West Palm Beach, Fla.—Jan. 11
U.S. Equestrian Federation members chose Darry Lou, Abigail Wexner’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, as the 2019 International Horse of the Year and El Primero, Bryan Baldwin and Meralex Farm’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, as the National Horse of the Year.
Darry Lou (Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve—Venus, Nabab De Reve) has become a stalwart in the talented lineup of mounts for five-time USEF Equestrian of the Year and Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden. The pair has captured numerous international wins since their partnership began in 2017. The 2019 competition year was highlighted by several top finishes for Madden and Darry Lou including back-to-back wins at the prestigious Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ CSIO5* in Calgary, Alberta. Following a win in the Tourmaline Oil Cup, Madden and Darry Lou went on to secure victory in the world’s highest dollar grand prix, the $3 Million CP International Grand Prix.
Madden and Darry Lou earned two additional wins during the ‘National’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows in June and produced a double-clear effort for the NetJets U.S. Jumping Team during the Nations Cup Aachen CSIO5* (Germany) prior to earning a top-10 finish in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in July. Their 2019 campaign began at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida), where they won the $209,000 Marshall & Sterling Grand Prix CSI4* before going on to top the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal, Calif., in April.
“The [Pegasus Awards] was a really fun night because you get to meet a lot of interesting people and hear about their stories, but tonight is honoring the horse,” said Madden when she accepted Darry Lou’s award at the USEF Horse of the Year Awards Gala in West Palm Beach, Florida. “And that’s why we’re all here and why this entire organization exists. It’s really special to be able to honor the horse, and I feel really lucky to have such a talented horse like Darry Lou.”
El Primero (Numero Uno—Zo-Special, Indorado) made his mark on the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (Kentucky), guided by Tori Colvin. For Colvin, it was her third personal win, but a first for El Primero. The pair received scores of 92, 94 and 95 and finished nearly 25 points ahead of the second-placed finisher.
El Primero and Colvin splashed onto the scene in 2019 by winning the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Deeridge Derby in Wellington, Florida, before collecting another prestigious victory in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Winter Equestrian Festival only a few weeks later. El Primero is trained by Peggy Gehman and has competed with Sandy Ferrell, Louise Serio and Colvin throughout his career in the United States. Purchased and imported from Stal Hendrix in 2014, El Primero is a workmanlike and consistent competitor, who enjoys living outdoors in his five-acre pasture at night and has become a beloved member of the Baldwin and Meralex Farm family.
“El Primero has always lived up to his name. His talent and easy way of going made him successful right away,” said Serio. “When you have an extraordinary horse and an extraordinary rider [like Victoria Colvin], the magic happens. They’re beautiful to watch together.”