Edited Press Release
Capping off a spectacular day of equestrian sport at the 2023 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), presented by MARS Equestrian™ in Upper Marlboro, MD, Katie Dinan (USA) saved the best for last, winning the $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup presented by Experience Prince George’s. Junior phenom Maddie Tosh topped the WIHS Equitation Finals, while Tessa Downey won the Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, and Amy Krebs was victorious in the Medium Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic.
It was a full house in The Show Place Arena for the marquee event of the week, the $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup presented by Experience Prince George’s. Twenty-four elite combinations contested the first-round track designed by FEI Level 4 Course Designer Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) with assistance from Nick Granat (USA). The first clear came from the second rider in the start list, Alise Oken (USA), with Gelvera. Immediately following, Rene Dittmer (GER) and Corsica X made it a jump-off with the next clear effort. Only two rounds later, Devin Ryan (USA) and Eddie Blue also went fault-free. Darragh Kenny (IRL) with Irwin, Rowan Willis (AUS) with Blue Movie, Margie Goldstein-Engle (USA) with Dicas, and Katie Dinan with Brego R’n B all added their names to the jump-off, bringing the total to seven.
In the jump-off, Oken thrilled the crowd with a second clear performance, setting the time to beat at 36.81 seconds. That time didn’t hold up for long though as next to go, Dittmer, turned up the heat and shaved the time down to 34.40 seconds. Then it was Ryan who gave it a go, but just came up short, clocking in at 34.74 seconds. It seemed like Dittmer’s time was going to be impossible to catch, until Dinan galloped through the final timers in 33.50 seconds to thunderous cheers and applause. Dittmer finished in the runner-up spot with Corsica X, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor x Corofino II) owned by Equestrix Agency BVBA, while Ryan slotted into third, and Oken ended up in fourth.
“I think the course was very fair,” stated Cabral, who designed the courses for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Omaha 2023. “It’s a five-star, so I need 1.60m verticals and 1.52m oxers. It was nice for the riders. They had space to get to the jumps, and they had time to ride. With this jump material, it is so good and so delicate. I was counting on it. You saw very good horses and very good riders have soft four faults. To see Katie winning like that, the last to go, it’s a course designer’s dream, isn’t it? I was very happy, and it was thrilling to watch. I’m happy that the horses jumped so well.”
Dinan, who trains with Swiss Olympian Beat Mändli who also competed, discussed their plan for the jump-off after watching Dittmer’s ride. They knew Dinan would have to pull out all the stops if she wanted to win. With a little boost of excitement and some extra wings from Brego, it worked out in their favor.
While Dinan has enjoyed a lot of success in her career, her last five-star win came from Nougat Du Vallet in 2013. Now with a new star partner in Brego R’n B, she finally collected her first Longines timepiece.
“It’s hard not to love Brego,” said Dinan of the 17-year-old KWPN gelding (Namelus R x Gerlinus) owned by Grant Road Partners LLC, with whom she competed at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Leipzig 2022. “He’s a super, super horse. I’m super lucky to have him. We’ve been together for a little bit over five years. We have done a few indoor series, but this is our first five-star grand prix win together. He’s 17, and he really, really deserves it. I’m thrilled for him. In the jump-off, he showed all of his amazing qualities. He’s got huge scope, quality, bravery, intelligence, and he tries hard. You can’t really ask for more from a horse as a rider. I think he knew he won.
“He needs to warm up to you a little bit, but when he does, he is really a sweet and affectionate horse,” added Dinan, who, in addition to her equestrian pursuits, is also a graduate student at Rockefeller University in a Ph.D. program studying circadian rhythms in a genetics lab. “He’s a bit of a gentle giant. The people he knows, he’s really loving to on the ground. He’s had the same groom, Lou Beudin, since we got him five years ago and he loves her so much. They’re a really great pair. Consistency for him makes the difference.”
It was an exclamation mark on an incredible week for Dittmer who kicked things off by winning both the $78,000 Welcome Stake and the $40,000 International Jumper Accumulator class on Thursday.
“The week could not have started better and kept going,” reflected Dittmer, who is normally based in Germany and is competing in his first season in the U.S. “Today was unbelievable. I can’t be more proud of my horse. When I watched Alise, she was first to go in the jump-off, and her seven was a little short to the last and I was thinking, ‘Should I do seven?’ I caught everything quite well before, and I took the safer option. I’m still happy with my second place today. It was an amazing jump-off.
“Obviously, I really like Washington!” Dittmer continued of his triumphant debut. “It’s great to come in here because it’s such a great atmosphere. The spectators really cheer you on. It’s a super good feeling to come into this indoor. I really love it.”
Their third-place finish is just the latest in a long list of impressive accolades for Ryan and Eddie Blue who have been together since the now 14-year-old KWPN gelding (VDL Zirocco Blue x Marlon) owned by LL Show Jumpers LLC was just four.
“He was jumping great tonight,” commented Ryan, who, with Eddie Blue, was the runner-up in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Paris 2018 and was part of the gold medal winning team at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, NC. “He jumped the second round and even felt looser and even better. I’m very grateful that I have such a good animal, and he’s still going strong. Hopefully it keeps on going and he has a few more years in him at this level.”
The secret to their long-term success and consistency seems to be Ryan’s complete understanding of his star mount – and perhaps an extra carrot.
“Honestly, I have to say he’s not much of a people person,” shared Ryan. “He doesn’t like other horses. He’s a bit of a grouch in the barn, but he loves carrots. You become his best friend as soon as you walk in the stall with a carrot for him. It’s way easier. He’s quite a character. If you speak to [Dutch Olympian] Jur Vrieling, Eddie’s father, Zirocco Blue, was very much that way too. He’s been that way since he was four. He has quite an attitude.”
With such a dazzling night of competition amid an exceptional week, WIHS President Victoria Lowell was thrilled with the result.
“I couldn’t be happier,” she enthused. “I adore each and every one of these three people who placed in the top three. It was fun to see the success that they had, and it was such an exciting jump-off. I think Bernardo did an amazing job. The support that we have had at this new venue across the board is phenomenal. Everybody is getting behind this: the county, the sponsors, the local and D.C. media. They want to see the horses in this area. The venue is great for the horses, and it’s great for the sport. I think we have a good place to be for a while.”
At the conclusion of the evening, special awards were given as follows:
International Jumper Championship and the Sweet’N Low Trophy, presented by Kaneb Equine Ventures: Corsica X
Leading FEI Groom Award in Honor of Karen Golding: Carolin Kagelmann for Rene Dittmer
Leading International Jumper Owner Award, presented by Karina Brez: Grant Road Partners LLC
“Doc Steele” Spirit Award presented by M. Michael Meller: Brego R’n B
$5,000 Leading International Rider and The Margaret Chovnick Memorial Trophy: Rene Dittmer
Leading Foreign Rider Award: Rene Dittmer
Leading Lady Rider, presented by Fab Finds by Sarah: Katie Dinan
$5,000 Leading Under 25 Rider Award: Brian Moggre