Derby de Riverland Keeps Success in the Family for Nicola Philippaerts

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The third week of international competition during the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Wellington International started off as a winning one for Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts aboard Derby de Riverland. They topped the $62,500 Adequan® CSI4* WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 in the International Arena to highlight the NetJets sponsored week in Wellington, FL.

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Nicola Philippaerts & Derby de Riverland presented as winners of the $62,500 Adequan® CSI4* WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 by Chelsea Buttermore, Senior Equine Event Manager. Photo © Sportfot

Philippaerts, a 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ tap for Belgium, and the 11-year-old Selle Français gelding (Kannan x l’Arc de Triomphe) topped a field of 59 over a Peter Grant (CAN) designed course. Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and 12-year-old Eddy Blue (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Chacco-Blue) owned by Kerry Anne, LLC, took second while fellow Irishman David O’Brien rounded out the podium on El Balou OLD, a 12-year-old stallion (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Balou du Rouet) owned by Chansonette Farm and Leap Year Farm. 

From the end of an 11-horse jump-off, Philippaerts bumped Kenny to the runner-up position by four tenths of a second in 39.29 seconds. 

“I saw Darragh [go], and he was very quick; he did one to two in nine and then turned very short,” recalled Philippearts, 31. “For me, the turn didn’t really work out well but my horse helped me and I could go forward in the nine, which Darragh maybe had to wait for because he had quite a big stride.

“He’s naturally a quick horse and he helped me out today a lot,” continued Philippaerts who will now focus Derby de Riverland on Saturday’s CSI4* grand prix. “One of his best talents is that he’s very careful; he really wants to do his best and doesn’t want to touch the poles, which is a very big plus.”

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Darragh Kenny & Eddy Blue. Photo © Sportfot

Philippaerts took over the reins of Derby de Riverland halfway through 2023 after the mount was piloted by his younger brother Thibault, who produced the horse up the ranks. Together, Derby de Riverland and Thibault won both team gold and individual silver at the 2022 European Championships for Young Riders in Oliva, Spain.

“So far it’s been a fantastic horse for me; he had a big week last week,” said Nicola of their second-place finish in the Keyflow Feeds USA CSI3* Grand Prix during WEF 3. “He showed again today and he feels in really good shape and likes Wellington.”

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David O’Brien & El Balou OLD. Photo © Sportfot

Of the competition he has faced so far this season, Nicola noted, “Always here in Wellington in the qualifiers and grand prixs there are a lot of good riders. For me, it’s nice to come over from Europe and compete against the best in America as well as a few Europeans and it’s a nice experience to come back here.”

Fulls results

Thursday’s feature competition was a qualifier for the $215,000 NetJets CSI4* Grand Prix taking up the spotlight during ‘Saturday Night Lights’ at Wellington International. 

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Audrey Muscari & Cinja P, winners of the Florida Coast Equipment CSI2* 1.45m. Photo © Sportfot

Wonderstruck Dazzles in Antarès 3’3” Green Hunters

With a unique splash of color in his tail, Wellington’s own Holly Orlando and her mount Wonderstruck – Privet Farm LLC’s six-year-old Belgian Warmblood – was a stand out in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring as the gelding took top call in the Antares 3’3” Green Hunter division to highlight professional hunter competition during WEF 3 at Wellington International. 

Producing results that gave them two firsts, a second and a third throughout the division, Orlando and Wonderstruck made their way into the arena for their champion presentation and a celebration of the mount’s first show as a hunter. 

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Holly Orlando & Wonderstruck, champions of the Antarès 3’3” Green Hunter division. Photo © Sportfot

“We imported him in November after we had seen some video and a friend of ours went to try him for us,” explained trainer Jenny Dunion. “He competed at the Young Jumper Championships in Belgium so we watched him show live and this is his first competition in America.” 

With his jumper days behind him, Wonderstruck is headed for big things in the hunter rings. Namely, Orlando is gearing up to head to Incentive Finals later in the year. Clocking in with a leading score of 88, the duo also earned the blue ribbon in the $1,000 CIP 3’3” Green Hunter Incentive. 

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Holly Orlando & Wonderstruck presented as champions of the Antarès 3’3” Green Hunter division. Photo © Sportfot

“Holly judged at Incentive Finals last year so we didn’t compete, but it is definitely on his calendar for this year,” Dunion added. “The incentive classes are so important because it helps infuse some money into the division and gives it a different level of prestige.

John French, of Wellington, FL, captured the reserve champion honors of the division aboard Robinson Ridge LLC’s 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, Royale AM, earning a first and two seconds over fences as well as a third place ribbon on the flat.

Full results

WEF Wellington International . Photo 1 © SportfotNicola Philippaerts & Derby de Riverland, winners of the $62,500 Adequan® CSI4* WEF Challenge Cup Round 3.

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