Three years ago, Brad Wolf decided to fill a void in his life. A heart surgeon with a thriving practice in Memphis, Tenn., he felt like something was missing.
“I had no hobby at all, and I’d been in practice for 10 years, just working myself to the bone and not doing anything else,” Wolf said. He’d ridden and shown as a junior but had taken a 20-year break from horses to attend medical school and establish his practice.
Brad Wolf had never been to the Devon Horse Show before this year. But he made his first visit count in spades, as he rode his Rio Renoir to the grand amateur-owner and amateur-owner, 36 & over hunter tricolors, as well as the leading amateur rider title in the last two days of the horse show, June 1-2.
“I’m just really excited,” said Wolf in an understatement. “One of my main goals this year was just to qualify for Devon. I was just excited to be here!”
As McLain Ward walked into the ring at Devon for the jump-off of the $75,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Devon, he was taken a bit aback. Course designer Olaf Petersen had opted to not remove a combination that wasn’t on the short course. It was a decision that made an inside turn between the first two fences of the jump-off incredibly hard.
Scott Stewart may have claimed his fifth consecutive leading hunter rider title at the Devon Horse Show, but it didn’t come without a fight. Californian John French flew in and gave Stewart a run for his money during the professional hunter divisions, May 28-30 in Devon, Pa.
It was a weird World Cup Final. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that at the Rolex FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final (see p. 8), Beezie Madden and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum would both fall off, Rodrigo Pessoa would finish at the bottom of the pack, and that two young European stars would factor in the top three.
Ask any international show jumper, and they’ll tell you that Beat Mändli has long been one of the most well-respected and admired riders on the circuit. But individual glory has escaped the Swiss rider. Until now.
On April 19-22, in Las Vegas, Nev., Mändli and Ideo du Thot emerged victorious and finally claimed the international spotlight Mändli has deserved for so many years.
“Beat Mändli’s been a great rider for a long time, and very close to some big championships. He’s a great winner,” said McLain Ward, who finished as the top U.S. rider, tied for eighth.
It was a day full of surprises for the conclusion of the Rolex FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final, April 22 in Las Vegas, Nev.
It’s never over until the last horse jumps the last fence and that was proven in spades today. But after a dramatic day that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, Switzerland’s Beat Mändli emerged victorious aboard the elegant Ideo du Thot. “I’ve never had this feeling before, because I’ve never won an individual championship. I don’t think I’ve realized it yet, but I’m very happy for my horse and myself,” said Mändli.
The crowd might have been shocked when SunCal Portofino stopped twice in the speed leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final on Thursday night, April 19. But their dismay paled in comparison to Michael Whitaker’s.
“She’s never done anything like that before, ever. From one second to the next, I was going the wrong direction,” Whitaker said.