Tag Archives: ESP Holiday Series

Matthew Sampson and Paul Walker Claim Top Honors in $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix

Matthew Sampson and Paul Walker ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – January 3, 2021 – Competition came to an end at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday in the International Arena with the $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix. Thirty-four riders representing 11 nations competed over the course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA). Last to go in the jump-off, Matthew Sampson (GBR) piloted Gut Einhaus, LLC’s Paul Walker to the fastest time of the class to claim victory. Sunday’s classes concluded the ESP Holiday Finale Show as well as the ESP Holiday Series.

“He’s an incredible horse. He has jumped two classes since he’s been in Florida. That was two weeks ago before Christmas and he was clear in both,” Sampson said of the 2011 Hanoverian gelding by Perigueux x Cornet Obolensky. “It’s my first time in Florida, so it’s been a great start. The course was good, the first round was a long and really careful course, which suited my horse in particular because he is so careful.”

The first course that the horses and riders were tested over consisted of 13 fences, and nine duos successfully completed the first round to advance to the seven-fence jump-off. Sixth in the original order, Sydney Shulman (ISR) and Jill Shulman’s J-Boston S.E. were the first to go clear, followed by Luis Pedro Biraben (ARG) aboard his own Chacco Bumpy to force a jump-off. The seven additional riders to join the jump-off were Molly Ashe Cawley (USA), Jessica Mendoza (GBR), Jacqueline Steffens (CAN), Mac Cone (CAN), Paul O’Shea (IRL), Simon McCarthy (IRL), and Matthew Sampson (GBR).

First to return to the ring over the short course, Shulman and J-Boston S.E. were able to produce a second fault-free ride to set the pace with a time of 39.42 seconds. Mendoza and Carly Day’s Casanova 499 soon took over the lead after stopping the timers at 38.86 seconds. The duo remained in first until the last rider, Sampson, sliced a full second off of Mendoza’s leading time, piloting Paul Walker to a winning time of 37.52 seconds to secure the lead spot in the victory gallop.

“I always know that Jessica Mendoza is fast because I’ve been riding against her all our lives, so I just tried to do as much as I could without doing anything crazy to knock a fence down, and luckily it paid off!” Sampson commented regarding his plan for the jump-off. “I got six strides to the double which is quite a long distance. Jessica did seven and then I got one less stride to the last fence. Jessica did do one less stride than me to the second fence, but I think the one less stride to the double was what probably helped us out.”

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Darragh Kenny Pilots Belo Horizonte to Victory in $37,000 JTWG, Inc. 1.45m CSI4*

Darragh Kenny and Belo Horizonte, pictured with paddock master A. J. Holmes. ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – December 12, 2020 – Competition during the ESP Holiday II CSI4* continued in the International Arena on Saturday, December 12, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Fifty-six horse-and-rider combinations took on Hector Loyola’s (PUR) course in the $37,000 JTWG, Inc. 1.45m CSI4*. Top honors in the class went to Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Belo Horizonte, owned by Oakland Ventures LLC. The pair has already proven to be a successful match, having won the $25,000 Year End National Grand Prix, presented by #1 Education Place, last week.

“I think in all of the classes I’ve jumped him in, he’s had one jump down [total],” commented Kenny of Belo Horizonte, a 2008 Holsteiner gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Clearway. “He’s extremely careful. I was just happy I rode well today and the horse went great so it was a nice result.”

Course designer Loyola designed a track including 12 elements up to 1.45m in height and a time-allowed of 85 seconds. The course saw 19 clear rounds, with McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki (Catoki x Cartello B) leading the majority of the class. Ward and Catoki, owned by Marilla Van Beuren, Bob Russell, and Ward, were hot off a win in the $37,000 Vobev Holiday II Opener CSI4* on Thursday and looking to add another win to their list for the week. The pair ultimately finished in third place after stopping the clock fault-free in 64.60 seconds. Another frequent winner, Kent Farrington (USA) and Take the High Road, LLC’s Austria 2 (Casall x Corrado I), claimed second place with a quick time of 63.04 seconds, just fractions of a second behind Kenny and Belo Horizonte, who rode near the end of the starting list with a winning time of 62.94 seconds.

“I’ll build him up a little bit more during circuit. Maybe jump the 1.50m classes and maybe some of the three-star grand prix classes, then see how that goes,” Kenny said regarding his goals for Belo Horizonte. “He can do jump-offs – he won the National Grand Prix last week with a jump off – and this week he won the speed. I think he’s just a really, really talented horse.”

“It’s always nice to win here, and it’s nice to be back here. I like being in one place, and I’m happy to be starting out on a good note,” described Kenny of being back at PBIEC.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Lucy Deslauriers and Hester Win $73,000 Sweet Oak Farm 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*

Lucy Deslauriers and Hester ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – December 11, 2020 – The ESP Holiday II CSI4* hit its midway point on Friday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), and show jumpers came out in high numbers for the prize money classes. Besting a field of 66 entries, Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Lisa Deslauriers’ Hester (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker) added another FEI win to their resume with the victory in the $73,000 Sweet Oak Farm 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*. The win was a welcome addition to the pair’s growing list of international successes after topping the $214,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*, presented by Palm Beach County Sports Commission, on November 29 at PBIEC.

“It feels great to be back!” commented Deslauriers on competing at PBIEC. “Obviously, it’s an interesting time for everyone. I had a little bit of a break at school. I was at school the past two months and came down two weeks ago, so I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. Because of the strong people behind me that kept my horses going, it made this transition back into the grind of showing so much easier. It feels good. We’re lucky to be able to show and to get back into what we love doing while so many people are unable to do so. It’s definitely a fortunate situation we’re in.”

Course designer Héctor Loyola (PUR) created a track of 14 efforts for international competitors in the first round of the $73,000 Sweet Oak Farm 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*. Out of the initial starting list of 66 pairs, 16 duos advanced to the jump-off. The group of returners represented six nations, including the United States, Ireland, Israel, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the Dominican Republic.

As the second to go over the short course, Laura Kraut (USA) and Goldwin, owned by Stars and Stripes, set the standard with a clear ride in 45.72 seconds. Their lead held for six trips until Daniel Bluman (ISR) entered the ring aboard Gerardo Pasquel’s Alamo, the 2019 FEI Jumping World Cup Finals champion who was previously campaigned by Steve Guerdat (SUI) before Bluman took over the ride in the summer of 2020. On Friday, the pair put in a double-clear effort in a time of 44.24 to take over the top spot with only a handful of challengers remaining.

“On the turn back to the second to the last jump I took a big risk, but it was going to go one of two ways, and my horse was really right there with me,” reflected Deslauriers of her winning jump-off. “He saw it too, so luckily it went our way today. I’m really thrilled with my horse, and I have such a great team of people behind me that makes today and last week’s CSI4* win possible.”

Just a few trips later, the winning partnership of Deslauriers and Hester took their turn around the pattern, tripping the timers in 43.94 seconds, a time that would retain the head spot on the leaderboard. Bluman and Alamo (Ukato x Equador) maintained second position, and Kraut and Goldwin (Emerald x Understone van de Kapel) rounded out the top three.

“After this Sunday, my horses will have at least a month off to recoup a little bit and rest up,” noted Deslauriers on her upcoming plans. “I think we’ll have a lot of top people here, as there are only so many options available at the high-level right now in the world. I think it’ll be a long season to come, and it’ll be a good break for everyone to try and stick to what’s been working and stay focused on our goals.”

The $10,000 Bainbridge 1.40m Open Stake was the final class of the day in the International Arena and hosted a large pack of 67 horse-and-rider combinations. Just like the earlier FEI class, 16 pairs turned in clear performances to advance to the jump-off, which concluded with six duos going double-clear. As the fastest by more than two full seconds, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Sweet Oak Farm’s Byzance Mail claimed victory in a time of 43.16 seconds. The next quickest, Molly Ashe Cawley (USA), navigated Louisburg Farm’s Berdien to second place after crossing the timers in 45.57 seconds, and Erynn Ballard (CAN) added another country into the mix to make for a diverse podium with her third-place ride on Ilan Ferder’s Kamilla D in 48.16 seconds.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward and Catoki Race to Victory in $37,000 Vobev Holiday II Opener CSI4*

McLain Ward and Catoki ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – December 10, 2020 – The ESP Holiday II CSI4* hosted its first FEI classes of the week on Thursday, December 10, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Serving as the featured event of the day, the $37,000 Vobev Holiday II Opener CSI4* attracted 69 horse-and-rider combinations to the International Arena to vie for the top prize and FEI ranking points. Always a speedy pair, McLain Ward (USA) and Catoki (Catoki x Cartello B), the horse he co-owns with Bob Russell and Marilla Van Beuren, galloped to first place to commence the week on a high note.

“He is so fast, so it’s kind of his job to try to win these classes and to pay for the others to show,” commented Ward of the 2009 Westphalian gelding. “Kent had a great round on a very fast horse, and I was a little concerned the course didn’t actually suit Catoki because they were doing a leave-out in one line in the speed phase, and I really didn’t think I could do that. But he’s a quick enough horse even without that, and he really jumped great.”

Run under a modified power and speed format, the class featured a pattern by course designer Héctor Loyola (PUR) and challenged exhibitors to jump clear over the first nine fences and then immediately continue on to the final six obstacles, regardless of whether or not faults had been incurred in the initial phase. The time for the latter portion of the course served to rank competitors.

The pack included representatives from 11 countries, including the United States, Ireland, Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, Egypt, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Russia, and Switzerland. Third to go, Santiago Lambre (MEX) and Cetano Van Aspergem Z (Clinton x Ahorn Z) set the pace with a quick, clear round in 30.38 seconds, which held until the 30th duo entered the ring. Always formidable, Kent Farrington (USA) and Austria 2 (Casall x Corrado I) upped the ante with an expedient, fault-free ride in 29.73 seconds to capture the lead with nearly 40 duos still remaining.

“He’s fast. Honestly, I didn’t watch Kent because this horse really goes with his own game plan, and he’s super fast,” remarked Ward of how he thinks he won the class. “Sometimes when you try to do what others do, you end up making a mistake. I try to do the best round I can do with him, and I knew it was as fast as I could try to go within what his strengths were.”

As the fourth-to-last out of the starting order, Ward capitalized on Catoki’s quick footspeed and a bold inside turn option to just barely edge ahead of the frontrunners, crossing the finish line in 29.67 seconds to jump to the top of the leaderboard by mere milliseconds. The final challengers could not catch the leading combination, solidifying Ward and Catoki as the victors in the $37,000 Vobev Holiday II Opener CSI4*. Farrington and Austria 2, owned by Take the High Road LLC, retained second place, and Darragh Kenny (IRL) earned the final podium placing riding Oakland Ventures LLC’s Belo Horizonte with a fault-free time of 29.99 seconds. In total, 31 partnerships finished the class without any faults to their name.

“I think great efforts are being made for this to go on,” noted Ward of competing under a COVID protocol. “We’re all welcoming a vaccine and some normalcy, and being able to be outside and compete with, obviously, the right precautions is great. It feels as close to our normal life as we can get right now.”

The morning kicked off in the International Arena with 36 exhibitors in the $1,000 Bainbridge 1.40m CSI4*, which also ran as a power and speed class, though only those competitors who jumped the first half of the course without any faults continued for the second timed portion. A total of 11 duos finished the first half of the track fault-free to advance to the speed phase, which produced a final number of just five pairs without a single fault. The time-allowed proved to be a factor as 11 partnerships earned a single time fault during the power phase of the class to keep them out of contention.

As one of the final exhibitors, Flo Norris (GBR) took over the top spot from Laura Kraut (USA), who had held the lead since halfway through the class, riding Cisca Norris’ Gin Chin Van Het Lindenhof (Chin Chin x Calido I). Norris’ clear time of 32.84 seconds kept her at the top of the standings with the 2006 Belgian Warmblood gelding, followed by Kraut on Cherry Knoll Farm Inc.’s Haley with no faults in 33.45 seconds. Daniel Bluman (ISR) rounded out the top three with the ride on Gerardo Pasquel’s Alamo after tripping the timers clear in 39.97 seconds.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Lucy Deslauriers and Hester Are Better of Two Deslauriers Duos in Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*

Lucy Deslauriers and Hester ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 29, 2020 – The first week of the ESP Holiday Series concluded on a high note on Sunday, November 29, with the $214,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*, presented by Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

Sunday’s challenging class saw an elite group of four pairs rise to the top as the only jump-off returners, two of which were family members in the form of Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Mario Deslauriers (CAN). Besting her father and the rest of the international pack as the youngest competitor in the class, 21-year-old Lucy jumped mother Lisa Deslauriers’ Hester to the top of the leaderboard, making it a true family affair with mother, father, and daughter all represented in the top of the standings.

“I just have so much gratitude for my horse,” commented Lucy on Hester, a 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker. “At the beginning of the week, I definitely felt a little bit rusty. I’ve actually been at school for the last two months, so this was my first week back in the show ring. I think the result is just a testament to my horse and our team because they’ve kept my horses in shape and kept him ready to go for when I got here. Huge thanks to them. I’m so happy!”

Sunday’s feature contest attracted 45 horse-and-rider combinations hailing from 11 nations, including the United States, Ireland, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Egypt. For the first round of riding, course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) constructed a pattern of 17 efforts up to the 1.60m height, a track fit for the occasion of a CSI4* class. It took until the 29th entry in the start list to see a clear round, which came from the younger Deslauriers, Lucy, and Hester as the successful pathfinders. Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve forced a jump-off with their clear round, and Kent Farrington (USA) soon followed suit riding Kaprice. The elder Deslauriers, Mario, turned in the final fault-free ride on Bardolina 2.

“I really had to stay focused and stick to our plan,” noted the winning Deslauriers of her plan in the first round after so many rides with faults from competitors. “We had a pretty clear layout of what I wanted to do and what I needed to do based on what we thought would lead to a clear round, so I couldn’t really think about the fact that nobody had gone clear yet. I really just had to stay super narrow-minded, like tunnel vision almost, toward our plan.”

For the jump-off, D’Ambrosio produced an abridged course of eight fences that featured plenty of options to cut time off the clock with tight turns or quick gallops. First to go, Lucy and Hester once again set the standard with a foot-perfect ride in 35.06 seconds. Though Springsteen and Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve (Bamako de Muze x Heartbreaker) put in a valiant effort with no rails down, they missed the top spot by a margin of a second, tripping the timers in 36.21 seconds. The paternal half of the Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 (Clarimo x Landos) went third due to a thrown shoe from Farrington’s Kaprice, and the team continued the clear streak but logged a time of 38.23 seconds to slip into third position with only one left to go. As the final entry, the ever-speedy Farrington galloped Kaprice through the course on pace to test the leaders’ time, but downed a single rail to incur four faults for fourth place.

“I haven’t really gone for it in a jump-off with him,” commented Springsteen, who spent the year in Europe, “so I was going to do a safe and clear ride, then I decided it would be good practice for us to really try and go a little bit. I tried to do as neat of turns as I could. I was really happy with him! He’s amazing – he has all the scope, he’s super careful, and he’s very reliable. Wellington is like home to me, so it’s nice to be back and I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

The win is an auspicious start for Lucy’s and Hester’s winter season as they make their return to the show ring following their last competition in Traverse City, MI during the American Gold Cup in September.

“To ride with my daughter is so exciting,” remarked Mario. “We have had a few placings like this – first and second or first and third – so it’s always our goal. I love it when she goes a bit before me so I can concentrate on myself after. I get nervous when she goes so it’s good to get that done first. Our horses jumped great, so we are going to have a good family dinner tonight!”

Lucy mirrored her father’s thoughts on competing as a family, saying, “It’s so much fun. I think it adds fuel to our fire because we want to be more competitive against each other. A one-two finish is the goal, so we just want it even more when we both go clear.” She continued to say that though they are family, their mounts are not similar, meaning different strategies in the class. “We actually have super different horses, so we try to do our own thing and the chips are going to fall where they are. We had a great day, and it goes back to our team – we have such a great group of people and horses.”

On competing back in Wellington under COVID protocols, Mario concluded, “The whole ESP crew is doing a tremendous job. We, as riders, feel very safe. Let’s keep it up for the circuit. It looks great around here.”

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Sydney Shulman Gallops Ardente Printaniere to Victory in $37k Dever Golf Cars 1.45m Speed CSI4*

Sydney Shulman and Ardente Printaniere ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 28, 2020 – The ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4* continued for its penultimate day of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Saturday, November 28, with the $37,000 Dever Golf Cars 1.45m Speed CSI4*. Jumping to two top-five placings in the class, Sydney Shulman (ISR) finished the day on a high note with a victory on Jill Shulman’s Ardente Printaniere and a fifth-place result aboard the same owner’s Villamoura.

“She’s older; she’s 15. I bought her from Maarten Huygens and McLain Ward a little over five years ago,” commented Shulman of the winning 2006 Belgian Sporthorse mare by Joyeux Ardent x Ramiro. “She’s wonderful. She’s a bit unconventional but she’s super fast, super consistent, and you can really count on her. She has had some injuries over the years, so she has been on and off a bit. I really want to thank my grooms, Lily Stanbridge and Merri West. They take amazing care of her and she’s quite difficult because she’s unconventional to manage, but they’ve done an amazing job bringing her back from the injuries. They really deserve a lot of the credit.”

For the first and only round of riding in the $37,000 Dever Golf Cars 1.45m Speed CSI4*, course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) challenged the 65 entries with a track of 15 efforts. Sixth in the order, Shulman and Villamoura set the pace as the pathfinders with the first clear trip in 63.29 seconds. Though the leaders were overtaken for a short time by Kent Farrington (USA) and Austria 2, the winners of Wednesday’s $37,000 Holiday & Horses 1.45m Opener CSI4*, Shulman made sure to put herself at the top of the leaderboard once again with her second ride aboard Ardente Printaniere. The duo stopped the clock without any faults in a time of 61.62 seconds as the 39th in the order, leaving 26 partnerships left to chase them down.

“The first horse I rode was Villamoura, who is a speed demon,” reflected Shulman on her two rides. “I got jumped loose in the tack yesterday, so today I went for a little more conservative round on her. The winning horse, we call her Prima, only has one way of going and is a bit unconventional, so you kind of just leave her alone and let her do her thing. Most of the time it works out like today. I didn’t think Kent was beatable, so I really had nothing to lose and just tried to do the least amount of strides. She’s a massive mare and she covers the ground, so I was just hoping that she would stay careful enough, which she did.”

Though the remainder of the pack aimed to eclipse the Israeli partnership, none were able to pass their leading time, solidifying Shulman and Ardente Printaniere as the winners. Shulman’s mount has already seen respectable success this year as the winner of the $10,000 Hermes U25 Welcome CSI3* during Week Six of the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival and the second-place finisher in the $72,900 Staller Grand Prix CSI2* this past summer in Traverse City, MI. In Saturday’s speed class, Ellen Whitaker (GBR) jumped into second place riding her own Jack Van’t Kattenheye in a clear time of 62.19 seconds, and Farrington and Austria 2 held on for the third spot.

“I’m grateful that we can continue to do what we love to do,” noted Shulman of competing under COVID protocols. “I’m really thankful to the show for allowing it to be safe and feel comfortable to do our job and to have the shows. I think we actually ended up showing more than we would have with FEI shows prior to COVID, so I really feel lucky that we can be outside and be with the horses every day and still compete. It’s a little bit different, but I think everyone is being respectful so we can continue to show.”

Run in the DeNemethy Ring, the $2,550 1.35m Jumper Speed Stake, presented by Cabana Coast, ran concurrently with the CSI4* class in the International Arena in the morning. Run over one round, the contest gave competitors just one chance to try to cross the timer quickly without any faults, and Annie Bolling of Fair Hope, AL made use of her opportunity with the fastest ride on her own Mykonos SCF. As the second-to-last pair to ride, they were up against a leading clear time of 66.16 seconds, but improved upon that time with ease to break the beam fault-free in 64.54 seconds to capture victory. Maggie Jayne of Elgin, IL and Alex Jayne’s Arizona ODF claimed second place with their time of 66.16 seconds, and Dana Gattuso of Stockton, NJ rode her own Halocia to third position in a clear time of 74.09 seconds.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward and Noche De Ronda Claim $73,000 Holiday & Horses 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*

McLain Ward and Noche De Ronda ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 27, 2020 – The ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4* returned to the main stage at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Friday, November 27, with the $73,000 Holiday & Horses 1.50m Qualifier CSI4*, presented by Premier Equestrian. Claiming a familiar place at the top of the leaderboard, Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) piloted Noche De Ronda, the horse he co-owns with Marilla Van Beuren and Bob Russell, to the fastest double-clear time of the contest.

Friday’s field included 73 horse-and-rider pairs representing 13 countries, including the United States, Ireland, Switzerland, Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Egypt, Chile, Japan, and Russia. Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) created a 16-effort track for competitors that produced 16 clear rounds from the starting order.

“The jump-off was fast, and it sometimes comes off the way you want,” reflected Ward of his jump-off ride. “I think after the double combination [we made up time]. Bliss’ horse is an incredible jumper and a very fast horse, but doesn’t have the stride that Ronda has, and I was able to do one stride less, maybe two less, across the diagonal after the double combination and for sure one less stride coming home. I think probably those two places most of all helped us. It was one of those jump-offs where the plan just worked.”

Trimmed down to eight fences, the jump-off pattern led to eight teams finishing on a second fault-free ride. Halfway through the class, Daniel Bluman (ISR) held the lead aboard Colestina H, owned by Blue Star Investments and Kim Douglas, with a foot-perfect time of 36.16 seconds. Bliss Heers (USA) inched faster riding Bridgeside Farms LLC’s Antidote De Mars in 35.10 seconds, but the fifth-to-last partnership, Ward and Noche De Ronda, sliced even more time off the clock. The quick pair broke the beam with no faults in 34.26 seconds, a time that proved unbeatable for the remaining contenders. Heers and Antidote De Mars maintained the runner-up spot, followed by Ben Maher (GBR) on Deborah Perkins’ Day Dream in 35.53 seconds.

“Ronda has jumped well this year since Florida in the spring but has had a little bit of an unlucky four-fault streak in a few big grand prix classes though she has been performing well. She has always been great in this ring, and she was really in great form today,” Ward noted of his partner for the class, a 2009 Oldenburg mare by Quintender x Loves Corinth.

Ward and Noche De Ronda’s victory Friday added to their list of successes in Wellington after two grand prix victories in the span of a week in February 2020. The pair topped the $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* during Week Five of the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival, then six days later earned the victory in the $213,300 Grand Prix CSIO5* during one of two Nations Cup weeks in Wellington.

“She’s going to jump this week and then in two weeks again. We will start back up a little later in the season this spring for some of the bigger classes,” Ward commented on his plans for Noche De Ronda through the remainder of the ESP Holiday Series and the upcoming 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival.

The International Arena’s classes concluded Friday with the $10,000 Bainbridge 1.40m Open Stake, which saw 53 entries in the first round of riding and 13 in the jump-off. As the fifth to go over the short course, Laura Kraut (USA) turned in a quick time of 34.76 seconds on Cherry Knoll Farm Inc’s Haley to take the lead, and their time would be unbeatable. McKayla Langmeier (USA) claimed the second spot riding Linda Langmeier’s Cadence De L’Escaut in a clear time of 34.98 seconds, while Erynn Ballard (CAN) captured third spot with Katherine Benard’s Delirius Del Sol in 35.06 seconds.

Geoffrey Hesslink and Small Occasion Are Big Winners in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Hunter riders took to the ring Friday during the ESP Holiday & Horses CSI4*, which is the first show out of six that make up the ESP Holiday Series. The highlight hunter class of the week, the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Bainbridge, featured 31 entries over courses designed by Jasen Shelley. With two scores nearing the 100-point mark, Geoffrey Hesslink of Shelbourne, VT and Small Occasion, owned by Shadowfax Equestrian LLC, claimed the victory ahead of a high-scoring field.

“She is a famous horse and has won all over the country at the main events,” Hesslink remarked on Small Occasion. “It just so happened that we were lucky enough to fall into place with her this summer for one of my clients, Raina Swani, as her first junior hunter. She is just so much fun. She is a blast and a winner and always puts in 110 percent.”

Following the first round of the class, the cut-off score for the top 12 sat at a lofty 86 points thanks to a series of top performances from exhibitors. Hesslink and Small Occasion, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, led the way with 96 points, earned from a classic score of 92 plus four bonus points for taking the high option fences. Kristy Herrera of Wellington, FL rode Kate Ellis’ Valhalla to second position with 93 points, and last week’s National Derby winner Jimmy Torano of Wellington, FL and Isalou Inc.’s Laskano were not far behind with a score of 92. All told, 10 points separated first position from twelfth place, keeping standings tight headed into the handy round.

“We continued to show through most of the year even with everything going on, so I feel like I’ve adapted pretty well to how things are going now,” Hesslink commented of competing under COVID protocol. “This is sort of our first week back into it, so it was a great start and the horses feel great. They do a nice job here, so we are very excited and happy. It’s nice to be able to show and feel safe. My clients and I have a really top string of hunters and horses for every ring, just like her, and I’m really excited to get the chance to show them and hopefully do well this season.”

In the handy phase, competitors returned in the reverse order of the standings, giving Hesslink and Small Occasion the advantage of going last as the early frontrunners. Torano and Laskano had moved up one spot to hold the lead with only one pair left to go, earning 94 points over the handy course to push them to 186 total points. In the end, Hesslink and Small Occasion retained their status at the top of the scorecard with 93 points to finish on a cumulative two-round score of 189. Torano and Laskano claimed second place, and Herrera captured the final podium spot with Valhalla. Jennifer Bliss of Loxahatchee, FL also had a great day, finishing aboard three horses in the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Kent Farrington and Austria 2 Land the $37,000 Holiday & Horses 1.45m Opener CSI4*

Kent Farrington and Austria 2. ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – November 25, 2020 – International competition returned to the main grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) to kick off the ESP Holiday Series with the $37,000 Holiday & Horses 1.45m Opener CSI4*, presented by Dover Saddlery, on Wednesday, November 25.

Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) created a track of 15 efforts for the class, which was run under an altered power-and-speed format. The first nine fences constituted the first phase, and the final six jumps made up the second phase, with riders continuing to the latter portion of the course even if they had faults in the first set of obstacles. Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Cadans Z, owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC, set the bar as seventh in the order with a speedy second phase time of 27.717 seconds and held on to that position until Kent Farrington (USA) and Austria 2 flew through the speed phase in 25.999 seconds. Less than a second behind the second-place finisher was Andrew Bourns (IRL) and his own Darquito, who landed in third with a clear time of 27.836 seconds.

“This will be my second WEF with Austria 2. I’ve been riding her for two years now,” remarked Farrington of the 2008 Holsteiner mare by Casall x Corrado I owned by Take the High Road, LLC. “She’s been an amazing little horse; she wins tons of classes. She has jumped some huge grand prix classes, she’s fast enough to win a speed class, and she’s brave enough to win the top ten final at Geneva. I think that really shows her versatility and her heart.”

Although Farrington will be showing all week, he shared that he does intend to have family time on Thanksgiving. “My mom and my sister are both here, so I always try to spend a little time with my family,” he said.” I’m thankful for the team here that has put protocols in place that allow us to compete under these circumstances. I feel very fortunate to be here.”

The day began with the $1,000 Bainbridge 1.40m CSI4*, which had 53 entries compete over the first-round course. Time proved to be a factor as 19 pairs were kept from the jump-off due to only one or two time faults, still leaving a whopping 24 fault-free teams eligible for the jump-off, 21 of which were double clear. In the end, Liubov Kochetova (RUS) emerged victorious riding her own Trevita (Graf Top x Stakkato) in a time of 32.72 seconds. The duo saved the best for last as the final partnership to ride over the abridged jump-off pattern, just edging out second-place finishers Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Artisan Farms LLC’s Vienna, who finished the course in 33.53 seconds. Anna Dryden (USA) rounded out the top three aboard Van Schijndel’s Double Bee, owned by Double Meadows Farm LLC, in 33.93 seconds.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Jordan Coyle and Essenar Crixus Cruise to the Top of $50k Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix

Coyle and Essenar Crixus. ©Anne Gittins Photography

Wellington, FL – January 6, 2020 – The 2019 ESP Holiday Finale concluded this Sunday with the $50,000 Equiline Holiday Finale Grand Prix in the International Arena. Jordan Coyle of Ireland flew through the jump-off timers in 40.381 seconds to secure the win with Elan Farm’s Essenar Crixus, while Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, OH and Van Gogh, owned by Wilhelm & Patty Genn, came in a close second after completing the jump-off in 40.76 seconds. Roberto Teran Tafur of Colombia and his Dena-Sienne rounded out the podium with a time of 39.47 seconds and four faults.

“He [Essenar Crixus] just turned 10. I’ve had him for about 5 months, so I’m still getting to know him, but he should be able to do some bigger classes and be very competitive. He’s definitely fast enough,” Coyle shared. “For such a big horse, he’s actually quite easy to ride.”

Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio welcomed 45 entries to the first round, with only four returning for the jump-off. “I was lucky I was last to go, so I got to watch everyone. I actually thought I was a lot faster than Wilhelm [Genn], so I slowed down to the last jump which nearly caught me. It was a lot closer than I thought. I’m just delighted,” Coyle concluded.

To learn more, please visit www.pbiec.com.

Mark Bluman and Cartouche Claim the $25k Lactanase National Grand Prix

Mark Bluman and Cartouche. ©Anne Gittins Photography.

Wellington, FL – December 29, 2019 – The ESP New Year’s competition wrapped up at the main grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Mark Bluman of Colombia and his entry Cartouche won the $25,000 Vita Flex Lactanase National Grand Prix, which was the highlight class of the day, after flying through the jump-off timers in 36.527 seconds. Santiago Lambre of Mexico navigated his Doloris through the short course in 38.086 seconds to claim the second-place finish, while Ryan Genn of Lebanon, OH and Dieta, owned by Shannon Reid, rounded out the podium with a jump-off time of 39.64 seconds.

Twenty-eight entries contested the first round set by course designer Andy Christiansen with only six returning for the jump-off. “I think the course was pretty fair for the amount of people that we had in the class today. We ended up having a good number for the jump-off, and I had the good luck of being the last one to go clear,” Bluman commented. Since Bluman was the last to go clear in the first round he gained the advantage of going last in the jump-off. “Going last in the jump-off is always a big advantage, especially when you have a horse like the one I’m riding. He’s super-fast, turns very tight, and is really careful. Basically, the only thing that I have to worry about is aiming to the jump and to just let him go as fast as he wants. It worked out today.”

Bluman revealed that he and Cartouche have been working together since the summer when his cousin, Daniel Bluman, went to Europe this summer and elected not to take Cartouche overseas. “He’s been making money at every show he goes to. He’s just a winner and it’s a pleasure to ride him.”

As for the upcoming WEF season, Bluman admitted that Cartouche will get a break from back-to-back competition: “I don’t think I’m going to show him much during WEF. I’m going to save him for the summer when I have a better chance of making money. I showed him a lot pre-circuit, and he placed in every Grand Prix he jumped. Today, we finally got the win and it was a good way to close the year. I’m very happy,” Bluman concluded.

Attention Competitors: ESP’s show office records indicate that a large percentage of exhibitors will soon need to renew their Safe Sport eligibility. Please be sure to check your status at usef.org and renew if you are planning to compete at PBIEC in the upcoming weeks.

To learn more about the ESP Holiday Series and PBIEC, please visit www.pbiec.com.