The highlight event of Week 9 at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival, the $391,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI 5*, hosted the highest level of competition at the circuit, and it was Daniel Bluman who rode to the win on Ladriano Z, owned by Over the Top Stables.
Out of 39 entries in the opening round competing over a course designed by Alan Wade, five found the key to a clear round and advanced to the jump-off. First into the jump-off was Alex Granato and Page Tredennick’s Carlchen W. They had the fastest time of the night in 37.09 seconds, but with a rail at the “a” element of the double combination, they finished in fourth place.
Karen Polle and the Kinoshita Group’s Sari went to the top of the leaderboard as the next combination in with a clear round in 37.58 seconds, but it would not be quite enough, and they placed second at the end of the class.
“She was jumping really, really well tonight, so I knew I could take a shot at some of the verticals,” Polle said of her jump-off ride. “I just tried to be as neat as I could. I knew there were a lot of fast pairs behind me. I think I did pretty much the best I could with the stage we’re at in our partnership right now.”
Polle has been riding Sari, an 11-year-old Selle Francais mare for just over a year, but they have only competed at the Grand Prix level since September. “I’m so thrilled with her,” said Polle, who was also named the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Jumper Rider for the week.
Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Breitling LS were next in, and despite an incredible slice across a vertical in the middle of a jump-off, they finished just off the pace in 37.76 seconds for third place.
“I’m just really thrilled with his performance,” said Madden of the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion. “I thought in the first round, he was excellent. In the jump-off, I think I was right on it when I flew across the middle and jumped that vertical so fast. I thought I should take a little care to the next, and I throttled down a little bit too much, but I couldn’t be happier with the way the night went.”
Madden and Breitling were last year’s FEI Jumping World Cup Finals winners, and Madden feels confident in how her top horse feels for this year’s finals. “I really used this week as a prep for the World Cup Finals,” Madden explained.
With a rail in 37.41 seconds, the number 10-ranked rider in the world, Lorenzo de Luca and Ensor de Litrange LXII, owned by Stephex Stables, slotted into fifth place.
Last into the jump-off were Bluman and Ladriano Z. With a huge stride and neat turns, they galloped easily over the jumps and came home in a time of 37.41 seconds for the win.
“Today he felt spectacular,” Bluman said. “[In the first round], he jumped flawless, and then the warm-up for the jump-off was as good as I could have a warm-up for him. Then I got to see Beezie and Karen go, and Lorenzo. I sort of had my plan in my head, and I knew if I gave the horse the right chance, we could maybe win the class, and it turned out, so I’m very thrilled.”
The pair were the five-star Grand Prix winners during Week 5 of WEF in 2018, and they also took the top spot in the four-star Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic Horse Show. When quarantine complications changed Bluman’s competition plan for his top horse, he decided to enter into this week’s show.
“I wasn’t actually supposed to show him this week, but I found out about quarantine restrictions for Mexico and then to go to Europe,” he confirmed. “At the end, I said, ‘If I’m not going to go to Mexico, then maybe we can jump one more five-star week here.’”
Don Langdon of sponsor Douglas Elliman Real Estate was thrilled with the competition.
“It’s just a great joy for all of us to watch these horses and riders compete,” he said. “As a spectator, we were at the edge of our seats. We’re very happy, and we’re very proud to be part of everything here at WEF. It means a lot for us to come out and support all of the riders.”