Dutchman Wiljan Laarakeers Receives Warm Wellington Welcome
WELLINGTON, FL, March 21 -
Dutch rider Wiljan Laarakeers made a trip to the winner’s circle after winning the $10,000 Wellington Golf Cars Welcome Stake on Friday during the CSI2* Suncast Corporation, presented by Equestrian Club by Tavern on the Green, of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Great Britain’s Richard Jeffery designed a course in the DeNemethy Arena that saw 14 members of the original 34-horse starting field advance to the jump-off. The lead changed hands several times with Laarakeers taking over from U.S. veteran Lisa Jacquin when his time of 33.77 seconds bettered her time of 34.41. Only the final challenger, Great Britain’s Ben Maher, came close to knocking Laarakeers out of top spot when Pablo V crossed the timers in 33.98 seconds to take second place.
“I expected that there would be a lot of clear rounds. The first round could have been a little bit bigger, but the jump-off was serious enough,” said Laarakeers. “The horse was unbelievable in the jump-off. He jumped out of his skin.”
Laarakeers mount, BCO Olymp, is normally shown by his owner, United States Equestrian Team member Eliza Shuford. However, when Shuford separated her shoulder after a fall a few weeks ago, Laarakeers flew in from Holland to take over the reins. Shuford and Laarakeers met last year in Wellington when the Dutchman recognized her horse.
“I brought some horses here last year, and I saw her fighting with the horse. I knew the horse - Holland is a small country so we know everyone and every horse - and I helped her with him,” explained Laarakeers of the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sired by Jos Lansink’s World Cup Final winner, Libero H. “She came to Europe last summer and did the Developing Riders’ Tour and I helped her a bit with him then, too.”
Laarakeers has been coming to Wellington since the late 1990’s and hopes to return next year with a Dutch team in tow to contest the Nations’ Cup, the only event in the United States where countries compete as teams.
Week 10 of the 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, the CSI2* Suncast Corporation, presented by Equestrian Club by Tavern on the Green will be highlighted by Sunday’s $75,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI2*.
Results of Class 807 - $10,000 Wellington Golf Cars Welcome Stake
1 - 7398 BCO
OLYMP WILJAN LAARAKEERS 0.00 69.073 0.00 33.770 ELIZA SHUFORD
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