Owners of the newly-branded Wellington International – home to the Winter Equestrian Festival – will be pleased to know that top riders are already ringing the changes. “I think for sure for next year there will be quite a big future here as well,” said Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts. “It will be exciting to see what’s going to happen and what the plans are, and I will be happy to come back.”
Nicola ended his second full year at Winter Equestrian Festival on a high after landing victory in the $50,000 national grand prix riding his 11-year-old bay stallion, Gijs. Nicola’s jump off time of 41.42sec brought home the win ahead of runner up, Britain’s Ben Maher who finished on 43.34sec with Point Break.
Nicola acquired Gijs last year after coming back to Wellington. “He’s been having good results and he started very good, this season, and then he had a little bit of a dip, but now he feels good again. He wants to give the best of himself. He’s got a lot of blood for a big horse and he’s very quick for a big horse. He’s got a fantastic character. He’s nice to ride and he’s not ‘stallion’ at all.”
Until last year Nicola had only visited Winter Equestrian Festival for a week or so, but had never ridden at the show until he stayed for the full season last year. “It’s been very good for us – the last two years – sales wise, but also on results. This year I had a very good circuit. It’s always nice to win a national grand prix here. Hopefully, we will have a good circuit again next year.
“It’s also nice for me as a European to ride against different people and be in a different crowd here. It’s been good for me so I really want to come back.”
You may also be interested in…
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.