Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I Gets Florida Season Back On Track

Chris Hickey and Douglas Hilltop
Chris Hickey and Douglas Hilltop

Loxahatchee, Florida – The Florida season was in full swing this weekend with the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I, held January 8-9 at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. World Equestrian Games team member Nartan was a leader in Grand Prix competition. With rider Katherine Bateson-Chandler, the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Jane Clark won Saturday’s Grand Prix du Dressage. Sunday’s Grand Prix Special was won by Christopher Hickey and Douglas Hilltop. Hickey and Douglas have been paired since Hilltop Farm purchased the 10-year-old gelding in 2009 from Alexandra Sessler, a student of Ulla Salzgeber, with whom Hickey also trains. Douglas is a Baden Wurttemberger by Dr. Jackson. The gelding is a likely contender for the 2012 London Olympics.

The race to win a spot at the 2011 Pan American Games, scheduled to be held in Mexico in October, was also in full swing at the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I. Contenders for Pan Am teams were out in force in Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire competition with Saturday’s Prix St. Georges class was so large it was split into two. Two of the leading Prix St. Georges competitors scoring over the 70 percent mark were Faberge, ridden by JJ Tate and Robbie W, ridden by Diane Creech. Fabege and Tate were awarded the win in one of Saturday’s Prix St. Georges classes with a score of 71.842, narrowly edging out Willano, ridden by Lars Petersen and also scoring 71.842.

Robbie W and Creech took the win in Saturday’s other Prix St. Georges class with a score of 71.579. The top five in that class all scored over 70 percent. Rigo, ridden by Shawna Harding, scored 70.525 and so too did Pie, ridden by Caroline Roffman. Fourth place went to Petronius, ridden by Micaela Mabragana, and with a score 70.263 and fifth place went to Golden Choice DC, ridden by Susan Dutta, with a score of 70.00. “Robbie W came from the stallion station Blue Hors in Denmark, sponsors of the Blu Hors International Horse Sport Champions Cup at the International Horse Sport Dressage Palm Beach shows,” Creech said. She is getting training help with the horse from Petersen and said she is definitely aiming him for the upcoming Pan American Games. “Robbie W is a very exceptional gelding with an incredible mind. Being the very confident and happy boy he is, I really want him to stay this way,” Creech said. To keep him happy and sound, Creech said she has a carefully designed work schedule that includes much time for him to relax and have fun. “A horse with such talent is very rare and I am so grateful to my sponsors to have the opportunity to work with him. Every day with Robbie W is a great day!” Robbie W, winner of the second Prix St. Georges class, is an eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Doug and Louise Leatherdale, owners of Leatherdale Farms in Minnesota. He was bought from Lars Petersen and Melissa Taylor’s Legacy Farms just this past year.

JJ Tate and Faberge Photo: Sharon Packer
JJ Tate and Faberge Photo: Sharon Packer

Faberge is an eight-year-old Westfalen gelding owned by Elizabeth Guarisco-Wolf. She purchased the horse two years ago from Chris von Martels and handed the riding and training off to Tate. “We did the FEI young horse classes when he was six years old and he was National Reserve Champion for Six-Year-Old horses, behind Pikko Del Cerro,” Tate said. Tate is based in the summer at the barn of Scott and Susanne Hassler and they’ve helped her with the horse. She also gets help from Steffen Peters when he’s teaching on the East Coast. After taking a Prix St. Georges win on Saturday, Faberge and Tate competed in Sunday’s Intermediaire I and finished sixth with a score of 68.421, which, while not a win, was a good finish to Tate. “I was thrilled with ‘Fiji's’ performance on Saturday but also on Sunday. That was his first Intermediare I,” Tate said. “I was elated after finishing the Prix St. Georges test. I was on cloud nine, even before the score”.

Tate said that Faberge has “really started to come into his own, and he really felt like a real FEI horse. Everything in the test just felt like a whole new level of expression, strength and carriage. It was his best trot work to date.” The plan is to have Faberge compete in a few CDI competitions in Florida over the winter season and Tate is rather excited about that.

“I'm excited to get back into the FEI show ring, at the CDI level, and he is just a wonderful horse that I know so well having brought him up the levels myself.” Tate said she watched Petersen warm up Willano and was impressed with what she saw so it rather surprised her that she and Faberge tied with them in the score.

In adult amateur Prix St. Georges competition, Janne Rumbough and JR took another win showing that they’ll be ones to watch throughout the winter season. They also won Saturday’s Intermediaire I. The Intermediare II on Saturday was won by Sommerville Harris and Neptuno Yac. Sunday’s Intermediaire Freestyle was won by Sarah Chatfield and Pattent.
Sunday’s Intermediaire I win went to the pair of Devon Kane and Don Angelo with a score of 73.158 percent. The high score of the show went to Kane’s trainer Michelle Gibson riding Sanchez in the FEI Test for Six Year Olds with a score of 82.00 percent.

Entries, Results and show season can be found on the Wellington Classic Dressage website

Back On Track products for humans and horses are major supporters of the Dressage In Florida season at the Wellington Classic Dressage, Gold Coast and International Horse Sport Palm Beach shows. Giving back to the community which has made their business grow Back On Track products will be awarded at the CDI prize givings. Back On Track can be found on the scene at the Sho Clothes boutique, in their Wellington Shop, and on-line at the Back on Track website.




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