In the second five-star grand prix of the season, Danielle Goldstein (ISR) was victorious riding Lizziemary in the $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL.
WEF 7 continues through Sunday, February 25, with CSI 5* competition sponsored by Lugano Diamonds. WEF runs until April 1 and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
There were 39 entries in the Saturday night grand prix, and six found the key to a clear round to advance to the Anthony D’Ambrosio-designed jump-off. First in was Liubov Kochetova (RUS) on her own Veneno, a ten-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Chacco Blue x Balou du Rouet. They took their time to produce a clear round in 45.77 seconds, which would hold up for second place.
“He’s still young for me,” said Kochetova of the horse she found five years ago at the Paul Schockemöhle auction. “He started to jump big grand prix just like half a year ago. He’s getting better and better. It’s a very good horse for the future and big classes; he just needs more experience in night classes because he’s looking at all this and the jumps. Today of course, he was amazing. I’m so happy he did two clear rounds. He showed me he can do this.”
Going last in the jump-off, Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) and HH Azur, owned by Double H Farm, were on pace to win, but a front rail at the final Rolex oxer relegated them to third place in 36.60 seconds.
“Azur was brilliant,” said Ward. “Dani put up a great jump-off round. It wasn’t easy to beat. She did eight (strides) to the last, which I actually hadn’t walked. I thought it was nine. When I rolled back on the skinny, it didn’t show up exactly the way I wanted. I thought the mare made a great move to clear it, but we landed very far to the left. I just didn’t see the line to do it, and I chickened out and did the nine. I knew the nine was too slow, so I was trying to do the nine quickly, and I just drove her through the front rail. It was rider error, but it was rider error because Dani put up a great effort. I wasn’t going to be able to back into winning, so congratulations to her.”
Goldstein has been building up Lizziemary’s program this winter to aim for the five-star competitions.
“The horse had a big summer,” she said of her European Championships mount. “I was gearing her toward one of these classes, specifically tonight. I jumped an easy class on Wednesday, and then she had a couple days to recover and prepare. I thought she came out tonight and jumped beautifully. I was thrilled with her.”
This was the second five-star grand prix victory at the 2018 WEF for an Israeli rider, following Daniel Bluman’s win during week five.
“It’s huge,” said Goldstein of the success for Israel. “Winning any grand prix in Wellington is a big deal, but winning one of the five stars is really unbelievable. Daniel has won two grand prix this season, so it’s been a big season first of all, which I think is wonderful. We’ve been building for a few years, trying to get a number of riders up to this level. We’re a bit of a close-knit group. It means the world to us. All we want to do is go to the Olympics and represent our country well. Okay, everybody wants to win a medal, but for us, for Israel, it’s a huge deal. I think the country has never fielded an equestrian team at the Olympics.’”
Goldstein was also presented with the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman Real Estate for week seven. For winning the grand prix, Goldstein received a stay in a Luxury Studio at the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach.
Photo: Ashley Neuhof