Category Archives: Pin Oak Recap

Andres Torres Hernandez Finishes Pin Oak Strong with Victory in $100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix

April 14, 2024 – Katy, TX – Andres Torres Hernandez has had self-described “up-and-down” results throughout the 2024 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, but he and Vivant Comedy PS finished the three weeks with the show’s highest possible “up”: victory in the finale $100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix.

On Saturday, April 13, in an exciting conclusion to open jumper competition at the 78th annual show in Katy, TX, 18 entries took on the 1.50m course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral. In front of an enthusiastic crowd, that technical track with a tight time allowed narrowed the field down to five to return for the jump-off. 

“The most important thing, I think, was the time allowed,” said Hernandez, referencing the first round that saw three riders jump clear only to finish with time faults. “I was last in the first round, and I saw many guys with time faults, so I was thinking, ‘I need to go fast in the first round!’ I think that was the most difficult part in the first round.”

Andres Torres Hernandez was joined in his winning presentation by Great Southwest Equestrian Center owner Jeffrey Hildebrand (pictured second from right). Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Once through to the jump-off at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, speed was still very much the name of the game. Frequent Pin Oak grand prix victor Nicolas Gamboa was the first to return, and he and NKH Vittorio S sped over the course in 33.114 seconds but with one rail down, leaving the door open for the remaining contenders. 

Genevieve Munson and Natalee Haggan each also saw one rail fall before Gamboa returned again, this time aboard his winningest mount, NKH Mr. Darcy. With the NKH, LLC-owned gelding, Gamboa showed a clear round was possible, stopping the clock in 35.446 seconds to take over the lead and to put the pressure on for Hernandez. 

And Hernandez rose to the occasion. The Mexico-based rider and Vivant Comedy PS flew over the final Hilcorp Energy Company oxer in 33.448 seconds to secure the win and to give spectators a thrilling ending to a great night of competition.

Andres Torres Hernandez was joined at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show by much of his family. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“I feel great. This has been an amazing, amazing day,” said Hernandez. “To finish like this is just amazing.”

Hernandez has been partnered with his winning mount, his own 9-year-old Oldenburg mare Vivant Comedy PS, for the past four years, and he has been carefully producing her throughout that time. 

“She just started doing the grand prix this year,” said Hernandez of the mare who also turned in a clear round in the Pin Oak Week II $50,000 R-C Ranch Grand Prix. “She’s just amazing. We love her. We love her in the barn.” 

For Hernandez, winning with Vivant Comedy PS at Pin Oak is extra special, as much of his family – including his wife, kids, parents and sisters – was able to be there with him.

Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy finished in second place. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“In Mexico, sometimes I have to go alone [to shows] or just with my wife,” concluded Hernandez. “I like a lot being here at Pin Oak. The footing is really good. All of the people have been very nice. I like also that all my family can be here with me because we’re all together. That’s the main thing I like here – that we can be all together.”

For full results of the $100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix, click here.

Jef Lauwers and Hallpass Conclude Pin Oak Charity Horse Show with Victory in $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

April 13, 2024 – Katy, TX – Jef Lauwers and Hallpass ended the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show the same way that they started it: with a USHJA International Hunter Derby victory.

After having earned the win in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Augusta Pines Farm, during Pin Oak Week I, Lauwers and Hallpass returned to also take home the top spot in Friday’s Week III $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters.

This time, the competition moved indoors under the lights of the Main Ring at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX, where 30 entries took on the first-round course designed by Meghan Rawlins.

As the 13th pair in the order, Lauwers and Hallpass shot straight to the top of the leaderboard with scores from the two judging panels of 86 and 87 – plus four high-option bonus points added to each score – for a first-round total score of 181.

Jef Lauwers and Hallpass were presented as the winners of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Coming the closest to Hallpass’ score in the first round was Ivy League, owned and ridden by Jennifer Alfano. Alfano and the 7-year-old Warmblood gelding earned scores of 83 and 85, plus two high-option bonus points, for a first-round score of 172. Sitting in third place at the end of the first round, with a score of 167, were Alwaleed Alrashid and Versailles, owned by Lyla Brady. 

With the top 12 returning in reverse order of their standings for the handy round, the top three spots ultimately remained completely unchanged. With Versailles, Alrashid earned scores of 81 and 87, plus three high-option bonus points, for a second-round score of 174 and an overall third-place total of 346.

Alfano and Ivy League also earned a second-round score of 174, giving them a total score of 346 and cementing their second-place finish. 

As the last to return, Lauwers and Hallpass only further lengthened their lead. Scores of 87 and 88, plus all four high-option bonus points, gave them a second-round score of 183 and the win with an overall score of 364.

“[Hallpass] is my knight in shining armor,” said Lauwers of the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, owned by Sue Copeland. “He just comes out, and he starts jumping. He jumps better and better and better. He’s a great derby horse. That’s why we have him here.”

Second place went to Jennifer Alfano and Ivy League. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

When not in the show ring with Lauwers, Hallpass can be found at home with Copeland, who keeps the horse fit on the flat and over smaller jumps before turning him over to Lauwers for derby classes.

“He doesn’t really travel with me,” explaind Lauwers. “He stays here, and he loves Texas. He loves his mom. She rides him every day, and then I get to ride him here at Pin Oak. It’s been really cool to have a horse like that that just comes out and steps up and does his job.”

Lauwers continued, “I love it here [at Pin Oak] because it feels like it’s one big family. I think the Texas people really stick together. We all come together, and we have different stories to share [from the winter spent on different circuits]. It feels like a community to come back to. It’s nice to have a hometown show where we all have fun. The ambiance is great, so it’s just fun to be here.”

Following a successful three weeks at the 78th annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, Lauwers will now spend a few weeks at home in Magnolia, TX, with PJP Farm before setting his sights on his summer goals.

“I think I’m going to try to take [Hallpass] to Derby Finals this year,” said Lauwers. “He’ll probably come and meet me up north maybe [at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in Traverse City, MI]. We’ll warm him up there, and then we’ll get ready for Derby Finals. It’s fun to have a horse like that that you know and that you can count on. He just always is the same. He comes out super. At the beginning of the week, he comes out like, ‘Ugh, you’re not my mom! Why are you kicking me!’ But then he loosens up and his jumping great. It’s like autopilot; you can just cruise over big jumps.”

C’est La Vie, ridden by Emma Rupinski, was presented with the Paula Sparks Perpetual Trophy as the Best Turned Out Derby Horse. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Also recognized during the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby was this year’s Best Turned Out Derby Horse award recipient, C’est La Vie, ridden by Emma Rupinski. For the honor, C’est La Vie’s team was presented with the Paula Sparks Perpetual Trophy. 

To view full results of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, click here

Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy Dominate in $25,000 Monarch Stables Grand Prix at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

April 12, 2024 – Katy, TX – Of the five grand prix classes held thus far at the 2024 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Katy, TX, four of them have been won by Nicolas Gamboa, including Thursday’s $25,000 Monarch Stables Grand Prix.

Gamboa has now earned an impressive nine Pin Oak grand prix wins since securing his first-ever grand prix victory at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center only two years ago. His victory in Thursday’s class came aboard his winningest mount throughout those two years, NKH Mr. Darcy.

Gamboa and the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, owned by NKH LLC, were one of 17 entries in the class and one of six to jump clear over the first-round course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral.

Nicolas Gamboa, pictured aboard NKH Vittorio S, in his winning presentation. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

From there, Gamboa and “Darcy” showcased what has become their signature speed, stopping the clock in 35.702 seconds for the win. Second place with a time of 36.844 seconds went to Martien van der Hoeven and Chance Encounter, owned by Marlac Ventures. Finishing in third was the only other grand prix winner so far this Pin Oak circuit, Avery Griffin, this time aboard Bodega Semilly, owned by PBC Equine Investments, LLC.

“I wanted to be quick, but I didn’t want to take everything out,” said Gamboa of his jump-off plan. “There were obviously some places to go inside and some places to go around. Normally, you would think inside is quicker, but I chose to go around there. I think it paid off in the end that I could keep cantering and didn’t have to slow down. I didn’t watch everybody in the jump-off go, but I think Darcy just kind of flowed very nicely and evenly everywhere. He was the one that won the class for us today.”

Martien Van Der Hoeven and Chance Encounter finished in second. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Gamboa continued, “Bernardo [Costa Cabral] is obviously one of the best course designers in the world. He does a fantastic job everywhere. Pin Oak is extremely lucky, and all of us in Texas are extremely lucky to have him here. He did a great job for a Thursday grand prix, setting us up for the rest of the week. I personally did not jump the [Welcome Stake] yesterday, but I watched a few go, and I thought this was just a little bit bigger, a little bit more technical. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic course with enough questions. He for sure didn’t pull out all the tricks today, but you can see his mind thinking on what he wants to do for Saturday’s [$100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix].”

That $100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix is what Gamboa will set his sights on next, as the class marks the highlight finale of three weeks of top hunter/jumper competition at the 78th Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. The evening’s grand prix festivities will kick off on Saturday, April 13, at 7 p.m. with entertainment from the Diaz Family, followed by the first horse on course at 7:30 p.m. Spectator admission and parking are free, and all are invited to attend.

Martien van der Hoeven Makes it Three in a Row in Pin Oak Welcome Stakes

April 11, 2024 – Katy, TX – Victory in each of this year’s three Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Welcome Stakes has gone to a different horse each week, but all with the same rider: Martien van der Hoeven. 

On Wednesday, April 10, van der Hoeven completed his clean sweep of the classes with a win in the $15,000 Rendezvous Farm Welcome Stake aboard Mr. Jackson B.

On his way to the win, van der Hoeven was one of 16 entries to contest the course set by renowned course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral. From there, van der Hoeven and Mr. Jackson B were one of six entries to advance to jump off in the Main Ring at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX. 

A slick inside turn helped them jump to the top of the leaderboard by a nearly four-second margin, stopping the clock in a winning 40.699 seconds. Second place with a time of 44.677 seconds went to Rachel Lindsay and her own Cokidoo, and Matt Cyphert and Paddington, owned by The Paddington Group, finished in third with a time of 49.732 seconds.

Martien van der Hoeven and Mr. Jackson B were presented as the winners of the $15,000 Rendezvous Farm Welcome Stake. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“Bernardo [Costa Cabral]’s amazing,” said van der Hoeven. “We’re so lucky to have these [course designers] for the three weeks here at Pin Oak. I thought the first track was very nice for who was here – the horses, the level. The jump-off today was a little bit more for me to test what Mr. Jackson could do. We tried an inside turn that I don’t know if anyone else did. It worked out for us today which sort of helped and helped us win the class, but had it not, I don’t think it would have been a discouraging moment either. I think it would’ve been something we could have learned from, so it was a really good jump-off for us to sort of see where we’re at.”

Gauging where they’re at is important, as van der Hoeven and the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding – owned in partnership with Maarten Huygens – have been partnered for just a few short weeks.

“Mr. Jackson B is new to the string; we just got him as we left Wellington,” explained van der Hoeven. “He’s a little green, but we’re very excited about what he could possibly turn into. Mr. Jackson still rides a little green in between the fences; I wouldn’t say that we have all the gears working quite yet, but once he gets to the jump, he has all the ability. It feels like he really has the potential to jump much bigger. He does it right. We just have to sort of work through a little bit of the kinks.”

For van der Hoeven, the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show has presented a great opportunity to work out those kinks, and, as a Texas resident and a competitor at Pin Oak for more than 20 years, van der Hoeven is proud to support the U.S. Equestrian Heritage Competition.

Rachel Lindsey and Cokidoo. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“I think the significance of Pin Oak is not just that it’s a historic show that’s been here for a long time, but also it benefits the charities, the Texas Children’s Hospital, which I think is important,” concluded van der Hoeven. “It’s two-fold. I think the show is very good for the Texas professional community and having a show of this standard. It keeps us relevant, and it keeps us ascending in the sport. Then on top of that, it’s great be able to help the charity and be a part of that as well.”

For full results of Wednesday’s $15,000 Rendezvous Farm Welcome Stake, click here. Competition at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show continues through Sunday, April 14, with highlights of Week III including the $100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix on Saturday, April 13, beginning at 7 p.m.

Nicolas Gamboa Goes One-Two in $50,000 R-C Ranch Grand Prix at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

April 7, 2024 – Katy, TX – Nicolas Gamboa has now earned an impressive three grand prix wins since the 2024 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show began on March 26, and on Saturday night, April 6, he not only notched his third victory of the show series, he picked up both first and second in the $50,000 R-C Ranch Grand Prix.

On the way to his one-two finish, Gamboa accounted for three of the 23 entries in the Pin Oak Week II featured event at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. The first-round course, designed by Oscar Soberon, narrowed that starting field down to 10 horses – and two entries for Gamboa – for the jump-off, and from there, it was an exciting race against the clock.

The very first pair to return for the short course, Natalee Haggan and MTM Hyperion Z, laid down a clear round and set the time to beat at a competitive 40.589 seconds. Four trips later, it was Gamboa’s turn aboard NKH Vittorio S, and a slick inside turn helped shoot the duo straight to the top of the leaderboard with a time of 37.801 seconds.

Nicolas Gamboa was joined in his winning presentation by Randy Krause of R-C Ranch (pictured far right). Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

That time would prove uncatchable, and only Gamboa himself would come within striking distance. Aboard NKH Mr. Darcy, he stopped the clock in 38.783 seconds to take second place, relegating Haggan and MTM Hyperion Z, owned by MTM Farm, to third. 

“I think Oscar [Soberon] did a great job with the jump-off,” said Gamboa, who rides for October Hill Farm. “You had to make sure that you didn’t overdo it too early. With ‘Vitto’ I kind of got to [the inside turn I had in mind] a little bit faster than I wanted, so I didn’t quite do the turn the way I wanted. I kind of slipped in between a gap. It was a little bit last-minute thinking there. Then, we were a little bit angled into the combination, but he really worked hard and made it happen.”

Gamboa continued, “With Darcy, I’ve known that horse a little bit longer, and he’s so rideable. He lands and turns. So that [turn] was kind of right there; it’s a given with that horse, but obviously, Vitto just got a little bit the better of Darcy today.” 

Gamboa has been partnered with NKH Vittorio S, owned by Neil Knox of NKH LLC, for roughly a year, and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding has been on the cusp of a big win for some time.

Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

“He jumped a big class [at the Las Vegas National in November 2023]; that was kind of our first bigger show together,” said Gamboa. “He’s kind of always been knocking on the door…Finally, I think at this show, we put some of those pieces together and figured out the jump-off.” 

Gamboa continued, “I think Vitto and Darcy are very similar in a lot of ways but also vastly different in a lot of ways. Darcy’s very athletic, very catty, but a little bit smaller and a little bit shorter with a lot of heart. Vitto has just got such an athletic body and such a massive stride. He’s so quick across the ground. He has all the scope in the world it feels like. Both horses try so hard, and they want to win just as much as I do. It’s always a nice feeling.”

With Saturday’s win added to his increasingly impressive resume, Gamboa has now earned eight grand prix victories at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show just since 2022.

“It never gets old,” concluded Gamboa. “The feeling is always incredible – knowing that the horses are performing well and that we’re doing everything right at home and at the shows and that the whole team is performing well. It’s great to be able to get this [win] back to the team.”

Next Gamboa will be looking to get one or two more grand prix wins under his belt during Week III of the 78th Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, which kicks off on Wednesday, April 10. Highlights of the week will include Thursday’s $25,000 Monarch Stables Grand Prix and the finale $100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix on Saturday, April 13. To learn more, visit www.PinOak.org.

Nada Wise and Chesterfield are Best in $25,000 Olde Oaks Farm Hunter Classic at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

April 6, 2024 – Katy, TX – Nada Wise and Chesterfield were the very first pair in the ring for Friday night’s $25,000 Olde Oaks Farm Hunter Classic, and they led the class from beginning to end to clinch the win in the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show’s Week II highlight hunter event.

The first round of the two-round classic saw 21 entries taking on the Alan Lohman-designed course at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX. From there, the field was narrowed to the top 12 to return in reverse order of their standings for the second round.

For Wise and Chesterfield, first-round scores of 88 and 86 from the two judging panels – for an 87 average – secured them the lead and the final returning position.

Just before Wise returned, young rider Logan Jacobson and her own MTM Crossed My Mind had turned in what would prove to be the highest scores of the second round: dual 88s from both judging panels. With those scores giving Jacobson an impressive 172.75 total, the pressure was on for Wise and Chesterfield.

Nada Wise and Chesterfield. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Chesterfield, however, has a knack for rising to the occasion, and he did it again on Friday night. With scores of 87 and 87.5 for a second-round average of 87.25, Chesterfield secured the win with a 174.25 total. Following Wise and Jacobson, third place with a score of 170.5 went to Kelly Lorek and MTM Campedu, owned by Emersales LLC.

“Chesterfield was unbelievable,” said Wise of the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, owned by Stacey Thompson. “We were the first ones to go, and he felt so relaxed and so comfortable. He jumped so well through his body and so high. I couldn’t have asked him to be any better. Then to come back as late as he did in that second round – he just blew it out of the park. He was so good.”

Nada Wise and Chesterfield were presented as the winners of the $25,000 Olde Oaks Farm Hunter Classic on Friday, April 5. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Wise has had the ride on Chesterfield since he was imported three years ago, and together the pair have contested numerous featured hunter events and derby classes – including at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship and at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show where Wise has been competing for the past 14 years.

“I moved here about 15 years ago. I remember my first time showing here; it was such a big deal,” said Wise, who this year has 18 horses competing at Pin Oak with her Rendezvous Farm. “I felt overwhelmed, but now it feels like home. It’s a special place. It’s a special show. All of my clients are here, and they all like to support and sponsor. It’s really nice. We love coming back every year.”

Second-place finishers Logan Jacobson and MTM Crossed My Mind. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Also earning major hunter wins on Friday were Ann Marie Cowdrey on Zest and Morgan Parasher on Pendleton. Cowdrey and Zest topped a competitive field of 45 entries to win the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur, while Parasher and Pendleton were the best of 27 entries in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur, sponsored by Leaving One Out LLC.

For full results from all of Friday’s competition, click here.

Nicolas Gamboa Gets it Done Again in $25,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

April 5, 2024 – Katy, TX – For two years in a row, the win in the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show’s Week II $25,000 Grand Prix had gone to Nicolas Gamboa, and on Thursday, April 4, the 23-year-old made it a three-peat, again topping the $25,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix aboard NKH Mr. Darcy.

As the already two-time winners of the class, Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy were a favorite to win it again – but they were not without stiff competition. Thirty-one entries took on the class, with the starting field whittled down to nine to jump-off over the short course designed by Oscar Soberon. 

When Gamboa returned to the Main Ring at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, the time to beat had been set at a competitive 38.022 seconds by Mexico’s Andres Torres Hernandez and Vivant Comedy PS. Aside from Hernandez, only one other rider had broken the 40-second mark, but Gamboa made short work of it. He and NKH Mr. Darcy cleared the final Pin Oak vertical in 36.570 seconds to take the win.

In addition to the overall victory, Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy were presented as the winners of the $10,000 Underwood Ranch U25 Grand Prix held simultaneously.

Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy were presented as the winners of the $25,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Finishing in second place overall was Hernandez, while third place – and second place in the U25 Grand Prix – went to Genevieve Munson who stopped the jump-off clock in 38.203 seconds aboard her own Zonderling.

“When I walked the course, I did a quick walk of the jump-off, and I thought it was pretty straightforward of what to do,” said Gamboa, who rides for October Hill Farm. “There weren’t many options…it was kind of just how you rode your track and sticking to the plan. [NKH Mr. Darcy] has been very good to me. I’ve gotten to know him quite well over the past few years, and we just stuck to our plan and showed how good he is today.” 

It was aboard the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, owned by Neil Knox of NKH LLC, that Gamboa got his first ever grand prix win at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show just two years, and Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy have amassed numerous wins since then – including now winning Thursday’s class for three years in a row. 

Of their consistency, Gamboa said, “I think NKH Mr. Darcy was just developed well right from the get-go. He really knows everything that you could do. He’s been with [October Hill Farm] for quite some time, since he was quite a young horse. When I got the ride on him a few years ago, he was pretty much already there at the top level, and I was very fortunate to get that ride. We’ve just continued improving and getting better and better the both of us.”

Andres Torres Hernandez and Vivant Comedy PS finished in second place. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Now, Gamboa will set his sights on Saturday night’s $50,000 R-C Ranch Grand Prix, and beyond that, the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show’s finale event, the $100,000 Hildebrand Fund Grand Prix.

“I have a great group of horses here, [NKH Warrior, NKH Vittorio S and NKH Mr. Darcy],” said Gamboa. “All three of them are going to do the Saturday and then kind of pick and choose and see how we do this week. We’re aiming at the $100,000 during Week III and trying to produce some good results. Obviously, we’ll go day by day and do what’s best for the horses but aim for the win.”

For full results from Thursday’s Grand Prix, click here or visit HorseShowsOnline.com. 

Competition at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show continues through Sunday, April 14, with highlights of Week II including the $50,000 R-C Ranch Grand Prix on Saturday, April 6, beginning at 7 p.m.

Martien van der Hoeven Wins the Welcome Again at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

April 4, 2024 – Katy, TX – For the second week in a row, Martien van der Hoeven earned a Welcome Stake win at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Katy, TX. This time, van der Hoeven kicked off Week II at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center on Wednesday, April 3, with a win in the $10,000 Brazos Valley Equine Hospital Welcome Stake aboard Candy of Picobello Z.

Van der Hoeven and the 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding were the fourth of 22 entries to take on the first-round course set by course designer Oscar Soberon, and following the immediate jump-off format, they were the second to jump off, setting the time to beat at 40.306 seconds.

“I wanted to be double clean,” said van der Hoeven. “I felt like I gave it a good go without risking too much. Obviously, with the numbers being up this week, I didn’t know if it was actually going to hold up by the time another 20-something horses went.”

Hold up it did indeed, with young rider Avery Erickson coming the closest to catching van der Hoeven. Aboard her own Chacco Lait, Erickson stopped the clock in 40.738 seconds to take second place and the win in the $5,000 Corient U25 Welcome Stake held concurrently.

Finishing in third place with a jump-off time of 41.615 seconds were Daniel Bedoya and Londonlike, owned by Monica Hanks.

Avery Erickson and Chacco Lait. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Following the gelding’s win on Wednesday, Candy of Picobello Z will next contest Thursday’s $25,000 EPIC Sporthorses Grand Prix with owner Avery Griffin.

“[Candy of Picobello Z] is a horse that the Griffin family got last year in Florida,” said van der Hoeven. “We’ve been developing him along; Avery normally competes in the U25 and High Junior Jumper division. He’s quite a good horse, and he’s getting more and more consistent at this height.”

For van der Hoeven, who operates Marlac Farm in Pinehurst, TX – less than an hour away from the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show – Pin Oak is the ideal event to continue to develop horses, to accomplish goals and to earn memorable victories.

“These three weeks are really nice,” said van der Hoeven of the shows that he has been competing at for more than 20 years. “The course designers are always good all three weeks. Oscar [Soberon] is great. He designs at [the Winter Equestrian Festival] and all over, so we’ve jumped his courses a fair amount. He’s very reliable, and you know what you’re going to get.”

Van der Hoeven continued, “For all of us who have grown up here and been here, I think that this show holds a lot of significance. We’ve watched people that we look up to win and cheered for them. I won my first kind of bigger grand prix here on a very special horse, [South Bound], quite a few years ago. That was very important, and last week both my students Avery [Griffin] and Ava [Myers] were first and second [in the grand prix], so that was pretty fun. It was Avery’s first grand prix win, and to do it here I think holds a lot of value for all of us that call Texas home.”

For full results of Wednesday’s the $10,000 Brazos Valley Equine Hospital Welcome Stake, click here or visit HorseShowsOnline.com.

Also earning wins in the Main Ring throughout the day were the following:

Competition at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show continues through Sunday, April 14, with highlights of Week II including the $50,000 R-C Ranch Grand Prix on Saturday, April 6, beginning at 7 p.m.

Jef Lauwers Lands Back-to-Back Derby Wins at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

March 28, 2024 – Katy, TX – A double hunter derby day meant double the wins for Jef Lauwers on Thursday, March 28, at the 78th Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Katy, TX.

Lauwers and She’s All That kicked off the day with victory in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by R-C Ranch. Lauwers then returned to the Mega Ring at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center aboard Hallpass, this time taking the win in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Augusta Pines Farm.

Lauwers and Hallpass were one of 16 entries to take on the International Derby, and the pair held the lead from beginning to end with an overall first-round score of 182. With that score – made up of the combined total from the two judging panels – and with the top 12 each returning in reverse order of their standing, Lauwers and Hallpass were the final entry to return for the handy round.

Their performance over the Kevin Holowack-designed handy course only further cemented their lead, with the two judging panels awarding them scores of 84.5 and 87, plus four high option bonus points added to each score, for a second-round total score of 179.5 and a cumulative, overall score of 361.5.

Second place with an overall score of 347 went to Nada Wise riding Next Chapter, owned by Kristen Pribilski, and third place went to Alwaleed Alrashid who finished on a score of 345 aboard Lyla Brady’s Versailles.

For Lauwers, the victory is a bit of a comeback win, as he missed last year’s Pin Oak Charity Horse Show while undergoing back surgery.

“My doctor wanted me to be very careful, and it was an intensive enough surgery that I had to lie down for a month and then gradually get back to walking and physical therapy,” said Lauwers, who ultimately took roughly eight months out of the saddle. “I feel good now. I had a good support system, and like everybody in our sport, it’s important to stay healthy and try to do what’s right for you and for your horses.”

Jef Lauwers and Hallpass were presented as the winners of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Augusta Pines Farm. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

For Hallpass, the class was the 11-year-old Hanoverian’s first hunter derby in several months, as the chestnut gelding does not travel to compete on any winter circuits. Instead, Hallpass spends the winter in Texas with owner, Sue Copeland. 

“Peter [Pletcher] suggested that I try [Hallpass],” said Copeland. “He was big and growthy, and I think needed some time and flatwork. I love to do that. I jump him at home. We tend to do Texas shows most of the time; we have sent him to Kentucky. He just loves to jump the big jumps. So, I do the flatwork and little jumps at home and then hand him off to Jef. So [Hallpass] hasn’t jumped like this in a while, but he was really happy to get back to it! He loves to jump.”

In the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, it was another of Lauwers’ longtime, successful partners that took the win, She’s All That, owned by Linda Yarborough.

Jef Lauwers and She’s All That. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The pair led the field throughout both rounds, scoring an 89 in round one and returning to the handy round in the final position. They then scored a 91 in the handy round for a winning, total score of 180.

Finishing in second on a total score of 175.5 was Linda Crothers aboard Menessa, owned by Carly Richardson, while Catherine Moorhead and Eurokom, owned by PLC Farm, rounded out the top three on a total score of 173.

“She is very competitive,” said Lauwers of the 9-year-old black Westphalian mare that he has been partnered with for nearly four years. “At home she’s a bit uninterested; she is just kind of like, ‘There are no jumps; nobody is judging me.’ But when she comes out here, she turns into a show horse. She knows when it’s business, and she’ll tell you. You just put your leg on, and it’s easy.” 

She’s All That is affectionately known as “BB” in the barn, a nod to the classic 1877 Anna Sewell novel, Black Beauty.

Lauwers explained, “Linda [Yarborough] showed up with her and was like, ‘I have this horse, this black beauty.’ So, that’s what it stands for. Linda picked the name, and BB has just been unbelievable.”

Jef Lauwers and She’s All That. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Lauwers, originally hails from Belgium but began riding professionally for PJP Farm in Magnolia, TX, in 2019, and the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show has been an important show on his calendar since then. 

“I missed this show last year, so it’s great to come back with a good string of horses,” said Lauwers. “I feel like we all have a good time here. The Great Southwest Equestrian Center supports the sport very well here in Texas. There’s a lot of prize money for the horses in both the jumpers and the hunters. It’s fun for us. It’s fun for the owners, and the rings are good; the weather is good, so it’s a fun change of scenery.”

For full results of Thursday’s hunter derby classes, visit HorseShowsOnline.com.

Competition at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show continues through Sunday, April 14, with highlights of Week I including the $30,000 Texas Children’s Grand Prix on Friday, March 29, beginning at 7 p.m.

Nicolas Gamboa is Victorious Again at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show

March 28, 2024 – Katy, TX – Nicolas Gamboa earned his first-ever grand prix win at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in 2022, and as of Wednesday, March 27, he has now notched five additional Pin Oak grand prix victories in the short time since then. His sixth win came aboard NKH Vittorio S, owned by NKH LLC, in the $25,000 Fairway Farm Grand Prix during Pin Oak I.

On his way to his most recent win, Gamboa and NKH Vittorio S were one of 11 entries to qualify to jump off over the Manuel Esparza-designed short course, and from there, speed was the name of the game.

When Gamboa returned to the Main Ring at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center as the final rider, the time to beat had been set at 39.287 seconds by Avery Griffin on Candy of Picobello Z – with no other riders having crossed the finish in under 40 seconds. Gamboa, however, made short work of Griffin’s time, clearing the timers in a winning 37.492 seconds.

Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Vittorio S led the victory gallop for the $25,000 Fairway Farm Grand Prix on Wednesday, March 27. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

In addition to the $25,000 Fairway Farm Grand Prix win, that finish time also secured Gamboa the victory in the $10,000 1.40m U25 Grand Prix held concurrently. Taking second place in both classes was Griffin. Third place in the $25,000 Grand Prix went to Alwaleed Alrashid, who finished with a jump-off time of 40.171 seconds aboard RSH Grand-Dessert.

“NKH Vittorio S has been in our string for a little while now,” said Gamboa of the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding. “He just came from a tour in California with us. He jumped a few international classes out there. He’s come a long way. He’s actually been second in a couple of grand prix classes now and a couple ranking classes, so I’m finally happy that he got that blue ribbon!”

Nicolas Gamboa was joined in the winner’s circle by his mother, Jennifer Gamboa, and Bradley Bowns. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Gamboa continued, “The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show has been great for Texas. I know it’s been around a lot longer than I’ve been alive, so I’m very pleased to be able to support the show. I know they give quite a bit to charity, and that’s always a great thing…This show has always been very good to me. I won my first grand prix here a couple years ago on NKH Mr. Darcy, and every year, I always look forward to thinking about those memories again and trying to keep it going.”

In addition to his ribbons and awards, as the winner, Gamboa was presented with a gift certificate for a free equine spa treatment from Peak Performance Equine Spa. For full results from Wednesday’s class, click here or visit HorseShowsOnline.com.

Avery Griffin and Candy of Picobello Z finished second in both the $25,000 Fairway Farm Grand Prix and the $10,000 1.40m U25 Grand Prix held concurrently. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Competition at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show continues through Sunday, April 14, with highlights of Week I including a $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Thursday, March 28, and the $30,000 Texas Children’s Grand Prix on Friday, March 29, beginning at 7 p.m.