By Kate Pettersen and Sabrina Brashares for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
After two days of competition, the Antarès Sellier High Performance Hunters came to an end on Thursday. Evan Coluccio piloted The Lignelli Family’s Philadelphia Story to the championship with three firsts, a fifth, and a third place ribbon.
Coluccio, of Marshall, VA, has had the ride on the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Periguex since October. Philadelphia Story was originally from Balmoral Farm, along with another one of Coluccio’s mounts, Pritchard Hill, who was champion in the High Performance Conformation Hunters this week.
“My first show with him was Capital Challenge, and we were grand champion,” commented Coluccio. “The Lignelli Family, who are really amazing people, bought him for me to ride and eventually for the daughters, Agatha and Alexa, to ride as well. I am very grateful for both Balmoral Farm and the Lignellis. It’s not very often that you get to ride horses like Philadelphia Story, and I’m really excited about his future.”
Coluccio and Philadelphia Story may still be getting to know each other in the show ring, but that did not stop them from earning scores of 85 and 86 to win two over-fences classes. The duo also won the under-saddle on the first day of competition.
“I was really thrilled with him,” explained Coluccio. “He always tries really hard and is the sweetest horse in the barn. The courses were challenging this week; a lot of people had a hard time yesterday, but he rose to the occasion.”
Coluccio hopes to continue to develop his partnership with Philadelphia Story and begin showing him in some hunter derbies. Like many top hunter riders, Coluccio is also hoping that the pair will peak during World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week 6, in hopes of qualifying for the USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular.
“Mainly I just want to enjoy him and keep him successful and going well,” described Coluccio. “Our main goal is always to keep our horses happy and healthy.”
Reserve champion in the division went to Jennifer Bliss, of Loxahatchee, FL, and Harris Hill Farm, LLC’s Face the Music. Bliss rode Face the Music to a first, two seconds, and two fifth-place ribbons.
Competition will continue on Friday with the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup in the International Arena and the USHJA Jumping Seat Medal in Ring 6.