Wellington, Florida – Victoria Colvin emerged the winner of the fourth annual Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series (AFYRGPS), presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte. With four different competitions held throughout the 12-week FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, the Series attracted more than 50 participants competing for increased prize money under FEI sanctioning.
Following three qualifying events, the top 30 riders in the overall standings were invited to contest the $50,000 CSIU25 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series Final. Held Sunday morning, March 23, at The Stadium, riders and horses alike enjoyed competing on the expansive grass field. Following a seven-horse jump-off, Alexander Zetterman of Sweden emerged victorious riding Flecu in the Series Final. However, Victoria Colvin was at the top of the leaderboard coming into the final event and, despite having four faults with Don Juan, maintained her lead to emerge as the overall winner of the 2014 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series.
“The Series helps build confidence; you just keep doing more classes and jumping higher and going up against better riders,” said Colvin, who participated in all four qualifying events this year with Don Juan. “I’m used to doing the High Juniors, which are really high and have good riders, too, but this is another step up. There are amazing riders in the Series, including people over 18. It’s a step up from Juniors, but it is between having to compete against someone like Mclain Ward. It is a lot of fun and it makes you feel more confident that you are going to do well.”
Open to riders aged 16 to 25, regardless of nationality, the AFYRGPS was designed by Carlene and Andy Ziegler of Artisan Farms to provide a bridge between the junior and amateur divisions to the grand prix level, allowing up and coming riders to gain experience at the upper levels of show jumping sport while still competing against their peers.
At only 16 years of age, Colvin was one of the youngest riders in this year’s AFYRGPS. As the overall champion, Colvin was awarded a Bruno Delgrange saddle valued at $6,000, and was presented with an invitation to compete at the CSI2* Chantilly Horse Show, part of the Global Champions Tour, held from July 25-27 in France. In addition to their entry, the winner also receives two tickets to the Chantilly VIP lounge and transportation for one horse generously provided by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte.
“It is amazing!” exclaimed Colvin, who is based year-round in Wellington, Florida. “I get to go somewhere other than Florida!”
Canada’s Jordan Macpherson, who has participated in the AFYRGPS since its inception, was crowned the reserve champion in this year’s Series. The 24-year-old university student from Toronto, ON, trains with 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar and his children, Jonathon and Amy.
“This Series is portrayed and modeled as a stepping stone, so the course designers and the riders treat it as such; it’s more challenging and more technical without over-facing either the horse or the rider,” said Macpherson who rode her young mount, Aanwinst, in the first two events and her veteran partner, Piccobello du Val de Geer, in the final two events. “I think it’s a great structure, and it gives the riders and the horses more experience in different situations. Having the team event under the lights gives it more pressure, too. There is nowhere else that you get to compete as a team without it being a nations’ cup which is great, because how else are you supposed to learn how to work as a team without being able to practice it?”
Macpherson continued, “I think it’s wonderful that so many people and companies are sponsoring and supporting the Artisan Farms Series this year. Thank you to Artisan Farms and everyone involved for giving us such amazing opportunities.”
New for 2014, participants in the AFYRGPS were invited to apply for a one-year sponsorship with equestrian clothing apparel company, Equiline. Riders submitted essays outlining why they felt they would be ideal candidates, conducted interviews, did sponsorship networking, and were observed for attitude, spirit and performance while competing in the AFYRGPS. Last year’s winner of the AFYRGPS, Chloe D. Reid of Washington, D.C., was awarded the Equiline sponsorship, while additional awards were presented to Caitlin Ziegler for Best Essay, Lucas Porter for Most Creative Essay, and Nicole Bellissimo for Best Interview. Wilton Porter earned the Equiline Amateur Sportsmanship Award.
Colvin now joins an elite list of champions in the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series. Previous winners include Reed Kessler of the United States (2011), Nayel Nassar of Egypt (2012) and Chloe D. Reid of the United States (2013), all of whom are currently enjoying incredible success as their careers advance.
“I am really pleased with the progression of the Series,” said Carlene Ziegler, who is the driving force behind the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series. “We added some new things this year, we made it more of a true championship in the way that you went through the four different classes and that you had to qualify for the Final, which was a $50,000 FEI class. We feel it is very important to provide the next generation with a spring board that is both relevant and beneficial as they progress.”
With over 50 entries this year alone, it’s obvious that the Series is not only popular, but also succeeding in its objectives.
“It’s been nice to see the riders themselves progress,” said Ziegler. “We are attracting a new crop of riders each year and it’s really gratifying to see their progress. One of the most gratifying parts is being able to provide a stepping stone up to the next level for these young riders. The first year that we did this, we knew that we had a very strong group of riders – we had Reed Kessler for the win and we had a group of riders that went to Leipzig that included Reed Kessler, Charlotte Jacobs, Caitlin Ziegler, and Katie Dinan – these are people who have now truly made the next step, and our Series helped provide that for them. The second year we had Nayel Nassar, who is now leading the west coast standings for the World Cup Finals. That’s very exciting! We hope that the same level of success happens for the more recent winners as well, and we think that it can.”
Ziegler continued, “One of the things that is exciting for this year is that we are giving the winner the opportunity to go to the Chantilly show. It is a Global Champions Tour show in the most beautiful location in France. It’s something that these young riders wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. I think it’s a big incentive to the participants in the Series. Additionally, that they had the opportunity to vie for a sponsorship with Equiline is something that they wouldn’t have gotten to do otherwise.”
Riders aged 16 to 25, regardless of nationality, are eligible to participate in the AFYRGPS, which provides a valuable stepping stone from the junior and amateur ranks to the grand prix level. Featuring fences set at 1.45m, this year’s AFYRGPS offered four events held in three different venues, exposing developing grand prix riders to everything from competing on grass and in a team format, to jumping under the lights at night.
Leading by example, Artisan Farms is committed to the continued improvement and promotion of competitive show jumping. Based in Wellington, FL, and Vrasene, Belgium, Artisan Farms is home to rising amateur Andy Ziegler, young professional Caitlin Ziegler, 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze, and Olympian Tiffany Foster.
2014 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series – Final Standings
1. Victoria Colvin – 59
2. Jordan Macpherson – 53
3. Wilton Porter – 47
4. Jennifer Goddard – 44
5. Hayley Barnhill – 41
6. Sarah Hubbard – 36