In 2011, the Peter Wetherill Cup debuted as an award to celebrate a current equine athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of a top-class show hunter. This prestigious perpetual trophy is presented annually at the Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular in Wellington, FL, to the owner of the World Championship Hunter Rider Program's Hunter of the Year. The elegant silver cup was donated by the USHJA Foundation in honor of late horseman Peter Wetherill.
The 2012 recipient is a brilliant nine year-old bay gelding named Gramercy Park – Charlie to his friends, whose standout record of nearly 20 Champion and Reserve Champion titles in the green working sections assured his nomination and ultimately his selection as the WCHR Hunter of the Year.
Gramercy's pro rider Thomas Brennan of Charlestown, WV recalls how he and trainer Tony Workman first noticed Gramercy as a Pre-Green hunter at an event in Culpeper, VA. The young gelding made such an impression they interrupted Lynn Rice's vacation to share their discovery.
"When I first saw Charlie, Lynn was on vacation. We asked her to come back early to try this attractive five year-old gelding." Brennan said.
"It was a five hour drive from Rehobeth, Delaware with my family and my brother's family. Tony's exact words were that 'Tom was going to hold his breath until he turned blue if I didn't come home.' My very first thought was what any married woman would think, 'my husband's gonna love this. 'My second thought was that Tony and Tom don't get excited like that so I better get in the car." Rice said.
"She rode him [Charlie] for ten minutes and said, 'Buy him Tony' to Mr. Workman." added Brennan.
In the two years since, Brennan doesn't believe the youngster has put a hoof wrong. "The only mistakes he has made have been when the job at hand has gotten too easy for him. I have felt excited and honored to show him so far, but I am most looking forward to watching him in the future with Lynn. Their styles are perfectly matched and when Lynn rides Gramercy Park it is the epitome of suitability."
2012 saw Tom and Charlie hitting their stride together in big ways, with Tricolors in the Green Working sections at most every show they attended. By the end of the season, Charlie's resume was quite the impressive read: Capital Challenge Stake winner, Pennsylvania National Horse Show winner, Washington International Best Green Working Horse Round, Washington International Green Working Stake winner, Washington International Green Conformation Stake winner, Washington International Leading Hunter Owner Award, VHSA Green Working Horse of the Year, Zone 3 Green Working Horse of the Year and USEF First Year Green Working Hunter Reserve Champion.
"Honestly, I have trouble getting across that what makes Charlie a spectacular horse is not just that he is beautiful and incredibly talented, it's that he believes he's the winner. He's confident and focused for me as well as for Tom and has been from the beginning. The fact that Charlie is as solid for me, his amateur, as he is for Tom, is truly what sets him apart and makes him not just a horse of the year but a horse of a lifetime." Rice concluded.
Charlie's year is off to a great start, having garnered Championship ribbons in his first event of the new season. USHJA, WCHR and the USHJA Foundation wish Charlie continued success throughout his career.
The WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular Week takes places February 20-24, during week seven of the 2013 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Throughout that week, horses and riders compete to qualify for several awards and hunter classics, including the Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, to be held in honor of Peter Wetherill, Saturday February 23, under the lights of the International Arena.
The International Club will offer an evening full of food and fun, complete with top-notch competition, cocktails and dinner. Tables of six as well as individual tickets for the February 23rd event are on sale now. Proceeds benefit the USHJA Foundation which supports programs such as the Horseman's Assistance Fund.
For table reservations please click here or contact Leslie Mangan at (859) 225-6704.