Wellington, FL – February 22, 2013 – Matthias Hollberg and Orphan Car set a speedy pace early in the order and held on to the first spot during today’s class at The Ridge at Wellington’s $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix Series. Hollberg and Orphan Car completed the jump-off in 38.448 seconds, taking a sharp inside turn between the first two fences and leaving all the rails up to secure the win.
The $15,000 Grand Prix class, held under sunny skies at the beautiful Mida Farm in Wellington, drew a sizable field of top riders. Those who reached the jump-off had to choose whether to cut inside of a stand of palm trees after the first fence, with riders who successfully navigated the turn shaving valuable seconds off their time. As course designer David Ballard intended, the option shaped up to be the major question of the jump-off.
“If you make the inside turn and you go clean, you should be one of the winners,” Ballard said. “It really is a quality decision.”
Hollberg chose the riskier route and was rewarded with the fastest time of the day on Fernando Cardenas’ Orphan Car. He praised the horse’s effort in the class. “The horse is a real trier and tries to jump clear and go fast,” Hollberg explained. “Just staying with him is all you need to do.”
This was Hollberg’s first ride in The Ridge at Wellington’s Grand Prix Series, and he is already looking forward to making a return. “I only have one horse at this level right now, and he’s a sale horse,” he said. “Provided I get to keep him for a little while longer, I will keep coming, for sure.”
“It’s quiet, and you can take your time,” Hollberg added. “The course is fair without being too easy. I think it’s a good place for inexperienced riders or inexperienced grand prix horses to go out and jump at a beautiful venue. It’s a super addition to the season. I wish the whole horse show would be like this.”
Andres Rodriguez, winner of two previous classes in The Ridge at Wellington’s Grand Prix series, finished just a tick behind Hollberg in second aboard Aberdeen 33. Rodriguez noted that fence two of the first round, the Global Champions Tour wall, provided a challenge early in the course. “It was kind of the biggest question of the course, and I’m really happy my first two horses just came and didn’t hesitate and jumped really well this week,” Rodriguez said. “Aberdeen 33 is probably one of my favorite horses. He did his job, and he was just a little bit behind the winner.”
Rodriguez explained that he enjoys the series because it gives his young horses a change of pace and keeps them more alert. “Once you bring them to the 1.40m level, all the classes are in the same ring during season,” he said. “When they jump so much in the same ring, they get a little bit too comfortable, and it becomes a little bit like home. I don’t want my horses to think of that place as home. That’s where I want them to be as clever as they can be. I just want them to know that when they cross the bridge, it’s for a big competition.”
“So when the Ridge at Wellington Grand Prix series came out, I thought it was a good idea,” Rodriguez continued. “It is good just to change a little bit; a little bit of a different atmosphere. It all started really well. I was really happy at the Ridge, Nona’s place. And then we came here. Here, there is nothing more to ask. Here is just a perfect venue for a young horse.”
Jeffrey Welles rode Merlin to a third place finish in 39.085 seconds. Welles said his horse can be high strung, but went nicely for him in the class. “The field is beautiful, and the jumps are nice,” he said. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere here. Everyone’s making a big effort to make it super nice. I’m very happy, very pleased that I came over.”
Agatha D’Ambra and Airbus closed out the top four with the only other double clear round of the day. “He was very good,” D’Ambra, who was making her debut in the series, said. “I think overall the relaxed feeling here just helps all around. It helps the horses, the riders, and the trainers. It’s nice to go at your own pace.”
“It’s a change of scenery and a change of pace from the main showgrounds,” she went on. “My parents can come over and have breakfast and watch me. I had heard great things about the facility, and it’s nice to get a chance to ride on a grass field. It’s really beautiful out here.”
The $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix series will return to Mida Farm next Friday, March 1, for the seventh week of competition. Inclement weather forced the cancellation of last week’s class. The 10-week series will culminate with the $24,750 Ridge at Wellington Invitational Grand Prix Finale on Saturday, March 23, 2013.
$15,000 The Ridge at Wellington 1.4m Invitational Grand Prix – Mida Farm
- Orphan Car – Matthias Hollberg – 0/0, 38.448
- Aberdeen 33 – Andres Rodriguez – 0/0, 38.698
- Merlin – Jeffery Welles – 0/0, 39.085
- Airbus – Agatha D’Ambra – 0/0, 45.458
- Tilghman – Sarah Segal – 0/4, 38.296
- Sil – Geoff Case – 0/4, 40.256
- Imothep – Nicole Simpson – 0/4, 41.618
- Oh La La – Lauren Hough – 0/4, 45.590
- HH Sandor – Anna McKnight – 0/8, 37.836
- Rolex – Joseph Sorce – 0/8, 45.551
- Caspar T – Cara Anthony – 0/12, 46.964
- Via Veneto – Paul Halpern – 0/elim.
Mary Adelaide Brakenridge for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International