Breaking news: Eric Lamaze (CAN) and McLain Ward (USA) did not win the WEF Challenge Cup this week.
The honors went instead to Belgian H&M model, Olivier Philippaerts.
The 24-year-old rider triumphed over 53 competitors to take the $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 6 at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
Riding H&M Ikker, Philippaerts posted a blistering jump-off in 37.61 seconds to take the win by nearly two seconds.
“I watched the first [jump-off] round, but decided to just go my own round and see where I ended up; luckily it was fast enough today. He turns very well in the jump-off, which is what makes him quite fast,” said the slightly more rugged half of show jumping’s most famous twins.
The 10-year-old gelding is a horse Philippaerts has been developing for several years.
“The owner came and asked if I wanted me to ride Ikker when he was seven, and I really liked the horse,” said the world #33 ranked rider. “I brought the horse up to this level, so I know him very well and I think he’s a great horse for the future. He is very easy, has a nice character, always tries very hard and wants to do everything he can. That’s why I like him so much.”
A regular on the fall indoor circuit, this season marks the first time the Belgian rider has brought horses over from Europe to compete in Florida’s winter series. He picked H&M Ikker for the journey because he thought he’d enjoy the scenery.
“He’s a really good outdoor horse,” said the rider. “Indoor doesn’t really suit him that well as he is big-striding, and when he is indoors it’s all very small and short strides. It’s hard for him to sit in the canter, which is why outdoors suits him much better. That’s why we brought him over here, because he needs more room and because there are the right shows for him here.”
And perhaps the right new owner…? [speculating pause]
“I jumped him on the grass the first week, and it’s good to do some different rings while I’m here,” added Philippaerts.
Second place went to Francisco Musa (BRA) and Catch Me Imperio Egipicio in 39.28 seconds. USA’s Callan Solem and Davidson finished third with the only other double clear round of the day.