Aussie Emma Weinert O’Rourke & Velvet Win California 3* GP Special in Only 2nd Big Tour Show

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Emma Weinert O'Rourke celebrating their first Big Tour win in the San Juan Capistrano CDI3* Grand Prix Special. Photo Courtesy of Shannon Peters
Emma Weinert O’Rourke celebrating their first Big Tour win in the San Juan Capistrano CDI3* Grand Prix Special. Photo Courtesy of Shannon Peters

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California, April 2, 2016–Australian Emma Weinert O’Rourke and Velvet WD won the Festival of the Horse CDI3* Grand Prix Special Saturday in only the second Big Tour competition for the pair since returning to the show ring after two years of health issues for the horse.

Emma and the 14-year-old KWPN mare scored 67.294 per cent for the win. Mette Rosencrantz on Marron placed second on 66.039 per cent and Elizabeth Ball on Avanti was third on 65.176 per cent.

Emma bought Velvet as a six-year-old brood mare with only scant training. She moved to the United States seven years ago to train with Shannon and Steffen Peters in San Diego, California.

Velvet competed at Small Tour in 2012 but was out for two years for a surgery and complications that resulted from it.

However, the pair performed their first international Grand Prix at California’s Del Mar CDI3* three weeks ago.

At this week’s CDI3* Velvet displayed her “hot” behavior from Jazz on the dam side.

“She’s a very hot horse and the atmosphere can get to her,” Emma said. “Once she gets too hot, it’s hard to pull her back. Because she’s been out of the ring for a couple of years she needs more ring time.”

Emma, who married an American, Sean O’Rourke, in October, 2013, said the Grand Prix here was “a little too much” for Velvet. But she and Shannon have been working on a program to make more rideable the horse that everyone likes to watch because of both softness and power but can be on the edge that Emma describes as “fun to watch but a little bit scary.”

“In the Special, she felt phenomenal,” the 32-year-old rider said. “She let me ride her. It’s the best test we’ve ever done.”

She thinks Velvet is now through the worst of his issues and Emma plans to compete her again at the Del Mar National World Cup event at the end of April

Emma is up in the air about whether to take Velvet to Europe to compete for a place on Australia’s team at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Results:

CDI3* Grand Prix Special

Place / Rank Class