Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 16, 2020—Victoria Colvin secured her sixth $100,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular victory, and her second consecutive win in the class aboard Private Practice, on Saturday, February 15, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Colvin and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, owned by Brad Wolf, set the first-round score to beat at 90.33 early in the class, and the pair never relinquished their top spot in the two-round classic. Ultimately, they earned a second-round average score of 91.83 for a 182.16 total.
Victoria Colvin and Brad Wolf's Private Practice earned top honors in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular for a second consecutive year. Photo: Tori Bilas/USHJA
Second place with a two-round total of 178.82 went to California’s Katie Taylor and Kindred, owned by Gabrielle Sokolow. With the top 12 returning to jump the second course, a round-two average score of 90.16 moved Taylor and Kindred ahead of
of eventual third-place finisher Scott Stewart, who rode Betsee Parker’s Private Life to average scores of 89.16 and 88.66 for a 177.82 total.
As the last to return for the second round, and with high scores prevalent among the other returning competitors, Colvin knew she needed to go for it in the second round in order to maintain her frontrunner position.
“I felt like I had to go into the ring and get above an 87 or 88,” explained Colvin, 22, of Loxahatchee, Fla. “I cruised around and kept my pace. ‘Peter’ – Private Practice – is an amazing horse. He’s incredible and always a blast to ride. He’s one of my favorite horses, and this class is one of my favorites because it’s a blast to ride under the lights and in the International Arena.”
While Colvin and Private Practice are a veteran pair, Saturday marked Taylor’s first time aboard her second-place mount, Kindred.
California's Katie Taylor earned Reserve Champion honors aboard Kindred, owned by Gabrielle Sokolow. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Taylor, who qualified for the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular as the reserve champion in the 2019 West Coast Hunter Spectacular. “I got the email a few months ago that I was going to be able to come out here, and I’ve always wanted to come out and do this!
“Liz Reilly of Makoto Farms put me on this horse this morning, and I loved everything about him, so I got to show him today,” continued Taylor of the 8-year-old Warmblood gelding. “I jumped 10 single jumps this morning to feel him out. I was a little unsure about the stride, but everyone who has ridden him has given me a lot of pointers. I felt connected with him immediately. His rhythm is amazing.”
In between Rounds 1 and 2, Private Life, owned by Betsee Parker and ridden by Scott Stewart, received the Charlie Weaver Memorial Award for the highest-scoring Conformation Hunter in Round 1 with a score of 89.16.
The Mark Gregory Award, established by Susie Humes, for the best-conditioned horse in Round 1 was presented to Lafitte De Muze, owned by Cheryl Olsten and ridden by Amanda Steege.
Privet Farm LLC's Park City, groomed by Leo Guebara, was presented with the Shapley's Best Turned Out Award. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA
Park City, owned by Privet Farm, LLC and ridden by Holly Orlando received the Shapley's Best Turned Out Award, presented by Sally Stith-Burdette to groom Leo Guebara.
The WCHR Kiara Barnett Rider Style Award, donated by Davlyn and Meralex Farms, was awarded to John French. On hand to present the award was Bryan Baldwin and Tammy Williams. Created in honor of Charleston, South Carolina, equestrian and restaurateur Kiara Barnett, the style award is presented to the rider in this class who displays the American style of riding and exemplary sportsmanship outside the ring.
Bryan Baldwin (left) and Tammy Williams presented John French (right) with the WCHR Kiara Barnett Rider Style Award. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA
Riders earning champion or reserve champion in the 3'6" and higher rated WCHR hunter sections qualified for the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, with additional riders qualifying based on points if the qualified riders chose not to compete or were pre-qualified. In addition, riders also qualified based on their 2019 standings in the WCHR national awards programs.
The class, a two-round hunter classic, was scored by three panels of two judges, including Rick Fancher and Phoebe Sheets; Mary Lisa Leffler and Mark Jungherr; and Lyman Whitehead with Chris Wynne. The 12 top-scoring horse-and-rider combinations returned for a second round. Earning the highest combined score, Colvin and Private Practice were crowned winners of the WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular and took home $30,000 in prize money, the Dark Continent Perpetual Trophy courtesy of Jim Greene, and a custom WCHR jacket and a cooler. Colvin, as the winning rider, also received the Let's Dance Perpetual Trophy donated by Gene R. Mische
Other special awards presented included the week's high-score honors: Professional-Kelley Farmer and Scott Stewart, 92; Amateur-Owner, 3'6"-Kelly Tropin, 90; Amateur-Owner 3'3"-Martha Ingram, 88; Junior 3'6"-Isha Swani, 92; Junior 3'3"-Ellie Gibbs, 87. Developing Professional Geoffrey Hesslink earned the Champion Equine Insurance Trophy for her high score of 90.
Cheryl Olsten's Lafitte de Muze, ridden by Amanda Steege, was named the 2019 USHJA WCHR Hunter of the Year and was presented with the WCHR Peter Wetherill Cup on Saturday night.
Jennifer Smith was awarded the Kavar Kerr Perpetual Trophy for her commitment to the Spectacular Hunt Gala.
Additionally, over 400 guests watched the class from the International Club during the Spectacular Hunt Gala. The Gala featured a cocktail hour presented by CWD unveiling the new Mademoiselle Hunter saddle, dinner and a silent auction which raised more than $13,900. Table sales and proceeds from the silent auction 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.
Top 12 Finishers in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular:
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About the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association
The United States Hunter Jumper Association, as the official hunter/jumper affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation, is a competition-based sport organization that serves our members through educational programs, awards and recognition, communication and rules. We provide a wide array of programs for all hunter/jumper levels, and we are mindful of the well-being of our equine partners. Additionally, we are committed to preserving the history of our sport and through our Foundation we support charitable and benevolent services. Learn more at ushja.org.