West Palm Beach, FL (January 26, 2017) – Sun, sand, and turf were the three key ingredients for world-class competition during Week 3 of The Ridge at Wellington’s Palm Beach Series, held January 18-22. The 13-week circuit’s home base at Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach welcomed competitors to its covered and all weather arenas as well as to the spectacular grass field at Carben Farms for five days of phenomenal show jumping.
Splendor on the Grass
Kristy McCormack Herrera piloted Cordaba AG Z to victory against a line up of some of the sport’s top international Grand Prix competitors at Carben Farm. The $15,000 1.40m Grand Prix, sponsored by Gigi Stetlar’s Broward RV, and other jumper divisions held at Carben were the first of this year’s Turf Tour classes to be held on the springy grass field of one of the event’s host farms. The main Turf Tour field began with the 1.30-1.35m Jumpers in the morning, followed by the $15,000 1.40m Grand Prix, presented by Broward RV, in the early afternoon. USA’s Lauren Hough, Venezuela’s Emanuel Andrade, USA’s Peter Leone, USA’s Debbie Stephens, and Ireland’s Daniel Coyle were just a few of the international Grand Prix competitors vying for supremacy over the technical courses laid out by Kevin Giblin. Jumper Ring 2, also on the grass, featured Low, Medium, and High Schooling Jumper divisions over a scaled down version of the main arena’s fences.
Twelve double clear rounds out of 32 riders summarized the Grand Prix competition at Carben. An early fast jump off by Emanuel Andrade set the tone, and it was Herrera and Cordaba AG Z who ultimately topped the field. The pair rode a clean and careful first round clear, followed by a quick and precise jump off to finish on 41.102. Despite a number of impressive efforts to challenge their lead, as the sun began to sink behind the stunning barns and fields of Carben Farm, Herrara remained on top.
“We’ve been bringing Cordaba along at the national Grand Prix level and he’s getting to the point that I am able to really ask him to be competitive,” said Herrera. “He’s still green and learning, but he has such heart and is so game for whatever I point him at. I love the idea and atmosphere of the Turf Tour. It’s great to come to a place where my horse gets confidence and that fits into my schedule. He’s still developing at this level and riding in a class like this and on a different surface I think will make him more dynamic in future classes.”
Kristy Herrera and Cordaba AG Z (Photo courtesy of Equinium Sports Marketing)
Saturday’s Grand Prix in Jim Brandon’s Covered Arena
Switching from the wide open spaces of the Turf Tour to the feel of a European indoor, Saturday’s 1.45m Grand Prix featured a more technical course shielded from the brilliant south Florida sun by Jim Brandon Equestrian Center’s oversized covered arena. Brazilian National Champion and 2012 Olympian Jose Roberto Reynoso Fernandez Fihlo and Chacco Balou, of Santana Stables, showcased the power and speed that have made him one of Brazil’s highly decorated show jumping champions.
An early double clear effort by Ireland’s Dennis Coakley and Sterling Un Prince determined the pace at 36.203, with a line up of successful Grand Prix competitors including Daniel Bluman and Christine McCrea, vying for a faster jump off. Rynoso and Chacco Balou ultimately accomplished the feat, finishing on 34.538 seconds. Decorated Irish show jumper David Blake and Pine Hollow Farm’s Quantero 2 gave the Brazilian champion a run for his money with a double clear effort and a final jump off time within a second of Reynoso’s, bumping fellow Irishman Coakley into third place.
The Ridge’s 1.40 Turf Tour and 1.45m Grand Prix classes during Week 3 and throughout the series are generously supported by Gigi Stetlar and Broward RV, providing exceptional service, sales, and rental RVs to the south Florida community for almost 30 years.
Jose Roberto Reynoso and Chacco Balou (Photo courtesy of Equinium Sports Marketing)
FEI Course Designer Mark McGowan on His Creations for Palm Beach Series Week 4
During Palm Beach Series Week 4, the jumper competition will be played out on a stage set by Mark McGowan. Following a career as a rider and being at the top of the course designing game at the national level in Europe, McGowan is now a FEI Level 3 designer and has brought his passion and skill for show jumping into the arenas at Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. Transitioning to The Ridge’s standard of multiple courses in one arena, McGowan deftly incorporates appropriate challenges for all competitors, from Young Horse Classes and Junior Amateur divisions to the 1.35 Jumpers and Grand Prix, into his designs.
“Riders in certain arenas have the choice between a Jump Off course or a Power & Speed course within the same design, and that presents an interesting challenge to provide enough differentiation between each course without moving the jumps,” said McGowan. “It’s a great opportunity for riders to practice a jump off or really fine-tune a horse at the same height without having to wait for a full course change.”
Also providing the designs for the bigger classes during Week 4, including the 1.25- 1.30m divisions held every day Wednesday to Saturday and the 1.40 and 1.45m Grand Prix classes held Friday and Saturday, McGowan’s philosophy asks more questions as the jumps get higher, raising the bar figuratively and literally for competitors.
“For our 1.30m jumpers, I like to create a course that is simple, straightforward, and inviting, building on more basic skills developed at lower heights,” said McGowan. “For Friday’s 1.40m, which typically will be last year’s 1.30 horses, is a nice introduction to the Grand Prix task for the horse and rider, and then at 1.45m I begin to present more of a challenge, giving competitors options and asking them more technical questions. I also think riding and jumping on the grass is a dying art, as so many arenas are now all weather. The Turf Tour is a great opportunity for riders to develop a horse’s balance and stamina, as well as their skill at navigating fences on an incline, which ultimately makes both horse and rider more competitive in a level arena.”
For full results for Palm Beach Series Weeks 1-3 visit www.TheRidgeFarm.com/Results.