Matthew Sampson and Paul Walker Claim Top Honors in $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix

Jan 3, 2021 - 9:10 PM

Geoffrey Hesslink and Trademark Jump to Top Marks in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Sponsored by Noltrex®Vet

Wellington, FL – January 3, 2021 – Competition came to an end at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday in the International Arena with the $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix. Thirty-four riders representing 11 nations competed over the course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA). Last to go in the jump-off, Matthew Sampson (GBR) piloted Gut Einhaus, LLC’s Paul Walker to the fastest time of the class to claim victory. Sunday’s classes concluded the ESP Holiday Finale Show as well as the ESP Holiday Series. Competition will begin again Wednesday, January 6, for the Premiere Week of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival, which will take place over 13 weeks and conclude April 4, 2021.

Matthew Sampson and Paul Walker, pictured with Kelly Molinari, Managing Director of Equiline America, took home the blue ribbon in the $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix. ©Anne Gittins Photography
Matthew Sampson and Paul Walker, pictured with Kelly Molinari, Managing Director of Equiline America, took home the blue ribbon in the $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix. ©Anne Gittins Photography

“He’s an incredible horse. He has jumped two classes since he’s been in Florida. That was two weeks ago before Christmas and he was clear in both,” Sampson said of the 2011 Hanoverian gelding by Perigueux x Cornet Obolensky. “It’s my first time in Florida, so it’s been a great start. The course was good, the first round was a long and really careful course, which suited my horse in particular because he is so careful.”

The first course that the horses and riders were tested over consisted of 13 fences, and nine duos successfully completed the first round to advance to the seven-fence jump-off. Sixth in the original order, Sydney Shulman (ISR) and Jill Shulman’s J-Boston S.E. were the first to go clear, followed by Luis Pedro Biraben (ARG) aboard his own Chacco Bumpy to force a jump-off. The seven additional riders to join the jump-off were Molly Ashe Cawley (USA), Jessica Mendoza (GBR), Jacqueline Steffens (CAN), Mac Cone (CAN), Paul O’Shea (IRL), Simon McCarthy (IRL), and Matthew Sampson (GBR).

Matthew Sampson and Paul Walker ©Anne Gittins Photography
Matthew Sampson and Paul Walker ©Anne Gittins Photography

First to return to the ring over the short course, Shulman and J-Boston S.E. were able to produce a second fault-free ride to set the pace with a time of 39.42 seconds. Mendoza and Carly Day’s Casanova 499 soon took over the lead after stopping the timers at 38.86 seconds. The duo remained in first until the last rider, Sampson, sliced a full second off of Mendoza’s leading time, piloting Paul Walker to a winning time of 37.52 seconds to secure the lead spot in the victory gallop. 

“I always know that Jessica Mendoza is fast because I’ve been riding against her all our lives, so I just tried to do as much as I could without doing anything crazy to knock a fence down, and luckily it paid off!” Sampson commented regarding his plan for the jump-off. “I got six strides to the double which is quite a long distance. Jessica did seven and then I got one less stride to the last fence. Jessica did do one less stride than me to the second fence, but I think the one less stride to the double was what probably helped us out.”

Second-place honors went to Mendoza aboard Casanova 499, a 2011 Holsteiner mare by Clarimo x Contender, with a double-clear ride and jump-off time of 38.86 seconds. Less than a second behind, Shulman and Jill Shulman’s 2009 BWP gelding by Boris van het Kluizebos, J-Boston S.E., stopped the clock at 39.42 seconds to round out the podium. 

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Erynn Ballard and Toy Boy, pictured with Kaitlin Porath, Equiline Marketing Coordinator, were victorious in the $10,000 Equiline 1.40m Open Stake. ©Anne Gittins Photography

The $10,000 Equiline 1.40m Open Stake took place on Thursday afternoon in the International Arena. Course designer D’Ambrosio designed a first-round course of 12 fences and an abridged seven-fence jump-off to test entries. Ten of the 35 horse-and-rider combinations in the class cleared the first round and advanced to the short course. Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Ilan Ferder’s Nespresso Van Het Binnenvel were the first to go and set the pace with a double-clear round in 36.28 seconds. The pair held onto the lead until Ballard went on her fourth mount in the class, Ferder’s Toy Boy, and beat her previous time as the duo crossed the timers in 35.64 seconds. It turned out to be a successful class for Ballard as she finished in first place riding Toy Boy and in the runner-up spot with Nespresso Van Het Binnenvel. Third place honors went to Andrea Torres Guerreiro (USA) and Santa Catalina Farm’s Fifty Shades, who stopped the clock at 37.46 seconds with no faults.  

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Erynn Ballard and Insider BH, pictured with Elissa Salzman, Co-Owner of Pilates Rocks, earned top honors in the $5,000 Pilates Rocks 1.35m Classic ©Anne Gittins Photography

Competition on the main stage on Saturday began with Ballard once again claiming victory, this time in the $5,000 Pilates Rocks 1.35m Classic. Thirty-three riders competed over the 12-fence first-round track, and 11 pairs advanced to the jump-off. Eighth in the order, Ballard piloted Ferder’s Insider BH to a winning time of 31.45 seconds. Second-place honors were earned by Devon MacNeil (USA) aboard her own Cajo after they stopped the clock fault-free in 31.92 seconds. Luiza Leivas Da Costa (BRA) and Bonne Chance Farm LLC’s Luziada Jmen raced to a clear time of 32.54 seconds to take home third place. 

Rachel McMullen and Deavantus were victorious in the $2,500 Equiline High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. ©Anne Gittins Photography
Rachel McMullen and Deavantus were victorious in the $2,500 Equiline High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. ©Anne Gittins Photography

The $2,500 Equiline High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic took place on Sunday in the International Arena, with a talented group of contenders competing for the blue ribbon. In the end, Rachel McMullen on her own Deavantus were the fastest duo in the four-horse jump-off. McMullen of Chagrin Falls, OH, and Deavantus produced the winning time of 38.22 seconds for the blue ribbon. Second place honors went to Vanessa Hood of Wellington, FL, and Take Two LLC’s Casstina H, who stopped the timers at 39.95 seconds. Wellington, FL, resident Devon MacNeil and her Vinci De Beaufour rode to a time of 39.56 seconds for a third-place finish.  

Fourteen riders took to the International Arena on Sunday morning for the $2,500 Equiline Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. Six pairs successfully completed the first course to advance to the jump-off, where nobody could beat Sloan Hopson’s winning time. Hopson of Houston, TX, and her own Dalida stopped the clock at 38.99 seconds to take home top honors. Right behind Hopson and Dalida was Paige Matthies of Lake Leelanau, MI, and Ashland Farm’s Qutaira. The duo finished on a time of 39.71 seconds to finish in second place. Third place was earned by Sabrina Lefebvre of St. Anne De, QC, riding her own Happy Melody De La with a time of 42.46 seconds. 

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Sloan Hopson and Dalida won the the $2,500 Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. ©Anne Gittins Photography

Final Results: $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix, click HERE.

1. PAUL WALKER: 2011 Hanoverian gelding by Perigueux x Cornet Obloensky
MATTHEW SAMPSON (GBR), Gut Einhaus LLC: 0/0/37.525

2. CASANOVA 499: 2011 Holsteiner mare by Clarimo x Contender
JESSICA MENDOZA (GBR), Carly Day: 0/0/38.869

3. J-BOSTON S.E.: 2009 BWP gelding by Boris van het Kluizebos
SYDNEY SHULMAN (ISR), Jill & Sydney Shulman: 0/0/39.426

4. ZAIA DI SAN GIOVANNI: 2009 mare by Cornet Obolensky
MAC CONE (CAN), Chadburn Holdings, Inc.: 0/0/40.115

5. FREAKY LIEFHEBBER: 2010 Dutch Warmblood by Darco x Litho
JACQUELINE STEFFENS (CAN) Double C Stables: 0/0/40.124

6. BOSCO DE LERZY: 2011 Selle Français male by Quite Easy x Galoubet A
SIMON MCCARTHY (IRL), Oakland Ventures LLC: 0/0/41.17

7. SQUIRT GUN: 2011 Oldenburg gelding by Diarado x Quick Star
PAUL O’SHEA (IRL), Eye Candy Jumpers: 0/4/36.502

8. CHACCO BUMPY: 2010 Oldenburg mare by Chacco Blue x Toulon
LUIS PEDRO BIRABEN (ARG), Miguel Madero & Luis Pedro Biraben: 0/4/39.736

9. CONRAD 119: 2010 Oldenburg male by Comme Il Faut 5 x Landfrieden
MOLLY ASHE CAWLEY (USA), Louisburg Farm: 0/21/64.921

10. CETANO VAN ASPERGEM Z: 2009 Zangersheide gelding Clinton x Ahorn Z
SANTIAGO LAMBRE (MEX), Santiago Lambre: 1/76.203

11. CORNER POCKET Z: 2012 Zangersheide gelding by Cornet Obolensky x Lux Z
ERYNN BALLARD (CAN), The Z Group: 1/76.656

12. BELO HORIZONTE: 2008 Holsteiner gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Clearway
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Oakland Ventures LLC: 4/71.066

For the full results of the $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix, please click HERE.

Geoffrey Hesslink and Trademark Jump to Top Marks in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Sponsored by Noltrex®Vet

HUNTER HIGHLIGHTS

On Friday in Ring 11, 19 horse-and-rider duos competed in the final derby of the ESP Holiday Series, the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Noltrex®Vet. The class consisted of a first-round course, designed by Danny Moore, of 12 fences, including four high options, and a subsequent handy round of the top twelve scorers. Geoffrey Hesslink of Shelbourne, VT, was victorious aboard Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Trademark, and added to his success with a third-place finish on Sabrina Hellman’s Luminosity. 

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Geoffrey Hesslink and Trademark, pictured with Raina Swani and Craig T. Roberts, DVM Veterinary Director at NoltrexVet, won the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Noltrex®Vet ©Anne Gittins Photography

Friday’s victory made a trifecta for Hesslink as he notched his third derby win during the ESP Holiday Series. During the ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4*, the Vermont-based professional claimed first prize in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Bainbridge, on Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Small Occasion, and later won the $1,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Gold Coast Feed, riding Luminosity during the ESP Year End Awards Show

“I love these classes! I think they’re so much fun, and I’ve actually won the last three I’ve done on three different horses,” reflected Hesslink. “To have three derby wins on three different horses is really special and a testament to our riders and program I think. It’s such a blast every week, and I really look forward to these derbies here.”

Following the classic round, which concluded with a cut-off score of 76, the top 12 high-performing pairs of the class continued on to the handy round, with the added element of a trot fence. With a score of 89 in his first round, Hesslink returned to the handy round sitting in second place behind Jennifer Bliss of Loxahatchee, FL, and Sugarman. Thanks to a score of 95, the highest single-round score of the class from any entry, in the handy round, Hesslink and Trademark stole the top spot with a final score of 184.

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Geoffrey Hesslink and Trademark ©Anne Gittins Photography

“I’m obviously thrilled with them both,” commented Hesslink of Trademark and Luminosity. “Trademark is actually a new horse we got just last week, so this week was our week to play with him and get to know him. I wanted to put him in this class to see what he would do, and he was absolutely spectacular. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him. I’m so excited for our journey with him.”

Bliss and Harris Hill Farm LLC’s Sugarman received the highest first-round score of 90, and a second-round score of 93 to finish with a final score of 183, just a point behind to claim second place. Hesslink’s second mount, Luminosity, scored an 88 in the first round and 92 in the second phase to land in third place with an overall score of 180.

For the full results of the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby presented by NoltrexVet, please click HERE.

No spectators or outside media are allowed on-site at this time, but friends and family can view all classes via our SGL live stream HERE.

To learn more about the safety protocols and procedures at the horse show, please click HERE.

Photo credit ©Anne Gittins Photography. These photos may only be used once in relation to this press release with proper credit.

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