By Sabrina Brashares for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Professional hunter divisions took center stage at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) for the first day of week six of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
The sixth week of WEF features World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) competition as well as CSI3* events. Highlights of the week will be the $50,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular on Saturday night, February 20, in the International Arena and the $137,000 IDA Development Grand Prix CSI3* taking place Sunday, February 21, on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village. Sunday competition on the Derby Field will also include the $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix and the $25,000 CP National Grand Prix. Spectators can watch feature classes live and on demand using the livestream.
Competition began in the International Arena as hunters in professional divisions aim to qualify for Saturday night’s main class. Amateur and junior riders will begin their divisions later this week as combinations ride for tricolor ribbons and a coveted spot in the line-up.
With 20 entries in the Green Conformation Hunters, Jimmy Torano, of Wellington, FL, rode Isalou, Inc.’s Laskano to a score of 89 and a blue ribbon in the first over fences class. Scott Stewart, of Wellington, FL, topped the handy round with a score of 90 aboard Dr. Betsee Parker’s For Always. Christopher Payne, of Cincinnati, OH, and Gratitude, owned by Still Water Farm LLC, received top honors in the Green Conformation Hunter model.
Royal Palm Beach, FL, resident Maria Rasmussen and Julianne Karol’s Fedora earned a score of 87 to win the first class of the Green Hunter 3’9” division, sponsored by Equine Tack & Nutritionals. Scott Stewart and Richard Prant’s Love Note took top honors in the second class with a score of 88.
Evan Coluccio, of Marshall, VA, piloted The Lignelli Family’s Philadelphia Story to the top of the first class in the High Performance Conformation Hunters with a score of 89. Scott Stewart and Private Life, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, received a score of 85 to win the handy round and also took home the top prize in the model.
Two blue ribbons were awarded to Scott Stewart and Gochman Sport Horses LLC’s Catch Me after the pair earned scores of 95 and 91 in the High Performance Hunters, sponsored by Antares Sellier France.
The Green Hunter 3’6” took place in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring and was held in a California split format. First place in Section A went to Jimmy Torano and Isalou, Inc.’s Laskano with a score of 90. Laena Romond, of Brookfield, CT, and Traveller, owned by Catherine Cowie, earned a score of 88 to win Section B. Scott Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Charlemagne won the Section A under saddle. Christopher Payne and Still Water Farm LLC’s Reign received the blue ribbon in the under saddle for Section B.
Geoffrey Hesslink, of Shelbourne, VT, aboard Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Trademark topped the first Performance Hunter 3’6” class for Section A with a score of 93. The Section B blue ribbon went to Hesslink and Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Small Occasion after they received a score of 92. Earning a score of 95, Hesslink and Trademark won the handy round for Section A as well. The handy round winner for Section B was Victoria Colvin, of Loxahatchee, FL, and John and Stephanie Ingram LLC’s Aristocrat with a score of 92. Colvin and John and Stephanie Ingram LLC’s Dinner at 8 won the Section A under saddle and Hesslink rode Trademark to the win in Section B.
Competition in FarmVet Ring 7 began with the Performance Hunter 3’3”, sponsored by FarmVet. The class was held in a California split format with Sandra Ferrell, of Wellington, FL, and Stephanie Bulger’s Hemingway taking top honors in the first class for Section A with a score of 91. Victoria Colvin rode Brad Wolf’s Sebastian to a score of 90 to win Section B. In the handy round, Colvin and Sebastian received a 91 to win Section A and Katherine Newman, of Wellington, FL, piloted Allwyn Court Inc.’s Dandelion to a score of 90 for the Section B victory. Colvin and Sebastian also took home top honors in the Performance Hunter 3’3” under saddle.
Molly Sewell, of Wellington, FL, rode Kimberly Dunn’s Jasper to a score of 85 to win the first Young Hunter 3’3” (7 and Under) class. Top honors in the handy round went to Tiffany Morrissey, of Wellington, FL, and Phanomen V, owned by East Wind Farms, LLC, with a score of 86. Julie Curtin, of Woodstock, GA, and Ann E Rice Ervin’s Undeniable topped the under saddle.
Competition will continue Thursday with the crowning of the champions for the Green Conformation, High Performance Conformation, Green Hunter 3’9”, High Performance Hunter, Green Hunter 3’6”, Performance Hunter 3’6”, Performance Hunter 3’3”, and the Young Hunter 3’3” (7 and Under). The $6,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m will take place on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village.