Wellington, FL - April 7, 2014 - If the competition for the leading rider bonus in the Ridge at Wellington's Turf Tour Series was a horse race, it could be said that Jeffrey Welles led wire to wire. Topping the standings nearly all season, Welles finally took home the grand prize: Welles received a one year membership to the International Polo Club Palm Beach, as well as a branding package from PoloGear™.
A horseman from a young age, Welles grew up in North Carolina, where he rode the hunters and ponies on his family's farm outside of Raleigh. When he was just 17 years of age, Welles moved to Connecticut and began riding and working for Nimrod Farms, where he began his young professional career riding hunters for the farm.
Welles did not make his jumper riding debut until a few years after he had been working for Nimrod Farms, when he took the opportunity to work and ride for legendary horseman Norman Dello Joio.
"I got my first jumper training and introduction to the jumpers from Norman," Welles said. "I worked for him for about three years, and I won my first grand prix while I worked for him. He really got me going and got me some nice horses to ride." It was not long after his time with Dello Joio that Welles set out to start his own training operation, Triton Ventures, out of Bruester, NY. Now a very accomplished and well-known rider, Welles is the first to tell you that he would never have had the successes he has had without the people who have supported and backed his career.
"I've had help from many people along the way, with Norman getting me going, and I worked a bit for George [Morris], and he helped me," Welles explained. "I had a couple of nice horses with Frank and Karen Llyod, there was one in particular called Armani. I went to Europe with him in the Super League a few times. He won the American Invitational, and he actually qualified and basically made the team for Beijing, but he unfortunately went lame. He had an injury, and that kept us off the team. Abigail Wexler bought him later in his career, which was very nice of her, we shared the ownership, which allowed him to compete for a few more years."
Not one to dwell on the past (even one as storied and remarkable as his own) Welles is already working on bringing along the next crop of superb jumping horses. He has a number of young prospects he's excited about and has been showing at the Ridge at Wellington's Turf Tour during the 2014 winter season.
"Now I have two really nice 8-year-old horses. One's name is Billion, he's by Million," Welles said. "We got him with Sharon Gunthel when he was 4 years old, and he's just been a great horse. He won the Finals in South Hampton when he was 5 and 6, and he won last year when he was a 7-year-old. He is just starting now in the 1.40m jumpers, and we've been going over to The Ridge's Wellington Turf Tour to start him doing some of the 1.40m classes. I mostly showed him over there. It was nice to bring him to different venues, and have him on the grass. It really helped me to get him off the show grounds [WEF], and get him to some different venues. That was very good mileage for him."
Welles is very grateful to George [D'Ambrosio] and Olympian Nona Garson, show owners and organizers of The Ridge at Wellington Turf Tour, for the series they put on and the experiences it affords his horses.
"I just want to say I think what George and Nona are doing at The Ridge, and with the help of owners of the different venues and IPC, you know they're really doing a nice job," Welles said. "It's a nice atmosphere for the horses to get good mileage and get some exposure. They're really doing a nice, nice job, and I hope they'll get some sponsors to help promote it and raise, you know, if they could offer some more money that would be great as well."