Equitation riders took center stage in the WEC Grand Arena on Saturday, February 10, 2024, for the WEC Premier Equitation Cup Championship powered by Gary Yeomans Ford – the marquee event of Week VI of the 2024 Winter Spectacular Show Series. Sixty-two of the nation’s top junior athletes earned their spot to compete in the prestigious Premier Cup, but after three challenging phases, it was Eleanor Rudnicki, 18, of Conroe, Texas, who bested the field and drove away with a brand-new Ford XLT SUV and the winning title.
Ten-time Maclay Finals course designer, Bobby Murphy, from Lexington, Kentucky, crafted the impressive tracks, featuring stunning obstacles such as the beautiful star topiary skinny vertical, the special designed ‘WEC Eq’ fence and the pink Sakura flower Swedish oxer. The first phase of the Premier Cup commenced on Saturday afternoon with a test over fences, from which only the top 20 riders advanced to the flat phase and second jumping phase held under the lights. After the flat, riders returned in reverse order of merit for the second jumping round. At the conclusion of three phases of intense competition, judges tested the top four horse-and-rider combinations in a work-off to determine the overall champion.
Maintaining the lead throughout, Rudnicki put the exclamation point on her decorated junior career with an unforgettable victory aboard Favorite Edition Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Favorit Ask x Leuthen I) owned by The Lucky Four Group. In addition, Rudnicki’s trainer, John Brennan of North Run, clinched the majority of the $100,000 Trainer Bonus, walking away with a well-deserved $40,000 check.
“In the first round, I just wanted to have a nice solid trip that would be able to put me in the top 20,” explained Rudnicki. “Going into the flat phase on top, I wanted to try to hold it together. For the second round, I just tried to keep it smooth and steady to hold my place.
“It feels pretty great to win a brand-new car!” she continued of her Ford Explorer XLT SUV prize. “It’s pretty zippy! I just tried to focus on my horse and the rounds. I wasn’t trying to think about the prize, but it is definitely nice to have.”
Maddie Tosh, 18, of Milton, Georgia, came the closest to overtaking Rudnicki, impressing the judges with her trusted equitation partner Daktari, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Diacontinus owned by Betsee Parker. After an extremely competitive work-off, Tosh would have to settle for the runner-up spot. Mae Mannis, 17, of Wellington, Florida, riding Theodore Flash, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Celestial owned by Frank Madden, captivated the judges for an eventual third-place finish. Izzy Beisel, 16, of Goshen, Ohio, initially ranked sixteenth after the flat phase but delivered an impressive performance in the second jumping round aboard Lorenzo 354, a 16-year-old Warmblood gelding (Landprinz x Karim xx) owned by Out of the Park Sport Horses, LLC, to climb the ranks and ultimately finish in fourth.
Watch Eleanor Rudnicki’s winning work-off in the 2024 WEC Premier Equitation Cup Championship powered by Gary Yeomans Ford.
Watch an interview with Eleanor Rudnicki after her win in the 2024 WEC Premier Equitation Cup Championship powered by Gary Yeomans Ford.
2024 WEC Premier Equitation Cup Championship powered by Gary Yeomans Ford Results:
1 Eleanor Rudnicki, Favorite Edition Z
2 Maddie Tosh, Daktari
3 Mae Mannis, Theodore Flash
4 Izzy Beisel, Lorenzo 354
5 Audrey Carmody, Aramis De B’Neville
6 Kate Hagerty, Magic Moment
7 Cecelia Perry, Linford 9
8 Schuyler Dayner, Electric Avenue
9 Christian Dominguez, Iwan
10 Sydney Raidy, Mac One III
11 Lily Epstein, Greyson PH
12 Rylynn Conway, First VDL
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