Abigail McArdle (USA) won the $37,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 10 riding Victorio 5 on Thursday, March 12, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) set courses for 82 horses with 18 jumping clear over the opening track. After eight riders elected not to return, the stage was set for a 10-horse jump-off. With only fractions of a second to spare, McArdle stole the win with a blistering jump-off time of 41.40 seconds.
“For sure this is the best season I’ve ever had in my life – and maybe will ever have,” said McArdle of her consistency throughout the WEF season. “I’m just so happy, and I’m so lucky to be riding such a nice horse.”
McArdle has been competing Victorio 5, a 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Uccello x Graf Top), since the end of 2018 with their success culminating this year. “Obviously, it doesn’t happen right away,” she said. “He’s always been a good horse. He’s always jumped clean rounds, but getting to the point where I feel like I can walk in and win a big track like this has taken time. I’d say it’s taken that long just to mesh with him. Now we’re thinking the same, and it’s a good feeling.”
Of the track, McArdle noted, “It was very technical, but I thought it was a great course for him as soon as I walked in. Basically, everything rode to plan in the first round. In the jump-off, I actually wouldn’t say I even went totally all out. I just wanted to be the neatest I could. I wanted to be clear but not too crazy, and obviously that paid off.”
McArdle will now focus Victorio 5 on the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3*.
The runner-up position ended in a tie between Alonso Valdez Prado (PER) riding his own Acuero and Beezie Madden (USA) aboard Abigail Wexner’s Garant. They both stopped the clock at 41.90 seconds. Canada’s Tiffany Foster took fourth on Northern Light in 41.96 seconds for owner Artisan Farms LLC, while Lauren Tisbo (USA) capped the top five riding Casco 11, owned by Tequestrian Farms LLC, in 43.09 seconds.
Also earning wins in the International Arena on Thursday, Samantha Schaefer (USA) topped the $8,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m riding Zaza Z, owned by McLain Ward, and Victoria Colvin (USA) claimed the Spy Coast Farm Six-Year-Old Young Jumper riding her own Emilion Manciais.