Marilyn Little leaped to victory in the $25,000 Vita Flex Grand Prix in the 2018 ESP New Years at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Little flew through the course in 40.158 seconds to secure the win aboard RF Casablanca, a 2010 Holsteiner mare owned by Raylyn Farms Inc.
Jumping in close behind, Manuel G. Torres claimed second place riding Alejandro, a 2009 Rhenish Warmblood owned by Santa Catalina Farm with a time of 42.787 seconds. Diego Vivero of Wellington earned third place jumping in tandem with Capiche “Ter Elzen,” a 2008 mare owned by Javier Estrada.
Jumping against 20 pairs, Little remained victorious in the course set by Jasen Shelly of Wellington.
“She’s been second in her last Grand Prixes, so I was really happy that she won,” Little said of RF Casablanca. “It was a great way to finish the year. She’s only eight, but I’ve had her since she was three, so it’s been really special to bring her up to this level.”
Little sees great things in the future for the mare.
“She’s quite small, but she doesn’t know it. Jumps look a little big from where you sit on her back, but she’s got an incredible heart, she’s fast and has lots of game,” Little said. “She’s a really exciting horse coming into next year, and I’m really happy to have her.”
The $10,000 Vita Flex 1.40m Open Stake awarded Wellington’s Vivero with first place with Bijoux owned by Javier Estrada. The pair completed the course in 40.302 seconds. Torres earned second place with Alejandro, owned by Santa Catalina Farm, with a time of 42.124 seconds. Shane Sweetnam of Wellington took third place earning a time of 44.102 seconds with Palina De L’escaut, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm and Paul Tracy.
In the 1.35m Stake, sponsored by Martha Jolicoeur, Hayley Barnhill rode home with blue aboard Imprimis owned by Windswept Farm earning a time of 35.563 seconds. Leslie Howard claimed second place with Flo owned by GJ Stable. Howard flew through the timers in 35.611 seconds. Schuyler Riley of Wellington stopped the times in 36.912 seconds to secure third place with G-Force, owned by Wolfstone Stables & Sales Inc.
The Equiline 1.40m High Jr/AO Jumper Stake congratulated Jazz Johnson Merton with first place aboard mount Corona SB with a time of 41.3 seconds. Sabrina Lefebvre claimed second place with mount Alaska. Anna Beth Athey took third with mount Miss Lucy HH.
The $2,500 NAL 1.35m Medium Jr/AO Jumper Stake, sponsored by Equiline, congratulated Caitlin Creel with top honors aboard mount Dynamis KC, securing a time of 41.117 seconds. Jazz Johnson Merton earned second with mount Pandora VG, stopping the timers in 42.197 seconds. Elissa Reisman took third with Citizenguard Cadjanine Z, owned by Taboo Holdings Inc.
The Osphos 1.30m Level 6 Jumper awarded Abigail McArdle with first place riding Fire Rocky, owned by Plain Bay Stables. McArdle stopped the timers in 30.052 seconds to secure the win. David Matisz claimed second place riding Livorno Agropoint, owned by Donna Gumbin, in a time of 72.396 seconds.
Competition continues at PBIEC with the 2019 ESP Holiday Finale showcasing top jumper and hunter competition before launching the 40th annual Winter Equestrian Festival. For more information, visit www.pbiec.com.