By Summer Grace for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Wellington, FL – February 16, 2022 – The 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) saw hunter riders take center stage on Wednesday, February 16, as the circuit kicked off its highly-anticipated World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week, sponsored by IDA Development. WEF 6 continues through Sunday, February 20, 2022, with top jumper, hunter, and equitation competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, while the international jumpers return to the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village for CSI3* classes.
Throughout the five days of the first WCHR week to be held at the 2022 WEF, the nation’s top hunter riders of professional, junior, and amateur status will vie for tricolor positions in their respective divisions. A champion placing in any of the recognized divisions throughout the week will earn the combination a spot in the week’s pinnacle event, the $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, held under the lights in the International Arena on Saturday, February 19, at 6:30 p.m.
A slew of the country’s best hunter professionals launched into the day’s competition in the International Arena which highlighted the Green Conformation Hunter, the Green Hunter 3’9”, the High Performance Conformation Hunter, and wrapped up with the High Performance Hunter division. Junior and amateur riders make their bid at a championship during the later part of the week.
Holly Orlando, of Wellington, FL, and James Anderson’s Adler scooped up the first blue ribbon of the day in the Hygain Feeds Green Conformation Hunter Model class. With a total of 19 horse-and-rider combinations, the division saw Frenchtown, NJ, native Jennifer Bauersachs ride to the top of the first round after receiving a score of 88 aboard Lee Kellogg Sadrian’s Augustine. Christopher Payne of Cincinnati, OH, upped the ante in the division’s handy round when he was awarded an impressive score of 90 after expertly piloting Blue Mountain, LLC’s Axel.
The Equine Tack & Nutritionals Green Hunter 3’9” division was a clean sweep for Flemington, NJ’s Scott Stewart riding Dr. Betsee Parker’s Nottingham. The well-decorated professional started off on the right foot after earning a score of 89 in the first round. He and Dr. Parker’s gelding then topped their own leading score to produce a round worthy of a 91 in the handy class.
The blue ribbons didn’t stop for Stewart in the Green Hunter 3’9” division though; he also produced double victories in the Wellington Regional Medical Center’s High Performance Conformation Hunter. Stewart was honored with the win in the first round on Dr. Betsee Parker’s Charlemagne as well as the second place with Parker’s For Always. For Always flipped the narrative in the division’s handy round and took the lead with a top score of 89. However, it was Christopher Payne and Still Water Farm LLC’s Gratitude that donned the blue ribbon in the division’s High Performance Conformation Hunter Model.
The High Performance Hunters, sponsored by Antares Sellier France, closed out the full first day of competition. John French of Wellington, FL, sported a win in the division’s first class aboard Kent Farrington LLC’s Milagro with a score of 88. Michael Britt-Leon and Kelly Sims’ Private I saved the best for last and produced the highest score of any pairing in the International Arena after earning a 92 in the High Performance Hunter Handy class.
Young professional Victoria Colvin was awarded the Champion Equine Insurance Hunter Style Award after her performance with Glade Run Farm LLC’s Queen Celeste in the Performance Hunter 3’6” handy round.