Lexington, Kentucky—Feb. 11, 2020—As the 2020 World Championship Hunter Rider Week at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Week 6) kicks off, the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association is pleased to announce Lafitte de Muze as the 2019 WCHR Hunter of the Year, which will be presented to owner Cheryl Olsten during the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular on Saturday, February 15.
"I am over the moon and I feel so honored," said Olsten upon receiving the news. "I have owned many horses in my lifetime, none like Lafitte. If there was a horse that looks like he wants to talk to you, it’s Lafitte. He’s inspired me to write a children’s book, and more importantly donate the lion share of his prize monies to the EQUUS Foundation. I know if Lafitte knew his prize monies were going to help horses in need, he would feel proud too. Thank you to the committee for such an honor."
Since October 2011, the USHJA has honored the life and legacy of a well-known and respected horseman by recognizing a current equine athlete that exemplifies the qualities of a top class show hunter. This prestigious title is awarded each year to the WCHR Hunter of the Year and its signature trophy, the Peter Wetherill Cup is presented in tribute to its namesake.
A highly accomplished horseman, Wetherill is known for his many victories aboard iconic horses such as Junior league, desert storm, and Hudson. Wetherill, who passed away in February 2010, is also fondly remembered as an exemplary owner and an equestrian community advocate who supported the WCHR’s philanthropic endeavors from the start.
Known around the barn as Lafitte, the imported Belgian Warmblood gelding debuted in the Hunters in 2018 and went on to win the $500,000 Diamond Mill Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties, the $50,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, and championship honors in the 3’6” Greens at the National Horse Show, all with rider Amanda Steege. Their success continued in 2019 when the pair won the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic, placed second in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, and was third in the 3'6"/3'9" Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship. Lafitte becomes the ninth horse to be awarded this honor.
At the beginning of the 2020 $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, owner Cheryl Olsten will be presented with the 2019 Peter Wetherill Cup. The winner of this award is based on WCHR member nominations and selected by the WCHR Peter Wetherill Cup Selection Committee.
Spectators of the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular may purchase tables and individual seats to watch the class from the International Club, where they can enjoy a cocktail hour, dinner and a silent auction as part of the Spectacular Hunt Gala. The cocktail hour is presented by CWD to unveil their new Mademoiselle Hunter saddle. Table sales provide support to the WCHR program, which supports the future and growth of the Hunter discipline, while preserving the sport's tradition and protecting horse welfare. Tables and tickets may be purchased at ushja.org/wchrspectacular. Additionally this year, WCHR Week features an online silent auction to support the WCHR program at ushja.org/wchrauction. Bidding runs through 11:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The Spectacular will be livestreamed via pbiec.coth.com. Opening ceremonies will begin at approximately 6 p.m. with the first horse on course at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, February 15, 2020. For more information about the WCHR Program, visit ushja.org/wchr.
Photos: Jump Media and Tricia Booker for USHJA