Gemma W and Daniel Bluman Victorious in the $32,000 FEI 1.45m Welcome Speed, Presented by Laughlin Tanner Group at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

Daniel Bluman and Gemma W at the TerraNova Winter II 24 Welcome. Photo by EQ Media

Edited Press Release

Myakka City, Fla. – Feb. 23, 2024 – The TerraNova Winter Series features four weeks of hunter/jumper competition at TerraNova Equestrian Center, Florida’s premier equestrian destination. Each week showcases all levels of hunter/jumper competition, from elite international show jumpers and national hunters to cross rails and children’s classes.

Winter Series II highlights include: 
$5,000 Michael Saunders & Company USHJA National Hunter Derby
$32,000 FEI 1.45m Welcome Speed, Presented by Laughlin Tanner Group at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

$65,000 Howard Leasing FEI 1.45m Grand Prix
$20,000 The Estates at TerraNova 1.35m National Prix

Twenty-nine horse-and-rider pairs contested Manuel Esparza’s (MEX) Welcome Speed track of 13 jumping efforts with a time allowed of 82 seconds. Esparza, an FEI Level 3 course designer, has assisted with courses at five Olympic Games and has previously designed at TerraNova.

Esparza’s course consisted of an oxer to vertical opening line on six or seven strides with an option for an inside rollback turn to a four-stride line, a liverpool, and in and outs on the lakeside and in front of the VIP Pavilion. Riders who took tidy inside turns saved precious seconds, while a daring tight rollback around the Miakka Golf tee and golf ball resulted in a handful of rails down at fence five when riders tried to slice the skinny yellow oxer. 

Winter Series I Welcome and Grand Prix winners Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) and Otto BH (Norton d’Eole x D-Armel Van’t Kamerveld) blazed around the course in 60.77, stealing the lead from Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and Chili by 1.36 seconds. Pessoa and Chili (Consolidator x Belotte de la Vie Z), the 12-year-old Westphalian mare owned by Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC, had held the lead for eight rounds. While Derbyshire didn’t take the same inside turn to 9AB as Pessoa had, she and the Gochman Sport Horse LLC 12-year-old Zangersheide stallion saved time in other spots.

Amanda Derbyshire and Otto BH at the TerraNova Winter II 24 Welcome. Photo by EQ Media

Derbyshire held the lead until Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Gemma W crossed the timers at 58.75. The remaining five riders couldn’t catch Bluman and Gemma’s (Luidam x Britt W) time. This was the first trip out this year for Gemma W, a 13-year-old KWPN mare owned by Blue Star Investments.

“Gemma has been with us for a long time,” Bluman said. “She’s like part of our family. She felt great (today), pretty much how she left off last year. She’s a great competitor, she’s always going at speed, and today was a speedy class. I was able to take a couple of risks, and it worked out well. She felt awesome.”

Watch Daniel Bluman’s winning Welcome Speed round!

Bluman had a successful 2023 winter season in the TerraNova Hunter/Jumper series. “I think it’s a great event, it’s definitely something that fits my program well because I like to bring young horses. Since it’s at the beginning of the year, it almost acts as a preseason for some of the (higher level) horses.

“It’s a beautiful event, everyone is very kind, and Sarasota is a great town,” he said. “We come for a couple of days, I do at least three or four (shows a year), so we’re happy to be here.”

Derbyshire and her third mount of the class, Destine To Be (Diamant de Semilly x Sonora), the 8-year-old warmblood gelding co-owned by Derbyshire and David Blake, stopped the clock at 59.47. This bested her earlier time on Otto BH, earning her second place on Destine To Be and third on Otto BH. 

Amanda Derbyshire and Destine to Be at the TerraNova Winter II 24 Welcome. Photo by EQ Media

Emily Smith and Vera Vita Triumph in the $5,000 Michael Saunders & Company USHJA National Hunter Derby at TerraNova Winter Series II

Emily Smith and Vera Vita at the TerraNova Winter II 24 Derby. Photo by EQ Media

The $5,000 Michael Saunders & Company USHJA National Hunter Derby had 12 entries in the first round, and all returned for the handy round.

Derby course designers Mike Belisle and William Robertson worked together to design the Winter Series II National Derby courses. When designing for two consecutive weeks at a show, Robertson said he aims to create a new look by using different lines and areas of the rings. “(I) keep to the same philosophy,” he said regarding derby course design. “It’s modeled after traditional hunting- (they’re) out galloping, staying in a rhythm.”

The first course had 11 fences, including four high options and a two-stride combination on the judge’s line. Fence two was the first high option, a birch white oxer headed towards the in gate. The other high options were at seven, eight and ten- a white oxer, the TerraNova hedge and a vertical with gray barn standards, respectively. 

For the handy course, the same four high options were available, with additional tests added of a trot fence at fence nine followed by a hand gallop to the last.

“They trot the jump, land on the left lead and can (take) a couple of strides going away to get into the canter,” Robertson said. “They have all of this room to be handy and efficient around the hedge to show a hand gallop to the last fence and hit it a little on the angle (after showing they) can get to the hand gallop quickly.”

Emily Smith (Aiken, South Carolina) and Vera Vita (Larino x Vita Wiwa), a 9-year-old warmblood mare owned by Lorian Peralta-Ramos, won TerraNova Winter Series I’s $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Laughlin Tanner Group at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. This week, they earned a first-round score of 85 with four high options and a handy round score of 79 with three high options.

“Vera Vita handled the windy conditions really well this morning and jumped great,” Smith said. “The first round was challenging, and I was thankful my horse dealt with it so well. The handy round presented plenty of difficult options, and I felt we needed to do every option to get the score we needed to win. I was thankful to my horse for helping me out and allowing us to take every option. Vera Vita is enjoying her time at TerraNova, and we are looking forward to coming back!”

Mackenzie Suffy (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) and Lammtarra (Vagabond de la Pomme x U-Bresco Z), her own 8-year-old KWPN gelding, earned a first-round score of 80 with one high option and a handy round score of 83 with two high options.

Mackenzie Suffy and Lammtarra. Photo by EQ Media

“I thought the course rode really nice,” Suffy said. “It asked you to gallop around a little bit and use your space and keep your pace. My horse quite enjoyed it. We normally do the jumpers, and this was his first time in the hunters, being braided and in a shadbelly. He was great! It was fun to be able to open him up a little.”

Suffy showed at TerraNova last weekend during Winter Series I and in 2023 at TerraNova Hunter/Jumper 3 and 4. “The horses love (TerraNova), they’re so happy here,” Suffy said. “He likes to go hack in the field after he’s done. The jumps are gorgeous, the schooling rings are huge, and they’re just super happy. The stalls are amazing, too.”

Hugh C. Mutch (Loxahatchee, Florida) and AE Hestia (Global Express VDL x Winnie), Atlas Equine LLC’s 9-year-old KWPN mare, earned third with a first-round score of 69 and 81 in the handy.

Hugh Mutch and AE Hestia at the TerraNova Winter II Derby. Photo by Jessica Buehler

Competition continues tomorrow with the $500 FEI 1.40m Two Phase, with three more riders looking to qualify for the $65,000 Howard Leasing FEI 1.45m Grand Prix at 10 a.m. The $20,000 The Estates at TerraNova 1.35m National Prix will follow.

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