing. It’s a great class and a really fun crowd. My horse seems to deal with whatever, the lights, daylight, he’s good with that. It’s fun to compete against all these guys.”

In her first time in the night class, Tracy Fenney and MTM Outbid earned third place. Credit: Tricia Booker/USHJA 

The $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular was a featured event of the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit Week 6. The Saturday night event drew 36 entries that qualified to compete after showing in the week’s Junior, Amateur-Owner and Open Hunter sections.

Designer Steve Stephens set the courses for the two-round classic in the expansive International Ring. The six-member judging panel sat in pairs around the arena, including: Sissy Wickes/Chris Wynne at Panel 1; Rick Fancher/Shane George at Panel 2; and John French/Mary Lisa Leffler at Panel 3.

For their victory, Louise Serio and Rock Harbor were presented the Dark Continent Perpetual Trophy, donated by Jim Greene, as well as the Let’s Dance Perpetual Trophy, donated by the late Gene Mische.

“This is a cool night and means so much. What’s special to me is we actually started this class,” said Serio, who was instrumental in establishing the WCHR with Geoff Teall in the early 1990s. “I remember asking Gene Mische if we could have the class here. Then I asked, ‘Could we have a tent? And a refrigerator and some chairs?’ He was so generous, and it’s just grown from there.”

In between Rounds 1 and 2, Betsee Parker’s Private Life, ridden by Stewart, received the Charlie Weaver Memorial Award for the highest-scoring Conformation Hunter in Round 1 with an 84.50.

The Mark Gregory Memorial Award, established by Susie Humes, for the best-conditioned horse in Round 1 was presented to Libertas Farm LLC’s Chablis, ridden by Kelly Tropin and trained by Peter Lutz and Mary Manfredi.

Jennifer Hannan’s Olympic Fire, received the Shapley’s Best Turned Out Award, presented by Sally Stith-Burdette to groom Abelardo Sanchez.

Daisy Farish, of Lexington, Kentucky, and Cinemagic finished as the highest-placed Junior combination, taking fifth overall. Kelly Tropin, of New Canaan, Connecticut, was the highest-placed Amateur-Owner rider, placing sixth with Chablis.

Riders earning championships or reserve championships in the 3’6″ and higher rated WCHR hunter sections qualified for the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, with additional riders qualifying based on points if the qualified riders chose not to compete or were pre-qualified. In addition, riders also qualified based on their 2017 standings in the WCHR national awards programs.

Other special awards presented included the week’s high-score honors: professional—- Scott Stewart with 94; amateur-owner, 3’6″—- Lindsay Maxwell with 91; amateur-owner 3’3″ and Adult Amateur—- Martha Ingram with 92 and 90; junior 3’6″—-tie, Daisy Farish and Emma Kurtz with 90; junior 3’3″—- Ella Bostwick with 90. Developing Professional Christina Serio earned the Champion Equine Insurance Trophy for her high score of 88.

Betsee Parker’s Private Life, ridden by Stewart, was named the 2017 USHJA WCHR Hunter of the Year and was presented with the WCHR Peter Wetherill Cup on Saturday night.

Betsee Parker’s Private Life was named 2017 USHJA WCHR Hunter of the Year and awarded the Peter Wetherill Cup. Credit: Tricia Booker/USHJA

The Kavar Kerr Distinguished Service Award, presented by the World Championship Hunter Rider Committee in honor of Kerr’s philanthropic background, was awarded Geoff Teall. The award is presented to a person who has demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership and commitment to the WCHR Program through their volunteer service and philanthropic efforts. This person also honors the past and tradition while representing the future and growth of philanthropy in the sport.

Teall’s dedication, support and leadership—- in conjunction with co-founder Louise Serio—- helped to bring the WCHR Program to life and sustain it over the years. His leadership in governance, volunteerism, grit and determination enabled the WCHR to grow and thrive.

Kavar Kerr, for whom the award is named, said, “Geoff Teall was always inspiring to work with. His concern and commitment to his fellow horsemen as well as the equestrian community is amazing. He always wants to do the right thing for the horses and people, and I greatly admire that about him.  He is also a good friend to have! I’m very pleased this award is going to Geoff!”
The USHJA would like to thank its generous sponsors for the 2018 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, including: Charles Owen, Inc., The Official Helmet of the USHJA; CWD Sellier, The Official Saddle of the USHJA; Parlanti, The Official Riding Boot of the USHJA; Professional’s Choice, The Official Horse Boot of the USHJA; and Rood & Riddle, The Official Equine Hospital and Veterinary Pharmacy of the USHJA.
The USHJA also thanks Awards Sponsors: GumBits and Shapley’s, sponsor of the Best Turned Out Horse for USHJA Hunter Championships.
The Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular Gala, held in the International Club, was once again a great success and is projected to raise more than $50,000 to support the WCHR program.

Top 12 Finishers in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular:

Round 1 Avg.
Round 2 Avg.

Final Score
Rock Harbor
Jennifer Burger
Louise Serio
Catch Me
Gochman Sport Horse LLC
Scott Stewart
MTM Outbid
MTM Farm
Tracy Fenney
Aizlynn Radwanski
Kelley Farmer
Meralex Farm
Daisy Farish
Libertas Farm LLC
Kelly Tropin
Private Life
Betsee Parker
Scott Stewart
Small Affair
Iwasaki & Reilly
Augusta Iwasaki
More Fun
Libbie Gordon
Kelley Farmer
Callie Seaman
Callie Seaman
Kind of Blue
Float on Equestrian LLC
Brady Mitchell
Airport 48
John & Stephanie Ingram
John Ingram