Amanda Steege has been vying for victory in the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular with Lafitte de Muze for the past four years.
And for four years, they’ve had a mixed bag of results in the highlight class of Hunter Week at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Take their debut in the class.
Steege and the Belgian Warmblood gelding finished a respectable 18th overall in 2018 with a solid 77 score in the first round. The following year, 2019, they shot straight to a podium finish, missing victory in the then $100,000 class by a mere .5 of a point to Victoria Colvin and Private Practice. Then in 2020, they ended up on the opposite end of the results sheet, finishing last.
“Every year when we sit down and make his schedule, we plan his Florida season around making this be the big event for him to try to get to and try to win. There are months of work that go into winning this class, not just what happens this week,” shared Steege.
Her plan for 2021 was to ride a smooth first round, which they executed to earn a 88.91 average score from the judges that put them in third. Returning for the second round, Steege made a plan—then revised it entirely moments before she entered the ring after watching the rounds before her.
“Liza [Boyd] and I walked together, and we were not planning on doing some of the inside slices we did,” said Steege of her plan for round two. “As we were watching people go and do the turns, the judges seemed to reward it, so I actually phoned a friend. I called Tom Wright, who was sitting in the stands, literally when I was standing at the in-gate and I asked him what he thought I should do. He helped me formulate a plan that we thought would be the best for Lafitte, and I was happy I was able to follow the plan and make it work.”
The new plan paid off. Steege piloted Lafitte de Muze to the pair’s first $50,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular victory with an average score of 88.83 in round two for a 177.74 total.
“It’s a huge honor for him to have this class on his resume, and it’s certainly a class that is very important to me and very important to his owner,” said Steege.
Second place went to went to Liza Towell Boyd and Walk-Off with a two-round total of 177.66. Geoffrey Hesslink and Bond took third on a total score of 176.49.