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, Fla., to the owner of the World Championship Hunter Rider Program's Hunter of the Year.
This year's recipient is a 10-year-old bay Selle Français gelding named Small Affair, “Poker’ to his family and friends, whose prominent record of more than 35 champion and reserve champion titles in the performance working and large junior hunter sections earned him the title.
Poker and rider John French swept up tricolors at many prestigious events, including winning the HITS Thermal (Calif.) winter circuit 3’6” performance hunter title, the WCHR Professional Challenge (Md.) and the 3’6” performance hunter championship at the Alltech National Horse Show (Ky.).
Junior competitor Samantha Sommers also benefited from a partnership with Poker, winning the USEF National Junior Hunter Championship-West (Calif.), a large junior hunter championship at Capital Challenge (Md.) and Washington International Best Child Rider on a Horse honors.
Elizabeth Reilly, rider and owner through 2013, said, "I am very honored for [Poker] 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 [French] and all my students, Olivia [Esse], Samantha and Lyn [Pedersen], that have had the privilege to be his teammate."
Poker has already garnered championship ribbons at his first events of 2014 with new owner Lyn Pedersen in the amateur-owner hunters.
The WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular Week takes place Feb. 12-16, during Week 6 of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. 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 Feb. 15, under the lights of the International Arena.