Hunter rider Amanda Steege rode Cheryl Olsten’s Lafitte De Muze to scoop the $50,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular during Saturday Night Lights at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
33 hunter riders took their turn over the 12-element track designed by Andy Christiansen.
Six judges split into three panels oversaw the class; the first panel comprised Mary Lisa Leffler and Chris Wynne, panel two Rachel Kennedy and Sissy Wickes, and the final panel was Tom Brennan and Mark Jungherr.
Lafitte De Muze — a 10-year-old by Darco — was in third place going into the second round with a score of 88.91. The top 12 riders who returned for the second round comprised 10 professionals and two junior riders.
Tenth to come back in the ring, Amanda and the Belgian warmblood scored 88.83, which put the pair at the top of the leaderboard with an overall total of 177.74.
“My plan for round one was to just go as smoothly as I could and show off some galloping,” said Amanda. “I can trust that he’s going to jump with style so I was just trying to do my job the best way that I could.
“For the second round, I rode a different plan than the one we had decided when we walked it. Liza [Boyd] and I walked together with a few others, and we were not planning on doing some of the inside slices that we did.
“As we were watching, and people started doing tighter turns and judges seemed to reward that, I actually phoned a friend. I called Tom Wright who was sitting in the stands, literally as I was at the gate, and he helped me formulate a plan that he thought would be the best for Lafitte. I was happy that I was able to make it work.”
Elizabeth Towell-Boyd and Gigi Manigault’s Walk-Off finished the first round in 10th place and then received the highest second round score of 91 to finish in second overall.
Riders taking part in the Great Charity Challenge at the Winter Equestrian Festival took fancy dress to the next level
“My horse is honoured to be second to a horse like Laffite,” said Elizabeth. “During the second round I was in 10th place, and I thought, ‘We’ll just go for it,’ and he really stepped up to the plate. He really proved to me that he’s a derby horse in the making.”
Third place went to Geoffrey Hesslink and Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Bond, while taking fourth spot was Grace Debney aboard Temple Equestrian LLC’s Quimby.
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