Ben Maher Soars in CSI4* NetJets Grand Prix

Ben Maher (GBR) & Dallas Vegas Batilly. Photo © Sportfot.

Reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher (GBR) claimed victory in the CHF216,000 NetJets CSI4* Grand Prix in front of a packed house at Wellington International during “Saturday Night Lights” on January 28. The Wellington Equestrian Festival (WEF) welcomed forty-five international combinations to vie for top honors during the NetJets-sponsored WEF 3.

Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly have been partnered together for only four months. The mare was previously campaigned by France’s Nicolas Delmotte. “She’s taken some time to get used to me and my system. She’s jumped some great rounds and was clear in the grand prix in Geneva. But every time we come to the jump-off, we’ve had problems with the steering.

“She’s very sensitive, but the jump-off really suited me tonight,” continued Maher, who is currently ranked sixth on the FEI world rankings list. “I could take strides out everywhere and tried to keep it smooth and trust her. I’ve learned I have to ask her to do things, not tell her. Everything worked and it certainly paid off this evening.”

Course designer Peter Grant (CAN) built a testing track that started with a bang as five early clears promised a thrilling second round. The code was cracked on his course by fourteen advancing to a tie-breaking jump-off. Talent from Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States made up the list of riders with their eye on the prize over the short course.

Appearing halfway through the original order, Maher clocked his clear round aboard Dallas Vegas Batilly, a 2013 Selle Français mare (Cap Kennedy x L’arc Triomphe *bois Margo) owned by Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright. He returned in the jump-off to chase down current leader and Irish Olympian Shane Sweetnam aboard Namaste van het Eyckeveld, owned by Voquest LLC. By one tenth of a second, Maher unseated Sweetnam from the top of the leaderboard and posted an eventual winning time of 38.35 seconds.

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Wandres and Bluetooth Dance to Personal Best in Friday Night Stars at AGDF

Frederic Wandres & Bluetooth OLD. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Frederic Wandres (GER) returned to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, Florida and to his customary winning ways with the elegant and powerful Bluetooth OLD. In week three’s highlight class, the CDI4* FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by USPRE Association, the pair posted a new career high score of 81.805%.

Wandres and Bluetooth repeated their podium topping performance from the previous day’s qualifying FEI Grand Prix class. In a truly international podium, second-placed Morgan Barbançon (FRA) also produced a career-high freestyle score during “Friday Night Stars” on her own 17-year-old KWPN gelding Bolero (Glock’s Johnson TN x Vincent), notching up 77.895%. Sweden’s Caroline Darcourt was just 0.065 percentage points behind, logging 77.83% on Lord Django in the horse’s second ever Grand Prix Freestyle.

“I am very happy today,” beamed Wandres, who is based in Germany at Hof Kasselman but is a seasoned competitor at AGDF. “This is the first time for me this season under the lights and I am always looking forward to coming back. I was a little nervous about how it would go because with this special atmosphere, you never know how the horses will handle it, but Bluetooth took it in a positive way. I had a much better feeling than in the Grand Prix; he was way fresher and forward, and it felt like one of the best tests that he has offered me.”

Susan Pape Tops ProElite CDI3* Grand Prix

AGDF regular Susan Pape (GBR) topped the ProElite CDI3* Grand Prix earlier in the day, riding Harmony’s Eclectisch to 70.826%. The 14-year-old stallion received a smattering of eights throughout the test.

“I think the extended canter was pretty good,” enthused Pape, who is based in Germany and is riding at AGDF for the eighth time. “His pirouettes were very nice, his twos were very nice, and all of his canter work is a highlight.”

Pape, along with her sponsor Harmony Sporthorses, bought the son of Zenon x Olivi when he was a rising eight-year-old.

“He was owned by a Swedish woman [Ida-Linn Lundholm] who competed him in the World Championships for young horses’ level, where he was very successful,” explained Pape, who usually produces horses up the levels herself. “At that time, we were looking for an upcoming Grand Prix horse. This time my sponsors wanted to buy me this nice horse. He’s been here [at AGDF] almost every year since then and started here in the Prix St. Georges, and we worked our way up to the Grand Prix.”

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Corbie and Bluman Double Up on Rising Star Wins

Daniel Bluman and Corbie V.V.Z Et (Photo by Romeo Ghete)

Loxahatchee, FL (January 26, 2023) – Israel’s Daniel Bluman and Corbie V.V.Z Et added a second $5,000 1.30m Rising Star Classic Grand Prix win to their roster on Wednesday, kicking off Week 3’s jumper classes at The Ridge at Wellington Groves.

The Ridge’s weekly $5,000 1.30m Rising Star Classic is designed to be a dynamic option for riders looking to develop their skills at the higher levels. Bridging the gap for young or green horses, as well as their riders, the Rising Star Classic utilizes FEI and Olympic level materials, course designing, footing and more to help bring the Grand Prix within reach. Week 3’s Rising Star Classic featured a field of 29, with Bluman and the scopey gray gelding Corbie V.V.Z Et taking first for the second time this season. Second went to Samuel Perot Jr. and Ioussoupov Db, and Samuel Hutton and Verona 13 rounded out the top 3.

For more, visit www.RidgeShowJumping.com.

To enter, visit www.HorseShowing.com.

Lacey Gilbertson and Karlin van’t Vennehof Claim Adequan WEF Challenge Cup

Lacey Gilbertson & Karlin van’t Vennehof. Photo © Sportfot.

Lacy Gilbertson (USA) impressed in the CHF50,000 CSI4*Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 on Thursday afternoon during Week 3 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Wellington International. Course designer Peter Grant (CAN) welcomed 55 pairs to the International Ring and set the stage for a nine-horse jump-off.

Despite her conservative jump-off plan, Gilbertson and Karlin van’t Vennehof were deceivingly fast and accurate to stop the clock at 41.41 seconds over the short course. The 2010 Belgian Warmblood mare (Fantomas de Muze x Quasimodo van de Molendreef), owned by Seabrook LLC, bested Lillie Keenan (USA) and Argan De Beliard, coming in at 43.09 seconds for the runner-up position. Jacob Pope (USA) and Highway FBH, owned by The Highway Group, rounded out the podium positions in 44.78 seconds.

Gilbertson partnered with Karlin van’t Vennehof, the former mount of her trainer Shane Sweetnam, at the beginning of the 2022 WEF season. Since day one, the pair has been extremely consistent in the show ring.

“I think I have so much confidence in her that when I go in the ring, no matter what happens if I do it half right, we are going to be clear,” said Gilbertson. “She’s so scopey and she’s my type of ride so I’m very comfortable on her. I think that’s the main thing that’s helped us click and keep the consistency.”

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Ali Wagstaff and Great Thing Clinch Second Title of Ridge at Wellington Groves Season

Ali Wagstaff and Great Thing.

Loxahatchee, FL (January 25, 2023) – Ali Wagstaff and Great Thing have knocked out their second winning title of the 2023 Ridge at Wellington Groves show season. The pair put in an amazingly fast jump-off as the last ride of the day to edge out the competition in a field of 18 in the $15,000 1.40m Grand Prix held during Week 2. Wagstaff also won the first $5,000 1.30m Rising Star Classic during Week 1, and her super fast and fault free jump-off over a challenging course set by Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios proves she will be a major contender this year.

Palacios set a series of fences for Week 2’s Grand Prix that gave just enough of a challenge to help riders progress and prepare for more international level jumping courses. Round one asked a few questions that for some prevented progression to the jump-off, including a triple bar to vertical to skinny line and a skinny wall. The jump-off was designed to allow riders to go fast but reinforced those questions asked in the first round, with horse and rider given the option of tight turns, a few long gallops, and two jumps, including the wall jump, going the opposite way. Jordan Coyle secured first and second with his mounts Picador (39.178 seconds) and Lisaniska Cool Quality (39.239 seconds), solidifying his reputation as a speed merchant. But Wagstaff, as the last to go, asked Great Thing for his speed and flew through the timers in 38.205, edging out Coyle for the win.

For more, visit www.RidgeShowJumping.com.

To enter, visit www.HorseShowing.com.

Farrington Clinches CHF140,000 Florida Coast Equipment CIS3* Grand Prix

Kent Farrington & Landon. Photo © Sportfot.

The Winter Equestrian Festival’s (WEF) Week 2 finished with a fantastic display of sport on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village on Sunday afternoon. U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington and Landon stormed to a win in the CHF140,000 Florida Coast Equipment CIS3* Grand Prix over runner-up Daniel Coyle (IRL).

A sweeping course designed by Oscar Soberon (USA) welcomed an all-out foot race in the jump-off. The five who advanced were led off by Coyle and Ariel Grange’s Gisborne VDL, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion. They set the pace at 40.05 seconds.

Returning immediately after, Farrington and Landon, a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Haity McNerney, quickly took over the lead by only fractions in 39.30 seconds. In the end, Landon could not be caught.

“Landon is a big-strided horse, but Daniel’s horse is also a big-strided horse, and I thought he had an incredible round,” said Farrington. “I probably have a little quicker foot speed than him, but it took a lot to beat that round today because he was dropping strides everywhere on a huge gallop the whole way around.”

Landon’s speed across the group proved enough to take top honors, the gelding’s first grand prix win to date. “He’s very careful and a competitive horse,” said Farrington. “I have a great team coming up and he’s one of that group, so it was an exciting day for the horse and our team.”

Audrey Schulze Dominates CHF25,000 Hermes U25 Grand Prix

The final day of international competition during WEF 2 saw a stacked field of 75 up-and-coming show jumping combinations. The CHF25,000 Hermes Under 25 Grand Prix launched a full day of sport on the derby field. Audrey Schulze (USA) eventually emerged victorious aboard Darquito.

Darquito is the former ride of Ireland’s Andrew Bourns, and Bourns was the first to congratulate the pair as they left the ring.

“There were a lot of places without numbers where you just had to get on an open gallop, and luckily my horse has a huge stride where he just eats up the ground,” detailed Schulze. “His stride is definitely an advantage in the jump-off because it’s much bigger than any other horse I’ve ever ridden, so it’s much easier to do one less stride everywhere.”

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Dorothy Douglas and MTM Caepten Sail to $25k SmartPak Grand Prix Victory at HITS Ocala

Ocala, Fla. – January 20, 2023 – Perfect weather and a brand-new arena greeted riders for the first week of the 2023 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit at Post Time Farm. Riders gathered at the redesigned Grand Prix Ring featuring Wordley Martin footing for the first major class of the week on Friday during the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. Again, Dorothy Douglas proved to be the best of the best, topping a 12-horse jump-off aboard the speedy MTM Caepten while also placing third with MTM Cedrick after Vicente Guillen piloted Cornut GP to second place.

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Taylor Morrison Sweeps Green 3’9” Hunters Tricolors

The HITS Ocala 2023 Winter Series is underway, and Taylor Morrison started off the week strong in the Green 3’9” Hunters at Post Time Farm. The talented young professional took home both of the division’s tricolor awards, piloting Greatness VDK to the championship title and showing Ambition to the reserve championship.

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For more results and information, visit HitsShows.com.

Kent Farrington and Greya Give It Their All in $50k Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix

Kent Farrington & Greya. Photo © Sportfot.

The third week of the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) saw national level jumper competition peak on Saturday night during the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix. WEF 2, presented by Florida Coast Equipment, went under the lights at Wellington International for a win that went to Kent Farrington (USA) aboard the rising star, Greya.

“It’s [Greya’s] first time jumping under the lights,” explained Farrington. “So, I tried to just work out of her normal gallop which is already pretty quick. Luckily, it worked out tonight and I thought she was incredible.”

The 2023 WEF season is an exciting one for Farrington’s team as he looks forward to introducing his younger string of mounts to top international competition at the venue.

“The last year has been a rebuilding time for my string as some of my main horses are winding down their international careers,” he continued. “It’s time for the young ones to step up; I have a group of horses – the oldest being ten – that are starting to jump in the international scene and I’m excited to see what happens with each of them.”

Corras and Amira Kettaneh Debut on Top

The Voltaire Design Large Junior Hunter 3’6” 16-17 highlighted hunter action in the Rost Arena on Saturday. Tri-color honors went to Amira Kettaneh and Corras, a 2014 Latvian Warmblood gelding by Corrwiko and owned by Robert Ruckh. The reserve champion ribbon was presented to Carlee McCutcheon and Casimir, owned by Anne Glunk.

Kettaneh first sat on Corras the day before earning a championship in their first outing together. Their performances were highlighted by two wins over fences and a high score of 89. “I got this ride yesterday which was very exciting and I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”

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No Worries for Akuna Mattata in Adequan WEF Challenge Cup

Nicole Shahinian-Simpson & Akuna Mattata. Photo © Sportfot.

Fifteen years together has created a winning partnership between U.S. rider Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Akuna Mattata. The pair topped a field of 64 to win the CHF37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 2 on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village on Friday afternoon.

Shahinian-Simpson has known Akuna Mattata since she was born, one of three triplet fillies by embryo transfer out of her former mount SRF Dragonfly de Joter. Akuna Mattata, a 2008 Holsteiner mare (Quinar Z x Landwind II), took some time to develop and hit a winning stride with Shahinian-Simpson in the international ranks.

“There were so many clear, I was questioning whether I was going to jump-off to get ready for Sunday,” admitted Shahinian-Simpson. The decision to give it a go, however, paid off.

“She feels fit and strong, and I don’t show her a lot, so I figured why not. The jump-off was nice with a lot of gallops. She covers the ground so fast. When you gallop the jumps on her you never really think about the clear, you just go to the jumps and she does the rest.”

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Daniel Bluman and Corbie V.V.Z Et Win $5k 1.30m Rising Star Classic at The Ridge

Daniel Bluman and Corbie V.V.Z Et.

Loxahatchee Groves, FL (January 20, 2023) – Daniel Bluman and Corbie V.V.Z Et were unbeatable in The Ridge at Wellington Groves’ $5,000 1.30m Rising Star Classic, delivering a wire to wire victory after setting a blazing pace in the jump-off. The elegant grey with the Israeli rider in the irons leapt through the course set by Leopoldo Palacios in just 31.727 seconds, keeping the lead the entire class.

Bluman originally sat in first and second following his first two trips with Corbie V.V.Z Et (31.727) and Pinot Gris Di Fer (33.621). However, last week’s Grand Prix victors, Luis Larrazabal and Baroness, bumped Bluman and Pinot Gris Di Fer into third with a jump-off time of 32.385 seconds.

For more, visit www.RidgeShowJumping.com.

To enter, visit www.HorseShowing.com.

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