Written by Holly Johnson, Equinium Sports Marketing
Photos by Erin Gilmore Photography
Wellington, Florida (January 11, 2018) – Canada’s young super star Sam Walker is a perfect example of a rising star. And on Wednesday, January 10 during the Wellington Turf Tour’s $5,000 1.30M Rising Star Classic, he lived up to the name by finishing first and second on impressive double clear efforts and with blazing jump off times. The busy class, which was held on the beautiful grass fields of Polo West, is aimed at giving developing horses and/or riders, as well as new partnerships, a competitive atmosphere where they can hone their skills with the goal advancement and growth. With a course that presents surmountable challenges, wide open warm-ups, and a nurturing atmosphere, all of the Turf Tour’s events are designed with the horse and rider in mind.
Walker rode the scopey gelding Acardi Du Houssoit Z, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Richard Spooner, to the top of the class, finishing on a jump off time of 46.828, beating out his own time of 50.972 with LaConia 7, a 9-year-old bay mare owned by the Ride family. Training out of North Run and his parents’ Forest Hill Farm in Ontario, Walker’s goals were to get both horse’s feet wet on the Wellington circuit.
“This was Acardi’s first time showing in Wellington, and my first time showing LaConia in the 1.30M,” said Walker. “Originally I had planned to give both horses a schooling round, but LaConia jumped so well I decided to go for it in the jump-off. Acardi also went so well in the first round that I decided to let him go in the jump-off; he is a super game, smart, and experienced horse with whom I’ve shown at the national Grand Prix level. He’s always looking for an inside turn or to gallop across the arena, so it was a great class to get both horses fresh for bigger classes. We plan to show in The Ridge’s Turf Tour Grand Prix this week, and I was very impressed with the atmosphere and quality of the show and competition. I love jumping on the grass, and its a great way to give horses and riders experience to move to the next level.”
“Its always a thrilling to see young talent like Sam top a class like our Rising Star Classic or Grand Prix,” said US Olympian Nona Garson, who co-founded and co-manages The Ridge, Turf Tour, and Palm Beach Series events with George d’Ambrosio. “We love to have everything from Juniors to Olympic stars show with us, and today it was great to see an up-and-coming rider use our event to build a strong foundation for future success. All of our classes, and especially the Rising Star Classic, are catering to those with big aspirations and it’s so important to give them the platform to realize those goals.”