Hungarian Horseman Defies Weather to Win $8,000 1.45m Competition
WELLINGTON, FL, Feb. 13 -
Week Five of the 12-week CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, opened under heavy rains and tornado warnings but that did not deter Henri Kovacs and Sassicaia II from winning the $8,000 1.45m competition on Wednesday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Olaf Petersen of Germany was challenged in his course design as one end of the International Arena was needed for warm-up, as the regular warm-up arena was flooded from the heavy rain that had begun on Tuesday afternoon. With lots of room still to work with, not to mention top quality footing, Petersen set a speed track contested by a reduced field of 18 entries.
Young Kovacs, 17, turned in a time of 59.90 seconds, more than 15 full seconds under the assigned time allowed of 75 seconds. The only other rider to break the 60-second barrier was speed demon Laura Chapot who stopped the clock at 57.40 seconds, but a rail down at the final fence placed her and Church Road in eighth place overall.
Kovacs is something of a child wonder, entering the grand prix ranks at the age of 17 and representing a nation not currently known as a show jumping powerhouse. Kovacs trains with grand prix show jumping competitors Henri and Katie Prudent, who divide their time between the United States and France. Wednesday’s win came riding Sassicaia II, Katie Prudent’s former grand prix horse.
“She is a really fast horse, she likes to cut the turns and fly to the fences, and she is really scopey,” said Kovacs of the 10-year-old chestnut Dutch Warmblood mare he began riding in January. “I didn’t try to go that fast today, but I cut the turns.”
Kovacs, who has already competed at three European Junior Show Jumping Championships, hopes to take Sassicaia II to either the European Junior or Young Riders’ Championships this summer. Having already contested the WEF Challenge Cup Series as well as a Grand Prix class at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year, Kovacs hopes to jump in some larger grand prix events in Europe this summer.
Week Five, the CSI3* Kilkenny Insurance, features the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series Round IV on Thursday and Sunday’s $60,000 CSI3* Grand Prix. Two-time Olympic course designer Olaf Petersen of Germany has course designing duties this week in the International Arena.
Results of Class 1002 - $8,000 1.45m
1 - 1018 SASSICAIA
II HENRI KOVAKS 0.00 59.904 HENRI PRUDENT
The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com