Talk about a great first date.
In just their first class and first week together, Geoffrey Hesslink and Drumroll won the $100,000 WCHR Central Hunter Spectacular on Saturday night, June 24, at Traverse City Spring III (Michigan).
“We quite literally just got this horse,” Hesslink said. “He’s a really special horse I’ve watched and known for a number of years and always thought was really talented. … He’s just the epitome of a classic hunter: He’s beautiful, has a lot of presence, amazing balance, and he’s really athletic. He can jump over the standards at every jump, and I was really drawn to that.”
Kelly Mullen rode Drumroll, a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Diamant De Semilly—A-Comme-Ci, Canturano I), through the winter season, and Hesslink said he approached her multiple times about purchasing him. Though the gelding didn’t arrive early enough in the week to show in any other classes, Hesslink decided to give the spectacular a shot.
Hesslink and Meridian Farm LLC’s new acquisition put in a strong first round over Tommy Brawley’s course, scoring an 87 to sit third behind leader Kate Conover and Queen Celeste, who scored 90.5.
It put them in the running to score a second Hunter Spectacular victory for Hesslink, who won the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular (Florida) in 2022. Back then, however, he was protecting a lead going into Round 2, whereas in Saturday’s class, he wanted to be bold to move up the leaderboard.
“I didn’t know the horse that well, but I figured I had nothing to lose, so I should take all the shots,” Hesslink said. “He answered the questions I asked better than I thought he would. The handy was really nice. I thought there were a few questions where you could leave out a stride or go inside, but the fences came up really nicely for us today, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Inside turns and opening Drumroll’s stride were risks that helped him earn a second-round score of 90.75 and a final score of 88.875—just enough to push him past Conover’s final score of 88.5. Greg Crolick and Chappy ended up third on 86.71.
“One of the only reasons I did this class today is because a class like this is his specialty,” Hesslink said. “He rises to the occasion every time I’ve watched him. I really wanted to give it a shot, so I hope to continue to be successful in derbies and these types of classes.”
Watch their winning handy round here, courtesy of USEF Network:
See complete results here.