WELLINGTON, Fla.--Kelly McInerney, who is based out of Chester Riding Club in New Jersey, rode her Dinletto to win the $1,000 Child/Adult Jumper Classic on Feb. 4 at Friday Night Lights, a part of The Ridge's Palm Beach Series and Turf Tour in Wellington.
Nona Garson and George d"Ambrosio conceived the idea for The Ridge, which is headquarted in Tewksbury, N.J., to host a series of relaxed shows in Wellington.
For The Turf Tour, riders can compete at any time during the day, so they can easily fit those competitions into their more hectic schedule at the WEF.
The 2018 Palm Beach Series includes 16 weeks of hunter, jumper and equitation competition, including a diverse offering of divisions and classes, USHJA National, International, and Pony Hunter Derbies, monthly outreach and schooling shows at Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, weekly $15,000 1.40M Grand Prix classes, weekly $5,000 1.30m Rising Star Classics, all at the exceptional venues and all natural surfaces of the Turf Tour.
New this year, the Turf Tours will also host Low and High Child/Adult and Open Jumpers under the lights on Friday nights.
McInerney said that a show with so much atmosphere and excitement was a unique way to gather points towards her Medal Maclay qualification:
"I qualified for Marshall & Sterling, NAL, WIHS Medal Finals last year, and that was really important for me in choosing where to show this weekend," McInerney said. "Friday Night Lights has a cool environment; riding under the lights and at night was a welcome change from WEF, where we will be showing tomorrow and Sunday."
McInerney purchased the Dutch Warmblood gelding Dinletto from Ireland after only two rides.
"We just clicked, and that was it," she said. "Dinletto is such a fun horse, my favorite thing about him is his personality. We jumped under the lights once before in Atlanta, so I knew he'd enjoy coming here and changing things up."
TAYLOR GRIFFIN rode Quintessential to win the Low Child/Adult Jumper Classic, while the Speed round was won by international polo player Kerstie Allen riding NLF Felix Das Pferd.
Allen, born in Australia but now competing the the U.S., recently made history as the first female rider to win the Pacific Coast Open as part of the ERG Polo Team.
She is also a rodeo champion, having compete in calf roping and barrel racing.
Allen bought Felix sight unseen, and has only had him working over fences since the beginning of January.
Having never shown over fences herself before last week, Allen's skill on the polo field seems to have transfered to the jumper ring.
"Felix and I got our start at our neighbor, Dream Believer Farm, just seeing what he was about and how he would do over fences," said Allen. "I decided to go for it and enter him at The Ridge's shows because they were super accessible and the staff were easy to work with. I felt I needed to start small, and not just jump into one of the larger shows. Having The Ridge's Palm Beach Series and Turf Tour shows is priceless for riders like me who are just striking out in the show jumping world; it's so inviting and if it wasn't for Nona and George [The Ridge's founders] I would never have been able to get into the show ring today."
Despite her victory in the Low Speed Round and a wealth of equestrian experience, Allen noted that there was some culture shock coming from polo and the rodeo world to show jumping:
"The warm-up was new for me, as we usually pass right to right and here they pass left to left," said Allen. "I'm so proud of Felix and grateful to have this option to get my feet wet. Its just so easy at The Ridge's events, between the open in gate schedule and how affordable it is to show. They make it easy to come out, train, ride, and enjoy the horses."
ON FEB. 7, The last ride in a class of over 30 entries, Venezuela's Angel Karolyi, who was the last to go in a field of 30, put down the fastest time with Chablis De Mirland to clinch Wednesday's headline $5,000 1.30M Rising Star Classic on a jump-off time of 35.189.
The pair just edged out Ireland's Willie Tynan and Dominique, who held the lead most of the day on 36.878 seconds, with third going to Samantha Wight aboard Imagine Van De Hermitage on 35.692 seconds.
Hosted by The Ridge at Wellington, the Turf Tour runs every Wednesday through Friday at venues around Wellington and Palm Beach.
With the goal of offering superior footing, a variety of classes and a selection of venues and atmospheres to assist in the development of advancing horses and riders, the Turf Tour and Palm Beach Series are a unique compliment to the Florida winter equestrian season.
Karolyi and the chestnut gelding are a new combination and chose to take advantage of the Turf Tour's relaxing atmosphere and open in gate policy to make the most of their show experience.
"I've only been riding him a few months," said Karolyi. "This is our second show together, and he's naturally a very fast horse over the ground. I had already ridden the jump-off once before that day with River Farm Sporthorses' Chento, and I decided to make a good effort of it and try to top the current leader with Chablis. The course was very nice, straightforward and not too difficult but also asked a few questions and presented a few angles to allow for a challenge."
Karoyli and his first mount Chento finished in fourth place overall and were the first pair to overtake U.S. Olympic medalist Ann Kursinski of Flemington, N.J., and Armado's first double clear effort in the class.
The shift from all-weather footing to the springy turf was a change that Karoyli said was beneficial for both himself and his horses.
"We are all so used to riding on the completely flat, all-weather arenas; coming out here and jumping on the grass adds a unique factor," said Karoyli. "I think it makes you ride better, makes the horses jump better, and makes you ride sharper lines to the jumps. Nona and George do a great thing in hosting these great venues to jump on the grass and get out there with a new horse. These Grand Prix courses and other classes are fantastic for building up the horses towards bigger classes, and it doesn't hurt that you can win some prize money along the way."
"That was really our vision when we began this," said co-founder of The Ridge and US Olympian Nona Garson, "To create a welcoming environment where all levels of riders could come out and enjoy the show and their horses. As we evolve and add more shows and more ways to experience equestrian competition, we still focus on that goal of catering to riders and owners who put their horses first."