Jacksonville Winter Series Host A Global Opening Week
Green Cove Springs, FL-January 15, 2011 –
Only the United Nations could compare to this week’s global gathering of delegates for the FEI World Cup Qualifier with 28 of the world’s best equine athletes looking to garner points towards a spot in the finals, held April 27th through May 1st in Leipzig, Germany.
Kent Farrington, who divides his residence between Greenwich, CT in the summer and Wellington, FL during the winter, partnered with crowd favorite Up Chiqui claimed the first victory in Friday evening’s $31,500 CSI Welcome.
International great Guilherme Jorge (BRA) was tasked with creating a speed test worthy of 25 high performance horses –combining both physical and mental challenges. Set at regulation 1.45M (maximum height 4’9”) with a time allowance of 78 seconds, the biggest test may have been how quick riders could make a choice- coming off of fence #3 [oxer] should they take a sharp inside turn to the triple combination to 4ABC, possibly shaving off precious seconds, or play it safe and swing out wider? “This is sort of his [Up Chiqui] specialty, a speed round because he’s very-very fast, so the inside option is unnecessary because he can go just as quickly around a wider option.”Farrington complimented of his mount, 14 year-old Belgium bred gelding Up Chiqui.
Speed was clearly the important factor, but Jorge added several technical turns to truly test the field that included the number one rider in the world, double Gold Medalist McLain Ward as well as Olympic and World Cup vets from Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, and France to name but a few countries represented. Marie Hecart (FRA) gave more than a valiant effort aboard Norton De Vains coming within a mere second of Farrington’s time. “That’s a fast horse and she’s a very competitive rider, but thankfully not fast enough tonight.” Farrington chuckled.
Results for the $31,500 CSI Green Cove Springs Welcome
President of the North Florida Hunter Jumper Association Tony Weight declared this opening weekend 4-H Appreciation, arranging for a Children’s Carnival on Saturday afternoon with a bounty of rides and games along with assuring all proceeds from the featured events, parking, and the sumptuous dinner reception provided by Le Pavillion Restaurant owner Patty Kelbert would be presented to the Clay County organization. Weight, with the help of Brumos Porsche, even arranged a very unique “course description” for the evening’s highlighted class, the $100,000 CSI Green Cove Springs Grand Prix. As course designer Guilherme Jorge explained the layout to the packed house, grounds manager Phil Gibson drove a shiny new red Porsche convertible with three lucky 4-H members (waving to the crowd) from obstacle to obstacle following Jorge’s tracks. Also prior to the start of the class Weight took a few moments to remember and dedicate the evening to the late Gene Mische, “who was instrumental in World Cup action coming to North Florida. We will never forget his encouragement and support over the years.”
The crowd became ecstatic as the first horse and rider combo came into sight. Vying for the top spot were 28 of the world’s most talented equine athletes, all taking on the twisty layout of Jorge! And governing over the event were some of equestrian sports most respected judges and FEI representatives; David Distiller, John Ammerman, Mike Lowry, and everyone’s favorite Foreign rep from Bermuda Paul Breech. Three 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 Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa has garnered and tonight partnered with HH Let’s Fly he added one more. Now based in Wellington, FL the dynamic duo were victorious in the $100,000 Green Cove Springs CSI Grand Prix presented by Glen Kernan Golf and Country Club developed by Hodges Boulevard Development Group, Inc.
Tonight’s first round of 13 obstacles demonstrated why course designer Guilherme Jorge is so highly regarded. With a time allowance of 84 seconds to navigate tight roll backs, combinations, and the often feared triple bar, set at 1.60M (maximum width 5’9”) the biggest hurdle was making it through clean. During his description of the course for the audience Jorge warned the #5 skinny vertical that followed the 4AB combination of triple bar into an oxer could easily be a downfall to several. Speed and control would prove to be critical here. Despite the first pair, Marie Hecart aboard Myself De Breve posting a clear run in 83.62, nearly a dozen more would drop a rail at the skinny before another could duplicate her feat. “That was the bogey fence of the whole track! The track walked pretty good, but it was much harder. He’s [Jorge] a really experienced designer and saw the order of horses to go and built a good course.” Pessoa said. More than 50% of the starting field would fall victim to the skinny. For those who survived the threat the remaining course seemed “doable”. “It suited my horse well.” Pessoa added. The pair completed the first round fault free in 80.77- they were the third of only five who advanced to the deciding jump off round of 8 obstacles.
The abbreviated layout had an allowance of 47 seconds and thankfully no skinny! Though it did have a fair amount of tight turns and ending in a nice stretch race right along the wall closest to the audience- the perfect way to get a crowd on their feet screaming. “It started in a small turn, which is good for me with this particular horse.” a smiling Pessoa began, “though I wasn’t that fast because I had to slow down going into the double [combination at 10BC], that’s not his best jump but I could catch up on the last with the long gallop. I was working with one of my favorites tonight and he [Let’s Fly] jumped really good.” Partnered with the 11 year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Double H Farm for the past three years this marked their second victory in the $100,000 Green Cove Springs event, winning it in 2009. Pessoa has enjoyed bringing the youngster along and believes the gelding has a very bright future ahead. “We’ll return to Wellington for about 11 weeks of competition and I’m looking at gearing him towards the Pan Am Games at the end of this year.” Pessoa shared a peak into the goals for Let’s Fly.
Presenting awards this evening were Tony Weight of North Florida Hunter Jumper Association and from Glen Kernan Golf and Country Club, Dr. A.W. Browning. “Our year is off to a wonderful start here in Green Cove. Some of the best competition to date…and we still have two more weeks!” Weight said.
Results for the $100,000 CSI Green Cove Springs Grand Prix
For more information or results on the 2011 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at 904-284-1579.