Wellington, FL - February 5, 2014 - Jeffery Welles rode to the top of the leader board during today's Wellington Turf Tour 1.30m-1.35m Jumpers at Wolfstone Stables. Not only did he take the early lead in the first class aboard Gummi Van Oz, but he also rode to the top rank during the second class with Antaris S. Today also marked the second week of the five-week Young Jumper Championship Series, where Kevin Babington piloted KEC Pineapple Swirl to the first place finish in the 6 and 7/8 Year Old Jumper division.
Week V saw over 25 entries, but Jeffery Welles set the pace from the beginning, becoming the day's trailblazer as he consistently rode his mounts to the pinnacle of the standings. As only the second to take on the Pierre Jolicouer designed course, Welles laid down the first of only four clear rounds, moving into the jump off with Gummi Van Oz. They tackled the shortened track in a speedy 39.044 seconds. Wendy Ritter Peralta and Cruz Z took the second place, while Josh Dolan and Dynamo rode to the third place finish. Stal Thyssen and Cisco's Zidane were the last of the four to post a double-clear effort.
On a hot streak, Welles continued into the second class of the day with Antaris S. Although Emanuel Camilli and Zacca Zoeloe posted a speedy round in 29.931 seconds, Welles proved that he could shave the seconds with ease. He sliced the turns and took an inside turn to the final obstacle, allowing him to trip the timers in 28.919 seconds to take over the lead. Although others tried, no one could match his pace. Sandra Dalman and Brightside took over the third place position with a conservative, but clean effort in 32.848 seconds.
In the Young Jumper Championship divisions it came down to a three-horse jump off during the 6 and 7/8 Year Olds. Josh Dolan and Cora were the first to complete the opening round free of fault, then posting a speedy and clean jump off round in 37.300 seconds. Peter Lutz and Coberlina challenged the duo, moving into the jump off with their sights set on the top finish. They completed the course in 36.790 seconds, but Kevin Babington and KEC Pineapple Swirl were not about to go down without a fight.
With a blazing speed, Babington pushed the young horse forward, and turned her quickly through the serpentine of fences. He was able to cut the time, setting an untouchable pace of 32.420 seconds to take the win.
"I think for a 7 or 8-year-old, it is very good. The jumps were very basic, and the course was straightforward. My horse needed that for her first show back. It is very convenient for us because we can just hack down here and jump around, instead of going through the rigmarole of going to the main show," Babington said.
He continued, "As a qualifier, I think it is fantastic. You can come out for the one day, on the day, without having to jump anything else all week-I really like that."
Babington showed Pineapple Swirl in the 6-Year-Old YJC division last year, qualifying for the Hamptons, and on the final day they proudly took fourth. After taking several months to recuperate, Babington admitted that he was pleased with her performance today at the Wellington Turf Tour.
"This was her first qualifier back," Babington described. "She was fresh, which was good, and she turns really quickly. The footing is great, and the facility is wonderful. I will return on Friday to jump on the grass in the Grand Prix."
Attendees of Week V of the 11-week series can look forward to a show filled with top-tier competitors and horses, and nearly $200,000 in prize money. Get your entries in for the 1.40m Grand Prix by clicking here.
The Ridge at Wellington Turf Tour was designed to develop young riders and young horses and provide a change of venue for all riders. The 2013 event was hailed as a highlight of the season with top riders, amateurs and juniors alike choosing to ride in the invitational series, challenging their young horses to a new experience during the Winter Equestrian Festival. The 2014 series returned to the Wellington show scene bigger and better than ever.