Having a 100% win rate at the grand prix level is no easy feat—and neither is winning your first-ever grand prix. But after the last two weeks, professional Matthew Metell can say that he has achieved both.
He entered the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix on July 7, 2017 and surprised himself by achieving the only, clear round among 20 entries to take the win. This past weekend, he did it again, winning the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix as the only, double clear competitor.
“I was really relaxed because I didn’t have too many expectations,” Metell said.
The 27-year-old resident of Wellington, Florida rides for and works with Teddy Demetriou at Wolver Hollow of Chester, New York. The business focuses on the import and sales of show jumpers, and while Metell does plenty of riding and competing, he had not previously jumped up to the top level.
So he entered his first, career grand prix at the Vermont Summer Festival on July 7, 2017 for the experience, never expecting to win it. He was aboard a recent import of Wolver Hollow’s, the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Donchalant (Larino x Amaretto).
Metell and Demetriou were in The Netherlands in May, and tried her in a small indoor arena. After just a few jumps, they knew they’d be taking her home, and when she arrived in the USA, Metell began showing her. Donchalant comes with international experience in Europe under the saddle of Portugal’s Rodrigo Silva Morgado.
Metell himself has a long history in the saddle; he enjoyed a successful junior career that included the 2009 Platinum Performance/U.S. Equestrian Federation Talent Search Finals – East championship. As a junior, Metell trained with Andre Dignelli’s Heritage Farm, and as a professional, he went back to work for Dignelli.
“After my junior years, I did a full four years of college,” Metell explained. “I worked for Andre the first three summers [of college] basically as a working student and started to learn how to teach, helped ride, and show a horse here and there if I had a catch ride.”
Metell spent the summer of his senior year working for Kaplow Equine Insurance, to have some varied experience on his resume. After he graduated, he went back to Heritage and began working full time as an assistant trainer. Four years ago, he transitioned to Demetriou’s Wolver Hollow in the hopes of getting more saddle time.
“I had ridden with Teddy when I was 16 years old for a year in the jumpers when I was in-between the equitation and the jumpers,” Metell added. “Teddy gave me the introduction to Andre because they were friends, and that’s when I did my last junior year with Andre.”
Moving up to the grand prix level has always been a goal for Metell, who has learned the process of importing, training, and developing young horses with Wolver Hollow. And now, to have a talented grand prix horse such as Donchalant, Metell simply feels grateful.
“First of all, I am really lucky to have a really nice horse to ride. I jumped one class at HITS a couple weeks before as soon as she got out of quarantine and the Vermont show was our second show and our first show doing the grand prix,” he said. “I get along really well with the horse and we just clicked.”
Expectations for both Donchalant and Metell are certainly now a bit higher, and as Metell plans his next step, he can enjoy having a flawless record as a grand prix rider.