Brazil’s Celso Ariani and Ukulman de la Nutria captured the first WEF Challenge Cup of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival season in Wellington, FL on Wednesday. And it’s left us with so many questions.
Last to go in a six-horse jump off, Ariani piloted the 2008 Selle Français gelding to victory over a field of 36 via a massive ground covering stride, an efficient track and careful jumping. The winning pair stopped the clock at 40.530 seconds, nearly one second faster than runner ups, Hunter Holloway (USA) and VDL Bravo’s time of 41.402 seconds.
And that’s where the standard show jumping fare ends and the questions begin.
It starts with the gelding’s origin story.
Ukulman de la Nutria is a French sport horse but is from Mexico. There’s a rational explanation for that geographic discrepancy. (Globe-trotting import?). But it’s not included in the press release.
From there, the story gets more interesting. The son of Quick Star, we learn, was not started until his seven-year-old year.
At a time when Thoroughbreds may be onto their third career and many-a-mare have already had a foal or three, Ukulman was just beginning life as a riding horse. And he’s a gelding.
Ariani offered a bit of insight into that surprising fact, but even he couldn’t account for all of the missing years.
“[Ukulman] is from Mexico and it’s the system there to break them at five or six, but for some reason he was in pasture for a little longer,” said the Wellington-based rider, who has been riding the gelding for the past two years ago.
Finally—and the biggest mystery of all—is the horse’s name.
“Ukulman” means… nothing. As in, it’s a made up word.
We consulted dictionary.com, babynames.com, Google Translate, Google Maps AND Google—there are no known definitions for the word, nor its root “ukul.” Is it a Ukulele reference? Childhood nickname? Gobbledygook? FROM WHERE WAS THIS WORD BREATHED INTO LIFE? *scratches head*
Nutria, on the other hand, is a name… for a large, herbivorous, semiaquatic rodent.
And that’s the part of Ukulman’s story so far that makes sense.
What we do know is that Ariani is optimistic about the future of his promising mount.
“I was very happy with his results over the last year and I have a lot of expectations for him. I believe he can become a very important horse,” said the Brazilian rider.
Let’s all hope they win Sunday’s $75,000 Rosenbaum PLLC Grand Prix, so we can start getting some answers.