Victoria Colvin Secures Fifth $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular Win Aboard Private Practice
Young hunter professional Victoria Colvin piloted her 2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship mount, Private Practice, to the victory in the $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The Saturday night event was the highlight of WEF’s WCHR Hunter Week. The week features the hunter discipline and gives junior, amateur, and professional hunter riders the chance to introduce their horses to the International Arena while FEI riders compete at Equestrian Village, which is typically home to the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Thirty-two of the week’s most successful juniors, amateurs, and professionals contested the round-one course designed by Ken Krome. The top 12 combinations qualified to return for the second round of competition. Both rounds were offered at three heights (3’6”, 3’9”, and 4”). Judges for the event consisted of Chris Wynne and John French in one panel, Jim Clapperton and Shane George in a second panel, and Rachel Kennedy and Rick Fancher in a third panel.
Amanda Steege of Bedminster, NJ, and Lafitte De Muze held the early lead into the second course as the pair received a high score of 92.00 in the first course. Designer Ken Krome gave returning competitors plenty of options to show off their horses’ abilities with several long approaches to gain speed and a rare bounce-jump feature made of hay bales halfway through the second round handy test. Junior rider Jordan Allen of West Bloomfield, MI, ascended to a top three finish on Kind of Blue, owned by Float On Equestrian LLC. As the second-to-last to return, 21-year-old Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, and Brad Wolf’s Private Practice performed a flawless round to win the event with judge’s scores of 93, 94, 91 and a final two-round total of 182.66.
“This is the first year that I’ve won as a professional, and I think it almost means more to me now than it did when I was a junior,” said Colvin, who won the Hunter Spectacular a stunning four times in a row from 2012 to 2015. “When I competed in it as a junior, I knew it was an amazing class, but I probably didn’t realize how significant and amazing it is.” “We showed this horse last year in this event as well, but we had just bought him and he was right out of being a jumper,” she added of the nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding. “He was a lot more tame today, and he went around like a champ. His handy round felt like he did at Derby Finals, so I think it was as good as he could have gone.”
Steege and the eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding gave it their all in the final performance, but fell just short of overcoming Colvin and Private Practice, totaling a final result of 182.16. “I was hoping he would come out and be a competitor out there tonight, and I think it’s needless to say he far exceeded my expectations,” Steege commented. “When we competed in this last year, he was a first-year horse and it was only his third show in America. It’s incredible to feel how much more mature he is a year later.” “I was really happy with my round in the handy; I thought he jumped amazing,” she continued. “I made the conscious choice to go around the red vertical on the way to jump one because my horse is a little less experienced than Tori’s and I just wanted to make this the most positive experience possible for him.”
Allen, who is a working student for Ken and Emily Smith at Ashland Farm, took third place aboard Kind of Blue with an overall score of 177.57. “It’s beyond exciting to be here and do so well in this event,” Allen said. “I thought he was amazing in both rounds, obviously, but in the second round I think he really stepped it up with the brilliance. It’s my final junior year and everything is shaping out!”
Allen credits the opportunity to show the seven-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding to her “second family” at Ashland Farm, trainer Brady Mitchell, Alvin Menendez, Adam Graham, and the gelding’s owner, Dana Schwarz. “I can’t put into words how grateful I am for all of the opportunities they’ve given me,” Allen enthused. “I don’t own any horses and each week they have horses for me to show. This is by far one of the greatest accomplishments.”