January 29, 2014, Lexington, KY- Named after a great horseman, the Peter Wetherill Cup was created in 2011 to celebrate a current equine athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of a top-class show hunter. The classic silver cup perpetual trophy is presented annually at the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular in Wellington, FL, to the owner of the World Championship Hunter Rider Program's Hunter of the Year.
This year's recipient is an athletic 10 year-old bay Selle Francais gelding named Small Affair - Poker to his family and friends, whose prominent record of over 35 Champion and Reserve Champion titles in the Performance Working and Large Junior Hunter sections makes him well-deserving of the title, 2013 WCHR Hunter of the Year.
As the New Year rang in, Poker had plenty to celebrate with WCHR Pro rider John French. The pair swept up Tricolors at most every prestigious event in the country: HITS Winter Circuit Champion Performance Hunter 3'6", WCHR Professional Challenge Winner and Performance Hunter 3'6" Champion at the Alltech National Horse Show. Junior competitor Samantha Sommers also benefited from a partnership with Poker; winning the USEF National Junior Hunter Championship-West, Large Junior Hunter Champion at Capital Challenge and Washington International Best Child Rider on a Horse honors.
"Poker is the ultimate horse and athlete. I have never once even thought about rehearsing his form over the jumps. He has never been trained on how to jump well; he just does it every time. He just knows when it is important and gives it his all. Most days I get him ready to show and he always seems to know when it's a big class and it is important. His flatwork is all a little brighter and he's just a little more powerful." Elizabeth Reilly, rider and owner through 2013, added, "I am very honored for him to be chosen for this award. It is, in my opinion, the ultimate accolade for any hunter. I have had the horse for his entire professional career since he was imported from France and know the partner he has been for John and all my students, Olivia, Samantha and Lyn (Pedersen) that have had the privilege to be his teammate."
Poker continues his winning ways, having already garnered Championship ribbons at his first events of 2014 with new owner Lyn Pedersen in the Amateur Owner Hunters. USHJA, WCHR and the USHJA Foundation wish Poker continued success throughout his career.
The WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular Week takes places February 12-16, during week six of the 2014 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Throughout that week, horses and riders compete to qualify for several awards and hunter classics, including the $100,000 Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, to be held Saturday February 15, under the lights of the International Arena.
The Spectacular Hunt Gala Committee will offer an evening of fine dining and fun, complete with top-notch competition ringside at The International Club. VIP Tables of six, as well as individual tickets for the February 15 event are on sale now. A portion of the proceeds benefit the USHJA Foundation which supports programs such as the Horseman's Assistance Fund.