From January through April, the world’s top riders and their amazing horses return to Wellington to take part in the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The crowds will be on hand to watch the steady beat of hooves and the graceful movements as horse and rider head over jumps, aimed for the history books. Olympic-caliber riders will join up-and-comers, children, juniors and adult amateurs in the ring to take part in a horse show series that offers something for every age and skill level. Over the next few pages, you’ll get a glimpse at just a handful of the impressive riders competing this season in our annual Faces of WEF feature. Make plans to spend some time at the show grounds this season to learn more about why Wellington is known as the “winter equestrian capital of the world.
Show jumping runs in the family for Lucy Deslauriers, daughter of Canadian Olympian Mario Deslauriers and Grand Prix rider Lisa Tarnopol Deslauriers. A rising show jumping star, she won the 2015 George Morris Excellence in Equitation Award at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. In 2016, Deslauriers was awarded the Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy by the United States Equestrian Team. The award is for young riders who exemplify both sportsmanship and horsemanship. She notched a huge win in 2017 during Week 8 of WEF in the 1.50-meter $100,000 Suncoast Jumper Classic CSIO4*. Of the field of 49, she had a fault-free finish to the top of the leaderboard. That year, she had victories riding her prized mount Hester in Wellington, Spruce Meadows, North Salem and more. In 2018, Deslauriers and Hester topped a 23-horse jump-off to win the $132,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI5* during Week 12 at WEF. She made her Nations Cup debut at the Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, British Columbia, helping the U.S. to a fourth-place finish, which secured the team a spot in the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain.
Georgina Bloomberg is both a top equestrian and a philanthropist, putting her well-known name to work protecting animals and aiding equestrians in need. Daughter of Michael Bloomberg, she began riding at age six. She won the 2001 USET Talent Derby, won team gold at the North American Young Rider’s Championships in 2002 and individually in 2003, won the USET Maxine Beard Award in 2004 and made her debut at the FEI World Cup Final in 2005. In 2009, Bloomberg won the eighth round of the WEF Challenge Cup and won round one of the WEF Challenge Cup Series in 2010 before winning the Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix and placing top in 2012 and 2013 throughout Europe and America. More international success followed. She helped the U.S. claim the team bronze at the 2015 Pan American Games. After spending 2018 rebuilding her string of horses, she headed into 2019 with a barn full of talent. After top placings with Chameur 137 in fall World Cup qualifying classes, she’s sixth in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Standings – North American Eastern Sub-League and aiming for the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Brazilian show jumper Yuri Mansur Guerios hails from Sao Paulo in the southeast of Brazil. He’s easy to spot on the course in the colorful yellow jacket representing his homeland. While he had long been fascinated by horses, opportunities were limited. He got a late start in the horse world, competing in his first 1.35m class at age 18. An opportunity in Belgium introduced him to the European equestrian circles, where he eventually became a groom and later rider for Belgian show jumping Olympian Ludo Philippaerts, which really started his career. He later returned to Brazil and began a horse business, which included importing horses from Europe. He eventually came to dominate South American shows and had some success abroad, where he has represented Brazil on Nations Cup teams after being vice-champion of Brazil twice and qualifying for the World Cup Final three times. In Wellington, Mansur and Babylotte topped 82 other entries to win the $35,000 Rose Hill Farm 1.45m Classic CSI2* last season. After being a reserve rider for Brazil in 2014, Mansur competed at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C., with his mount Ibelle Ask.
Only the second person to be named U.S. Equestrian Rider of the Year three times, Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden has spent most of her life around horses. Riding since age 3, she was the first woman to pass the $1 million mark in earnings for show jumping. A seasoned athlete, Madden was part of the gold medal U.S. teams at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, as well as the silver medal U.S. team at the 2016 Olympics. She claimed the individual bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics. She also medaled at the World Equestrian Games in both 2006 and 2014. In 2014, Madden became the first woman to win the prestigious King George Gold Cup at Hickstead with Cortes C. She also became the first woman and one of only a few riders to achieve back-to-back victories when she repeated the victory with Cortes C in 2015. In April 2013, Madden won the FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden, aboard Abigail Wexner’s Simon. Madden was only the fifth woman ever to win the FEI World Cup Finals. Madden followed up that win with a repeat in 2018 with Abigail Wexner’s Breitling LS. Still at the top of her game, Madden is currently ranked #9 in the Longines FEI world rankings.
Catherine “Cat” Tyree has had a love for horses for as long as she can remember. Originally from the Chicago area, she has competed for the U.S. in FEI competitions both here and in Europe. She had a successful 2017 with highlight wins in the 1.45m CSI5* Ranking class in Dinard, France aboard Bokai and in the $35,000 Suncast Welcome CSI2* in Tryon, N.C. Tyree also dominated at the Washington International Horse Show, winning the $10,000 International Jumper Speed class with Bokai, then claimed third place in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Qualifier aboard Enjoy Louis. The USET Foundation awarded her the prestigious Maxine Beard Award in 2017. The award is presented annually to young riders who show great potential to represent the U.S. in Nations Cup competitions and international championships. Tyree has been competing in Wellington since 2004. She represented Team USA in the $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO4* in 2017 and took fifth in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI5* at the end of the 2018 season. Also in 2018, she sailed to victory in the $36,000 McKee Family International Challenge at the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show in Toronto.
Originally from Salt Lake City, Alex Granato has represented the U.S. in Nations Cup competition and won more than 40 Grand Prix events. His riding career began with western riding lessons at the age of five, returning to the saddle at age nine for lessons in English riding. He began competing locally and became the youngest rider to win the Utah Hunter Jumper Association Medal Finals. At age 17, he moved to nearby Colorado to train with an eye on the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. From 2006-13, Granato dominated the Midwest circuit and in 2012 was named to the USEF Long List for the U.S. Olympic Team. He started his own barn and training operation in 2013, naming it Mad Season LLC. He based it out of Wellington, where he first competed in 2012. He has had success recently in Wellington, where he helped the men’s team capture the Battle of the Sexes for the first time in 2018. Also in 2018, he rode to victory in the $50,000 Equiline Grand Prix aboard Carlchen W and took the top spot in the $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 8. He ended the year winning the $35,000 Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital 1.50m Qualifier CSI 4*.
Whether it’s Wellington, the Olympics or the World Equestrian Games, show jumper McLain Ward is well-prepared for the challenge. Ward started riding after being encouraged to take up the sport by his parents, who were professionals in the industry. In 1990, at age 14, he became the youngest rider to win the USEF’s Show Jumping Derby. At the 2004 Olympics, Ward won the gold medal as part of the United States team — a feat he accomplished again at in 2008. He was back at the Olympics in 2016 as part of the silver-winning U.S. team. In 2017, Ward won the Longines FEI World Cup Championship aboard his 2016 Olympic mount HH Azur. That was also the year he was ranked #1 in the Longines FEI world rankings for the first time. He is currently ranked at #4 and is the highest-ranked American. In 2018, Ward and his mount Clinta were instrumental in the U.S. winning the team gold medal at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. Ward powered the U.S. home after a head-to-head jump-off, the first in team jumping history at WEG, against Sweden. A talented rider, Ward is a dominant force to watch when he’s back in action this season at WEF.
Mexican show jumper Eugenio Garza Perez comes from a long line of equestrians. Horses have been in his family for generations. Garza has moved quickly up the ranks since he came to the United States to train eight years ago. Working with trainer Eddie Macken, one key to his success has been his mount Bariano, which he purchased in 2012. The pair jumped to the gold medal at the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships in 2013, before moving on to Grand Prix classes. At WEF last year, Garza and Bariano claimed the $35,000 Bainbridge FEI 1.45m Classic during Week 3. He also placed fourth in the $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Series Final. Later in the season, he rode to victory in the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Columbus aboard Victer Finn Dh Z. Garza then headed across the pond where he and his Mexican teammates Federico Fernandez, Patricio Pasquel and Enrique Gonzalez shocked the Europeans by winning the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Ireland in Dublin last summer. In the fall, Garza and Victer Finn DH Z jumped to the lead in the $132,000 1.50m Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake at the Tryon Fall 4 CSI 5* competition.
A two-time Olympian for his native Colombia, Daniel Bluman holds dual citizenship with Israel, and he recently switched flags in an effort to qualify an Israeli show jumping team for the Olympics. He rode under the Israeli flag at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. Bluman began riding at three years old. As a young rider, he competed in Colombia, Germany and the United States, training with some of the top equestrians in the world, including Nelson Pessoa. In 2007, he moved to Wellington, where he started his professional career. In 2016, Bluman represented Columbia at the Rio Olympics riding Apardi. It was his second time at the Olympics. He placed 20th individually at the London Olympics in 2012. Bluman had a strong showing at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival. He captured the $205,000 NetJets CSI4* Grand Prix aboard his Olympic partner Sancha LS, and he also won the $384,000 Fidelity Investments CSI5* Grand Prix riding Landriano Z. Bluman followed that up with wins last year at Spruce Meadows, Tryon and Toronto. Look for him back in the action this season at WEF.