Winter Equestrian Festival Week 2 Wrap-up, February 1-5, 2006,
Gold Coast Jumper Classic, presented by Carlisle, CSI-3*

Lauren Hough and Casadora faultless in $60,000 Wellington Cup Win at Winter Equestrian Festival

On a beautiful Super Sunday at the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival, Lauren Hough and Casadora produced the only clear round in the  jump-off to ride away with the top prize in the main event, the $60,000 Wellington Cup, presented by Carlisle, CSI 3*.  The Sunday action wrapped up the second week of competition at the nine week long equestrian extravaganza being held at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida.

Forty-five starters took the field for the 2 p.m. kick off. Today’s scoring was FEI Art. 238.2.2, Time First Jump-Off. 2004 Athens Olympic Course Designer Olaf Petersen of Germany designed today’s challenge.

Lauren Hough and Casadora
win Wellington Cup.
Photo by Randi Muster

There were four clear rounds that advanced to the tiebreaker. Another twelve competitors had a single knockdown, while nine horse and rider combinations had two down. Twelve duos had more than eight, and eight competitors were either eliminated or chose to withdraw.

Prince and Couletto K. James returned first against the clock. Pulling a single rail over the short course, Prince clocked in at 39.41 seconds.

Laura Chapot and Little Big Man also had four faults on their jump-off ride, but topped Prince’s time, as they raced home in 35.47 seconds to take the lead with two to go.

Lauren Hough and Casadora were the next to challenge and were up to the task. Opting for an efficient yet careful ride, Hough tripped the timers in 37.84 seconds, but most importantly, without penalty.

McLain Ward and Sapphire pulled a rail coming home and slid into the third spot with a four fault time that was not quite fast enough to catch Chapot. Ward’s finish time was 36.66 seconds.

“McLain is a very, very fast rider,” explained Hough following today’s win. “That horse though maybe isn’t the fastest horse in the world, so I wanted to make sure I was clear. I knew I was a bit cautious and if he would go clear he would probably beat my time. I took a bit of a chance where I could,” she said, “but I took my time to 10a and to the blue oxer coming home. Thankfully, it paid off.”

“She’s a fantastic horse. She’s a real winner,” Hough said of Casadora. “She had quite a lot of success at the end of last year and was a big part of the Samsung Super League final win at Barcelona. I got a little bit unlucky this fall. I kept having a lot of really nice four fault rounds,” she laughed. “I had the first fence down in the WEF Challenge Cup on Thursday, a stupid rail, but the rest she jumped beautifully, so I knew I was very close to her coming into form.” Hough went on to explain, “My focus with her is the World Championships later this year, so I feel very good about her jumping so well on this field with the selection trials coming up later this circuit. So now, I have to plan it accordingly because she feels in form, and I don’t want to do too much.”

Jumper Highlights: Wednesday through Sunday

The Gold Coast Jumper Classic, presented by Carlisle, CSI-3* kicked off Wednesday, starting the second week of the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Sun and Yann Candele, winners of the 1.45M Jumper Class.
Photo by Randi Muster.

The course designer for this week in the Internationale Arena was Germany’s Olaf Peterson. Peterson started the day with the 1.45M, II, Sec 2(b) class, where riders rode their jump-off round directly after completing their first clear round.

With a time allowed of 82 seconds, few riders had trouble with time faults. However, many were caught by distance questions between fences. Of the 58 first round entries, 22 advanced to the speed round.

Of those 22 that attempted the jump-off, 13 achieved a second clear round. Yet another Ashland Stables horse flew to the top of the leaderboard with Yann Candele of France. Sun and Candele made very tight turns and crossed the timers in 32.181 seconds. “In the jump-off, I tried to be efficient, but he went even better than I was thinking,” Candele said with a smile.

While the jump-off did not provide any options in striding, time could be shaved through two tight rollbacks on course. Candele explained, “The striding was the same for everybody. It was two rollbacks where you have to be as tight as possible and have the stride come to you, so you could do the tight turns.”

Candele mentioned that this type of class was the perfect way for the young seven year old horse to learn his job. “He came here this year just to develop. He started very well last week, so that’s why we’re pushing him a little bit. We just do 1.45M here and there, so his performance was very, very good,” he noted. “We’re going to keep him at this level because he is still very young. This will give him experience and we’ll have a great horse in the next few years.”

Mario Deslauriers and Naomi went into overdrive to race away with the victory in Thursday’s main event, Round Two of the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series.

Cloudy skies and a threat of showers greeted the sixty-nine starters who went to the post for the 1p.m. feature. Scoring was under FEI Table A. art. 238.2.1, One Round Against the Clock.

Riding out of the fourteenth spot in the order, Kim Prince set the early pace with Overlook Farm’s Couletto K. James. Prince toured the speed course in what appeared to be a very handy time of 64.22 seconds.

Mario Deslauriers and Naomi
at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Photo by Randi Muster

Fourteen horses later, Olympic Gold Medalist Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil vanquished Prince from the top of the charts, making her time appear as if she had cantered the course. Aboard Signane Van de Grudeval, owned by M. Sunberg, Pessoa tripped the timers in an incredible 59.83 seconds, a full 4.39 seconds faster than Prince. Pessoa was immediately challenged by nine-time Olympian from Canada, Ian Millar. Millar followed Pessoa into the ring on In Style, owned by Susan Grange and Lothlorien. Millar broke the beams in 60.62 seconds, just 7/10ths of a second short of Pessoa’s target time.

Twenty-four horse and rider combinations later, Olympian Mario Deslauriers would seal the deal for Canada.

Deslauriers, a former World Cup Champion, brought Naomi into the ring from the fifty-fifth spot in the jumping order.  “I saw Rodrigo take the lead,” he said. “I was competing at another ring but got back just in time to see him go, so I knew the time to beat.” And beat it he did. Deslauriers managed to shave a razor thin .27 seconds off of Pessoa’s top time for the hard fought victory. He raced across the finish in line in 59.56 seconds.

“Everything worked out beautifully today from the first jump on. Usually when you end up at the top of a great speed class like that,” Deslauriers explained, “you’ve got to meet every jump perfectly and keep it smooth and flowing, and today really worked out well.”

Team Canada has had a great start at the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival as well. Asked if this might be the best Canadian contingent ever, Deslauriers said, “I think so. This year we have five or six riders here in Wellington, and they each have a few nice horses. We hope to build on our success this winter. We hope to do well in the Nations’ Cup here in March and then go into Aachen for the World Championships with some momentum and maybe move back into the top six or seven nations in the world. At least that’s the plan,” he added with a smile.

Two-time United States Olympian and former World Cup Champion Leslie Howard’s red hot streak continued on Friday as she posted her third victory in less than two weeks of competition. Howard piloted Rolling Thunder to the top of the charts in the first of two sections in the 1.40m Acorn Hill Farm Speed Challenge, topping a field of sixty-one for the win.

The early leader, Kimberly Prince and Alice Lawaetz’s Cinnamon, toured the course in 66.078 seconds, but were overtaken about halfway through the class by one of last week’s Acorn Hill winners, Darragh Kerins. Aboard Far West, owned by Heather Caristo, Kerins eclipsed Prince’s time by over seven seconds, crossing the finish line in a speedy 58.861 seconds. 

Ten horses later, Kerins gave up the top spot to Olympic Gold Medalist Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil.  Riding the Kinloch Enterprises’ Roadrunner, Pessoa shaved 7/10ths of a second off of Kerin’s time and moved to the top of the leader board in 58.140 seconds.

With his incredibly fast time, Pessoa managed to survive the challenge of fifteen competitors. He could not, however, fend off the hottest rider so far on this year’s tour, Leslie Howard.

Riding out of the fiftieth spot in the order, Howard, aboard Maggie Ferguson’s Rolling Thunder, never let off the gas pedal the entire way around the twisting and turning course. Flying home to the finish line located just past the famous Palm Beach bridge, Howard posted an amazing finish time of 55.728 seconds, a full 2.4 seconds faster than Pessoa. “I didn’t see him go,” Howard said following her victory.  “So I went a little bit full out because I know Rodrigo is such a fast rider. I didn’t know exactly how fast he went, but when you walk in the arena and see Rodrigo’s in the lead, you don’t stop to have lunch halfway through. You keep your foot on the accelerator the whole way,” she beamed.

Howard talked about her success so far at WEF. “At the beginning of the week, I couldn’t buy a ribbon,” she laughed. “It’s great. It’s fun to win. That’s why we do this. I have some really nice horses right now, and I’m very fortunate. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my horses healthy, and as long as they’re healthy and happy, usually you get the performances you want.”

In the late finishing second section of the 1.40 Acorn Hill Speed Challenge, it was Acorn Hill Farm’s owner Robin Sweely and Carlow Clover emerging victorious over a field of fifty-eight starters.

Sweely, posting a time of 56.475 seconds, edged Canadian Mark Samuel and Darios V by 2.8 seconds for the win.

The 34th annual Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) offers divisions at every experience level for horse and rider. Some of the most appreciated are the Young Jumper sections, which are offered for five, six, and seven/eight year old horses.

The Young Jumper classes at WEF give horses an opportunity to qualify for the Young Jumper Championship (YJC). The YJC program was organized to provide an opportunity for tomorrow’s grand prix horses to compete in meaningful competition against their peers.

The winner of Friday’s YJC 6 Year Old class was Huyra Yuchan and owner/rider Federico Sztyrle. Sztyrle competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics for his native country of Argentina. The class was a time first jump-off, Table II, Sec. 2(b) format. Twenty-two of the forty-five entries were clear in the first round and advanced directly to their jump-off round for time. Of those 22, eleven were clear in their jump-off round.

The fastest of those eleven were Sztyrle and Huyra Yuchan. The six year old Argentinian-bred warmblood has found a new career in the jumper ring. “It was my dad’s dressage horse from Argentina,” Sztyrle said with a smile. “I rode it here at the end of Florida last year and took him to New York for three or four horse shows in the summertime. He rested and then came here.He doesn’t have that much experience because he was doing dressage.”

“I normally use the class for learning, but he’s totally ready,” Sztyrle added. “He’s totally calm and dead careful. He’s very brave and totally cool. He becomes more careful when you start going fast. He’s really smart. I’ve never had such a smart horse!”

The second week of the 34th Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), the Gold Coast Jumper Classic presented by Carlisle, came to a close on Sunday. One of the newest divisions at WEF is the Pony Jumpers.

Magic BB and Kaitlin Campbell, Pony Jumper Champions and Style of Riding Award
Photo by Randi Muster.

The star so far at WEF in this division is young Kaitlin Campbell and her amazing pony, Magic BB. The pair was reserve champion last week and moved up this week to capture the tricolor and a trip to the Parade of Champions. They dominated the division by placing first, second, and fourth in their classes. For her hard work, Campbell was given the Style of Riding Award for the second week in a row from the judges. Campbell trains with Patti Miller and Linda Crothers.

Campbell’s partner in victory is Magic BB, a 20 year old pony that was bought in Europe. “He was in Holland doing the jumpers for a long time,” Campbell explained. “I’ve had him for two years, so I feel really comfortable riding him now.”

Whether it is Magic BB’s maturity or just his personality, Campbell said that he is definitely laidback about his job. “He’s really quiet and is usually clean. I have to use huge spurs on him and kick him,” Campbell mentioned with a smile. “He likes turning courses better than galloping courses, because he’s better at those.” Magic BB is so quiet, in fact, that Campbell even competed in the Pony Hunters at WEF last year. “I showed him in the hunters down here last year and won a class out of 40. He’s pretty similar in both hunters and jumpers. He goes in a shape, but he doesn’t get wild or anything.”

The winner of Sunday’s Low Junior Jumper Classic is a horse that strikes fear in the heart of every junior jumper. For over seven years, Kinda Blue has been one of the top junior jumpers in the country and has carried a family of talented riders to the winner’s circle. Kinda Blue and Haylie Jayne flew to the top of the leaderboard in today’s classic with a time of 33.710 seconds, one second faster than the next competitor. There were twelve clear horse and rider combinations from the first round, and all twelve were clear in the jump-off as well. Jayne went fairly early in a class of 88 competitors, and her time could not be caught.

The lightning fast 14 year old gelding won again this week in a jump-off that featured very tight rollbacks and a bevy of interesting turns. “I liked it,” said Jayne. “It worked for my horse because he’s an amazing turner.”  


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