Edited Press Release
Wilmington, OH – Spectators and exhibitors congregated at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington on Saturday afternoon to watch top-level athletes challenge the $50,000 WEC Grand Prix. Renowned course designer, Bobby Murphy (USA) crafted the grand prix tracks for 19 top-level starters. Ultimately, young professional Darby Pease (USA) prevailed, securing her first ever grand prix victory aboard Carel Van Donderen (Acolino x Terania Die Hoeghte).
Of the 19 horse-and-rider combinations, an even eight managed to jump clean in the first round and five yielded a double clean effort.
Sean Jobin (CAN) and Foxridge Farms Stables’ Cuba Libre V (Cornet Obolensky x Grace) were the first pair to return to the jump-off but fell victim to an unfortunate rail at the R+L vertical.
Natalie Thornell and Loveland Equine Investment’s Snow White (Clinton x Jung Laguna) followed Jobin. Thornell and the 13-year-old Westphalian mare soared through the jump-off course, taking tidy inside turns to stop the clock at 37.892 seconds, which ultimately earned the pair third place.
Nicole Lootchan and her own Goblin (Baltic VDL x Catascha Z) entered the Sanctuary Arena next, producing an efficient jump-off in 38.652 seconds which landed the pair in fourth place.
Fourth to return was Cassandra Orpen and Ultimately Cooley (O.B.O.S Quality x Tiamo Diamant), but the pair had an unfortunate rail. Hillary Johnson and her own Eastpoint (Cardento x Jorlanda) managed to find a clear round in 40.648 seconds, which resulted in the fifth place.
Kady Abrahamson and Abrahamson Equestrian LLC’s Maraca LS LA Silla (Quintero LA Silla x Marimba La Silla) also incurred an unfortunate rail, but had a quick time of 37.253 seconds, for a seventh place finish.
Santiago Lambre (BRA) and his own Cetano Van Aspergem Z (Altamira Z x Clinton) were the second-to-last pair to return for jump-off. Lambre and the 13-year-old Zangershiede gelding soared around the course, flying across the ground and clearing the fences in 36.715 seconds.
Victory seemed to be sealed, until Darby Pease and Carel Van Donderen entered the arena. Pease and the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding took off at the sound of the buzzard.
“I had one simple plan, go as fast as I possibly could and hope my horse wouldn’t knock any jumps down in the process,” laughed Pease. “I did have an advantage to the R+L vertical. It walked an eight in the first round, but Carel has a bit of a left drift, so I rode the seven initially. So, in the jump-off I knew exactly how the seven rode and it came up perfectly.”
The pair flew through the remainder of the course, not tipping a single rail to stop the jump-off clock at 34.553 seconds.
“I am still in shock. While I was riding the short course all I thought to myself was ‘go faster and don’t touch the reins.’ There were so many talented riders tonight, so I knew winning was going to be a longshot, but that wasn’t going to stop be from trying. It also means so much to have my first grand prix victory at WEC. I have been showing here for three or four years now, and I barley go anywhere else. The staff, TJ and everyone here has become a second family to me, so it means so much to take my first big victory here.”
Carel Van Donderen is a new partner for Pease. “I have been riding Carel since February. We originally bought him to be a lease horse, but we found that he was a bit quirky in the schooling ring and at that point I had already fallen in love with him,” she said. “My grandmother ended up buying him for me and I have been showing him ever since.”
$50,000 WEC Grand Prix Results:
1 Carel Van Donderen, Darby Pease (USA), Louisa Robb: 0 | 0 | 34.553
2 Cetano Van Aspergem Z, Santiago Lambre (BRA), Santiago Lambre: 0 | 0 | 36.715
3 Snow White, Natalie Thornell (USA), Loveland Equine Investments: 0 | 0 | 37.893
4 Goblin, Nicole Loochtan (USA) Nicole Loochtan: 0 | 0 | 38.652
5 Eastpoint, Hillary Johnson (USA), Hillary Johnson: 0 | 0 | 40.648
6 Cuba Libre V, Sean Jobin (CAN), Foxridge Farms Stables: 0 | 4 | 36.771
7 Maraca LS LA Silla, Kady Abrahamson (USA), Abrahamson Equestrian LLC: 0 | 4 | 37.253
8 Ultimately Cooley, Cassandra Orpen Orpen Horses: 0 | 4 | 39.229
9 The Diamant Rose Z, Santiago Lambre (BRA), Saniago Lambre: 4 | 68.610
10 G-Star, Loic Cannaert, Orpen Horses: 4 | 72.401