The USA’s Spencer Smith and Theodore Manciais topped a field of 53 entries to win the $137,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 CSI5* on Thursday, March 5, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
On the way to Thursday’s win, Smith, 23, was the first of 12 entries to return for the Alan Wade (IRL) designed short course, and he and Theodore Manciais crossed the finish in what would prove to be an unbeatable 39.79 seconds.
“I went first, so Eric [Lamaze] told me to just ride my plan and don’t count too much with the numbers, just to ride it off my eye and feel it,” said Smith, who trains with Canadian Olympic champion Lamaze. “So that’s what I did, and it worked out.
“Here you can never know [if your time is going to hold up],” continued Smith. “You could have been 10th with that time. You just don’t know. They go so fast here with so many good riders.”
Coming the closest to catching Smith’s time was U.S. Olympian Beezie Madden who finished in second with a time of 39.84 seconds riding Darry Lou, owned by Abigail Wexner.
Lamaze was the final to return to give his student a run for his money over the jump-off course, but a time of 40.02 seconds would give Lamaze and Chacco Kid, owned by the Chacco Kid Group, the third-place honor.
“[Eric] was going for it, but he’s nice; he let his student have one!” joked Smith. “We have a great relationship. I’ve been there nearly five years, and we get along great. We do everything together, so it works out perfectly.”
Smith spoke equally highly of his winning mount, a 13-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by Ashland Farms.
“He’s been super. He’s won three or four big grand prix for me; he’s been everywhere in the world with me,” said Smith. “He’s the one that put me on the map. He’s a great horse and my best friend.”
Finishing in fourth with a time of 40.19 seconds were Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) and J’adore van het Klinkhof, and fifth place went to Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Classic Dream with a time of 40.47 seconds.
Also earning an FEI win in the International Arena on Thursday was Olivia Chowdry, who topped the $8,000 Griffis Residential 1.45m CSI2* riding Balkana du Tillard, owned by Atlas Equine Holdings, LLC.