McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z. Photos © Sportfot.
Farrington and Waomi Take $100,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final; Kenny Leads Suncast® Series Overall; Danhakl and Starina B Earn First Championship
Wellington, FL – March 29, 2015 – McLain Ward (USA) and Double H Farm’s HH Carlos Z won the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* in front of a packed house at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) Saturday night to conclude International show jumping at the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Forty of the circuit’s best horses and riders representing 13 different countries jumped for the winter’s top prize. Daniel Bluman (COL) and Conconcreto Sancha LS finished second; Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Lilli placed third.
The $100,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final was also held on Saturday with a win for Kent Farrington (USA) and Amalaya Investment’s Waomi. Darragh Kenny (IRL) won the 12-week series overall.
Steve Stephens (USA) designed the courses for Saturday’s competition. He set a challenging track for the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, the biggest class of the circuit, which yielded three entries to advance to the jump-off.
Bloomberg and Gotham Enterprizes LLC’s Lilli jumped first with eight faults in 44.39 seconds. Bluman returned next with one rail in 41.64 seconds. Last to go, Ward and HH Carlos Z knocked the top plank off the second fence, and everyone held their breath. The pair cleared the rest of the course, coming home in 41.25 seconds for the win.
Hunter Harrison of Double H Farm purchased HH Carlos Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Chellano Z x Voltaire), for Ward to ride last winter and the horse has continued to impress.
“He is very careful and very competitive, but we did not buy him to jump this level of grand prix,” Ward detailed. “Last year in the summer we had to call on him a few times when Rothchild was resting for the WEG (World Equestrian Games) and he stepped up beautifully, including the Spruce Meadows Masters in September. We knew we had a little more in the tank than we had planned. I would say coming into WEF, it would not have been the horse I thought I would have ridden tonight, but as I always say to Mr. Harrison, he is one of those horses that is always worth getting dressed for because he is going to fight and try and dig. You really appreciate those kinds of athletes.”
Commenting on his jump-off round, Ward explained, “With three in the jump-off, the plan was not going to be too complicated. Kent Farrington is a great friend and competitor and we were talking about it as we were warming up. Georgina had the unenviable position of going first. When Daniel had the fence down, I said to Kent, ‘Okay, we can win this two ways.’ That plank was a bogey; it was very dark up there with the crowd behind. It was hard to jump in the first round and even harder to jump in the second, so our plan was to try to go fast and clear obviously, but fast so that if you did have a fence down, you could make up the time. Luck was a little on my side. I had two weeks in the $1 million grand prixs where I lost by a hair and that is what sport is about. It is great. Probably at the end of the year that evens out; sometimes you are on the upper hand and sometimes you are on the lower.”
Along with the winner’s share of $165,000, Ward was presented the Dennis D. Dammerman Perpetual Trophy. The trophy was created to honor the contributions to equestrian sport of Dennis D. Dammerman, a longtime owner of horses and founding member of the Wellington Equestrian Partners. Ward was also awarded a beautiful timepiece courtesy of Rolex Watch USA.
Saturday marked Ward’s third win in the finale grand prix of WEF over the years. His last was in 2011. Commenting on the evening’s course, Ward noted, “It was very difficult, but it was forty of the best from the circuit. There was a very unique, eye opening triple combination. I cannot say I have ever seen three oxers in a row. It was a good test. There was the difficult bicycle jump, which is always tough. There were some careful jumps. You really had three planks on the course. That is what the test should be for this grand prix. It is the premier event of the season and obviously I liked the result.”
Watch McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z in their first round!
Second place finisher, Daniel Bluman, previously won the finale grand prix in 2012 and was out for a repeat, but the cards did not play in his favor this year. Bluman was still very happy with his mount, Sancha LS, and acknowledged the experience that he has gained since their first win.
“For me, this grand prix means a lot because I won it already once before,” Bluman stated. “I was a little bit young to win it back then and lots of things have happened since. I have learned a lot of things. This year, I was able to understand what I was doing right back then. I knew I was coming back to a jump-off with three riders and I was already very excited. Georgina has had an amazing circuit and would be a hard one to beat and I knew I had McLain coming after me. McLain is McLain. I opened the door for him to do it. It was great sport, and I am very pleased with Sancha and my whole team. I have nothing but good feelings in my heart right now.”
For Bloomberg, Lilli was a second horse that has stepped up to fulfill the grand prix role this winter and exceeded expectations.
“I have to echo what McLain said, that if you had asked me at the beginning of the circuit who I would be riding in the class, I probably would have picked Juvina,” Bloomberg admitted. “We have had a little bit of bad luck with Juvina for a couple weeks and she is back and healthy now, but we decided to give her one more week before Miami. It is such a nice surprise that Lilli has stepped up to be a horse that I never knew she could be. I am pleased to be ending the circuit with another top ranking horse. She really did save our year.”
Joining the riders in the press conference were Peter Nicholson, Senior Advisor Rolex Watch USA, and Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions.
Commenting on the evening, Nicholson stated, “It is an honor to be involved. This is our second year and another successful year. We look forward to a very bright future with lots of improvements year after year. The level of competition is amazing, and we could not be happier to be down here.”
Bellissimo added, “The relationship we have had with Rolex has been inspiring for our organization. It is great to have a partner with such a great commitment to the sport, our venue and the organization. We are very proud of that relationship. With their help we have been able to have four 5* competitions here and I think that is very important for the sport, the venue, our organization and the riders. When we took over it was $2.6 million in prize money and I think it was close to $9 million this year. In general it has been great to see. The crowd here tonight was the best we have ever had. It is great to see it build every week. I think that is something that has never happened for the sport in this country.”
In addition to the grand prix, several other awards were presented Saturday evening for the final week of competition in Wellington. Ben Maher accepted the Simba Run Perpetual Trophy on behalf of Tatiana Korsakova as the owner of Diva II, the open jumper who has earned the most prize money in classes held at 1.45m or more during the 2015 WEF. Diva II’s groom, Daley Fischer, was presented with the Oliver O’Toole Perpetual Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the groom of the horse who has earned the most money in the grand prix jumper classes. Artisan Farms was presented with The Harrison Cup Perpetual Trophy, which is awarded to the owner whose horses won the most jumper money in all of the open jumper classes held throughout the circuit.
Other awards included the Overall Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider for the 2015 circuit, which was presented to Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) on behalf of Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Artisan Farm LLC’s Fine Lady 5 were presented with the Overall Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award, which is awarded to the jumper whose style best exemplifies a show jumper based on scope, rideability, technique and competitive spirit. Venezuela’s Emanuel Andrade earned the Hermès Talented Young Rider Award as the young jumper rider between the ages of 16-25 that has earned the most points in all WEF FEI rated jumper competition. Michael Hughes (USA) was the recipient of the USET Foundation’s 2015 Maxine Beard Award, an honor based on a rider’s competitive record and potential to represent the United States in international competition.
Farrington and Waomi Take $100,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final; Darragh Kenny Leads 1.50m Series Overall
The $100,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final concluded on Saturday with a win for Kent Farrington (USA) and Amalaya Investments Waomi. The competition saw 63 entries in the first round during the day, and the top 25% returned to compete in round two on Saturday evening. Fourteen clear entries and the two fastest four fault scores from round one returned to jump off. Their cumulative scores from both rounds were combined to determine the winner.
In the second round, two out of the 16 competitors were able to clear the course without fault. McLain Ward (USA) and HH Azur, owned by Double H Farm and Francois Mathy, were first to complete the jump-off clear in 44.05 seconds. They finished second overall. Farrington and Waomi took the win with two clear rounds and the leading jump-off time of 42.07 seconds.
Watch Kent Farrington and Waomi in their winning jump-off round!
“I thought it was a difficult track right from the first round,” Farrington said following his win. “I was actually surprised there were that many clear. I think the lighting made it a bit more difficult for the jump-off, which also was still technical. When you have 16 horses coming back and a lot of fast riders, you know that it is going to be competitive, so I think everybody was putting it out on the line to try to win tonight. No one was conservative, and I think that is why you saw so many faults tonight in the jump-off.”
On where he was faster than Ward, Farrington noted, “First, I think my horse is naturally faster across the ground, and I think my turns were probably a bit shorter. McLain was on a green horse, and I don’t think he was really able to turn quite as short as I was to the fences.”
The victory marked Farrington’s fourth in the 1.50m series for 2015. Three wins came with Waomi, a twelve-year-old KWPN mare by Lupicor x Boreas. He also topped one class with Amalaya Investments’ Willow.
“I started riding Waomi in the fall during the indoor season, and she pretty much started winning right from the beginning,” Farrington said of their partnership. “At the National, she won back-to-back 1.50m. Then she came to Florida here and kept right on track. I started her early in the WEF (Challenge Cup) classes, and she jumped one grand prix and also placed. As my other horses were stepping up, I put her more in the position to jump the 1.50m classes, and she has been super consistent and a real winner for me.”
As the conclusion to the twelve-week Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series, Saturday’s class served as the final allocation of points for the overall standings for the Leading Rider Award. Ireland’s Darragh Kenny took the series overall with consistent results throughout the winter. For his win, Kenny was awarded a pre-paid two-year lease on a beautiful new 2015 Range Rover Evoque.
Kenny had the opportunity to compete multiple horses throughout the series, and had his most consistent placings aboard Spruce Meadows’ Quiz, including a win during week five.
“Last year he was also very consistent in the 1.50m classes. I think he finished third in the league,” Kenny recalled. “This year he was really, really good. He is just a great horse to have in my string of horses. He has been very good all winter. He has done a lot and he has really produced some great results, so I am very happy with him.”
“The series is brilliant for us to produce our younger horses,” Kenny continued. “I am not in the position that Kent is in right now; I don’t have that many grand prix horses. I have a lot more horses that are building up and doing the 1.50m classes, so I focused more on this league. We are so lucky to have the Tisbo Family and Suncast® as sponsors. I think it has been a great series all winter, and I was very happy to end up on top.”
On his prize, Kenny added, “I have never won a car before. This is my first one, so I am actually quite happy with that. It is really nice.”
Also showing on Saturday, the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic was held in the International Arena with a one-two finish for Venezuela’s Emanuel Andrade. Andrade won the class with Natif des Roches. He was second aboard Rufus de Violaines.
Stephanie Danhakl and Starina B Earn First Championship in The Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35
During the final week of WEF, Stephanie Danhakl from Philadelphia, PA won her first championship ribbon with her own horse, Starina B, in The Bainbridge Companies Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35. The pair was unbeatable the first day, winning all three classes, and finished third and fifth over fences the second day. With the top performance this week, Danhakl and Starina B also finished WEF 2015 as circuit champions of the Bainbridge Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 division.
Reserve Champion honors went to Savannah and Tracy Scheriff-Muser. Scheriff-Muser rode her own horse to a first, a second, and a third over fences in the division.
Danhakl purchased Starina B during week 5 and has enjoyed getting to know her new horse during the second half of the circuit. “We clicked right off the bat! I was reserve champion with her [Starina B] our first week showing during WEF 6, so I got to do her in the Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular, which was great,” Danhakl explained.
“She [Starina B] has been such a great horse,” Danhakl smiled. “Every week and every round she goes in and wants to win. She always tries, and I’m very lucky to have her.”
After breaking her collarbone in the fall, Danhakl started showing week 4 and worked on getting back in riding shape throughout the circuit. “I started showing with my horses that I have had longer and know better. I was a little rusty, but this is the first week I feel that my riding is back to where it was before my injury,” Danhakl commented.
With Danhakl’s WEF season complete, she is looking forward to taking a break before gearing back up for the Devon Horse Show in the spring.
Kelley Farmer and Mindful Earn the High Score in the First Round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
On Saturday afternoon, 51 riders took on the course designed by Ken Krome in the first round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Two panels of judges scored each round, and riders were awarded extra points for jumping the high options. At the end of the first round, Kelley Farmer and Mindful found their names at the top of the leader board. Farmer earned scores of 90 from both sets of judges, plus 8 bonus points for jumping all 4 high options to finish with a grand total of 188.
Darcy Hayes rode Danielle Baran’s horse, Say When, into the second position with scores of 84 and 86, along with 8 bonus points for a total of 178. Vaillero, an entry of Heritage Farm, and Victoria Colvin finished the first round with a score of 175 to take over the third spot. Peter Wylde and Candor 15 ended the day in the fourth position and Hannah Isop and Red Ryder rounded out the top 5 after the first round of competition.
The top 25 riders will move to the derby field tomorrow at The Stadium at PBIEC for the second round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby to conclude hunter action for the 2015 WEF season starting at 1 p.m. The class will be live streamed at http://bit.ly/1H5mkfF. For full results and more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Lauren Fisher and Maddy Stover for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.