It was a star-studded equestrian event during week four of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival’s “Saturday Night Lights” competition as Great Britain’s Ben Maher piloted Jane F. Clark’s Cella to victory in the $100,000 Fidelity Investments CSI 2* Grand Prix.
Competing in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Maher and Cella finished on top of 49 entries over second-place finishers Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Rebozo and third-place competitors Gemma Paternoster and Osiris.
Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela set the course for last Saturday night’s $100,000 Fidelity Investment’s CSI 2* Grand Prix. Out of 49 competitors, only six made it to the jump-off round, and the top three were the only entries to clear both courses without fault.
Todd Minikus and Macoemba were the trailblazers in the jump-off but had a rail down to incur four faults in 50.13 seconds to earn fifth-place honors. McLain Ward and Grant Road Partners’ Super Trooper de Ness followed and had the fastest time of the jump-off, but also had four faults in 47.59 seconds to place fourth. Rodrigo Pessoa and Double H Farm’s HH Rebozo were next and jumped the first clear round in 51.12 seconds to eventually finish second.
Maher and Cella followed with a second clear round and galloped through the timers in 48.95 seconds to take the lead. Gemma Paternoster and Osiris, owned by Paternoster along with Julia Harrison Lee, also cleared the short course and placed third with their time of 52.62 seconds. Last to go, Liza Finsness had one rail down with Ormsby Hill in 52.77 seconds to place sixth.
Maher just started riding for Clark and has quickly established a great rapport with her top horses. Maher has worked hard to get to know his new mounts while showing in Wellington, and even had the help of world-renowned horseman George Morris as he forms the growing relationships.
“Yesterday we had a sit down with George,” Maher said. “It really helped; it’s really great to have someone like George to be the eyes on the ground.”
Second-place finisher Pessoa spoke about his mount HH Rebozo, who has been with the rider through the most recent World Equestrian Games and Olympic Games. Rebozo spent some time off for breeding and is just getting back into the show ring.
The Winter Equestrian Festival features 12 weeks of competition. More than $6 million in prize money will be awarded through the circuit. For full results, visit www.showgroundslive.com. The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is located at 14440 Pierson Road, Wellington. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com or call (561) 793-5867.
Above: Ben Maher aboard Cella.