Ireland’s Darragh Kenny scored a victory in the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3* on Saturday, March 14, to conclude a banner season at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. WEF ended two weeks early due to the ongoing threat from COVID-19.
Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt built a track for 45 starters with 12 advancing to the tie-breaking jump-off. Returning near the end of the jump-off round, Kenny and Scarlett du Sart Z, owned by Vlock Show Stables LLC, broke the timers in 33.54 seconds to claim the lead and bump Israel’s Sydney Shulman into the runner-up position. Shulman and J-Boston S.E, a horse she owns together with her mother Jill, posted a time of 33.96 seconds.
“I’ve been very lucky. I had a good winter, and all the horses went very well,” said Kenny of his season at WEF. “I had a great feeling coming into this winter because I have an incredible group of horses, and I’m very lucky that I have those horses.”
Kenny got the ride on Scarlett du Sart Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide mare, during the horse’s seven-year-old year. He has high hopes for the mare’s future. “This is a mare that Teddy Vlock and his owner bought for me, and we’ve been slowly producing her. She’s really starting to turn a corner, and I think she’s an incredibly talented horse that will end up jumping at the highest level,” he said.
Shulman celebrated three months of hard work on Saturday after picking up the ride on J-Boston S.E in December. Her normal ride is slightly more unconventional, so it took her some time to get comfortable with the new mount.
“He is as normal and lovely as can be, but my other horses are a little more wild, so it was harder for me to get used to him,” she said. “He’s absolutely great. Ilan Bluman was doing him in a couple bigger classes in the fall when I saw him. He caught our eye and we’ve gotten to know each other very well.”
Of her season at WEF, which included the overall title in the Hermes Under 25 Grand Prix Series, Shulman said, “I’m very happy. This season was great. I think all four of my horses finished in the top three of an FEI class this circuit. That’s amazing, and I’m thrilled with that. It was a great winter, and I am very thankful to my team at Back Country Farm, my sponsors and John Roche. It takes a huge village to make sure the horses stay happy, sound, and keep me where I’m supposed to be.”
Rounding out the podium, Spencer Smith finished third riding Theodore Manciais, owned by Torrey Pines & Ashland Farm. Together they stopped the clock at 34.87 seconds.
“He’s a horse that I’ve had for a few years now and he’s been very successful for me,” said Smith, who is a Wellington local and had his whole family cheering him on from the stands. “It’s a nice thing to get a good result at home. This horse has done a lot for me. I thought we had a good round the first round, but we left a little bit of a window and these guys are so fast that they beat you if you do that.”
Placing fourth, and earning the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award for Week 10, Beezie Madden piloted Garant, owned by Abigail Wexner, to a time of 34.94 seconds. Flo Norris capped the top five riding Con Pleasure 5 in 36.62 seconds for owner Cisca Norris.
WEF SEASON CUT SHORT
In response to the threat of COVID-19 and recommendations from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), Equestrian Sport Productions made the difficult decision to cancel the final two weeks of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Adequan Global Dressage Festival following the close of competition on Sunday, March 15.
“At the current time, the threat is relatively low, but after consulting with the USEF and the FEI, we have decided to cancel the final two weeks of competition in an effort to protect all involved with the competition and production at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center,” ESP President Michael Stone said. “We encourage all members of the equestrian community to operate with an abundance of caution as we all work through this situation.”
For more information, visit www.pbiec.com.