Wellington, Fla. – April 3, 2022 – The final week of competition at the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival reached its pinnacle on Sunday afternoon with the highly anticipated $50,000 CaptiveOne 1.50m National Grand Prix. The featured class and prestigious line-up drew an impressive number of spectators and competitors alike, as elite horses and athletes took to the international ring to compete for top honors in the final Grand Prix of the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The lineup consisted of 53 highly decorated combinations representing sixteen different countries. Only six riders advanced to the nail-biting jump-off. It was ultimately Nicola Philippaerts and Gijs, however, who took the coveted blue ribbon.
The track was fit for the occasion. The demanding 13-obstacle course, designed by the United States’ Ken Krome featured a looping path of 1.50m efforts across the International Arena. Beginning with a triple bar oxer at fence one, the course featured a vertical-oxer combination, a double of verticals with a liverpool, an oxer-vertical combination, and several tough bending lines to present challenges across the course. It wasn’t until the twentieth ride, Ireland’s Darragh Kerins and Intuitive, that a combination was able to boast a clear round and solidify a place in the jump-off. Directly following Kerins’ ride was another clean round from Mimi Gochman (USA) and Celina BH. Next to master the complex course was Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) aboard his own Gijs. Immediately following was Ben Maher (GBR) and Point Break and Bertram Allen (IRE) with Emmylou, adding their names to the jump-off roster. Lastly, Mimi Gochman returned to the ring with another flawless ride, earning the sixth and final jump-off position on Gochman Sporthorses’ Gigi’s Girl BH.
First to take on the shortened jump-off track was Kerins and Eve Jobs’ 11-year-old Irish Sporthorse Gelding Intuitive. The pair put forth high expectations for the rides to come, going clear with a time of 44.446 seconds. Kerins was followed by Gochman aboard Celina BH, attempting to unseat the Irish rider’s lead. The pair put forth a valiant effort, but Gochman knocked one rail at the fourth obstacle to take her out of contention for top honors. Philippaerts then laid down a flawless ride with his own Gijs, an 11-year-old KWPN stallion, swiftly navigating the jump-off track and overtaking Kerins’ leading time by a margin of three seconds. Maher and Point Break, an 8-year-old Swedish Warmblood, navigated the jump-off course next, ascending the leaderboard with his speedy and clean ride, but not quick enough to capture the lead, ultimately finishing second. In the penultimate ride, Allen and his mount Emmylou boasted a swift time, but unfortunately fell victim to the difficult course, taking four faults. Mimi Gochman also had one rail down in the final round with Gigi’s Girl BH, placing Philippaerts atop the podium with the final victory of WEF 2022. Maher took home second place honors and Kerins rounded out the top three.
This season marks Philippaerts’ second trip to Florida for the winter, and he’s seen impressive results across levels and with mounts both new and more experienced. During Week IX, he took home third place in the $406,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI5*, and also placed fifth in the $406,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5* during Week VII, both aboard Katanga V/H Dingeshof. The winter season in Wellington prepares horses in a variety of environments against the top competition in the world, setting them on the right path for the rest of the calendar year.
The $50,000 CaptiveOne 1.50m National Grand Prix concluded the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival with elite competition, finalizing a season of thrilling events and awe-inspiring athletic efforts.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nicola Philippaerts – Winner $50,000 CaptiveOne 1.50m National Grand Prix
“I got Gijs last year when I came back from Wellington. He’s been going very well. He won a three-star Grand Prix in Europe. I think he’s a super 1.50m-1.55m horse. For a big horse he’s actually super quick. He’s been having good results, then he had a bit of a dip this season, but I think we’re back. I’m going to keep him for a few [Global Champions League] tours and a few shows in Europe. He has a very good character and has a lot of blood for a big horse which really helps in this atmosphere. He has a very good personality. He’s not like a stallion at all. He gives the best of himself. He’s nice to ride and I’m happy to have him in the team.”
On the test:
“The grand prixs at WEF are always very challenging. There weren’t many riders that went clear in the first phase, so I was really happy with the ride. This is a very great way to end our WEF circuit. We had a bit of bad luck yesterday in the big [$500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*] but of course it’s nice to win the National Grand Prix. This was my last run for this year here, and I’m hoping for another great circuit next year in Wellington.”
On his future plans:
“For us, it is still a very long season. The shows in Europe start now. It’s good to get ready for the rest of the year here. It’s nice for me as a European to ride against different people here and to be in a different venue. I think there’s quite a big future here. I’m very happy to be coming back.”
$50,000 CaptiveOne 1.50m National Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Gijs / Nicola Philippaerts / BEL / Nicola Philippaerts / 0 | 71.666 / 0 | 41.421
2. Point Break / Ben Maher / GBR / Pamela Wright, Charlotte Rossetter, and Ben Maher / 0 | 72.286 / 0 | 43.344
3. Intuitive / Darragh Kerins / IRE / Eve Jobs / 0 | 73.774 / 0 | 44.446
4. Emmylou / Bertram Allen / IRE / Bertram Allen / 0 | 70.98 / 4 | 41.781
5. Celina BH / Mimi Gochman / USA / Gochman Sporthorses LLC / 0 | 70.322 / 4 | 42.921
6. Gigi’s Girl / Mimi Gochman / USA / Gochman Sporthorses / 0 | 72.565 / 4 | 44.309
7. Faro / Mclain Ward / USA / Temple Equestrian LLC / 1 | 74.906
8. Catoki / Mclain Ward / USA / Marilla Van Beuren, Bob Russel, and Mclain Ward / 4 | 69.428
9. Fleur de Lis’ Cherie / Jad Dana / LBN / The Cherie Group / 4 | 71.818
10. Chandon Blue / Laura Chapot / USA / Laura and Mary Chapot / 4 | 72.06
11. Bountiful / Grace Busch / USA / Grace C Busch / 4 | 72.777
12. Flotylla / Cathleen Driscoll / USA / Donald Stewart / 4 | 73.092