Elisa Broz (USA) and Kardenta Van’t Meerhof. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Elisa Broz (USA) is wasting no time achieving her monumental goals. At just 18 years old, she captured her first FEI grand prix victory in Sunday’s $145,100 Premier Equestrian CSI3* Grand Prix at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP).

With Kardenta Van’t Meerhof, Broz was one of six to qualify for the jump-off over Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) difficult track. Of those six, Gregory Wathelet (BEL) had two clear rides, so Broz was up against tough competition. She didn’t let that intimidate her.

Elisa Broz (USA) and Gregory Wathelet (BEL) atop the podium, pictured with Emma Werner of The Surrey. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I was thinking that second is great, even the top five is great, but my trainer, Cassio Rivetti, said, ‘You have to go for the win,’” Broz explained of her plan for the short course. “I just rode the course like we had talked about. I know that there were some big names and amazing riders that were chasing me but I had to ride my own course, ride my horse, and do my best.”

Her best was plenty, as she improved upon Wathelet’s initial leading time with Clarity and saw him drop a rail on Ace Of Hearts, leaving the Belgian Olympian in second and third as the class came to a close.

“She’s my first horse to do the FEI grand prixs,” she continued about her 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Cardento x Concorde). “She’s my top horse at the moment and she’s really brought me up through the ranks. She’s taught me a lot but also has a lot of quality and is super. She’s lots of character but she’s definitely been a blessing.”

Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Clarity. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Broz, of Freedom, CA, has been climbing the ranks in both National and FEI show jumping, and has her sights set on FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha in April, currently sitting in second place in the standings on the West Coast. In under two years, the duo has risen from humble beginnings to the top.

“I remember jumping her and thinking it was the best jump I’d ever sat on,” Broz said. “I work with those quirks because of how much quality she has. I knew she was the one and she was going to be a good one. It takes time to understand her quality. She’s got a lot of personality and it takes adjusting. She taught me right from wrong very quickly.”

Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Ace Of Hearts. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Still just 18, Broz could not participate in the champagne celebration, so Wathelet had the upper hand once awards were presented. Broz was in good company on the podium, seeing a glimpse at what the future could look like if she continues her winning ways.

“I don’t think it’s sunken in,” she reflected on topping a rider of Wathelet’s caliber. “The future is what Gregory is already doing, so to be competitive with him is amazing. I don’t think I could have even imagined this. I’m so thankful for my parents and team at Cassio Rivetti Stables and everyone who has supported me.”

Final Results: $145,100 Premier Equestrian CSI3* Grand Prix

1. KARDENTA VAN’T MEERHOF: 2010 BWP mare by Cardento x Concorde
ELISA BROZ (USA), Hidalgo LLC: 0/0/37.98

2. CLARITY: 2009 HOLST gelding by Clarimo x Ephebe For Ever
GREGORY WATHELET (BEL), An Breeding: 0/0/38.58

3. ACE OF HEARTS: 2010 ESH gelding by Aliandro B x Ra Ex Romanov ESH
GREGORY WATHELET (BEL), Gregory Wathelet: 0/4/37.18

4. MR. EUROPE: 2009 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Cassini
KARRIE RUFER (USA), Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC: 0/4/38.82

5. A-GIRL: 2010 SWB mare by A-Dur x Careful 28
SOPHIA SIEGEL (USA), Sophia Siegel: 0/4/42.56

6. GRANDEUR WP: 2011 KWPN gelding by Whistler x Vainqueur
BRETTON CHAD (CAN), Stone Ridge Farms LLC: 0/8/39.95

7. BONITA VH KEIZERSHOF Z: 2011 ZANG mare by Bustique x For Pleasure
ALI RAMSAY (CAN), Ramsay Equestrian Inc.: 4/76.89

8. CHESS: 2011 BWP gelding by Bufero Van Het Panishof x Latano I
NICK DELLO JOIO (USA), Wembley Farms Inc.: 4/78.87

9. COPYCAT: 2013 WESTF gelding by Comme Il Faut x Wogenbrecher
LORCAN GALLAGHER (IRL), Lost Lake Farm LLC: 4/80.06

10. CALIFORNIA SUNSHINE: 2013 DSP mare by Captain Z x Bollvorm’s Lauriston
SUSAN ARTES (USA), Alix Fargo: 4/80.76

11. LIMBOSSINI RC: 2011 Holsteiner gelding by Guardus Limbus x San Patrignano Cassini
MARK WATRING (PUR), Mark Watring: 4/81.57

12. NADALE VAN DORPERHEIDE: 2013 BWP gelding by Zilverstar T x Winningmood
CASSIO RIVETTI (BRA), Ilan Ferder: 8/77.75

Nick Haness Gallops to the Win in $50,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby

Nick Haness and Estimated Prophet. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Hunter riders got their chance to shine on the grass field Sunday morning in the $50,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby. In a field of 35 pairs, it was Nick Haness and Estimated Prophet, owned by Roaring Fork Farms LLC, who took the win with a total score of 384.5. Skip Bailey designed the track for the day, providing a stunning backdrop for the annual derby on the grass.

“He’s a very talented horse,” Haness commented on the 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. “He’s beautiful, elegant, and capable of jumping the big jumps. He listens to me very well and I think he really stands out. He’s got a great amount of bravery, scope, and quality, so riding him in today’s class was a lot of fun.”

Nick Haness and Estimated Prophet in their winning presentation, pictured with Ecole Lathrop on behalf of Butet, Carleton Brooks, and Djuna Lauder. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

A pair of first-round scores of 93 and 93.5 from the two judging panels put Haness in a promising spot, but only a half a point ahead of Nicole Bourgeois with McQueen, owned by Barbara Lovre. Returning for the handy is fortunately Haness’ specialty.

“I knew that there were places to be bold,” Haness said of the handy track. “The first jump was a triple-bar [oxer], which was a bit unusual for the hunter ring, but I got a good gallop started right away and put the horse in front of my leg. I started the boldness from the get-go to show the judges I was in it to win it.”

Nicole Bourgeois and McQueen. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The course also featured a long ride to the final oxer at a hand gallop. A long approach might intimidate many hunter riders, especially at a hand gallop, but Haness doesn’t share that concern.

“When the course designer marks on the course that they want to see a hand gallop, it excites me because I love that,” he explained. “I think it’s really important to demonstrate [the hand gallop]. In the derbies especially, it’s important to have pace. You’re out in the field hunting around the course. I am really glad the course designer gave us the long beautiful stretch of grass to gallop to the last jump. It was a fun way to bring it home.”

Earlier in the week during the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Bourgeois and Haness were neck and neck, with Bourgeois edging out the win, that time aboard Tic Tac Toe and Haness aboard Reese’s. The two riders found themselves in the same position in Sunday’s class, but the opposite result occurred.

Michelle Morris and Lykke Li-Terma Z. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Nicole always makes a big statement and is a strong competitor,” Haness said of fellow hunter extraordinaire. “Nicole put the pressure on me to deliver a good round and I really wanted to take a chance to try to win. It wasn’t an easily-deserved win by any stretch; it was a hard fought victory for us today.”

For his win, Haness was awarded a Butet bridle and standing martingale. Bourgeois and McQueen ultimately claimed second place with a total score of 368, winning a pair of front and hind Butet jumping boots. Michelle Morris piloted Lykke Li-Terma Z, owned by Ava Park, to take home third place with a total of 358.5, winning a Butet girth. Paige Walkenbach took the DIHP U25 victory with Cavaljo, as well as the leading junior award, earning herself a custom Butet saddle, plus a $2,000 gift certificate to Julia Kelleher Fine Art. Tonya Johnston and Galactic were the leading amateur pair, also winning a $2,000 gift certificate to Julia Kelleher Fine Art.

The grass will be back in play during Desert Circuit VIII and IX for National and FEI show jumping. Hunters return to action Wednesday for the start of Desert Circuit VI.

Final Results: $50,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby

1. Estimated Prophet / Nick Haness / Roaring Fork Farms LLC / 384.5
2. McQueen / Nicole Bourgeois / Barbara Lovre / 368
3. Lykke Li-Terma Z / Michelle Morris / Ava Park / 358.5
4. Dalmore / Nick Haness / Julia Nagler / 357
5. Tangled Up In Blue / Lisa Wall / 3P Equine Partners, LLC / 351
6. Kanndarco / Jordan Appel / Thomas Dias / 337.5
7. Elect / Benson Carroll / Julia Nagler / 337
8. Kingston / Halie Robinson / Stonefield Sport Horses LLC / 334.5
9. Hulla-Balou / Michael Dennehy / Dana Vollbracht / 326.1
10. Starflight / Jamie Sailor / Kevin Lemke / 326
11. Wayfinder / Nicole Bourgeois / Hilary Sosne / 324
12. Top Story / Shauna Pennell / WJC Farms, LLC / 270

Kaitlin Campbell Captures Another $30,000 1.40m Open Classic Win

Earlier Sunday, Kaitlin Campbell found herself atop the leaderboard yet again in the $30,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.40m Open Classic, this time with Laviata, owned by Beth Bowlen. Besting a nine-horse jump-off, the still-new partnership raced to the win by nearly two seconds.

“A client of Mandy Porter’s bought her last year,” Campbell said of Laviata. “She was not quite the perfect match for [the client] so I’ve been riding her the past two weeks. Mandy has kept her well trained the past year so she was ready to go when she came here. The funny thing about her is she likes to swap her leads a lot, but she’s super brave and super fun to ride. She knows what she’s doing.”

Kaitlin Campbell and Laviata in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Campbell currently holds the top spot in the standings for leading open jumper rider, to be awarded at the end of the season, and this win only helps her campaign. “I have a lot of horses in my string and I’ve been trying to place them in classes they’ll be successful in,” she remarked. “I didn’t jump her last night so I saved her for today. I wanted to come for the win because of the rider bonus in this class.”