Competition returned to the Equestrian Village grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center last week, with USEF “A” National & Jumper 4* classes taking place Thursday, August 13 through Sunday, August 16. Arguably having the best weekend of all the competitors was Antonio Martinez Jr. of Loxahatchee, FL who claimed victory in the $20,000 Wellington Agricultural Services Grand Prix on Sunday. Martinez piloted Forman De Virton, owned by Tack Up Stable Corp., clear through the first round and returned to complete the jump-off in just 37.763 seconds. Ben Maher of the United Kingdom and Gakhir, owned by Ben Maher and Vivien Thompson, finished in second place with a jump-off time of 39.927 seconds, while Luiz Francisco De Azevedo of Wellington, FL rode Santa Cecilia Stables’ My Way to third in 42.893 seconds.
Antonio Martinez Jr. on Forman De Virton. Photo by Anne Gittins Photography.
The class challenged a total of 25 pairs on the Derby Field course designed by Andy Christiansen, with only five combinations returning for the second round. “It was a tough course,” commented Martinez after his win. “It had some good questions in there, but also good competitors. It for sure wasn’t a piece of cake.” Of the five that returned for the jump-off, only the top three were able to go double-clear.
Martinez was especially happy to win aboard Forman De Virton, a nine-year-old Belgium warmblood. “We actually acquired this horse from McLain Ward and Juan Ortiz. He just started doing these bigger national Grand Prixes and a couple FEI classes this year. He’s the sweetest horse ever and I couldn’t ask for a better horse.”
Martinez pictured (left to right) with Jose Gomez, president of Wellington Agricultural Services, Katherina Sciuto, and Forman’s owners Gustavo de Fasio and Lorena de Fasio. Photo by Anne Gittins Photography.
Like many competitors in the area, Martinez explained that his team decided to stay in Florida this Spring and Summer, rather than travel to shows due to the pandemic. “We’ve been here all year, and we did compete in the Spring Series here as well. I couldn’t ask for a better horse show. It’s so well put together; the venue is great and this [Derby] field rides amazing. We might go to Tryon to do some of the FEI classes in October, but that’s still yet to be determined so in the meantime, we’ll be here and it’s perfect.”
For full class results, click here. The ESP Summer Series, hosted at Equestrian Village, continues this week with USEF “A” National & Jumper 4* competition from Thursday, August 20 through Sunday, August 23. The first $2,500 National Hunter Derby presented by Score At The Top will take place Friday afternoon, August 21, on the Derby Annex.