By Emily Randolph/Randolph PR
Las Vegas, NV – The nine-month-long Markel Insurance Jumper Series culminated in a win in the $41,000 Markel Insurance 1.45m Jumper Series Final for Hillary Ridland and Wonder Kid on Thursday, November 18, at the Las Vegas National CSI4*-W, held at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa.
Following 15 qualifying events throughout the year at Blenheim EquiSports in San Juan Capistrano, CA, the win in the grand finale and the series’ Leading Lady Rider title all came down to Ridland and Wonder Kid as the last horse and rider in Thursday’s jump-off.
In order to earn the class win, Ridland and Wonder Kid needed to produce a clear round, and in order to earn the Leading Lady Rider title, Ridland needed to win. With a clear round in 41.493 seconds, Ridland successfully accomplished both.
Second place went to Trent McGee, who finished with four faults in the jump-off and a time of 36.087 seconds aboard his own Boucherom. Rounding out the top three with four faults in the jump-off and a time of 38.78 seconds were Luis Sabino and Biloba des Chaines, owned by Sigma Stables LLC.
“It’s a really, really cool class to win!” said Ridland, who has ridden Wonder Kid for owner Mary Frances Looke for the past four years. “We got [Wonder Kid] as a 6-year-old, and Mary Frances Looke has let me take my time with him. This is what our goal was this year, so it’s really fun to finish up achieving it.”
For the victory, Ridland was presented with a Solea Equestrian Boutique custom show coat, a Flexi Equine Tack Locker, a Horseware Ireland blanket, a Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths gift certificate and ornament, and an Ogilvy saddle pad, provided by Tack of the Town.
Coming into Thursday, Ridland and Wonder Kid had contested several of the Markel Insurance Jumper Series events early in the season and mid-summer, including at the Showpark Summer Classic where they topped the $25,000 1.45m Silver Tour Markel Insurance Grand Prix.
“We did them predominately at the beginning of the year, lightly in the summer, and then we backed off on him; we sort of rested him just for this,” said Ridland of the strategy leading into Thursday with the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. “He was great today. I trust that horse. No matter what distance I put him at, he tries super hard.”
With their success throughout the season and on Thursday, Ridland concluded the series with 89 points, enough to take the Leading Lady Rider of the Series award.
For the honor, Ridland received a check for $2,850, representing 50% of money added back to the final purse from each entry fee throughout the qualifying season.
“I knew there was a possibility that I could be Leading Lady Rider, but my real focus was on winning the class; that was my goal all year long,” said Ridland. “The Leading Lady Rider award is a great bonus!”
The top spot in the series standings and the Leading Gentleman of the Series award went to Jason McArdle, who finished the year with 105 points.
“It’s nice that they reward consistency, and that they added a riders’ bonus this year is really, really nice,” said McArdle, who was also presented with a check for $2,850. “The sponsorship that Markel does for this series is much needed and much appreciated.”
The Markel Insurance Jumper Series serves as an important stepping stone for both young riders and young grand prix horses along their pathway to success, with more than 80 riders participating in the series’ events throughout the season. The program is made possible by Markel Insurance and Lisa Seger Insurance, as their support has allowed Blenheim EquiSports to take the series from concept to reality.
For complete results from the $41,000 Markel Insurance 1.45m Jumper Series Final, click here.