Eighteen-year-old Ansgar Holtgers Jr (USA) could not be caught in the $25,000 Hermès Championship Jumper Classic on Saturday of opening week at the 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). He and Tulum, a fifteen-year-old stallion (Chacco Blue x Captain Paul I), owned by Gut Einhaus, bested a six-horse jump-off designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA) to take the first victory of the Hermès 1.50m Championship Jumper Series.
Holtgers Jr and Tulum made an inside turn from the second fence on course look easy as they jumped the short course in a clear 37.80 seconds for the win. After adding Tulum to his string in 2022 from previous rider Vladimir Tuganov (RUS, Holtgers Jr has learned the stallion’s winning strengths. “He’s a quick horse naturally. When I saw the jump-off – especially that first inside turn – I figured it would be pretty easy for me to do because before you even think about the turn, he’s ready for it,” said Holtgers Jr.
Boys Are Back in Battle of the Sexes
The first “Saturday Night Lights” event of 2024 started off with a repeat win for the men’s team in the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center. The crowd-favorite event highlighted Premiere Week of the 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), which runs through March 31 at Wellington International.
The men have now buoyed their win tally in the Battle of the Sexes to four in the event’s 14-year history with two wins in a row. The winning team on Saturday evening was led by captain Charlie Jayne, and also included James Billington, Christian Coyle, Jordan Coyle, Luis Larrazabal, Simon McCarthy, Sohnke Theymann, and Michael Tokaruk.
The women’s team for Battle of the Sexes consisted of team captain Nicole Jayne, Carly Anthony, Taylor Land, Kelly Soleau-Millar, Samantha Alexis Mackenzie, Abigail McArdle, Audrey Schulze, and Elin Uppling.
The final phase was a match race where riders competed at the same time over a course that mirrored itself in the ring. Three points for each race won were up for grabs, and the fate of the evening was decided in the third round when McCarthy beat out Mackenzie. The final score was 28 to 11 in the men’s favor.
“My original plan was to go smooth and fast, but that went all out the window when I almost missed the first jump and was sitting in a chair seat over the fence,” said McCarthy of the start to his winning match-race on Mr. Earl, owned by McCarthy’s student Bobby Malmrose. “When that happened, speed came to mind and I tried to go as fast as I could. When I heard Samatha had one fence down, I knew that I could take the win as long as I finished the course.”
Blythe Goguen Tests to the Top in Ariat Adult Medal
The Ariat Adult Medal took place on Saturday to kick off the WEF 2024 adult equitation season. Thirty-two riders entered the class with a goal of breaking into the top six to return for testing. Of those six returning riders, Blythe Goguen of Lexington, KY and her own Common Sense took the top prize.
As the test began with riders returning in reverse order, Goguen sat in second with a first-round score of 85. The test consisted of an immediate hand-gallop to the first fence, a trot fence, halt, and counter canter to the final obstacle.
“I really liked the test today. I thought there was a lot of room across the ring to really go for it. I knew I had to give it my all and try to move up to that top spot,” said Goguen. She did just that with the help of her mount Common Sense, an eighteen-year-old equitation veteran that has been in her string for several years.
“I’ve had him for two years. We did the equitation together when I was still a junior, and now we’re just starting the adult equitation together and he’s been perfect. He’s great in tests like this so I was excited to go in and perform with him,” explained Goguen.