The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association announced Feb. 3 that Chablis, owned by Libertas Farm, LLC, is the 2020 WCHR Hunter of the Year and Carl Weeden is the recipient of the Kavar Kerr Distinguished Service Award. Both awards will be presented during the $50,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular on Feb. 20 during Week 6 of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.
Since 2011, the USHJA has honored the life and legacy of the late accomplished horseman, Peter Wetherill, by recognizing a current equine athlete that exemplifies the qualities of a top-class show hunter. Wetherill, who died in February 2010, is also fondly remembered as an exemplary owner and an equestrian community advocate who supported the WCHR’s philanthropic endeavors from the start. This prestigious title is awarded each year to the WCHR Hunter of the Year and its signature trophy, the Peter Wetherill Cup, is presented in tribute to its namesake. As owner of Chablis, Libertas Farm, LLC’s Kelly Tropin will accept the Cup.
“It is hard to put it into words—my mom and I both cried when we heard the news—but I think it is just recognition of the consistency he has had over the years and the incredible horsemanship of the team around him,” she said. “Chablis has always been a spectacular horse, and I am so proud that we have kept him going so well for so many years now, which comes down to all the people on ‘Team Chablis.’ I am really grateful for my trainers, Peter Lutz, Mary Manfredi, Alex Bartlett and Jamie Schaefer, as well as his groom, Israel Gomez, who knows Chablis like the back of his hand; his vet, Amy Rabnal; and his farrier, Mike Boylan.
“I am always cognizant that our 60 seconds in the ring is a culmination of the work of so many people, and I think of this award as a recognition of that effort. I have ridden with Peter and Mary since I was 13 years old and, after 17 years together, I still admire their horsemanship above all else. They always take the longer, slower road if that is what is right for the horse, and I believe this award truly recognizes the outstanding job they have done with Chablis.”
Chablis has a long list of accomplishments in the hunter ring with Tropin in the irons and groom Israel Gomez managing his care. The 13-year-old Württemberger gelding, has been with Tropin since 2014, where she developed him from a 6-year-old with Lutz and Manfredi, who purchased him as a 4-year-old in 2012. After triumphs in the 3’3″ in 2014 and with Lutz in the first year green division, Tropin and Chablis advanced to the amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, division and continued their success. Over the years, the gelding has earned multiple championships and high score awards at an array of shows, including the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, National Horse Show (Kentucky), Devon Horse Show (Pennsylvania), Washington International Horse Show (District Of Columbia) and Winter Equestrian Festival. Most recently, the duo earned the championship and high score award in the amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, division during the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival’s WCHR Week as well as championship titles at HITS Saugerties (New York), Old Salem Farm (New York) and during the ESP Holiday Series (Florida).
The Kavar Kerr perpetual trophy is awarded annually by the WCHR Task Force to an individual who’s demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership and commitment to the World Championship Hunter Rider program’s philanthropic efforts.
An early adopter of the WCHR program and current vice chair of the WCHR Task Force, Caroline “Carl” Weeden, has been a key supporter in the growth and success of the World Championship Hunter Rider program. As former chair of the task force, Weeden worked to develop new experiences that enriched the WCHR program as a whole and reward excellence in the Hunters. Her involvement with the Palm Beach Spectacular Gala, the USHJA Foundation, Chicago Equestrians for a Cause, and a myriad of other charitable activities and organizations, demonstrate her commitment to philanthropic efforts in the hunter/jumper community. She has paired fundraising events with world-class hunter competition, including the Chicago Hunter Derby, bringing back the time-honored tradition of charity horse shows and raising money for the USHJA Foundation Horseman’s Assistance Fund, the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation, and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
The Spectacular will be live streamed via pbiec.coth.com. Opening ceremonies will begin at approximately 6 p.m. with the first horse on course at 6:35 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2021. For more information about the WCHR Program, visit ushja.org/wchr.