Kelli Cruciotti of Parker, CO, was crowned the Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Champion following the final event held Saturday, March 26, at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.
Seven events offering a total of $170,000 in prize money comprised this year’s Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series, open to competitors of all nationalities aged 25 and under. Sanctioned by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the Series sees riders competing against their peers at the 1.45m level under FEI rules.
Following the first six events, the top 30 riders in the overall standings were invited to contest the $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, presented by Equiline. In a Series that rewards consistency, Cruciotti had an uncatchable lead in the overall point standings heading into the final event. With the knowledge that she had already won the Series, Cruciotti still came to play, joining an eight-horse jump-off field for the $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final. While the win went to Kaely Tomeu of Wellington, FL, riding Gentille, Cruciotti was presented as the overall Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Champion.
“I am so excited, I cannot even believe it. It feels unreal!” said Cruciotti, 18. “I have to thank the Ziegler family and everybody that put the Series together. To be able to compete in so many different venues – on grass, night classes – is invaluable experience for us as young riders.”
As the overall 2016 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Champion, Cruciotti is invited to compete at the CSI2* Chantilly Horse Show, part of the Global Champions Tour, from May 26-29, 2016, in France. In addition to her entry, Cruciotti receives two tickets to the Chantilly VIP lounge, transportation for one horse generously provided by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, and layover at Artisan Farms in Vrasene, Belgium.
As Cruciotti has never before competed in Europe, 2014 Artisan Farms Under 25 Series Champion Tori Colvin of Wellington, FL, offered some words of advice based on her own experience.
“It was my first time ever in Europe, or anywhere out of the country,” said Colvin, who placed second in Saturday’s $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final riding Echo van’t Spieveld. “To be able to compete in Europe was, for me, completely different. The courses were different, the ribbon presentation was different, the people, the surroundings – it was all different. It was a really fun experience. You’re going to have a great time!”
Now in its sixth year at the Winter Equestrian Festival, the Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, has proven to be a launching pad for young show jumping talent. Past winners include 2012 U.S. Olympian Reed Kessler and two-time World Cup Finalist Nayel Nassar of Egypt as well as Chloe D. Reid, Colvin and Lucy Deslauriers, three rising talents who have already represented the U.S. in international competition.
Developed as a bridge to the international level of grand prix competition, the Series offers all of the components of international competition without the pressure of going head-to-head against seasoned professionals and Olympic athletes. With varying conditions offered for each class, riders have the opportunity to compete on grass, all-weather footing, under the lights at night, and in team competition; all important elements that competitors will face as their international careers evolve.
“It’s been so wonderful to watch the progression,” said Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms who, together with her husband, Andy, was the driving force behind the creation of the Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series. “When we started the Series, this division didn’t exist; it wasn’t a USEF-recognized division. There wasn’t a series or group of classes during the course of the year that these riders who had just graduated from the junior and high amateur ranks that were trying to make the bridge to the grand prix ranks to do.
“It’s been incredible to watch what’s happened over the years,” continued Ziegler. “It’s just gotten better and better. There are so many riders that are qualified to do this now and that are riding at this very high level. It’s been extremely gratifying. Congratulations to everybody.”
Leading by example, Artisan Farms is committed to the continued improvement and promotion of competitive show jumping. Based in Wellington, FL, and Vrasene, Belgium, Artisan Farms is home to young professional Caitlin Ziegler, 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze, and 2015 Pan American Games team gold medalist Tiffany Foster.
Photo by Starting Gate Communications