The highly-anticipated 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season debuted this week at Wellington International. Germany’s Richard Vogel launched into the new year with a victory in the $35,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Premiere Round on Thursday. All eyes were on Vogel and his mount, Codex 28, as the pair stormed to victory over 11 other jump-off contenders.

A total of thirty-one entries jumped course designer Eric Hasbrouck’s (USA) first round. Of the twelve pairs that advanced to the tie-breaking round, eight were double clear. Vogel and Codex 28 (Contendros 2 x Espri) were the ones to beat, and they showed off an effortless and speedy final round finishing a quarter of a second ahead of two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward and Catoki. (The only Canadian entry in the class of 31, Erynn Ballard Ilan Ferder’s riding Deesse de la Sure, placed 14th)

Vogel and Codex 28, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Sportpferde Herbert, have a dynamic history together as the pair began their journey when the talented gelding was five years old. After competing for a time at the national level with its owner, Codex 28 is now back under the direction of Vogel and is pointed towards lofty goals. Vogel said that the athletic mount has to be one of his most “promising horses for the future.”

He continued, “[Codex] is very sensitive which is good to have in a horse. He’s careful and is always focused. It’s a special horse and I’m glad I have him.”

Vogel went on to describe their partnership and what draws him to this type of horse saying, “I like when you have to be patient with them and need to think about each step before you actually do it. It’s more complicated for the rider but it’s a good mission.”

After pocketing three international wins during WEF 2022, including the Under 25 Final, 25-year-old Vogel is gearing up for another promising season in Wellington. “I have to say I really looked forward to coming back,” he said. “It’s a really nice lifestyle here and it’s super for the horses. At the show, there are plenty of opportunities to bring them in the ring and allow them to grow in bigger sport. I try to have them all sound, healthy and happy and the rest comes by itself.”

$35,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Premier Round

1. Richard Vogel (GER) & Codex 28
2. McLain Ward (USA) & Catoki
3. Catherine Pasmore (USA) & Curious Friday
4. Jimmy Torano (USA) & Kochio Z
5. Ali Wolff (USA) & HH N-Joy

Full results here.

Watch livestreams from all rings here.