By Kim Beaudoin and Sabrina Brashares for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
In the $10,000 Hermès U25 Welcome, Ashley Vogel (USA) and Bellissimo Z flew through the timers in 67.49 seconds, besting a competitive class of 54 entries. Second place was awarded to the USA’s Tanner Korotkin on Deauville S, a 2006 Holsteiner gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Touch of Class) owned by Castlewood Farm Inc., who completed the track in 68.87 seconds. Third place went to Charlise Casas (USA) and Always Faithful Equine LLC’s 2008 Holsteiner gelding Diamond M (Numero Uno x Zarina M), ending on 70.21 seconds.
This was Vogel’s first U25 class ever, and she was thrilled with the result. “I thought the ride today was great,” she began. “Bellissimo jumped amazingly, and it was a good course for her, a good warmup for tomorrow’s U25 Grand Prix. I couldn’t be happier with her! I’ve never ridden in the U25 before. It was a good note to start on, but it helps to have a horse like Bellissimo. It’s a fun series to have. It’s very competitive and a great opportunity for us to get more miles and experience.”
Vogel, who rides with Shane Sweetnam at Sweet Oak Farm, has been partnered with the mare since June and has been spending some time getting to know her before moving up. “We have just recently started stepping up and doing more FEI classes together,” she continued. “It really helps going in to these bigger tracks with a horse that knows what she’s doing. She’s teaching me a lot. She has her quirks, but she’s really incredible. She always gives it her all and jumps 10 out of 10 for me. She’s sweet on the ground and is a smart horse. She knows her job.”
Her goal with the 2009 Zangersheide mare (Bamako de Muze x C’est Elle Z) is to remain consistent in the U25 series and beyond. “I might also be throwing a three-star in there, and I’ve never jumped one, so I think that’ll be really exciting. It’s been a good start. She’s been putting in some good results, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the season brings!”
In the $1,000 Hermès U25 1.40m, Sophia Studd (DEN) and the 2009 Danish Warmblood mare Holsteins Matina (Party Dance x Mont Clarissa) owned by Marie Botved Studd captured the win, crossing through the timers in 67.70 seconds. Hunter Champey (USA) and Caprice, a 2007 KWPN mare (Kashmir Van Schuttershof x Jalisca Houtheem Z) owned by MDHT Equestrian, LLC, took second place in 78.65 seconds. Third place went to Eric Krawitt (CAN) piloting Godfather B Bellesbat (Numero Uno x Ustasia), a 2011 KWPN mare owned by AES Equestrian.
“My mare is amazing!” began Studd. “She jumped so well, and I’m so happy with her. She’s so good about going forward; the jumps just seem easy for her. We’re ready for the Grand Prix tomorrow! She has great energy, and she just springs over everything. She’s not spooky. She’s just perfect.”
Studd has been partnered with the mare for a year and one day and is enthusiastic about the fact that their hard work is paying off. “These U25 classes are so helpful, instead of jumping right into the big ring with everyone. It gives us a balance, a chance to compete against peers,” she said. Studd plans to keep going with the U25 series and has a busy season with other mounts that she will compete in 1.40m and FEI classes, as well as a few in the seven-year-old divisions.