Week 10 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Horseware Ireland, concluded its competition on Sunday, March 20. Richard Vogel (GER) bested 28 of the world’s most promising young show jumpers for the win in the $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Series Grand Prix Final.

The young athletes brought their A-game against Michel Vaillancourt’s (CAN) track, and 11 members of the opening field navigated their way into the jump-off. The time-allowed produced an issue for only two riders, and six riders did not advance due to a downed rail. Grace Debney (GBR) took the lead for the return and set a challenge for the remainder of the exhibitors with her time of 37.81 seconds. As the first to go however, Debney left the door open for two pairs to find a slightly-faster clear path around and settled for third place aboard the Temple Equestrian LLC’s 11-year-old Selle Francais mare Boheme De La Roque (Kannan x Quick Star).

“I knew that jumps one through four were the most important part of the course,” described 18-year-old Debney. “They appeared to be the easiest so that is where you were going to make up the time. I didn’t catch everything the way I wanted to, but I still thought I did a good job of finding the jumps out of the turn to make it smooth.

“One of our biggest goals was this series this year, and this mare is definitely one of my top horses so that is why we chose her,” continued Debney. “She is always looking to do the right thing, and sometimes I think she wants to win more than I do!”

Carlos Hank Guerriero (MEX) had one of his best rides to date aboard the H5 Sport Horses LLC’s 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding H5 Chacco San (Chacco-Blue x Sandro Boy). The 21-year-old left all of the rails untouched and sliced over the fences to overthrow Debney by mere milliseconds with a time of 37.76 seconds.

“Even now that I am participating in some of the four and five-star events, this series is still a highlight for me,” said Guerriero, who is 21 years old. “I have been competing in this series for probably six years, and it really feels like the show puts forth an effort for us young riders to step up and gain more experience at a higher level than junior or amateur classes. I didn’t have as many horses this year so I was lucky to qualify and then I decided to bring my most competitive horse today. He is careful but always wants to fight for you. I’m very happy with how it played out.”

However, the class’s winning ride would come from Germany’s Richard Vogel. Having seen where he needed to make moves for the win, Vogel piloted the Horse Management GMBH’s eight-year-old Hanoverian mare Looping Luna (Lord Fauntleroy x Calido I) over a clear round in 36.16 seconds and knocked over a second off of Guerreiro’s time.

“I think the key for the jump-off today was to just be as smooth as possible,” explained Vogel, who has a business with German team rider David Will in Frankfurt, Germany. “There wasn’t really anywhere you could get a good gallop because there were a lot of turns and angles. I saw Grace go, and I knew I had better give it my all because she was going to be hard to beat.”

While Vogel won the final grand prix, he also took home top honors for the entire series, which encompassed events over five different weeks of the WEF circuit. The victory felt extra sweet for Vogel who, at the age of 24 years old, is in his final year of eligibility for the Under 25 series.

“I think this series is amazing for us younger riders to be able to compete between ourselves,” stated Vogel. “From the beginning of the season I was very focused on this tour. I had three horses for this series, and my plan was to use the horse that was most suited to the venue we were competing in.”

Final Results: $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Final

1. LOOPING LUNA: 2014 Hannoverian mare by Lord Fauntleroy x Calido I)
RICHARD VOGEL (GER), Horse Management GMBH: 0/0/36.16

2. H5 CHACCO SAN: 2011 Hannoverian gelding by Chacco-Blue x Sandro Boy)
CARLOS HANK GUERREIRO (MEX), H5 Sport Horses LLC: 0/0/37.76

3. BOHEME DE LA ROQUE: 2011 Selle Francais mare by Kannan x Quick Star
GRACE DEBNEY (GBR), Temple Equestrian LLC: 0/0/37.81

4. ELCO VAN HOF TER NAILLEN: 2010 SBS gelding by Elvis Ter Putte x Toulon
SARA TINDALE (CAN), Tindale Farms: 0/0/40.13

5. LUKAKU VD BISSCHOP: 2011 BWP gelding by Plot Blue x Celsa vd Dreef
LEXI RAY (CAN), Lexi Ray: 0/0/43.99