Jad Dana Continues Winning Streak at Winter Equestrian Festival

January 14. 2024

Jad Dana is on a streak at the 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival, and it’s a hot one. The 29-year-old Lebanese rider piloted After Eight to win the $32,000 Hermès CSI3* 1.50m Classic on Sunday to close out WEF 1 at Wellington International. 

Dana and the 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Diarado x Cardento) owned by Springhill Farm battled a day of unrelenting rain to rise to the top from a 10-horse jump-off over courses built by Nick Granat (USA).

Jad Dana & After Eight, winners of the $32,000 Hermès CSI3* 1.50m Classic. Photo © Sportfot

“I know it’s not common to have wins like this so close together but as long as our horses feel good we will try to keep the streak going,” said Jad Dana, who also jumped to a win in the Prestige Italia Grand Prix during WEF Premiere on ABC Quantum Cruise. “In this sport we win one day and lose the next, but we do our best to keep things as good as they can be.”

By more than a full second margin, Dana made quick work of the competition with After Eight’s foot speed and will to win. While After Eight’s spirit in the ring proves to often be unbeatable, Dana admits her work at home is simple at its core.

Jad Dana & After Eight, winners of the $32,000 Hermès CSI3* 1.50m Classic, in their winning presentation with Leah Rogers Meierfeld, Client Development Manager, Equestrian for Hermès. Photo © Sportfot

“For as hot as After Eight is, her training program isn’t too crazy,” admitted Dana.  She’s incredibly talented, you don’t have to produce her jump or teach her that skill, she does it so well on her own. Less is more with her.

“She just has to feel good — you can’t ride the blood out of her because it’s where she gets her jump from,” continued Dana, who trains with U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Leslie Howard.

When Howard was sidelined due to hip surgery during the summer of 2021, she offered Dana the ride on After Eight. Soon after, Springhill Farm stepped up to purchase the mare and keep her a part of his string. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without Leslie and all her experience,” said Dana. “She makes everything happen.”

When asked what made After Eight a perfect fit for him, Dana said, “She matches my competitive energy. It’s a nice feeling when a horse wants something as much as you do.”

Luiz Francisco de Azevedo & HFG Quaman. Photo © Sportfot

Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA) put the speed of Brazilian-bred HFG Quaman to the test but it wasn’t enough to catch Dana. They finished the runner-up in 35.65 seconds for owner Santa Cecilia Stables. U.S. rider Todd Minikus finished third by two one-hundredths of a second riding Spirit Group’s Kiekeboe Spirit in a time of 35.67.

Todd Minikus & Kiekeboe Spirit. Photo © Sportfot

The 2024 Hermès 1.50m Championship Jumper Series will take place weekly throughout WEF, culminating during Week 11’s Saturday Night Lights. Riders who consistently compete in the series will accumulate points towards the series’ title, a $10,000 Hermès store credit and a bespoke Hermès horse rug.

John Ingram Sweeps 36 & Over Amateur-Owner Hunter Divisions

It was a week of tricolors in the Amateur-Owner Hunters for Nashville's John Ingram across both heights of the 36 & Over age group. Ingram and Caristo topped the leaderboard of the 3’6” division, sponsored by Rani Arabella. Additionally, Ingram took home Champion in the 3’3” offering, presented by BluCreeq Spirits, atop Dynamo.

John Ingram & Dynamo, champions of the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunters, presented by BluCreeq Spirits. Photo © Sportfot

In the 3’3” height, Ingram and Dynamo, the sixteen-year-old gelding, placed top three across the board over fences, with their highest score standing at an 88. The Reserve Champion of the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunters was Tracy Thomson of DelRay Beach, FL, and her mount BonBon, owned by Legacy Equine, LLC. The pair followed behind Ingram after winning one of their over-fences with a 90 and placing second in the under saddle. 

Tracy Thomson & BonBon, reserve championss of the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter division, presented by BluCreeq Spirits. Photo © Sportfot

Ingram’s second championship of the week came with eleven-year-old gelding Caristo. The pair podiumed throughout the division, winning twice over fences and placing second in the under saddle. 

John Ingram & Caristo, champions of the 3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunters, presented by Rani Arabella. Photo © Sportfot

Caristo has been in Ingram’s string for a few years now, being a loyal competitive partner. “He’s really a nice horse,” says Ingram. “He also knows how to look the part. Every time he enters the ring he’s got his ears forward and is ready for business.”

Caristo met those expectations, with a top score of 90 for the week. Following Ingram in the 3’6” to take reserve was Louis Delsignore of Naples, FL, and his own mount Case Closed, who took the win in the stake earlier in the week.

Louis Delsignore & Case Closed, reserve champions of the 3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunters, presented by Rani Arabella. Photo © Sportfot

After being a Wellington resident over two decades, Ingram is no stranger to WEF and has watched Wellington grow over the years, with his team alongside him. “It’s no overstatement when people say it takes a village,” says Ingram. “I have to endlessly thank the grooms and support system that comes along with wins like this.”

WEF 2 commences on January 17, presented by Keyflow USA, with action being featured at both Wellington International and the Grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village. For a complete schedule, click HERE.