For their victory, Kessler and Cylana were presented with the President of the United States Perpetual Cup. As Leading Jumper Rider, an award sponsored by Robin Parsky, Kessler was also presented with the Margaret Chovnick Memorial Trophy and awarded a Rolex luxury timepiece from Tiny Jewel Box. Kessler’s parents, Teri and Murray Kessler, received a special award as the Leading Jumper Owner, sponsored by The Reid Family. Paulo Santana was named the Leading International Rider.
eed Kessler has had an incredible year, competing as the youngest member in history for the U.S. Show Jumping Team at this summer’s Olympic Games in London. She can now add one of the nation’s most prestigious grand prix honors to her resume. Kessler was elated with the win, and praised Cylana on another great effort. The ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (by Skippy II x Darco) has become a superstar in her own right this year.
“This is one of the most historical classes in our country and it is my first year being old enough to do the grand prix,” Kessler noted. “Last year I was actually leading rider going into it and I wasn’t old enough to do it, so I really wanted to come back this year and seal the deal. I am thrilled; I brought the red coat for it and everything.”
Kessler had the advantage of going last in the jump-off and knowing what she had to do. “I definitely felt lucky that I went last,” she acknowledged. “I didn’t actually watch the entire jump-off because I was warming up, but it is always great to go last and know what you need to beat.”
“I did seven strides back on the third jump,” Kessler explained. “I think that besides even the way Cylana looks, she is just like Sapphire in a lot of ways. I think how I have to learn to go fast with her is that way, doing so few strides around the turns and to the jumps, and keeping it slick. I think that my turns were really good, but she can do anything.”
Kessler has been competing at WIHS since she was a child on ponies and has had many wins throughout the years. “I can’t even count (how many years I’ve been coming to WIHS),” she laughed. “I think I was champion here in the small ponies when I was little, I did the equitation final, then junior jumpers for a bunch of years and then to be all the way to the President’s Cup now. It is one of my favorite shows. I have been coming here my whole life and I love being in the middle of the city.”
“There is a great interaction with the audience here,” Kessler said further. “Everyone gets really into it. Barn night is genius; they always get a huge turnout. There was quite literally a mile-long line of children asking for autographs after the Gambler’s Choice. It is a great show and the crowd gets really into it. I think it is probably one of the biggest turnouts at a show jumping event in America.”
Second place finisher Paulo Santana had great results with Taloubet this week and spoke about his round and the pressure of having Kessler, a known speedster, following him in the order. “I would try to beat her. I saw the beginning of the class and I knew she was behind me and she would run in the minutes a couple more,” Santana stated. “It was a good mix in the jump-off; Margie, Matt. I had to play a little with the risk. I was afraid to try and then have a rail really early. I had to chase my points one by one and do a safe course, but that doesn’t mean that I would beat her. To win by two seconds in an indoor competition is a lot.”
Santana was very excited to qualify for WIHS this year and have the opportunity to compete for World Cup points. He praised the show as well. “For me it is one of the best, if not the best show in the United States,” he declared. “The best restaurants, hotels, the crowd, the footing; it makes everybody feel good.”
“I was on the waiting list, like lighting candles to get in,” Santana laughed. “Brazilian black magic! I hope next year I don’t have to do that. I found out that I got in between three and four weeks ago. It was really kind of the organizers, who called right away; we were first on the waiting list.”
Santana also acknowledged the great crew at WIHS. “We have to always appreciate what the crew does here; they work literally 24 hours,” he added. “We show up here at 3 o’clock in the morning and somebody is already dragging the arena. We know that probably this horse show costs much more than what it gets to be done, so we really appreciate the effort that the organizers put to keep doing this tradition in the capital, inside of the city. It makes a better display for our sport. It is very nice and I hope they never quit doing this show because it would be a very big loss for the sport here in the United States.”
Third place finisher, Matt Williams, spoke about his mount Watch Me VD Mangelaar and their success this year. “I got him last year in the middle of the summer as an eight-year-old,” Williams detailed. “He jumped the HITS $1 million grand prix last year and placed sixth in that. I decided to aim him for London, then went to Florida and then went over to Europe for the summer. Since that he did three shows where he was second in every grand prix and he has had seven weeks off now, so he’s a little fresh, but he felt fantastic. I choked going to the double. I got halfway there and changed my mind. Other than that he was really on his job and I’m really happy with him.”