Lauren Hough rode Valinski S to the win in the $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI 2* on Thursday, January 17, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. The 12-week WEF circuit features hunter, jumper, and equitation competition and continues through March 31, 2019, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
A starting field of 100 entries faced off in Thursday’s featured event, the $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI 2*, with 15 advancing to jump off over the Oscar Soberon (MEX) designed short course.
Lauren Hough and Valinski S. Photo © Sportfot.
As the sixth pair to return for the jump-off, Hough (USA) and Valinski S tripped the timers in an unbeatable clear round time of 38.812 seconds. In clinching the win, Hough edged out fellow U.S. Olympic veteran McLain Ward who finished in second place with a time of 39.449 seconds aboard Queen Jane, owned by Walstib Stables LLC. Rounding out the top three with a time of 39.550 seconds were Alex Granato and Carlchen W, owned by Page Tredennick.
While Valinski S, a 17-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Wyndmont, is a WEF veteran – having most recently been shown at the venue by Todd Minikus and Shawn Casady – the partnership with Hough is new.
“I rode him many years ago for just a couple months, but this is just my second week showing him,” said Hough. “Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman, the owners, are very good friends, and they asked me back in the fall if I had time to ride some horses for them. I knew Valinski, and I’ve always loved him. He’s a veteran, and he knows his job. I was thrilled to be able to have the ride.”
“He’s a small horse, but I like small horses,” continued Hough, who has ridden to great success aboard other notable small mounts including the 15.2-hand Ohlala. “He’s very careful and very fast. It makes my job quite easy.”
While Hough elected to forego an inside turn in the jump-off, Valinski S’s natural foot speed more than made up for it and secured them the win over the course that Hough cited as an “unbelievable job” from course designer Soberon.
Photo © Sportfot.
“This is one of the most difficult weeks in my opinion because there’s a maximum height [that the course designer can build] but very, very good riders,” said Hough. “To end up with 15 clear is pretty much a perfect course. The time was a bit of a factor; I think for the first week FEI here, it was really a nice welcome for the young horses, for the older horses, for new riders.”
Hough will now set her sights on Saturday night’s featured grand prix with Valinski S before taking the remainder of the season week by week.
“He’s 17 now, and we always want to do what’s best for him,” concluded Hough. “So I’ll jump him Saturday night and then we’ll plan from there.”
Also earning a jumper win in the main International Arena on Thursday was the USA’s Peter Wylde, who topped the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m Open Jumpers riding Canamera 2 for owner Kathleen Kamine.
Final Results: $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI2*
1 VALINSKI S: 2002 KWPN gelding by Nijinski x Julius
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Wyndmont: 0/0/38.812
2 QUEEN JANE: 2008 KWPN mare by Colman x Corland
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Walstib Stables LLC: 0/0/39.449
3 CARLCHEN W: 2008 Mecklenberg gelding by Chacco-Blue x Continue
ALEX GRANATO (USA), Page Tredennick: 0/0/39.55
4 SUPER CHILLED:2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Gelvin Clover
KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Debra Wycoff: 0/0/39.926
5 JUST A GAMBLE: 2009 BWP mare by Toulon x Corofino
ADRIENNE STERNLICHT (USA), Starlight Farms 1 LLC: 0/0/40.340
6 BRIGHTON: 2006 KWPN gelding by Contendro II x Quick Star
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/0/40.734
7 AMICE Z: 2007 Zangersheide gelding by Air Jordan Z x Odermus R
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Charlie Jayne:0/0/41.036
8 AMSTERDAM 27: 2010 Holsteiner gelding by Catoki x Acord II
MARIO DESLAURIERS (CAN), Wishing Well Farm LLC: 0/0/41.476
9 DIABLO VII: 2008 KWPN gelding by Douglas x Cavalier
MAGGIE MCALARY (USA), Ben Maher & Vivien Thompson: 0/0/42.583
10 OASIS SPIRIT: 2010 Irish Sport Horse mare by Cobra
AMANDA DERBYSHIRE (GBR), Amanda Derbyshire: 0/0/48.184
11 VICTORIO 5: 2006 Hanoverian stallion by Uccello x Graf Top
ABIGAIL MCARDLE (USA),Victorio Equine Group LLC:0/4/42.144
12 CHANCE STE HERMELLE: 2008 SBS mare by Calvaro x Hemmingway
MICHAEL MORRISSEY (USA), QBS Equestrian LLC: 0/8/51.414