Jad Dana Closes Out Premiere Week with Prestige Italia Grand Prix Win

January 7. 2024

Lebanon's Jad Dana is back on top to start the 2024 season of the Winter Equestrian Festival with a win in the $75,000 Prestige Italia Grand Prix to cap Premiere Week at Wellington International on Sunday. Dana, 28, and ABC Quantum Cruise, owned by Wyndmont, set an uncatchable pace in an eight-horse jump-off during the week’s feature event in the International Arena.

Jad Dana & ABC Quantum Cruise, winners of the $75,000 Prestige Italia Grand Prix. Photo © Sportfot

“Every win is special, but winning today was unexpected,” said a surprised Dana after he stole the lead from Germany’s Richard Vogel over courses designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA). “After watching Richard’s jump-off  – who was right before me – I was thinking whether I should play it safe and go for a double-clear or give it a go. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win, but it was my day today.”

Dana, who trains with U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Leslie Howard, took over the top spot with room to spare in 37.038 seconds and bumped Vogel to second. Vogel piloted Cydello, owned by Coleridge Equestrian, to a time of 38.121 seconds. Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) rounded out the podium placings riding Santana, owned by Rocking Basilisk Farm, in 39.467 seconds.

Jad Dana & ABC Quantum Cruise, presented as winners of the $75,000 Prestige Italia Grand Prix by Aileen Ariaz, Head of Operations, Prestige Italia USA, and Marco Bassegio, CEO, Prestige Italia USA. Photo © Sportfot

“I knew I went fast, but I didn't think I was a whole second faster,” said Dana. “I have a really nice string of horses and I’m very excited for the season. Hopefully it continues, but we will do our best.”

ABC Quantum Cruise, a 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Obos Quality 004 x Cruising), joined Dana’s string last year and the pair has made quick work of jumping to the top with both three and four-star wins in the last two months.

Richard Vogel & Cydello. Photo © Sportfot

“He has one speed and that’s really fast,” said Dana of ABC Quantum Cruise, the former mount of Australian Olympian Matt Williams after getting a start in the international ranks with British Olympic team gold medalist Peter Charles. “It’s part of our program. We love to win just like everybody, but I think these days the jump-offs are so competitive, if you have a slower horse you don’t really have a chance. Even at home we practice going forward and working off a fast pace so when we come to the jump-off it’s not something new to us. He fought for me today, and this win is huge for our partnership.

“He’s been successful with other riders and I'm hoping I can be as successful and even more,” concluded Dana.

For the win, Dana was presented with an X-Perience saddle from Prestige Italia.

Roberto Teran Tafur & Santana. Photo © Sportfot

Sophie Gochman and John Ingram Conquer the Amateur Owner Hunter Ranks During WEF Premiere Week

Amateur-owner hunters wrapped up their weeks on Sunday of opening week at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). New York’s Sophie Gochman and her own Colter took home the top tricolor in the Kiton Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 section, while Nashville’s John Ingram and Romeo, owned by John & Stephanie Ingram, took home the same honors in the Rani Arabella sponsored 36+ group.

Sophie Gochman & Colter, champion of the Kiton Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division. Photo © Sportfot

After coming out strong with professional Scott Stewart earlier in the week, Colter – a nine-year-old gelding – continued jumping to blue with owner Gochman.

“Colter is always incredible to ride; he really knows his job,” said Gochman, 21. “This week was more about getting my riding back into gear. I haven’t shown since the Hampton Classic [this past August], so I wanted to get the feel back for my horses and get myself in the competition mindset. Scott [Stewart] got him nice and relaxed earlier in the week so it really allowed me to focus more on myself.”

Sophie Gochman & Colter in their winning presentation. Photo © Sportfot

In the younger group of the two divisions, Colter and Gochman won three of their four over-fences classes as well as taking the blue in the under saddle. Their highest score of the week was an impressive 92. 

“Colter’s strength this week was bravery. A lot of horses had issues with one side of the ring over the past two days. Several of them were spooking down the lines but he really kept it calm and collected. As a greener horse, I was really proud of his efforts,” concluded Gochman. 

John Ingram & Romeo, champion of the Rani Arabella Amateur-Owner Hunter 36+ division. Photo © Sportfot

As for the 36+ age group, Ingram and Romeo made equally impressive efforts to secure their top standing. Ingram and the thirteen-year-old gelding held standings in the top three across the division. The pair won two of their over fences, as well as placed third under saddle. 

WEF 2024 continues January 10 through 14 with more hunter action as well as CSI3* jumper competition, all presented by weekly sponsor Southern Arches.