Gregory Wathelet Plays his Ace Of Hearts in $38,700 CSI3* Speed
A little time off has proven to be no issue for Ace Of Hearts, expertly piloted by Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet to the win in Friday’s $38,700 La Quinta Resort & Club CSI3* 1.50m Speed. At 13 years old, the Estonian Sport Horse gelding is hitting his stride after a nearly four-year break from the competition ring.
Wathelet has already taken international victories at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) and is back in winning form for Desert Circuit V, advancing this horse from National to FEI competition.
“My plan was to do a few jumps with him yesterday and go in the Grand Prix Sunday, but I didn’t want to go straight in the Grand Prix because he has less experience,” he explained. “I know that with him I can go a little bit for these classes. I don’t normally ruin the control and everything for the grand prixs; that’s normally not a big problem. And then I saw the ones before me there that were quite fast. To be in front I had to at least try and make good turns.”
Over Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) single-round speed course, Wathelet unseated leader at the time, Kyle King (USA) with SIG International’s SIG Chiari. King took second in the class while Karrie Rufer (USA) claimed third with Mr. Europe, owned by Morning Star Sporthorses.
Brought into Wathelet’s string as a 5-year-old, Ace Of Hearts wowed him early on and is continuing to do so eight years later. “He was jumping amazing,” Wathelet said of the horse as a youngster. He had not done any shows when we bought him. A dressage rider, and friend of mine, saw him and said we have to buy him. And I even didn’t really try him.”
The horse had scope from the beginning, and almost too much scope. “At the beginning, when he was six and seven, he was always jumping too high and too careful,” Wathelet continued. “I didn’t really have the time to ride him myself, which is why he didn’t do too much. At seven and eight he did some shows but still not many. And then he was a bit unlucky with a small injury that took him out. It kept him out of the shows for almost four years.”
Now back in the show ring for about a year and a half, Ace Of Hearts is finding his time to shine. ”I brought him here just to give him some experience, good experience, to step up a bit and hope he can be ready when they go back to Europe to do some bigger things,” Wathelet said.