‘Get with the program, mom’: a motivated McNerney grabs WEF grand prix glory

  • U.S. rider Hilary McNerney won the $30,000 Pilates Rocks grand prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday afternoon, January 17, to close out competition for the week at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

    Hilary and Singuletto (AKA “Ziggy”) posted the fastest of four double clears, from a field of 48, to land the top prize.

    “After the first round I could tell that he wasn’t going to hit a jump,” she said. “Going into the jump-off, it kind of makes it more fun because it’s like, ‘Okay, he’s into this, so let’s go. Get with the program, mom.’ It motivates you even more when they jump like that for you. I think that motivated me heading into the jump-off for sure.”

    Nine combinations contested the jump-off over a shortened track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen Jr. (ECU). Hilary had her work cut out with three double clear efforts already on the board in the International Arena but, as last to go in round two, she and the big-striding 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding produced a blistering round to stop the timers in 41.274sec.

    The runner-up position went to Canadian rider Tiffany Foster aboard the 10-year-old mare Vienna for Artisan Farms, LLC with a double clear in 41.378sec.

    Just as in Saturday’s $137,000 grand prix, three female riders filled the podium with Gabriela Reutter (CHI) joining them with the 11-year-old Maharees Rock, owned by Lumiere Horses Inc, on a finishing time of 44.482sec.

    “We’re just stepping up so we might start to do some WEF Challenges and see how it goes,” said Hilary. “Maybe we’ll do some CSI4* classes with my horse Captain Cooper, who can do some of the bigger classes, so we’re just saving him right now and using Ziggy to do a little bit more of the bigger classes, which is nice. It’s my goal to do well in these kinds of classes, so I guess I have a good start.”

    Hilary bought Ziggy five years ago as a seven-year-old. She remained in Florida throughout the summer and fall in preparation for this year’s WEF, taking part in the shows hosted by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) in Wellington.

    “We usually go to Europe and Spruce Meadows so usually we travel a lot more, but I have to say those shows were perfect,” said Hilary. “I think we were smart in staying here.”

    Also in the ribbons on the final day of WEF 1 Grace Debney, who was continuing her hot streak when landing the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall Of Fame High Junior Jumper Classic, presented by Griffis Residential, aboard Boheme De La Roque. Blue ribbons also went to Kendra Gierkink (Crack Uno) for section A and Brianne Link with Cortina for section B in the $10,000 Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.

    Tessa Downey and Symbolic

    Tricolor goes to a new partnership

    On Sunday morning, Tessa Downey rode Symbolic to the tricolor ribbon in the Large Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 and under division, having taken first, second and third-place ribbons.

    The rider of Houston, TX, leases the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, by Carenzo, from owner Bella Kay and they have only shown together twice before but really caught the judge’s eye at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), taking the blue ribbon over fences on Saturday with a score of 87.

    “He is actually owned by one of my mother’s closest friends and was with Beacon Hill Show Stables before,” said Tessa. “I love his color. He is always so shiny, and he has such a great personality too!

    “I started with a pretty forward pace on Saturday. He was so good and scored double 87s,” explained Tessa. “He got an 85 [on Sunday]; he was so good in the second round. In the first round I was just a little slow, but he was still great.”

    She hopes to contest more of the Large Junior Hunter division, having also qualified for the $50,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular during WEF 6.

    Reserve champion honors in the division went to Kat Fuqua, of Atlanta, GA, with her own Grand Remo, having gained two firsts and an eighth place finish.

    The second week of the Winter Equestrian Festival features CSI3* competition on the grass Derby field at Equestrian Village and Sunday’s $137,000 Restylane grand prix CSI3*, followed by the $25,000 Hermès U25 grand prix.

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