Brazilian rider Rodrigo Lambre topped the $214,000 Premier Equestrian Grand Prix CSIO4* riding Catover on Sunday, March 1, 2020, to conclude week eight of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
USA’s Ken Krome set a two-round track for 50 challengers in the final event of the week, and saw eight qualify for a tie-breaking jump-off. Lambre saved the best for last as the final jump-off rider. He and Catover were fast and precise to stop the clock double-clear in 37.73 seconds for the win over Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z in 38.29 seconds.
“He is amazing,” said Lambre of Catover, an 11-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Catoki x Contact Me) owned by Mario Onate. “I have had him since he was eight, and I flat him almost every day but I’ve only actually been riding him seriously since October of last year in preparation for Tokyo. We all have Tokyo in mind this year; it’s our dream. It’s a difficult year to qualify for the team in every country, but we have also so many nations cups and so many shows that we can go in. It’s promising.”
Rodrigo Lambre and Catover in their winning presentation with Co-Founder and President Heidi Zorn, Co-Founder and CEO Mark Niehart, and Joshua Zorn of Premier Equestrian, and ringmaster Steve Rector. Photo by Sportfot.
Of Catover, Lambre continued, “He’s not a really fast horse, but he has a huge stride. I think today was a jump-off that I could use that. I won doing the seven to the last jump, which for many horses was very far. The footing feels better for sure this year and, for me, if my horse is happy, I am happy.”
Sweetnam and Chaqui Z, a 14-year-old Zangershiede stallion (Chacco Blue x Quinar Z) finished just off the pace for owner Spy Coast Farm LLC, but Sweetnam was pleased with the performance.
“I was delighted with him. This is only his first time that he’s shown here this year, and it’s only his first real big class,” said Sweetnam. “He felt great, and I think his jump-off was excellent. Even though he’s 14, he feels like he’s eight. So, I’m really happy with where he is at the moment.”
Finishing third in 39.08 seconds, Alexandra Thornton (GBR) is making her return to WEF after five years away from the North American show scene, saying, “I’ve been based in Europe since 2012, so it’s a long way to come. Last time I came, it was a completely different experience. The footing is amazing, which makes a world of difference for the horses. And actually I’ve extended my trip!”
Thornton piloted Charielle, a 14-year-old Oldenburg mare (Chacco-Blue x Argentinus), which was originally sold to her by Lambre and is now owned by Dunwalke Ltd.
“I don’t think he’s seen her live since I came and tried her in Mexico four or five years ago!” said Thornton, whose finish guaranteed her the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider Award for week eight. “I think it’s really great that Martha offers this award for us. Female riders are often the minority in some of these grand prix classes, but there were three in the jump-off today who all rode fantastically. To win this award against them was really exciting.”
Luis Pedro Biraben (ARG) finished in fourth riding Colorado 210 for owner Miguel Madero, while Israel’s Sydney Shulman rounded out the top five on J-Boston S.E., a horse she owns together with her mother Jill Shulman.
Representing weekly sponsor Premier Equestrian, the company that installed the Auto Sport base mats geotextile for the new surface in the International Arena, Co-Founder and President Heidi Zorn was impressed with the talent showcased on Sunday afternoon.
“The quality of riders, horses, and trainers here is supreme,” she said. “One of the main products that I think is making the biggest difference for them is the Auto Sport base mat, which is a mat underneath the footing’s surface which absorbs 40 to 50 percent of the concussion. I think that really helps the horses, especially these big jumpers on the down and the landing. They’ve got extra grip, and yet they’ve got the cushioning that they need.”
The Niall Grimes Perpetual Trophy was presented to Shane Sweetnam as the leading Irish rider during CSIO week by Equestrian Sport Productions President Michael Stone and ringmaster Steve Rector. Photo by Sportfot.
Two special awards were presented during the final day of week eight. First, the Niall Grimes Perpetual Trophy was presented by Equestrian Sport Productions President Michael Stone, to Shane Sweetnam for the third consecutive year as the leading Irish rider during the CSIO week.
Traditionally given to an international equestrian competing in the CSIO at WEF, the Kate Nash Boone Style Award was presented to Kevin Babington for 2020. A shift in the award’s honor, Michael Meller gave it in recognition of Babington’s determination, inspiration, and dedication to show jumping after a life-changing event re-focused his role in the sport last year.
Traditionally given to an international equestrian competing during CSIO week as recognition of style of riding and sportsmanship at WEF, the Kate Nash Boone Style Award was presented to Kevin Babington. A shift in the award’s honor, Michael Meller gave it in recognition of Babington’s determination, inspiration, and dedication to show jumping after a life-changing event re-focused his role in the sport last year. Pictured left to right: Dianna Babington, Kevin Babington, Michael Meller, and ringmaster Steve Rector. Photo by Sportfot.