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Saturday, June 03, 2023

Augusta Iwasaki won the Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final at WEF

WELLINGTON, Fla.--Augusta iwasak of Calabasas, Calif., on Fresca won the $50,000 Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, but Summer Hill on Belle SCF won the series title after four weeks of competition at the World Equestrian Festival on March 19.

Augusta Iwasaki on Fresca SportfotAugusta Iwasaki on Fresca (Photo by Sportfot) Andy Christiansen Jr.’s course had five clean to go on to the jump-off.

The series standings experienced a shake-up as series leader Ashley Vogel had to retire from the competition after trouble in the combination.

Hill, who had held second place in the series rankings, was last in the jump-off on La Belle SCF.

Iwasaki, a Southern Methodist University freshman, had one of only two clear rounds in the jump-off.

Daniel Geaney of Ireland had the only other clean round, but his time of 40.26 seconds on Nixon Van D’Abelendreef was four seconds too slow to beat Iwasaki’s finish of 36.98 seconds.

Geaney placed second while Zayna Rizvi was third as the fastest four-falter on Exquise Du Pachis.

Iwasaki is new to the Under 25 series, making her debut in this 2023 season as she balances competition and attending school as part of the SMU Equestrian Team.

 

“IT'S BEEN a really crazy time,” Iwasaki said as she gathered her things to head to the airport after the win. “I honestly don't know how everything just fell into place so perfectly, but she's an incredible horse and we trust each other. I am on spring break this week so my dad drove her down from Ocala and has been taking care of her for me; I can’t thank him enough.”

“I got this horse last summer from Roberto Teran, and I can't thank him enough because she's been amazing for me,” she said. “Today’s course was definitely technical, but I could tell as soon as I started jumping around the schooling area that she was ready.”

While a rail down kept Hill from the win, her fourth place finish gave her the overall series winner award – a title she has been working towards.

“This series has been a really good opportunity to step up in the FEI classes without competing against the big guys, so it's really a good steppingstone for sure,” said Hill. “It's a competitive group of horses and riders, and the course designers do a good job. It pushes you and gives the riders something to strive for, so I've really enjoyed it.”

The 24-year-old rides professionally out of her family farm in Kentucky and trains with Olympian Daniel Bluman.

“I’ve been riding horses for Daniel for the past two years and just last season he started helping me full time,” she said. “He does as much as he can for me either in person or from afar, so that’s been amazing.”

As the overall series winner, Hill received a Hermès saddle, a $10,000 Hermes store credit, and an invitation to a to-be-determined tour or show in Europe with equine flight expenses covered by the Dutta Corp.

Sweden’s Petronella Andersson on Odina Van Klapscheut won the $78,000 CSI4* 1.50m Classic over a field of 58, with 11 in the jump-off.

Andersson was clean in 37.21 seconds, with Shane Sweetnam of Ireland on Holliewood was second in 39.28 seconds and Lillie Keenan on Chili Pepper HMZ third in 41.22.

“This horse is only 9, and this is her first time in America jumping this height, so the first round I was just looking for a clear and though she was feisty," said Andersson. "I was very happy with her.

“I knew she could be very quick in the jump-off, but you never know with a competitive class like this,” said Andersson, who has been riding with four-time U.S. Olympian Beezie Madden this season. “We made a plan and it certainly worked out today.”

“It’s never about how many strides you do because she’s such a quick mover, it’s more about finding a great pace where you don’t need to slow her down," Andersson said.. "I think we had quite a fluid jump-off and we probably made up some time a little bit everywhere because I never had to add or leave out.”

The mare joined Andersson’s string as a 7-year-old.

“She’s turning 9 this year and she’s always been a great horse," she said. "The Belgian Championships was her first show with me which she also won, so expectations have always been quite high with this mare. It was a wonderful feeling today for my team to have this win.”

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