On Friday night Israeli rider Sydney Shulman of Greenwich, CT, topped the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final on Villamoura, while Aaron Vale and Schuyler Riley of the United States shared victory in the $25,000 Land Rover Puissance. The classes were part of a full schedule of exciting competition and entertaining exhibitions during Military Night, presented by Caterpillar, Inc.
Shulman, 24, came to WIHS to jump in the international jumper division for the first time with a pretty specific goal. “I came here with the plan to do just these two speed classes and hopefully be in the top five, with all these elite riders in the classes,” she said.
She ended up winning both of them. Shulman rode Villamoura, a 10-year-old Selle Français mare by Diamant de Semilly and owned by Jill Shulman, to the blue in the $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final, adding her name to the General Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by the late Arthur J. Morris. The night before, she and Villamoura won the $36,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class.
“I’m definitely in shock!” Shulman said. “Coming out on top in both of these classes is definitely beyond my expectations, so I’m thrilled.” Shulman’s time of 50.84 seconds was untouchable; Australian rider Rowan Willis came the closest, stopping the timers in 53.19 seconds for second place with Everse W. Third place went to U.S. rider Andy Kocher on Cat Ninja, who posted a time of 53.58 seconds.
Villamoura and Shulman were more than two seconds faster than the 23 other riders in the starting field. “I watched the video and it looked much faster than it felt,” Shulman said. “She’s a really fast horse; she covers the ground so fast. I did 10 [strides] on the rollback to the second jump, and other people did eight strides, and she still looked faster in the video. My plan was to go inside to the American flag plank [TAPS vertical] and do six strides there. I caught such a good one and she felt so amazing and is so brave, I went for the five and she walked it. I think leaving a stride out there is maybe what sealed the deal for me.”
Luckily, Villamoura’s eye healed well, and she retained her vision. “I knew she would come back in some capacity once we realized her eye was going to be fine,” Shulman said. “The key was building her fitness back up. I have to give a lot of credit to our staff at Back Country Farm. It was around-the-clock care getting her healthy, bringing her back, and getting her fit. The whole team was involved, emotionally and physically. I’m really grateful to everyone for it.”
Despite her success during the week, Shulman is sticking to her plan of skipping the $136,300 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington, presented by Events DC for the President’s Cup. “I have to stick to my plan,” said Shulman. “Obviously, she could not have jumped better. I don’t think she touched a jump all week and it was fantastic, so I’m just going to end on this note.”