Photo: Kelly McInerney and Dinletto RK.
Wellington, FL (February 3, 2018) – The winter equestrian capital of the world added a few more star riders to its ranks on Friday, February 2nd, as a group of competitive Child/Adult and Open jumpers took to the course at Polo West for the third edition of Friday Night Lights. Demonstrating the poise and professionalism of their FEI level counter parts, the horse and rider teams tackled the electric atmosphere and stadium feel of the weekly event, presented by The Ridge at Wellington, and competed over four courses set at 1.0m and 1.10m. An eager crowd of spectators gathered at the ringside Polo Bar and Grille to eat, drink, and enjoy Low and Medium Jumpers in a completely unique atmosphere.
With south Florida’s trademark technicolor sunset as the backdrop, Friday Night Lights kicked off with a 1.0m Jumper Speed class and a Low Child/Adult Jumper Classic, two courses that run simultaneously over the same set of jumps. Quintessential and Taylor Griffin took top honors in the Low Child/Adult Jumper Classic, while the Speed round was won by NLF Felix Das Pferd and international polo player Kerstie Allen. Allen recently made history as the first female rider to win the Pacific Coast Open as part of the ERG Polo Team. She bought Felix sight unseen, and has only had him working over fences since the beginning of January. Having never shown over fences herself before last week, Allen’s skill on the polo field seemed to transfer to the jumper ring.
“Felix and I got our start at our neighbor, Dream Believer Farm, just seeing what he was about and how he would do over fences,” said Allen. “I decided to go for it and enter him at The Ridge’s shows because they were super accessible and the staff were easy to work with. I felt I needed to start small, and not just jump into one of the larger shows. Having The Ridge’s Palm Beach Series and Turf Tour shows is priceless for riders like me who are just striking out in the show jumping world; it’s so inviting and if it wasn’t for Nona and George [The Ridge’s founders] I would never have been able to get into the show ring today.”
Despite her victory in the Low Speed Round and a wealth of equestrian experience, Allen noted that there was some culture shock coming from polo and the rodeo world to show jumping: “The warm-up was new for me, as we usually pass right to right and here they pass left to left. I’m so proud of Felix and grateful to have this option to get my feet wet. It’s just so easy at The Ridge’s events, between the open in gate schedule and how affordable it is to show. They make it easy to come out, train, ride, and enjoy the horses.”
A quick drag of the arena and raising of the jumps led into the second half of the evening, as the 1.10m riders took the field over a Speed round and a $1,000 M&S Child/Adult Jumper Classic. Fidel Cavaro, ridden, trained, and owned by Kimberly Corts, delivered the speediest time to win the Speed, while Kelly McInerney and Dinletto RK topped the Classic. McInerney noted that a show with so much atmosphere and excitement was a unique way to gather points towards her Medal Maclay qualification: “I qualified for Marshall & Sterling, NAL, WIHS Medal Finals last year, and that was really important for me in choosing where to show this weekend,” McInerney stated. “Friday Night Lights has a cool environment; riding under the lights and at night was a welcome change from WEF, where we will be showing tomorrow and Sunday.”
McInerney, who is based out of Chester Riding Club in New Jersey, purchased the Dutch Warmblood gelding Dinletto from Ireland after only two rides. “We just clicked, and that was it,” she said. “Dinletto is such a fun horse, my favorite thing about him is his personality. We jumped under the lights once before in Atlanta, so I knew he’d enjoy coming here and changing things up.”
For a full schedule of events hosted by The Ridge at Wellington, visit www.TheRidgeFarm.com.