Thermal, California, USA – January 13, 2023 – Day two of FEI competition took place Friday at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) and Desert Circuit has yet to see a day of international competition not won by Gregory Wathelet (BEL). The European Championship team gold medalist topped yet another international class aboard a different mount, Argentina De La Marchette, in the $38,700 Morning Star Sporthorses 1.50m Speed CSI 3*.
“She is more special for us. I bred her; she was born at home,” Wathelet said of the 11-year-old Selle Français mare (Acajou De La Marchete x Del Piero PB). “It’s a family story. She did some very good things. She was the Belgian champion as a 7-year-old. She has super quality, she has blood, and I wouldn’t say she has attitude but she’s sensitive. You need to know her to manage and ride her well. But when [you get it right] then she is a super jumper.”
Wathelet’s super jumper had a big task ahead since Conor Swail (IRL) and Theo 160 had set the time to beat around the halfway mark of the class. Chasing Swail’s time of 60.81 seconds, Wathelet didn’t think he’d get the job done, but the mare had other plans.
“I saw Conor; he was fast,” Wathelet explained. “I know he’s a very fast rider but I also know my mare can be very fast. I was not sure if I [could] catch him because she’s quite hot and if I go too much it’s not the best [for Sunday]. I stuck to my plan quite well. I didn’t expect to be faster to be honest; I was thinking I’d be third or so. But she’s naturally very fast.”
Wathelet sped Argentina de La Marchete around Colm Quinn’s (IRL) course in 60.62 seconds, claiming the lead and holding it as the final few rounds played out.
Swail ended up second and Ali Ramsay (CAN) claimed third with Ramsay Equestrian Inc.’s Bonita VH Keizershof Z.
The Belgian superstar has begun producing homebreds more recently, however Argentina de La Marchete was among his earlier homebreds before it became more of an operation. “It was luck,” he remarked on how Argentina de La Marchete came to be. “I bred her before I started really breeding. It was a normal mare and a local stallion and this mare came out. Sometimes it’s a nice story like that.”
Wathelet has now claimed three major victories in the Grand Prix Arena in just two days. When asked about the strength of the particular string he brought out to the West Coast of the United States, he responded, “That’s the sport. Maybe by tomorrow I will have one down every day and the streak is done. We need to enjoy when it’s coming, when it’s getting done, and when we are winning, but for sure my horses are fit, good, fresh, and I hope it continues like that.”
The $50,000 Kask Grand Prix takes center stage Saturday afternoon in the Grand Prix Arena before Sunday’s $145,100 Whittier Trust Grand Prix CSI 3*.
Final Results – $38,700 Morning Star Sporthorses Speed CSI 3*
1. Gregory Wathelet (BEL) & Argentina de La Marchette: 2012 SCSL mare (Acajou De La Marchete x Del Piero PB), Gregory Wathelet – 0 – 60.62
2. Conor Swail (IRL) & Theo 160: 2012 HOLST gelding by Christian 25 x Calando IV, Team Philippaerts – 0 – 60.81
3. Ali Ramsay (CAN) & Bonita vh Keizershof: 2011 ZANG mare by Bustique x For Pleasure, Ramsay Equestrian Inc. – 0 – 62.87
Source: Press Release by from Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photos: © DIHP / High Desert Photo
Categories: CSI 3*, English, Jumper News Belgie