Paul Halpern and Esra Win Wilmington’s $10,000 Welcome Stake

Paul Halpern and Esra. Photo by Winslow Photography

Edited Press Release

Wilmington, OHIO – The Winter Classic 5 kicked off Thursday afternoon with ten competitive entries vying for a win in the World Equestrian Center – Wilmington $10,000 Welcome Stake 1.35m. Today’s course was designed by Anderson Lima (BRA), which featured several rollbacks and long, galloping distances. Nine pairs marked clear first rounds to advance directly to the jump-off, with only five teams jumping double-clear. Ringing in 2022 with a Welcome Stake win was Paul Halpern and Vanessa Lee’s Esra (Bratt Z x Ulibra) of Canada. The 10-year-old AHHA mare competed beautifully, remaining smooth, quick and careful throughout both rounds. 

Halpern and Esra were first on the course and set a competitive pace which no other competitors managed to beat. The pair jumped a clear first-round in a time of 70.560 seconds, well under the time allowed of 79 seconds. Halpern and the scopey brown mare then took to the short course, galloping through the jump-off timers at a quick 36.461 seconds for the win.

“I’ve been with this mare for most of her life. We started competing with her as a five-year-old and I think the world of her,” Halpern said. “This is her first horse show since June because I broke my leg this summer. You would not know, as she is in top form and is acting as if she never took a break. Although the crowd is smaller this week, there are still many fast riders. I’m always a little nervous because it’s not over until it’s over. However, everything came up nice for us today and she gave me everything.” 

Second place finishers: Kevin McCarthy and Catch a Star HSS. Photo by Winslow Photography

Kevin McCarthy of K&K Sporthorses in Lexington, Kentucky, and his own Catch a Star HSS (Sheraton x Tolinda) delivered their usual high-speed performance, just missing the first place mark by under one second. The lovely and daring 12-year-old Sweedish Warmblood mare gave it her all and the pair finished the first round in only 69.855 seconds. During the jump-off, the always competitive McCarthy and Catch a Star HSS stopped the clock at 37.494 seconds for a red ribbon finish.

It was a third place finish for Vegas H and David Beisel. Photo by Winslow Photography

Rounding out the top three was David Beisel of David Beisel Stables in Goshen, Ohio, and his own Vegas H (Valentino x Cobrah). This popular team delivered a clean and clear first-round finish in 72.846 seconds. During their jump-off effort, Beisel and the 9-year-old bay Warmblood gelding crossed the timers in 38.234 seconds for third place honors. 

$10,000 Welcome Results:

  1. Esra, Paul Halpern: 0 | 0 | 36.461 
  2. Catch a Star HSS, Kevin McCarthy: 0 | 0 | 37.494
  3. Vegas H, David Q. Beisel: 0 | 0 | 37.494
  4. Tinka’s Soldier, Chloe Parker: 0 | 0 | 38.403
  5. Gallup, Sarah R. Meier: 0 | 0 | 39.494
  6. ERP van, Katia Manuel-Adams: 0 | 4 | 35.819
  7. Clarence NT, Mikayla Sancho: 0 | 4 | 40.867
  8. Matinee BSH, Shawn Butler: 0 | 8 | 40.638
  9. Cumbaya W, Darby Pease: 0 | 16 | 59.935
  10. First Finch, Logan Taylor: 4 | 71.487