Rodrigo Pessoa & Let’s Fly Land
the $100,000 Green Cove Springs CSI3*-W Qualifier

January 18, 2009 - Green Cove Springs, FL –

3 time World Cup Champion, Individual Gold Medalist of the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2000 Sydney Olympic team Bronze medalist, and conqueror of the World Equestrian Games in 1998 are a mere handful of the accolades Rodrigo Pessoa has garnered and tonight partnered with Let’s Fly he added one more. The dynamic duo were victorious in the $100,000 Green Cove Springs CSI3*-W Grand Prix presented by Hodges Boulevard Development Group, Inc.

An American icon kicked off the festivities, the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales entered the arena in full regalia to a near capacity filled stadium and roaring cheers. Spectators were treated to a virtual who’s who with 33 of the world’s best equine athletes competing right before their eyes. Truly an international event, riders representing 9 countries came to take on the technical challenge presented by course designer Dave Ballard in the hope of moving one step closer to the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas this April.

Not until the 6th horse in the order, Melisimo ridden by Michelle Spadone, did we see a victor through the triple or a clear round- posting a time of 88.79. More than 50% of the starting field would fall victim to the combination. For those who survived the triple threat of fence 10 the remaining course seemed “do-able” until the final fence. Obstacle #14 was a tall vertical with a very delicate red plank top rail that was set ringside by the audience. It could be said the remaining 45% of faults were picked up here. Only five horses navigated all the obstacles cleanly to advance to the jump off round.

Rodrigo Pessoa and Let's Fly Win $100,000 Green Cove Springs CSI Grand Prix
Photo: Flashpoint

Pessoa and partner Let’s Fly, the 10 year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Double H Farm, were 30th in the order and last to pass the test cleanly in 86.78.

“The course was difficult- was good and difficult. There were a lot of traps to get you,” Rodrigo said and added, “Liverpools and the scopey triple combination, but I wasn’t scared at all. Not with that horse!” He went on to share the confidence in this gelding, which he’s only been riding since this past May, comes partly from Let’s Fly’s strong pedigree-from the stallion Lordanos and via a link to the same dam as the great show jumper Shutterfly. “We’re really happy and believe he’s well on the way to becoming a top grand prix horse.” Rodrigo added that like himself, this gelding is quite competitive and gives his all.

Joining Pessoa and Michelle Spadone in the final round were Friday night’s victor Kent Farrington back with Up Chiqui and a first round time of 88.38; Shane Sweetnam with the Spy Coast Farm entry Amaretto D’Arco and a time of 85.32; plus the Big Apple’s own Carolyn Kelly aboard Rulanda for owner Lulu Equestrian Enterprises finishing the first run in 88.69.

An abbreviated course of 8 jumps and a time limit of 47 seconds made round two all about the need for speed and a very handy horse.

Taking flight Pessoa piloted the gelding with absolute precision and the pair landed a flawless winning time of 39.97. “He’s [Let’s Fly] a small horse and very handy, so the turns were really good for him and a little bit of gallop is also good for him because he has a big stride when it’s needed.” Pessoa commented of the last round.

Originally from Brazil, Pessoa heads to his current base in Belgium tomorrow to prepare for another World Cup event in Zurich, Switzerland next week and afterwards heads to Wellington, FL in the hopes of adding more points towards his goal of the finals in Las Vegas this spring.

Final standings for tonight were:
First place Rodrigo Pessoa and Let’s Fly,
Second place to Shane Sweetnam aboard Amaretto D’Arco,
Third place to Kent Farrington with Up Chiqui,
Fourth place to Michelle Spadone and Melisimo
Fifth Place to Carolyn Kelly riding Rulanda

North Florida marked their 4th year to host a qualifier and this is the 31st season for the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) World Cup Jumping series, which began in 1978. Today it is comprised of 14 leagues with 132 preliminary competitions on all continents. Approximately 45 of the world’s best will qualify for the title deciding finals held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas April 15-19 of this year. The World Cup Series Champion is considered a coveted title to hold by both Olympic competitors and those aspiring to represent their countries in the Olympics. “It’s one of the toughest and most respected competitions of our sport.” FEI Ground Jury member David Distler said, “and one I’m honored to be connected to.” Additional FEI jury members for this evening were John Ammerman of Vermont and Foreign judge Paul Pereech of Bermuda.

Presenting awards to this evening’s winners were North Florida Hunter Jumper Association President Tony Weight and Alexis Gamel Newman of Hodges Boulevard Development Group, Inc. Tony said of the event, “We’ve had the best of everything- riders, horses, and sponsors. We can’t begin to express our appreciation to the Hodges’s. Each year they contribute in more ways to help ensure the growth and success of this event. And Budweiser for bringing the wonderful Clydesdales for our guests. A very special thanks goes to these great riders for sharing their talents with us all.”

The Jacksonville Winter Series continues through February 1st with classes Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8AM until about 5PM except for special events on Saturday evenings at 7PM such as next weekend‚s big $100,000 Green Cove Springs CSI-W Grand Prix featuring. Admission to the shows is free.

For more information or results on the 2009 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit or call the show office at 904-284-9492.


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