Skylar Wireman Wins $20,000 Markel Insurance Final and Leading Lady Rider Bonus

by | Sep 23, 2023 | Featured, Press Releases

Skylar Wireman rode Karen to the win in the $20,000 Markel Insurance Final. Photo by McCool Photography

San Juan Capistrano, CA – September 23, 2023 – As Skylar Wireman crossed the finish in Friday’s $20,000 Markel Insurance 1.35m Final, she not only moved to the top of the class leaderboard, she also secured the Markel Insurance 1.35m Jumper Series Espoir Leading Lady Rider Bonus Award. 

Following three other successful Markel Insurance Jumper Series outings throughout the season at Blenheim EquiSports in San Juan Capistrano, CA, Wireman returned aboard Karen to clinch the finale victory on September 22 during the International Jumping Festival.  

Wireman and the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, owned by MJ and Todd Kaplan, were one of 25 entries to take on the Anthony D’Ambrosio-designed course and one of eight combinations to advance to the jump-off. When Wireman and Karen entered the Grand Looke Arena, the jump-off time to beat had been set at 40.379 seconds by Bailey Fuller and Quick Step, and Wireman knew she would have to be quick – but, simultaneously, not too focused on winning.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

Skylar Wireman and Karen. Photo by McCool Photography

“If I think to go fast and win with her, then I usually mess something up!” explained Wireman. “My plan with her is never to think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to win this jump-off,’ because I just know she’s naturally fast, and if I think I want to win, I usually end up plowing into something. That or I turn too tight; the only time that she has one down is if it’s my mistake. So, my plan was to go just fast enough.” 

Wireman continued, “I know that she turns so well. In the jump-off, we kind of had a serpentine line down the side of the ring; it was like a left turn, right turn, left turn, so I thought that was where I could save all my time. In my turn to the last line, I landed off the oxer, and she turned like a cat. I think ‘Oh the jumps right there,’ and she’s already over there at that jump. That horse is quite a partner, I must say.”

As Wireman flew over the final Horseflight oxer, the timers flashed 38.464 seconds which would narrowly hold up for the win. Just one trip later, Mariano Maggi and Gogolinus, owned by Brylee Dickey, came quite close to catching Wireman but settled for second place with a time of 38.718 seconds. Rounding out the top three were Jose Maria Quintana and Priceless van het Mangelhof who stopped the clock in 39.561 seconds.

The competition marked the final of 11 events in the 2023 Markel Insurance 1.35m Jumper Series, all held at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. The series provided horses and riders with the opportunity to compete regularly in $5,000 to $20,000 open and FEI-sanctioned jumper events in various formats. At the conclusion of the series each year, the Leading Lady and Leading Gentleman are presented with cash bonuses, with $50 from each entry fee throughout the year added to the bonus payout.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

Skylar Wireman was named the 2023 Markel Insurance Jumper Series Espoir Leading Lady Rider. Photo by McCool Photography

Wireman did not initially have her sights set on the bonus, but after strong results early in the season, she started to pay closer attention to the standings.

“I saw there were a couple of other girls in there that were close [to me in points] but not super close, so I started to keep an eye on it,” said Wireman. “When I saw that the close ones were going to show again, I thought I better too! I knew that it would probably be worth doing, and it’s a good final Markel class to do because it’s got good prize money.”

With a close margin between herself and McKenna Skelton in particular, Wireman called on Karen, a horse that she knew she could rely on for the final. 

“It’s kind of one of Karen’s specialty height classes, so once I realized I was in contention for it, I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!” explained Wireman. “Karen has done a lot of winning for me, and all she wants to do is win. She always tries her heart out and is doing whatever she can to win. It’s a really special horse for me. I want to say thank you to the owners, MJ and Todd Kaplan, for their continued support with Karen.

“She’s an amazing mare,” continued Wireman. “She has the biggest heart in the world. She’ll always jump for you. She’s so special. She wants to win as bad as I do.”

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

Josh Mullins of LSI presented Skylar Wireman and Mariano Maggi as the 2023 Markel Insurance Jumper Series Leading Riders. Photo by McCool Photography

For Wireman, the Markel Insurance 1.35m Jumper Series is currently just the right fit for Karen, and it has previously been the ideal fit for some of her younger horses.

“Last year, I used [the series] really well for my 8-year-old that had just come out of the young jumpers,” said Wireman. “I didn’t want to over face him in the 1.40m-1.45m grand prix, but he needed somewhere where it would be a little bit more of a test for him. [This series] really serves kind of that in between – or the horse that doesn’t quite have the scope but is a super good speed horse. It allows a lot of the greener ones or the ones that are just fast to get the experience as well. I think it’s a great series, and I’ve always loved it.”

While Wireman earned the Espoir Leading Lady Rider Bonus Award with 101 points, Maggi topped the overall standings with 124 points to take home the Riderzon Leading Gentleman Rider Bonus Award for the second year in a row.

Maggi’s second-place finish in the final class was just one the of several top results he earned throughout the series. Most notably, Maggi swept the Markel Insurance classes for three weeks in a row during the Blenheim June Classic series of shows. With Zuperman MT, Maggi won both the $10,000 Markel Insurance 1.35m Open Jumper Speed during the June Classic I and the $10,000 Markel Insurance 1.35m Jumper Classic during the June Classic II. He then returned to the June Classic III to win the $20,000 Markel Insurance Jumper Classic on Gogolinus.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

Mariano Maggi was named the Riderzon Leading Gentleman Rider.  Photo by McCool Photography

His string of June successes put Maggi well into the lead in the standings, and his second-place finish on Friday sealed the deal.

“I was hoping to get it!” said Maggi of the Leading Gentleman Bonus Award. “I got a lot of points in a row. Knowing there were only three or four shows left, I thought, ‘Okay, I have a good chance.’ I have good horse, and my horses are in good form. My best horse, Zuperman, I sold months ago. Gogolinus was the one that took his place and is also very competitive. I’ve been winning a lot with him, so it worked out!” 

Maggi continued, “[This series] is a perfect height for horses that wouldn’t do the grand prix and horses that are on their way up. I always like this class. I always have a lot of 7-and 8-year-olds on their way to build up for a bigger level, so the height is perfect. I’m very happy that Markel is the sponsor of this class, and I hope they continue doing it because I think it’s very good for the riders. It has a good amount of prize money, and it also feels more important because there are a good amount of people watching the class. It’s nice to have these people supporting that at this level.”

With the $50 from each series entry pulled together for the bonus payouts, both Maggi and Wireman were presented with checks for $6,850 by Josh Mullins, Insurance Specialist for Lisa Seger Insurance (LSI).

The Markel Series is made possible thanks to the support of Markel and LSI, with the equine insurance companies and Blenheim EquiSports together making the ideal partnership.

“Blenheim EquiSports is the premier West Coast horse show organizer, and Markel and Lisa Seger Insurance (LSI) are the leaders in equine insurance across the U.S. and internationally,” said Mullins. “Our successful partnership over the years has been a pleasure, and we look forward to continuing our relationship for many years to come.” 

In addition to their bonus checks, Maggi and Wireman were presented with custom awards from Topline Design Ribbon Wreaths. For full results of the $20,000 Markel Insurance 1.35m Final, click here, and to view the full Markel Insurance 1.35m Jumper Series standings, click here.

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