New Zealand’s Kirk Webby Zips to $25,000 Devon Speed Challenge Victory
By: Rebecca Walton
Riders in Friday night’s $25,000 Devon Speed Challenge gave the crowd a reason to cheer at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair as they raced to win the coveted title. Multiple riders managed to traverse the track without error, but it was Kirk Webby and Brando du Rouet who won the “hoof race” with a blazing round in 59.443 seconds.
Brandi Holloway set the pace to beat with Lucky Strike, faultless in a time of 60.070 seconds as they sliced the fences and galloped through the timers. Thursday’s third place finisher in the $100,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon, Devin Ryan, came close, but his clear round was just fractions behind Holloway in 60.509 seconds to take home third place for the second night in a row.
Katie Dinan left all the fences intact with her scopey mount Bijou de Balou, but the extra airtime over the fences cost them on the clock. Their time of 62.288 seconds would hold up for fifth place.
When New Zealand native Webby entered the ring with the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding Brando du Rouet by the legendary Baloubet du Rouet, he knew he could use his mounts natural speed to win the class. They zipped through the timers in 59.443 seconds to take over the lead. Laura Chapot was the last in the class and the last to clear the course with Zealous, but their time of 61.696 seconds would only be good enough for fourth, sealing Webby’s win.
“The horse is pretty naturally fast so I didn’t really have to go crazy,” admitted Webby after leading the victory gallop. “He always lands going. He was really snug everywhere. I was lucky enough to be fast enough.”
Webby began riding Brando du Rouet at the beginning of year, but the pair quickly figured each other out, winning the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix in Ocala, Florida. With natural speed and quality, Webby hopes to continue their winning partnership at the Upperville and Lake Placid Horse Shows.
Friday night’s victory at Devon was special for Webby, who has made multiple trips to the historic event. “I love it here,” he smiled. “I think it’s a fabulous show. The facilities are great. The crowd is great. It’s really special to come here. It’s a shame that we don’t get to do shows like this more often.”