Wellington, FL – March 4, 2017 – Seventeen-year-old Lucy Deslauriers (USA) topped a line-up that included Olympians and some of the fastest riders in the world on Saturday, March 4, to win week eight’s $100,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic with Hester at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
|Lucy Deslauriers and Hester. PC: Sportfot|
WEF 8 concludes at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Sunday, March 5, featuring the $216,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4*, presented by Lugano Diamonds. The class can be viewed live HERE. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.
Course designer Ken Krome (USA) set the track for Saturday night’s 1.50m competition, which featured 49 entries jumping under the lights in the International Arena at PBIEC and yielded a nine-horse jump-off. Seven entries cleared the short course without fault, and it was the youngest of the pack that jumped to victory in the fastest time of 37.06 seconds.
|Lucy Deslauriers and Hester in their winning
presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector. PC: Sportfot
It was the biggest win of a blossoming show jumping career for Deslauriers, who has been extremely successful in Under 25 events throughout North America over the last several seasons. She was aboard Lisa Deslauriers’ Hester, the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker) that she has ridden to success for almost five years.
“It was incredible!” Deslauriers beamed following her victory. “Hester definitely felt the atmosphere tonight, and he really thrives on that sort of situation. He feels a crowd. He knows it is under the lights, and he knew it was time to perform.”
Remarking on the group of riders in the jump-off, Deslauriers admitted, “It was pretty intimidating. I knew there were a bunch of really fast combinations behind me and even that went before me. I am lucky my horse is super quick, and he has a huge stride. I just tried to use that to my advantage and not slow down.”
|Darragh Kenny and Bolero III. PC: Sportfot|
Deslauriers jumped in two 1.50m events in 2016, but it was her first time competing at that level with Hester in a major night class.
‘It was definitely a step-up,” she said. “It really just felt like a grand prix under the lights. I tried to think about my plan, and not really worry about how big it was, and just ride the best that I could.”
|Kevin Babington and Mark Q. PC: Sportfot|
Darragh Kenny (IRL) finished second, riding Kerry Anne LLC’s Bolero III through the timers in 37.28 seconds. Kevin Babington (IRL) placed third aboard veteran partner Mark Q in 37.48 seconds, and Alex Granato (USA) guided Page Tredennick’s Carlchen W to fourth place honors in 37.94 seconds.
Eugenio Garza Wins $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Series Grand Prix
It was a win for Mexico in Saturday’s $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Series Grand Prix at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival, as Eugenio Garza and El Milagro’s Victer Finn DH Z topped a field of 49 starters jumping a course set by Ken Krome (USA).
|Eugenio Garza and Victer Finn DH Z. PC: Sportfot|
Seven entries advanced to the jump-off, where only two were able to clear the short course without fault. Garza and Victer Finn DH Z cleared the track in 31.10 seconds. Jennifer Gates (USA) placed second in 33.21 seconds aboard Evergate Stable’s Pumped Up Kicks. Alex Matz (USA) completed the fastest four-fault round in 30.55 seconds to place third riding D.D. Matz’s Cashew CR.
Garza (20) was aboard a special horse in thenine-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Va Vite x Stakkato) Victer Finn DH Z, which he purchased from Belgium’s Jos Verlooy in May of 2016.
“He is actually the son of the first grand prix mare I ever had named Seagull,” Garza stated. “That mare was pretty much the one that got me into riding, but she was plagued with injuries. She never really got to do anything, but her son Victer is an amazing horse. He has so much heart and so many good qualities just like his mother. He is a really special horse for us.”
Speaking of his winning ride on Saturday, Garza detailed, “I was fortunate to go the later side of the jump-off. We knew that there had been a fast clear from Jennifer, so we just tried to be efficient in the turns and everything came up really nicely. I almost did one less (stride) than I was supposed to going to the last jump, but thankfully Victer helped me out there. He tried his heart out today, and I could not be happier with him.”
|Jennifer Gates and Pumped Up Kicks. PC: Sportfot|
Remarking on her round with the 14-year-old Brandenburg gelding (Levisto x San Juan) Pumped Up Kicks, Gates noted, “I did this week in preparation for the five-star next week with Kix. After the four-star a few weeks ago, he has had a little bit of a break, which is nice.
“Going into the jump-off, I wanted to try to work on my turns,” Gates explained. “I am usually really slow in jump-offs. I was just glad to have a clear round, and I knew somebody would probably catch me. I was really happy; I feel like I worked on what I wanted to in preparation for next week.”
|Alex Matz and Cashew CR. PC: Sportfot|
Third place finisher Alex Matz was aboard Cashew CR, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cassini II x Quinar) that he got last summer.
“He is relatively new, and he is just sort of coming into his own right now,” Matz said of his mount. “It has taken a while for us to mesh, but he has tried tremendously every round for me. He has all the ability in the world, and he has been really a great new horse.”
While Matz was competing in only his third Under 25 event, Gates and Garza each have more experience in the series. For Garza, this is his third year competing in the classes and a great opportunity for both horse and rider.
“We really like the series, and the grand prix is a great class for us,” Garza stated. “Even more so this year now that the grand prix are ranking classes [in the U25 Series]. That is unbelievable. Usually at WEF, you go up against not only amazing riders, but the top, best riders in the world. It is really nice for the under 25 riders to be able to get some ranking points, and it is very generous for the sponsors to put that extra money for us.”
|Eugenio Garza and Victer Finn DH Z in their winning presentation with Laura Fetterman of Champion Equine Insurance, Jennifer Ward representing Hollow Creek Farm, and ringmaster Steve Rector. PC: Sportfot|
Victer Finn DH Z was also presented the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award for week eight by Laura Fetterman.
The Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Series, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, was developed as a bridge to the international level of grand prix competition. The series gives athletes, both human and equine, an opportunity to compete under a myriad of conditions, including jumping on grass, under the lights at night, and in team competition, all important elements that competitors will face as their international careers progress. The series concludes with a $50,000 Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix Final, which the top 30 riders in the point standings will be invited to contest on Sunday, April 2.
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