Capping off a spectacular day of equestrian sport at the 2023 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), presented by MARS Equestrian™ in Upper Marlboro, MD, Katie Dinan (USA) saved the best for last, winning the $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup presented by Experience Prince George’s. Junior phenom Maddie Tosh topped the WIHS Equitation Finals, while Tessa Downey won the Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, and Amy Krebs was victorious in the Medium Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic.
It was a full house in The Show Place Arena for the marquee event of the week, the $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup presented by Experience Prince George’s. Twenty-four elite combinations contested the first-round track designed by FEI Level 4 Course Designer Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) with assistance from Nick Granat (USA). The first clear came from the second rider in the start list, Alise Oken (USA), with Gelvera. Immediately following, Rene Dittmer (GER) and Corsica X made it a jump-off with the next clear effort. Only two rounds later, Devin Ryan (USA) and Eddie Blue also went fault-free. Darragh Kenny (IRL) with Irwin, Rowan Willis (AUS) with Blue Movie, Margie Goldstein-Engle (USA) with Dicas, and Katie Dinan with Brego R’n B all added their names to the jump-off, bringing the total to seven.
n the jump-off, Oken thrilled the crowd with a second clear performance, setting the time to beat at 36.81 seconds. That time didn’t hold up for long though as next to go, Dittmer, turned up the heat and shaved the time down to 34.40 seconds. Then it was Ryan who gave it a go, but just came up short, clocking in at 34.74 seconds. It seemed like Dittmer’s time was going to be impossible to catch, until Dinan galloped through the final timers in 33.50 seconds to thunderous cheers and applause. Dittmer finished in the runner-up spot with Corsica X, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor x Corofino II) owned by Equestrix Agency BVBA, while Ryan slotted into third, and Oken ended up in fourth.
“I think the course was very fair,” stated Cabral, who designed the courses for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Omaha 2023. “It’s a five-star, so I need 1.60m verticals and 1.52m oxers. It was nice for the riders. They had space to get to the jumps, and they had time to ride. With this jump material, it is so good and so delicate. I was counting on it. You saw very good horses and very good riders have soft four faults. To see Katie winning like that, the last to go, it’s a course designer’s dream, isn’t it? I was very happy, and it was thrilling to watch. I’m happy that the horses jumped so well.”
Dinan, who trains with Swiss Olympian Beat Mändli who also competed, discussed their plan for the jump-off after watching Dittmer’s ride. They knew Dinan would have to pull out all the stops if she wanted to win. With a little boost of excitement and some extra wings from Brego, it worked out in their favor.
While Dinan has enjoyed a lot of success in her career, her last five-star win came from Nougat Du Vallet in 2013. Now with a new star partner in Brego R’n B, she finally collected her first Longines timepiece.
“It’s hard not to love Brego,” said Dinan of the 17-year-old KWPN gelding (Namelus R x Gerlinus) owned by Grant Road Partners LLC, with whom she competed at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Leipzig 2022. “He’s a super, super horse. I’m super lucky to have him. We’ve been together for a little bit over five years. We have done a few indoor series, but this is our first five-star grand prix win together. He’s 17, and he really, really deserves it. I’m thrilled for him. In the jump-off, he showed all of his amazing qualities. He’s got huge scope, quality, bravery, intelligence, and he tries hard. You can’t really ask for more from a horse as a rider. I think he knew he won.
“He needs to warm up to you a little bit, but when he does, he is really a sweet and affectionate horse,” added Dinan, who, in addition to her equestrian pursuits, is also a graduate student at Rockefeller University in a Ph.D. program studying circadian rhythms in a genetics lab. “He’s a bit of a gentle giant. The people he knows, he’s really loving to on the ground. He’s had the same groom, Lou Beudin, since we got him five years ago and he loves her so much. They’re a really great pair. Consistency for him makes the difference.”
It was an exclamation mark on an incredible week for Dittmer who kicked things off by winning both the $78,000 Welcome Stake and the $40,000 International Jumper Accumulator class on Thursday.
“The week could not have started better and kept going,” reflected Dittmer, who is normally based in Germany and is competing in his first season in the U.S. “Today was unbelievable. I can’t be more proud of my horse. When I watched Alise, she was first to go in the jump-off, and her seven was a little short to the last and I was thinking, ‘Should I do seven?’ I caught everything quite well before, and I took the safer option. I’m still happy with my second place today. It was an amazing jump-off.
“Obviously, I really like Washington!” Dittmer continued of his triumphant debut. “It’s great to come in here because it’s such a great atmosphere. The spectators really cheer you on. It’s a super good feeling to come into this indoor. I really love it.”
Their third-place finish is just the latest in a long list of impressive accolades for Ryan and Eddie Blue who have been together since the now 14-year-old KWPN gelding (VDL Zirocco Blue x Marlon) owned by LL Show Jumpers LLC was just four.
“He was jumping great tonight,” commented Ryan, who, with Eddie Blue, was the runner-up in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Paris 2018 and was part of the gold medal winning team at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, NC. “He jumped the second round and even felt looser and even better. I’m very grateful that I have such a good animal, and he’s still going strong. Hopefully it keeps on going and he has a few more years in him at this level.”
The secret to their long-term success and consistency seems to be Ryan’s complete understanding of his star mount – and perhaps an extra carrot.
“Honestly, I have to say he’s not much of a people person,” shared Ryan. “He doesn’t like other horses. He’s a bit of a grouch in the barn, but he loves carrots. You become his best friend as soon as you walk in the stall with a carrot for him. It’s way easier. He’s quite a character. If you speak to [Dutch Olympian] Jur Vrieling, Eddie’s father, Zirocco Blue, was very much that way too. He’s been that way since he was four. He has quite an attitude.”
With such a dazzling night of competition amid an exceptional week, WIHS President Victoria Lowell was thrilled with the result.
“I couldn’t be happier,” she enthused. “I adore each and every one of these three people who placed in the top three. It was fun to see the success that they had, and it was such an exciting jump-off. I think Bernardo did an amazing job. The support that we have had at this new venue across the board is phenomenal. Everybody is getting behind this: the county, the sponsors, the local and D.C. media. They want to see the horses in this area. The venue is great for the horses, and it’s great for the sport. I think we have a good place to be for a while.”
At the conclusion of the evening, special awards were given as follows:
International Jumper Championship and the Sweet’N Low Trophy, presented by Kaneb Equine Ventures: Corsica X
Leading FEI Groom Award in Honor of Karen Golding: Carolin Kagelmann for Rene Dittmer
Leading International Jumper Owner Award, presented by Karina Brez: Grant Road Partners LLC
“Doc Steele” Spirit Award presented by M. Michael Meller: Brego R’n B
$5,000 Leading International Rider and The Margaret Chovnick Memorial Trophy: Rene Dittmer
Leading Foreign Rider Award: Rene Dittmer
Leading Lady Rider, presented by Fab Finds by Sarah: Katie Dinan
$5,000 Leading Under 25 Rider Award: Brian Moggre
TOSH TOPS WIHS EQUITATION FINALS
In the hotly contested WIHS Equitation Finals, it was Maddie Tosh, 17, of Milton, GA, aboard her trusty partner Daktari 38 who came away victoriously.
A field of 40 horse-and-rider combinations competed in the coveted year-end final, for which riders qualify by competing in WIHS classes throughout the year. On Friday, riders had their hunter phase, and the jumper phase followed on Saturday afternoon. The top 10 riders then returned for the work-off during the evening session, where they switched onto a competitor’s mount. Riders were awarded an average mark from the scores of two panels of judges including Michael Morrissey with Richard Fancher and Charlie Jayne with Daniel Geitner.
Tosh has been knocking on the door of a big equitation win, coming close with a second-place finish in the Palm Beach International Academy (PBIA) North American Junior Equitation Championships at Capital Challenge just a few weeks ago.
“He’s been great all year,” said Tosh of Betsee Parker’s seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Diacontinus. “He’s still pretty green, still pretty young, so I feel like every final so far, and every class he’s gone in, he’s just gotten better and better. Coming in here, we know each other really well, and I felt pretty confident with him.”
It was Tosh who took the lead following her expert performance in the jumper phase, earning scores of 92 and 94.5 from the two panels. Close behind her was Eleanor Rudnicki, 18, of Conroe, TX, with Kosher, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Casall owned by Brookside Pine Farms, who scored 93 and 90 in the jumper phase. When it came time for the horse swap, Tosh and Rudnicki were the top two and exchanged mounts.
“Daktari has a massive stride and he’s so, so brave,” explained Tosh, who trains with her dad, top professional hunter rider Hunt Tosh, along with the team at North Run. “I could point him at fire, and he would have no problem jumping it. That’s definitely an advantage for me. To be able to just go in and count on him is really nice, and he came to play today for sure.
“The horse I swapped onto has more of a hunter style, which I’m used to since I’ve been doing a lot of hunters,” continued Tosh of Kosher. “I thought that was a nice advantage for me to just let him stick his nose out and jump around, and it couldn’t have been better.”
Rudnicki agreed with Tosh on the strengths of both horses saying, “Kosher is a little newer to the equitation, but he’s had plenty of miles in the jumper ring, so he’s kind of seen it all. He’s a beautiful jumper, so the hunter phase went well, and he was able to show off his style. Then in the jumper phase, I just stayed out of his way, let him do his job, and he was very good. Like Maddie said, Daktari’s stride is huge. He’s so brave. He’s also very huntery like my horse, so I just let him go around with his nose stuck out, and he’s a great jumper, so he was perfect.”
With Tosh’s slight lead going into the work-off and with both riders scoring in the 90s, they retained their standings. Rudnicki finished as reserve champion, and Tosh was champion.
“It feels great,” expressed Rudnicki, who trains with Berry Porter of Brookside Pine Farms and North Run. “I’ve been looking for some top equitation final ribbons the past couple of years, so it feels great to have this.”
Carlee McCutcheon, 18, of Aubrey, TX, has also had an incredible Indoors season, including a win in the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final, aboard her aptly named partner Chacco Star, Kennedy McCaulley’s 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Chacco-Blue. McCutcheon didn’t quite get off to the start she wanted in the hunter phase but regrouped to rocket up the leaderboard and enter the work-off in fourth place after earning scores of 93 and 90 in the jumper phase.
“I try not to put too much pressure on myself going into it,” shared McCutcheon, who trains with the team at Stonehenge Stables in Colts Neck, NJ. “I try to just look at it as another Washington, like any weekend at any normal show. My horse is very experienced at this, more than I am for sure. I maybe stayed out of his way a little too much in the hunter phase and I had a couple swaps, so I knew coming into today that I really had to put in my best performance, and he was really there for me today. He showed up for sure. I really couldn’t ask any more from him. He likes to win, so I knew I could trust him and move up into the work-off.”
In the work-off, McCutcheon rode Gossip SA, Leigh Kettaneh’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Vingino, who was Amira Kettaneh’s original mount. While most competitors had not ridden their borrowed mounts previously, Gossip was at least a little familiar to McCutcheon.
“I got pretty lucky to end up on Gossip,” admitted McCutcheon. “I rode her at USEF Talent Search Finals in the horse swap there as well, so I had an advantage, and she was really great. I ended up having a back rail doing an inside turn, but I couldn’t ask her to be any better. It was really fun to just be in the horse swap, so I’m just grateful to be here.”
After her work-off, McCutcheon moved up to third place.
In a class filled with top riders and equally impressive performances, the judges were wowed by the quality of the talent they saw.
“I thought it was a very strong class,” stated judge Michael Morrissey, who competes in the international jumper classes. “For the most part, the entire class handled the pressure of this final very well. We saw very few big mistakes in the entire class and none with these top three riders. It definitely is a talented group, a strong group, and it was exciting and fun to watch these riders go out and compete at such a high level.”
In the end, it was Tosh’s high-level consistency that ruled the day. For her stellar victory, Tosh was presented with the WIHS Equitation Classic Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. G. Ralph Ours, III. As the winning horse, Daktari was presented with The Lugano Memorial Trophy, donated by Stoney Hill.
Amira Kettaneh won the Hollow Brook Wealth Management Sportsmanship Award.
TESSA DOWNEY AND ISABELLE FLY TO HIGH JUMPER WIN
The $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic wrapped up junior/amateur jumper competition at the 2023 WIHS, where Tessa Downey, 18, of Houston, TX, produced the only double-clear performance for the win aboard Isabelle. The Classic also serves as the Championship Final of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Jumper Classic Series.
For her win in the Classic, she was presented with The Ambassador’s Cup Perpetual Trophy, donated by Ambassador and Mrs. Marion H. Smoak. She and Isabelle were also champions of the High Junior/Amateur Jumper division and were awarded The Greenberg Challenge Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hermen Greenberg, and Downey was given the Junior Jumper Style of Riding Award, for which she was presented with the Shalanno Trophy.
It was a tough class for the $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, which saw the starting field of 12 whittled down to just two clears for the jump-off. Downey was first to contest the short course, with a quick clear in 35.751 seconds. Hallie Grimes, 21, of Houston, TX, tried to catch Downey’s time with La Belle Dame Z, but had an unfortunate rail for four faults, giving Downey the victory.
“I have had issues developing a strategy and sticking to it in the past, so I knew going in it was very important for me to make a plan and follow the plan,” explained Downey of her jump-off strategy. “We were planning one less stride in the first line, which didn’t work out. My horse doesn’t have a gigantic stride, but it definitely helped me turn back a little better from the second jump to the third. I think that was where I was really able to set up the next line, where in that line, I did leave a stride out.”
Downey has been leasing the 14-year-old KWPN mare (Chepetto x Joost) from Serena Marron of Orchard Hill LLC for almost two years, but like many others this season, their time together is coming to a close. Even still, Downey and Isabelle have enjoyed a lot of success.
“She’s really, really peculiar,” shared Downey, who trains with Peter Pletcher of PJP Farm along with Ken and Emily Smith of Ashland Farms. “She’s definitely quirky and definitely interesting. She’s a little shark-like. She’s not really lovey-dovey, but I think that only helps with her personality. She’s pretty spicy to ride.”
Downey had quite the cheering squad in attendance made up of her mother Sara, her mother’s trainers from when she rode, Lydie and Jinny Hoffman, as well as friends and teammates from the University of Georgia Equestrian Team of which Downey is a member. Having her friends and family present to witness her victory in the unique atmosphere of Washington made winning even sweeter than the Georgetown Cupcakes.
“It’s Washington; it’s just such a great feeling that can’t be replicated,” said Downey. “Even how they dress the ring up, the prizes, the ribbons, everything – it’s just so special.”
Second-place Classic finisher Grimes and the 12-year-old Zangersheide mare (Levisto x Grannus) owned by Can We Keep It? LLC also finished as reserve champions of the division, and Grimes was awarded the Leading Amateur Jumper title. Third place in the Classic went to the fastest four-faulter, Katherine Pugliese, 18, of Malvern, PA, who rode Heineken, her 11-year-old KWPN (Spartacus TN x Jus de Pomme).
AMY KREBS AND JABANTOS JUMP TO $7,500 MEDIUM JUNIOR/AMATEUR JUMPER CLASSIC VICTORY
Eleven ultra-competitive combinations were poised to tackle the course for the $7,500 Medium Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, but only three found the clear path to move on to the jump-off. Kicking off the short course was Amy Krebs, 15, of Franklin, TN, who set the time to beat at 26.485 seconds aboard Jabantos and could not be caught, running away with the victory.
Krebs made her Indoors debut in 2022 and was determined to build on her performance this year. After a less than ideal start in Wednesday’s class, lowering two rails, Krebs regrouped for Thursday’s class, where she put in a solid clear to finish in third place. Finally, on the last day of the division, it all came together for a win in the $7,500 Medium Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic.
“Overall, I thought it rode really nicely,” said Krebs of the first round. “There weren’t a whole lot of jumps coming out of the turns, but there were a few blind turns, so I really made sure to help keep him looking and focused on the jumps. The triple bar to the one-stride was a little challenging because you don’t want to get them flat to that, but he did really well coming back to me and staying uphill.”
“Elijah,” as he’s known in the barn, has been with Krebs for three years, and together they’ve taken on everything from the 1.10m jumpers all the way up through the 1.45m. Krebs takes care of all of her horses at home alongside her father Ames Krebs, so she knows Elijah inside and out and was confident for the Classic.
“Elijah’s the sweetest horse ever,” shared Krebs of her nine-year-old KWPN gelding (Corsari van de Helle x Cassini I). “We like to say he has a teddy bear personality. He always loves treats. His favorite treats are Froot Loops, and we just recently discovered that. We were at a horse show, and someone brought them to the barn for breakfast. They were on the table, and he just started eating them. Now we buy him a jumbo box. We put them in the backpack, and they’re his treat before he walks into the ring.
“Today the course was really good for him because he has a really big stride,” continued Krebs of the jump-off. “Jumps one to two, I made sure to get the six strides done. I just stayed on the gallop and went around. The last line, I was planning to do eight strides, but I get on a little bit of an adrenaline rush, and I landed and committed to do the seven strides.”
It was a great end to the week for Krebs as her Classic win boosted her to the division reserve championship. All that was left was to take care of Elijah and make sure he got the Froot Loops he deserved.
“This is really special,” expressed Krebs. “I really like coming to Indoors. It’s fun to see who you’re up against. It really shows how far you’ve come.”
Champion of the Medium Junior/Amateur division went to second-place Classic finisher Rylynn Conway, 15, of Fair Haven, NJ, with her Nossa van de Bien, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Deauville van T&L x Capriano). At the end of Junior/Amateur jumper competition, Conway was also awarded the Leading Junior Jumper title.
Britta Stoeckel, 24, of Chicago, IL, finished third in the Classic with Pewit Dezoito, a 10-year-old Anglo European gelding (A Pikachu de Muze x Werther) owned by EHS LLC.
The 2023 WIHS concludes Sunday, October 29, with the Pony Hunter championships, the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, presented by Huntland, and the WIHS Halloween hunt teams.
About Washington International Horse Show, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization
Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of North America’s most prestigious, competitive, and entertaining equestrian events with competition for international, professional, amateur, junior and child riders. Highlights include the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI5*-W for the President’s Cup, the WIHS Equitation Finals and Children’s and Adult Hunter and Jumper Championships, top national hunters and jumpers, plus popular community, and charity events. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition. For more information, visit wihs.org.