Competition on Saturday during week eleven of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) featured international show jumping on both sides of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. The $130,000 Engel & Völkers Grand Prix CSI 4* was featured in the International Ring on the main show grounds in the evening with a win for Lauren Hough (USA) aboard Paris Sellon’s Cornet 39. Laura Chapot (USA) and ISHD Dual Star finished second, and Carly Anthony (USA) riding Dublin placed third.
The $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, presented by Equiline, was held in the International Ring at The Stadium at PBIEC earlier in the day with a win for Kaely Tomeu and Gentille. The series also awarded its top competitors over all seven events with Kelli Cruciotti finishing on top of the standings.
WEF 11 concludes on Sunday, March 27, with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to be held on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC beginning at 11:30 a.m. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Forty-four entries contested Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) course on Saturday night, with ten clear rounds and seven double clear in the jump-off as times got faster and faster. Juan Ortiz (VEN) and Synchronicity Group’s d’Ulien van de Smeets set the pace with a clear round in 42.01 seconds to eventually finish seventh. Nick Dello Joio (USA) upped the pace with the Corlida Group’s Corlida in 39.56 seconds to finish sixth. Carly Anthony (USA) and Artisan Farms’ Dublin were next to go in a faster time of 37.67 seconds that ended in third place. Amy Millar (CAN) and AMMO Investments’ Heros jumped into fourth place with their time of 38.57.
Laura Chapot (USA) and Mary Chapot’s ISHD Dual Star briefly took the lead with their time of 36.29 seconds, but were soon bested by Lauren Hough and Cornet 39, who stole the show with a blazing round in a time of 35.98 seconds. Last to go, Laura Kraut (USA) and Old Willow Farms’ Zeremonie jumped into fifth place, crossing the timers in 39.49 seconds.
Cornet 39 is a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Cornet Obolensky x Caletto I) that Hough rides for owner Paris Sellon. Sellon rode him herself and then Hough took over the ride at the end of the winter last year. They have since been progressing slowly.
“He was part of the winning Nations’ Cup team in Ocala a few weeks ago, and then he had a little break and really felt fantastic tonight,” Hough detailed. “He was also very good in the WEF (Challenge Cup) the other day. He has sort of been knocking on the door, and I am very proud of him.”
Speaking of the tiebreaker, Hough stated, “There were ten in the jump-off with some of the best horses and riders, and they kept setting the bar higher and higher. Laura (Chapot) is always very fast, and my horse was fantastic tonight. He was really on my side. Sometimes he can go a little against me, and he was really trying hard for me. I think I was very fast back to the double and very fast to the second-to-last (jump), which actually put me out, and at the last minute I had to do one more stride to the last jump. I had a little bit of luck on my side, but I was really pleased with the horse’s performance tonight.”
Commenting on the course, Hough remarked, “I thought it was excellent. I thought Olaf Petersen did a fantastic job. He had a little bit of a mixed field tonight with some younger horses, but it was excellent. There were rails everywhere and the time was just tight enough. Ten in the jump-off was just fine for this week, and I really hope we get to see more of Olaf because he does a great job.”
Hough will continue to develop Cornet 39 this year and plans to compete him again in week twelve CSI 5* competition.
“I think he has a really bright future,” she stated. “I am going week by week, as I had a setback myself, and had knee surgery this winter. My original plans got a little off-kilter, but he will go next week and we will go from there. We head back to Europe the 15th of April and start back over there.
“I did come back very quickly,” Hough said of her surgery. “I have an amazing team of doctors and physios. I have been really lucky to have great people around me in this village of Wellington, so I am very grateful to all of them. Thank you to Engel & Völkers for their sponsorship tonight. This is the second time I have won their class, and I am really thankful for their support.”
Laura Chapot settled for second place with her round aboard ISHD Dual Star, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Quick Star x Concorde), but was pleased with her Saturday night.
“I could not be happier with my horse tonight. I think she jumped fantastic, and I think she had a fantastic jump-off,” Chapot stated. “I think Lauren was a little bit faster back to the combination. Even with my horse’s big stride leaving out, it got a little bit steady, so it did not allow her to run the whole way around. I have no regrets; I would not take back any strides. She was super. Lauren was just a little faster, and she deserved the win today.”
Carly Anthony had her best finish ever riding Dublin for Artisan Farms. Anthony brings along young horses for Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN), and has been slowly developing the nine-year-old German Warmblood gelding (Cobra x Calido).
“I am really excited,” Anthony said after the class. “Artisan has owned Dublin for the last two years, and it has been my job to bring him along for Eric. I am very fortunate that they have let me take that on and bring him along to this level. He is special. He is a little difficult to ride sometimes. I got eight strides in the first line in the jump-off, which I think is where I lost a bit of time. But the more you push him and the more competitive you feel, he comes right back with it and wants to win just as badly as you do.”
Anthony continued, “This is the biggest thing he has done ever. We did the WEF (Challenge Cup) this week, which was also a step up, and until then we had done three 1.50m classes. In two out of the three he was clear, so I felt like we had enough of a good chance to go today and see what we got, and I think he exceeded expectations. This is a top finish. I am very happy with it and happy with how he went today. It makes me proud, and I am glad I can represent Artisan Farms.”
Carol Sollak and Amy Carr of Engel & Völkers presented prizes to the top riders Saturday evening and were thrilled with the fantastic evening of competition.
“We are so excited to have this grand prix,” Sollak stated. “It is our third grand prix that we have sponsored, and it seems like it has been ladies day every one that we have done. We are very happy with the girls, and we love being a sponsor here. We think this show is the most amazing horse show in the world.”
Carr added, “I think a lot of our clientele are here and competing, and we feel it is something we can do to give back because we support the sport and we think so highly of all the competitors. Congratulations to all of them on the whole circuit and doing so well. Certainly we thank the Bellissimo family and the Wellington Equestrian Partners for everything they do for this sport. We are very happy and proud to be a part of the sport that we all love.”
Cornet 39’s groom, Sinead Anglin, received the Groom’s Initiative Award presented by Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, to reward her dedication and hard work as an integral member of the winning team.