The third week of international competition during the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Wellington International started off as a winning one for Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts aboard Derby de Riverland. They topped the $62,500 Adequan® CSI4* WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 in the International Arena to highlight the NetJets sponsored week in Wellington, FL.
Philippaerts, a 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ tap for Belgium, and the 11-year-old Selle Français gelding (Kannan x l’Arc de Triomphe) topped a field of 59 over a Peter Grant (CAN) designed course. Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and 12-year-old Eddy Blue (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Chacco-Blue) owned by Kerry Anne, LLC took second, while fellow Irishman David O’Brien rounded out the podium on El Balou OLD, a 12-year-old stallion (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Balou du Rouet) owned by Chansonette Farm and Leap Year Farm.
Philippaerts took over the reins of Derby de Riverland halfway through 2023 after the mount was piloted by his younger brother Thibault, who produced the horse up the ranks. Together, Derby de Riverland and Thibault won both team gold and individual silver at the 2022 European Championships for Young Riders in Oliva, Spain.
“So far it’s been a fantastic horse for me; he had a big week last week,” said Nicola of their second-place finish in the Keyflow Feeds USA CSI3* Grand Prix during WEF 3. “He showed again today, and he feels in really good shape and likes Wellington.”
Of the competition he has faced so far this season, Nicola noted, “Always here in Wellington in the qualifiers and grand prixs, there are a lot of good riders. For me, it’s nice to come over from Europe and compete against the best in America as well as a few Europeans, and it’s a nice experience to come back here.”
Wonderstruck Dazzles in Antarès 3’3” Green Hunters
With a unique splash of color in his tail, Wellington’s own Holly Orlando and her mount Wonderstruck – Privet Farm LLC’s six-year-old Belgian Warmblood – was a standout in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring, as the gelding took top call in the Antarès 3’3” Green Hunter division to highlight professional hunter competition during WEF 3.
Producing results that gave them two firsts, a second, and a third throughout the division, Orlando and Wonderstruck made their way into the arena for their champion presentation and a celebration of the mount’s first show as a hunter.
“We imported him in November after we had seen some video and a friend of ours went to try him for us,” explained trainer Jenny Dunion. “He competed at the Young Jumper Championships in Belgium, so we watched him show live and this is his first competition in America.”