The second week of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded on Sunday with young riders taking the spotlight in the International Arena, followed by the $35,000 Suncast® Championship Classic. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and Unbelievable 5, owned by Windward Farm and Jessica Siuda, renewed their winning partnership. Victoria Colvin, 18, jumped to victory in the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Equine Couture/TuffRider, aboard Zidane for Springfield Showjumpers. In the hunter ring, McKayla Langmeier rode Quatrain for Laura Critz.

The Winter Equestrian Festival continues on January 27 with a week of CSI 3* competition sponsored by Adequan® and highlighted by the $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix during “Saturday Night Lights” on January 30.

There were 10 clear rounds out of 54 entries in the $35,000 Suncast® Championship Classic, and they traveled a course designed by Catsy Cruz (MEX). Michaels-Beerbaum and Unbelievable 5, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Manhattan x Democraat, posted the fastest time of 34 seconds flat. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Check Picobello Z, owned by Artisan Farms LLC and Torrey Pines, were just behind in the standings when they set the pace in 34.64 seconds. Third place went to Chloe Reid (USA) on Codarco in a time of 34.81 seconds. Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Sam du Challois, owned by Ronnocco Jump, Ltd. And Jean-Claude Jobin, were fourth in 35.03 seconds, while Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) rode David Gochman’s Cannavaro BH to fifth place in 35.08 seconds.

Michaels-Beerbaum watched Lamaze in the jump-off and saw him leave a stride out from jumps one to two. “I didn’t even try for that; that was too extreme,” she revealed. “I just tried to ride the track how I knew he could do it. I really cut to number three and then I was really short everywhere else. I slowed down a little bit to the last (jump). There was possibly one less stride there that I might have tried had we been in better form together, but it wasn’t necessary in the end.”

Getting back into form was the goal for Michaels-Beerbaum, who explained the Unbelievable 5 is just back into the main ring after a two-year absence due to injury. The pair was successful at top shows in Europe in 2013 before he was sidelined. Last summer, Unbelievable 5 returned to showing locally with another rider, and Michaels-Beerbaum started back with him in the fall.

“This is his first big win, but also (his first) big track again. It took a long time after an almost two year break to get him going again. This is really nice for him that he showed his form again and was as good as ever. It was nice for the owners because they spent a lot of time and had a lot of patience,” she shared. “A lot of people would have given up on the horse and would have thought he wouldn’t make it back, but they really gave it the time and proper veterinary care to bring him back in the sport. This is really quite a nice win for him.”

While it was the first time that Michaels-Beerbaum could push for speed in a jump-off, she felt very comfortable doing so due to her previous relationship with him. “I know the horse very, very well. He had some outstanding results at 1.60m grand prix. I know he’s very, very fast. Until now I’ve only gone slow with him, so this was the first fast round, but I did feel very comfortable knowing him. He’s like an old partner of mine. The speed part wasn’t an issue. But it is the first time he’s gone fast in over two years! It all came together really nicely. He likes going fast. He’s at his most comfortable going fast.”

Michaels-Beerbaum was happy to start out the 2016 WEF circuit with a win. She remarked, “It’s very difficult to win here. If you win anything here, it’s extraordinary. It’s a great way to start. My greatest pleasure is that this great horse that has had a rough go is back in form and back in the sport. It’s really quite nice.”

Victoria Colvin Claims Victory in $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix
Victoria Colvin (USA) topped a starting field of 63 to produce the fastest double-clear effort in 43.06 seconds over seven jump-off contenders. Katherine Strauss (USA), 17, who won Saturday’s Artisan Farms U25 Welcome Stake took second aboard her own All In and posted a time of 43.42 seconds. Madison Goetzmann (USA), 15, rode her own Wrigley to round out the top five with a four-fault jump-off round in 41.24 seconds.

Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (MEX) took fourth with Tino La Chapelle for Alejandro Zendejas on four faults in 42.50 seconds, while Nicole Bellissimo (USA) and Harley David capped the top five on four in 42.50 seconds for Bellissimo, LLC.

Colvin (left), who has competed in the U25 Grand Prix Series twice in previous years, got the ride on Zidane only a few weeks ago and produced a win in the third class together.

“He’s a joy to ride,” she said. “He jumped fantastic today – he’s like a hunter, which I love. You just let go, squeeze and float around the course. He has a huge stride, so if you ever have a short line, you just leave out.”

Zidane’s stride played to Colvin’s advantage as she approached the last fence of the jump-off, an oxer approaching the in-gate. She was the final rider on course after Strauss produced a quick, clear round right before her.

“I knew Tori was going after me and she’s a very fast rider, but I saw a lot of people have the last one down, so I took my time and Tori didn’t,” said Strauss.

Colvin produced just the right amount of speed from Zidane and stole the win from Strauss with only fractions of a second to spare.

“Yesterday’s win was a confidence boost, but this is a very humbling sport and anything can happen,” continued Strauss. “I just wanted to put myself in a good position for the rest of the Series, and I couldn’t have asked for more from my horse day.”

Top finishers agreed that the tracks set by Course Designer Catsy Cruz of Mexico were a good challenge.

“She really tested the rider’s ability to be within the time allowed, but do the correct number of strides,” said third-place rider Goetzmann. “I think maybe I was a little too eager today and that’s why I had a rail. It’s my first year being eligible for this division, and I was very excited to compete. It’s a great way to develop us younger riders to make the transition into the bigger classes.”

Class sponsors Carlene Ziegler, owner of Artisan Farms, Missy Sage from The Dutta Corp, and Timmy and Laurie Sharma, owners of Equine Couture and TuffRider, were on hand to present winner’s prizes to the top three riders and were honored to watch the future of show jumping compete.
“We are honored to be a part of this transition period for them and it’s a perfect market for us – these are the riders we design and manufacture for,” said Laurie Sharma.

“This is our second year sponsoring this series and while it’s exciting to see returning faces, there are a lot of new riders, which makes it a very dynamic division that’s always changing,” continued Timmy Sharma.

Colvin hopes to continue riding Zidane in U25 competition, which continues with the Team Event during WEF Week 4 in the Global International Ring at The Stadium at PBIEC.

“I want to thank everyone who contributes to this division,” said Colvin. “It’s a great opportunity for young riders, and I’m excited that I have this horse to show in it.”

Presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, the Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series (AFU25GPS) returns to the Winter Equestrian Festival for its sixth season this year. Throughout the circuit, the series offers a total of $170,000 in prize money while showcasing top young talent in show jumping sport. Open to competitors of all nationalities aged 25 and under, the AFU25GPS is sanctioned by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), giving many riders their first experience competing at the 1.45m level under FEI rules.

$35,000 Suncast® Classic
1 UNBELIEVABLE 5: 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Manhattan x Democraat
MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Windward Farm & Jessica Siuda: 0/0/34.00

2 CHECK PICOBELLO Z: 2006 Zangersheide gelding by Cardento x Only Picobello Z
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farm, LLC & Torrey Pines: 0/0/34.64

3 CODARCO: 2007 irish Sport Horse gelding by Darco x Orame
CHLOE REID (USA), Chloe D Reid, LLC: 0/0/34.81

4 SAM DU CHALLOIS: 2006 Selle Francais stalliong by Quaprice Boimargot Quincy x Adam IV*De Cote D’or
CIAN O’CONNOR (IRL), Ronnocco Jump, Ltd. & Jean-Claude Jobin: 0/0/35.03

5 CANNAVARO BH: 2006 Swedeish Warmblood gelding by Cardento x Esprita
AMANDA DERBYSHIRE (GBR), David Gochman: 0/0/35.08

6 LUDWIG’S JOKER B: 2005 Oldenburg gelding by Ludwig Von Bayern x Fierant XX
SAYRE HAPPY (USA), HC Sport Horses: 0/0/37.79

7 NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif d’Elle x Saphire d’Elle
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners, LLC: 0/0/38.53

8 WINN WINN: 2003 Anglo European mare by Chin Chin x Wagenaar
ANDREW RAMSAY (USA), The Winn Winn Group: 0/4/3.75

9 CALIFA LS: 2003 Selle Francais stalliong by Carthago x Lux Z
MARK BLUMAN (COL), Stranky’s Mission Farms, Inc.: 0/4/34.08

10 HERA VAN DE KOUTERHOEVE: 2007 Belgium Warmblood mare by Dawson Vande Padenborre x Wisconsin Van De Cruyenvelda
ERYNN BALLARD (CAN), Angelstone Partners: 0/8/37.04

11 PISTOYA: 2003 Selle Francais mare by Dollar du Murier SF x Cor de la Bryere
NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO (USA), Turnabout Farm, Inc.: 1/74.01

12 LADRIANO Z: 2008 Zangersheide gelding by Lawito x Baloubet Du Rouet
ILAN BLUMAN (COL), Blue Star Investments: 1/75.21

$25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix
1 ZIDANE: 2004 Dutch Warmblood gleding by Sam R x Calvados
VICTORIA COLVIN (USA), Springfield Showjumpers: 0/0/43.06

2 ALL IN: 2005 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Aachen x Indoctro
KATHERINE STRAUSS (USA), Katherine Strauss, LLC: 0/0/43.42

3 WRIGLEY: 2003 Dutch Warmblood mare by Faj van der Burg x Burggraaf
MADISON GOETZMANN (USA), Madison Goetzmann: 0/4/41.24

JUAN JOSE ZENDEJAS SALGADO (MEX), Alejandro Zendejas: 0/4/42.50

5 HARLEY DAVID: 2007 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Harley VDL x Randel Z Hann
NICOLE BELLISSIMO (USA), Bellissimo, LLC: 0/4/44.34

6 ZIDANTE: 2004 Dutch Warmblood mare by Cantos x Herannus
KELLI CRUCIOTTI (USA), Serenity Equestrian Ventures: 0/4/45.11

7 JUANITA: 2004 Dutch Warmblood mare by Sonique x Ferro
TINA DI LANDRI (USA), Highpoint Farm, LLC: 0/9/48.67

8 HEROS DE PAPIGNES Z: 2004 Zangersheide gelding by Heartbreaker
JUAN JOSE ZENDEJAS SALGADO (MEX), Alejandro Zendejas: 1/74.55

9 VITESSE: 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Krunch de Breve x Jeraldo
HILARY MCNERNEY (USA), Hilary McNerney: 1/76.40

10 QUIDAM MB: 2005 Oldenburg gelding by Quidam’s Rubin x Argentinus
ADRIENNE STERNLICHT (USA), Starlight Farms, LLC: 1/76.42

11 COLORLAND’S CHEYENNE: 2006 Hanoverian mare by Coupe de Couer x Landfriese II
JENNY RANKIN (IRL), Carl Handley: 1/77.99

12 MAN IN BLACK: 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Gentleman x Calvados
ANDRE MERSHAD (USA), Mershad Stables, LLC: 2/78.04