Vanderveen Lands One-Two Punch in $75,000 Voltaire Grand Prix

January 20, 2024 – Ocala, FL – Brisk temperatures and sunny skies set the stage on the first weekend of the 2024 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit as Kristen Vanderveen (USA) took the headlining win in Saturday’s $75,000 Voltaire Grand Prix. The 10-week series offers top-level hunter, jumper, and equitation competition at the HITS Post Time Farm for all levels of riders. 

Twenty-one elite combinations elected to jump the first round of Peter Grant’s (USA) course which allowed 85 seconds to complete all 16 jumping efforts. Despite best efforts, a large group of athletes had a single unfortunate rail which left only five entries eligible to return for the class’s short track. Vanderveen held the cards as she maintained the majority of the jump off field after qualifying all three of her original entries for the next round. New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley once again brought forward his mount, Brin D’or Haute Melen Z, and Devin Ryan (USA) rounded out the five-horse jump off field with longtime partner Eddie Blue. 

Kristen Vanderveen stands for presentation with representatives from Voltaire. Photo by ESI Photography
Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili. Photo by ESI Photography

With veteran mount Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, and Bull Run’s Hesed both qualified, Vanderveen elected to save her third competitor, Bull Run’s Jireh for another day and accepted the immediate fifth place honors. After a withdrawal from Wordley, the winning ride looked to once again be a head-to-head duel, this time between Vanderveen and Ryan. Quite often referred to as the queen of speed, Vanderveen proved she still had plenty left in the tank and delivered a leading round time of 41.414 seconds with the 19-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion (Berlin x Darco) she affectionately calls Frosty; however, the win would come from Bull Run Jumpers, Inc’s 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Christian 25 x Lord Z), Bull Run’s Hesed after a lightning-fast and fault-free effort in 40.186 seconds. 

“This horse is actually quite new for me and I actually had no idea he could go that fast,” Vanderveen exclaimed. “I haven’t done many jump offs with him yet so today my plan was for us to learn from each other a bit more and what a lovely surprise it turned out to be. I knew he was very brave so I could turn him quite tight, but I haven’t run him that fast and made the tight turns at the same time so I was thrilled with how he responded. It was a ton of fun.” 

While her plan for each horse varied depending upon their strengths, she felt the course overall was suited for the caliber of the event.  

“I thought the course was great,” she added. “He did a great job for the first week by still incorporating the wall and some new jumps without it being too difficult or over challenging for the first week.”

Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue. Photo by ESI Photography

Ryan and the LL Show Jumpers LLC’s 15-year-old KWPN gelding (VDL Zirocco Blue x Marlon) rounded out the event’s victory gallop with a double-clean effort in a time of 42.571 seconds. 

Concluding show jumping competition on Friday afternoon, Sharn Wordley picked up the first win in the exciting new STX Open Speed series. Holding a $15,000 Open Speed Classic weekly, the series will accumulate rider points throughout the 10-week season. The STX Open Speed Series Leading Rider Award will receive a new STX tack box at the finale of the winter circuit competition. Wordley piloted the North Face Farm’s 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Stolzenberg),Hagelin, to a quick finish just ahead of Jared Petersen and Kawir MS.

Sharn Wordley and Hagelin. Photo by ESI Photography

Concluding show jumping competition on Friday afternoon, Sharn Wordley picked up the first win in the exciting new STX Open Speed series. Holding a $15,000 Open Speed Classic weekly, the series will accumulate rider points throughout the 10-week season. The STX Open Speed Series Leading Rider Award will receive a new STX tack box at the finale of the winter circuit competition. Wordley piloted the North Face Farm’s 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Stolzenberg),Hagelin, to a quick finish just ahead of Jared Petersen and Kawir MS.