Jan 23, 2022 – Wellington, Fla. – A total of 74 international show jumping rising talents took center stage Sunday under cloudy, grey skies at the Stadium Derby Field for the $25,000 Hermés U25 Grand Prix during Week 2 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Vying for the spot at the top of the leaderboard, the young athletes’ walked onto the field prepared to risk it all. At the end of the two-round competition, it was ultimately the Dominican Republic’s Maria Brugal and J’Adore Flamenco who came out on top.
The 13-obstacle course set by USA’s course designer Oscar Soberon proved to be challenging for the up and coming athletes, featuring a triple bar, two combination lines, a skinny wall and expectations of being completed within a tight 85-second time allowed. Riders were tested both in and out of the second of two combinations on course.. The first fence in the line, a sizable triple bar fell for numerous horse and rider pairs, making it harder to exit the later part of the line.
Of the 74 hopeful entries, it was top young show jumper, Brian Moggre (USA) who was the first of 11 entries to claim his spot in the jump-off aboard Nobel S, followed by Zoe Conter (BEL), Elli Yeager (USA), Tom Wachman (IRL), Ava De Caster (USA), Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX), Alexandra Pielet (USA), Sophia Ahearn (USA), Maria Brugal (DOM), Richard Vogel (GER), Sam Walker (CAN). The riders took to the eight-effort shortened track next, which covered every corner of the expansive Stadium Derby Field.
Proving to be more of a speed track than a technical track, the riders kicked it into high-gear in hopes of snatching the lion’s share of the prize. Of the seven nations represented in the second round, it was USA’s Moggre and Stephen Macken’s 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Nobel S who served as the pathfinders for the track. The duo did not disappoint, laying down an effortlessly clear round in a time of 48.04 seconds. Though their lead did not last long, as Conter and Natan Van ‘T Laarhof topped the leaderboard immediately following Moggre with a time of 47.62 seconds.
As the temperature dropped and the chill settled into the air, the competition began to heat up as the leaderboard saw yet another change at the top. Wachman and Lazzaro Delle Schiave took to the course with a noticeably faster pace. Coolmore Show Jumping’s 13-year-old Italian Sporthorse gelding’s expansive stride ate up the course allowing Wachman to trip the timers in just 46.19 seconds. In an attempt to top the leaderboard yet again, both Guerreiro and Pielet prioritized speed in their rounds. Though they were both quicker with times of 45.99 and 45.15 seconds, they both incurred faults in their haste to make it home taking them out of contention for the prize.
With just three remaining in the order of go, Brugal and BG Stables LLC’s 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, J’Adore Flamenco put the pressure on speeding around the course making every effort to be as fast as they were clear. Their strategy paid off taking the top spot with a time of 46.17 seconds. The last of the riders to take to the field, Sam Walker and Coralissa gave it their all, but the duo took an unlucky rail on the final fence on course leaving Brugal at the top of the pack. Wachman settled for the second place finish, while Conter’s time fended off the rest of the pack to earn her third place.
Brugal’s win with J’Adore Flamenco marked the duo’s first ever Grand Prix win. Having competed in the U25 series last year at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) taking home a third place finish in the $25,000 FEI Hermes U25 GP Series Team Event, the pair have continued to develop their relationship competing at the CSI3* level.
Competition during Week 2 of the Winter Equestrian Festival concludes Sunday afternoon with the $140,000 Hygain Feed Grand Prix CSI 3*. Week 3 of WEF will kick-off Wednesday, January 26 at 8am in the International Arena.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Maria Brugal – $25,000 Hermés U25 Grand Prix winner
On preparing for the turf:
“I know my horse now and he loves jumping on turf. He absolutely shines everywhere we go. We didn’t really train much for the turf. We schooled at home a bit and some in the sand ring. I just trust that he gets out there and though he might be a little spooky on the first day, he always feels great out here.”
On the Hermés U25 series:
“This is actually my last year being 25. Quite frankly, we had only planned on doing this show this week in the series as a kind of a warm up for us because we want to build up to some bigger classes later on. I’ve always enjoyed it a lot. For my horse last year, it was a great step up from the 1.40m level. It’s a very nice in-between and it’s quite competitive so you get a little bit of everything. You have great horses, young horses, great riders, less experienced riders, you know, so it’s quite a competitive class and I’m just really excited to see how the rest of this series goes. It’s a great series for everyone to try if you have the right horse.”
$25,000 Hermés U25 Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. J’Adore Flamenco / Maria Brugal / BG Stables LLC / DOM / 84.17 | 0 / 46.17 | 0
2. Lazzaro Delle Schiave / Tom Wachman / Coolmore Show Jumping / IRL / 82.4 | 0 / 46.19 | 0
3. Natan Van ‘T Laarhof / Zoe Conter / Stephex Stables / BEL / 83.32 | 0 / 47.62 | 0
4. Iceman De Muze / Elli Yeager / Elli Yeager / USA / 84.89 | 0 / 47.75 | 0
5. Nobel S / Brian Moggre / Stephen Macken / USA / 84.24 | 0 / 48.04 | 0
6. Carlotta 289 / Ava De Caster / Bay Winds Equestrian LLC / USA / 82.29 | 0 / 49.83 | 0
7. Coralissa / Sam Walker / Ark Partners LLC / CAN / 80.6 | 0 / 45.17 | 4
8. H5 Chacco-San / Carlos Hank Guerreiro / H5 Sport Horses / MEX / 83.65 | 0 / 45.99 | 4
9. Quick Bob / Sophia Ahearn / Esperanza Imports, LLC / USA / 80.2 | 0 / 47.74 | 4
10. Looping Luna / Richard Vogel / Andrea Sigrist Murphy / GER / 80.38 | 0 / 49.8 | 4
11. Hyperbolics / Alexandra Pielet / Co-Pielet, LLC / USA / 81.74 | 0 / 45.15 | 8