Week nine of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival featured $300,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI 5*, presented by the Bainbridge Companies last Saturday night at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Germany’s Daniel Deusser, Brazil’s Alvaro de Miranda, and Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Nick Skelton topped an all-star cast during the highlight event. Forty-five entries showed in the prestigious World Cup qualifier jumping a course set by Steve Stephens. Representatives from 14 different countries competed, including an impressive 20 riders that have appeared in Olympic Games for their home nations.
In a thrilling race against the clock, eight of the world’s best made it to the jump-off and four jumped double clear. Maher and Jane Clark’s Cella were the first pair to clear the jump-off course and set the leading time at a lightning fast 40.12 seconds.
Skelton was up next with his great mount Big Star, owned by Beverly Widdowson. They cleared the course in 41.01 seconds. De Miranda and AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno, owned by Miranda and Victory Equestrian BV, went next and stopped the clock in 40.46 seconds.
Their round was followed by a stellar performance from Deusser and Cornet d’Amour, owned by Stephex Stables and Pedro Veniss. They flew through the course in 38.94 seconds to earn the top prize. Maher and Cella finished second, de Miranda and AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno were third, and Skelton and Big Star placed fourth.
Deusser has ridden Cornet d’Amour, a ten-year-old Westphalian gelding, for ten months since he began riding for Stephex Stables in Belgium last May. After a couple of months off and a 1.40m class at a national show in Germany, the pair traveled to Wellington this winter and jumped right in with week eight’s Nations Cup.
“I was doubting that it was maybe a little too quick to start with the Nations Cup last week, but he came in that ring and he felt fantastic,” Deusser said. “He jumped double clear in the Nations Cup and was third in the class Thursday, and he wins now, so I think he did a really good job.”
The packed house of over 6,000 spectators at the PBIEC went wild when Deusser galloped through the timers, but he was very focused.
“When I went to the last fence, I was actually a little bit scared that I couldn’t make it, so I didn’t actually listen to the crowd, but it was a nice feeling afterward,” he laughed. “It’s one of the best competitions I’ve won so far. It was very good money and in the moment, it is one of my best results.”
Along with prize money, Deusser was also awarded the Herman “Kappy” Kaplan Perpetual Memorial Trophy, established for Kappy with fondness by the farriers of the 1995 WEF.
Earlier last Saturday, the Sam Edelman Equitation Championship was held over two rounds on the grass derby field at the Stadium at PBIEC. Twenty-eight entries showed over the first round course set by Skip Bailey. The top 15 then returned for a second round. Performances were judged by Tucker Ericson and Ken Smith.
Top young rider Lillie Keenan of New York rode Heritage Farm Inc.’s Levistano 2, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, to the Sam Edelman victory. The pair topped both rounds of competition with back to back scores of 89 for an unbeatable 178 point total.
Also culminating last weekend, Lauren Henry of Rhode Island rode her own Esteban La Paz to championship honors in the Equitation 15-17. Henry and Esteban La Paz, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were third under saddle and jumped to first and fourth place over fences.
Reserve honors went to Maggie Savoie and her own Ksenyio. The pair won the under saddle class before placing third and seventh over fences.
The Winter Equestrian Festival features 12 weeks of competition. 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: Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour. PHOTO BY SPORTFOT