$72,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 2* Goes To Mario Deslauriers

Mario Deslauriers rides Amsterdam 27 to victory. Photo by Sportfot

The Saturday Night Lights series at the Winter Equestrian Festival continued Saturday, Jan. 19 with the $72,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 2*, and Olympian Mario Deslauriers and Amsterdam 27 scored a win under the lights at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. There were 45 entries, and eight were able to go clear over a course designed by Oscar Soberon of Mexico.

First to return over the short course were Juan Pablo Betancourt and My Way, who set the pace with a clear round in 38.72 seconds that would hold up for fourth place. Zoe Conter and Stephex Stables’ Dragonfly de Longchamps also put in a clear round, but in a slower 39.93 seconds for fifth place.

Eventual third-place finishers Capt. Brian Cournane and Armik took over the lead next in the jump-off by finishing clear in 38.48 seconds, but the lead changed hands two horses later when Olympian Lauren Hough and Wyndmont’s Valinski S lowered the winning time to 37.28 seconds.

“As I left after my round in the jump-off, I knew I left the door open a touch,” said Hough, who only got the ride on the 17-year-old KWPN gelding this winter. “I slowed down quite a bit to the double. After going very fast the other day, I felt a touch on the flat side, so I didn’t take every risk there.”

Cournane and Armik won classes at the Bromont CSI 3* and Old Salem Farm Spring CSI 2* in 2018, but Armik hasn’t gone fast in a jump-off like that before. “I really want to teach him to do it nice and be quick to the jumps and with the nice, short turnbacks under the lights, so it was an education for him,” Cournane said.

Going second to last, Deslauriers and Amsterdam 27, owned by Wishing Well Farm LLC, set the fastest clear round of the night in 36.59 seconds for victory.

“I wheeled back very close on the oxer, and then I had a very good [fence] number 15 across the middle,” said Deslauriers of his jump-off ride. “I was quick to the double, and I stayed out for the last eight [strides] because I have a big step, so I didn’t need to slow down. Everything kind of worked out perfectly in the jump-off. Usually when you hit everything right on, you have a quick time.”

Deslauriers only started riding Amsterdam 27, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding, in May 2018 and their first FEI competition together was in August. This was their first FEI win together.

“I think I’m looking for high results with that horse,” Deslauriers said. “I like him a lot, and I think he’s a super nice horse. I’m lucky right now to have two great horses. He’s come along quite fast. As you saw tonight, he jumps very easily. He’s got a great head. All summer he’s learned a lot, but it’s very easy for him. I think we have very big goals.”

WEF continues with 12 consecutive weeks of world-class competition through March 31. For more information, visit www.pbiec.com.