Darry Lou and El Primero Win 2019 U.S. Equestrian Horse of the Year Titles

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U.S. Equestrian announced Darry Lou, Abigail Wexner’s 2008 Dutch Warmblood stallion, has been voted the 2019 U.S. Equestrian International Horse of the Year and El Primero, Bryan Baldwin and Meralex Farm’s 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding, has been voted the 2019 U.S. Equestrian National Horse of the Year.

U.S. Equestrian International Horse of the Year

Beezie Madden and Darry Lou, U.S. Equestrian International Horse of the Year
Beezie Madden and Darry Lou, U.S. Equestrian International Horse of the Year. Photo by Andrea Evans/U.S. Equestrian

Darry Lou has become a stalwart in the talented lineup of mounts for five-time USEF Equestrian of the Year and Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden, as the pair have captured numerous international wins since their partnership began in 2017. The 2019 competition year was highlighted by several historic finishes for Madden and Darry Lou as they capped an exceptionally strong seasonal campaign with back-to-back wins at the prestigious Spruce Meadows Masters CSIO5*. Following a win in the Tourmaline Oil Cup 1.60m, Madden and Darry Lou went on to secure top honors in the world’s largest grand prix, the $3 Million CP International Grand Prix presented by Rolex, besting a field of 49 renowned competitors.

Madden and Darry Lou earned two additional wins during the National Tournament at Spruce Meadows in June and produced a double-clear effort for the NetJets U.S. Jumping Team during the Nations Cup Aachen CSIO5* competition prior to earning a top-10 finish in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in July. Their 2019 campaign began at the Winter Equestrian Festival, where they secured top honors in the $209,000 Marshall & Sterling Grand Prix CSI4* before going on to top the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal, Calif., in April.

“The [Pegasus Awards] was a really fun night because you get to meet a lot of interesting people and hear about their stories, but tonight is honoring the horse. And that’s why we’re all here and why this entire organization exists. It’s reallt special to be able to honor the horse, and I feel really lucky to have such a talented horse like Darry Lou,” said Madden.

U.S. Equestrian National Horse of the Year

Victoria Colvin aboard El Primero, U.S. Equestrian National Horse of the Year
Victoria Colvin aboard El Primero, U.S. Equestrian National Horse of the Year. Photo by Shawn McMillan/Courtesy U.S. Equestrian

El Primero made his mark on the 2019 Platinum Performance/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby Championship, guided by Victoria Colvin, as the duo went on to earn top honors and best a field of 35 entries. For Colvin, it was her third personal win, but a first for El Primero. The pair received scores of 92, 94, and 95 and finished nearly 25 points ahead of the second-place finisher. Together, they finished with an overall total score of 603 in the year’s most prestigious derby competition. El Primero has captured numerous derby titles throughout his impressive tenure, but his first Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship win was one to remember, as the pair collected 26 of 30 handy points and earned an additional 12 points for their successful navigation of the four high options on course.

El Primero and Colvin splashed onto the scene in 2019 after a strong performance in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Deeridge Derby in Wellington, Fla., where they topped the competition, before collecting another prestigious win in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Winter Equestrian Festival only a few weeks later. El Primero is trained by Peggy Gehman and has competed with Sandy Ferrell, Louise Serio, and Colvin throughout his career in the United States. Purchased and imported from Stal Hendrix in 2014, El Primero is a workmanlike and consistent competitor, who enjoys living outdoors in his five-acre pasture at night and has become a beloved member of the Baldwin and Meralex Farm family.

“El Primero has always lived up to his name. His talent and easy way of going made him successful right away,” said Serio. “When you have an extraordinary horse and an extraordinary rider [like Victoria Colvin], the magic happens. They’re beautiful to watch together.”

The U.S. Equestrian Horse of the Year awards were presented on January 11, 2020, during the Horse of the Year Banquet at the U.S. Equestrian Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla.

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