Beth Underhill and Count Me In (Photo courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography)
Wellington, Florida (March 14, 2016) – Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill brought her in-saddle savvy to The Ridge at Wellington’s Turf Tour Week 10 Grand Prix field, holding off ten other first round clears to top the $15,000 Grand Prix class. Held on the iconic polo fields of Palm Beach’s International Polo Club, this week’s Turf Tour Grand Prix and 1.30-1.35m classes featured show jumping’s top names, as well as High, Medium, and Low Schooling Jumpers, Child/Adult, and Junior/Amateur Owner divisions. The Turf Tour’s unique combination of atmosphere, competition, amenities, stunning venues, and open in-gate policy creates a utopian show experience that is redefining the paradigms of Wellington’s horse sport industry.
Underhill, riding for owner Sandy Lupton, rode strategically and efficiently, putting in a double clear on Friday aboard Count Me In to finish on a super-fast jump off time of 34.888. Her planning and excellent execution paid off, as less than a second separated the pair’s ride from second place. Angel Karolyi and Hollow Creek Farm’s Indiana 27 finished their jump off (35.066) in an exceptional and exciting attempt to catch Underhill and Count Me In. New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley and his own Zabel galloped through the timers to finish in third at 36.225, and Wordley and Hickstead Axel raced to fourth in 36.361, just a tenth of a second slower than Zabel. Wellington’s Tina Yates and Cicomein VDL rode to fifth with a double clear and final jump off time of 36.905, with Lauren Fischer aboard Tosca Du Feugre securing sixth with a time of 38.152.
A frequent face on the Turf Tour, Underhill cited the convenience for her and the experience for her young horses as the reason she repeatedly rides in the series. “I think what Nona and George are offering to the sport is fantastic,” she said, referring to the Tour’s organizers and founders, US Olympian Nona Garson and George D’Ambrosio. “We have the ability to develop our young horses at a variety of fabulous venues, and it’s so convenient to walk the course when you want and have more latitude in your day to get things done. The jumps are lovely, the venues are fabulous, and it’s a change of pace for some of the more experienced horses.”
Wednesday’s $2,400 1.30-1.35m competition saw the fast and accurate combinations of Alexander Zetterman with Contessa V and Jack H. Towell with Flip topping the rosters, kicking off Week 10’s competition. Friday’s Junior Amateur Classic was skillfully won by Michelle Kamine with her own Loreana and the Child Adult Jumper Classic was dominated by Madeleine Mallon aboard Amanda Scaffer’s Antonio. Winners of both classes, in addition to their prize money, were awarded a three-day stay at the beautiful Bright’s Creek Resort in Tryon, North Carolina. Winners of the Junior/Amateur and Child/Adult Jumper classics in upcoming Turf Tour competitions will receive this exciting award from Bright’s Creek. For more information visit the Bright’s Creek website.
The beautiful and technical courses in both fields, designed by Nick Granat, focused on the application of strong basics and options to challenge both horses and riders, allowing for green competitors to build confidence and skills while seasoned competitors sharpened and fine-tuned their talent. “Our goal is giving competitors a chance to experience everything, from riding on the turf polo fields at the spectacular International Polo Club, to competing under the lights in a spectacular covered arena,” said George D’Ambrosio.
This dedication to variety continues next week, as The Ridge at Wellington welcomes riders to its second and final Hunter Derby Days event, held in the expansive covered arena at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, less than two miles from Wellington. The Turf Tour’s competition at IPC continues Wednesday and Saturday, March 16 and 19, with the Hunter Derby classes being held on Friday, March 18. Featuring a $5,000 Dietrich Equine Insurance USHJA National Hunter Derby at 1:30pm and a fabulous evening class, the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at 7pm, this celebration of the grace and elegance of performance hunters also serves as an exclusive way to qualify for international titles and the National Hunter Derby Championships.
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