Wellington, FL- The Junior and Amateur-Owner Jumpers took to the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, for their first classes of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on Friday. Jumping in the $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed, Addison Gierkink (21) of Lexington, MA, rode Kadley Holdings LLC's S&L Slingback to victory in the first competition of the day.
The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 2, 2017, featuring competition for hunters, jumpers, and equitation, with over $9 million in prize money up for grabs. Week one highlights include Saturday night's $75,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Battle of the Sexes at 7 p.m. and Sunday's afternoon's $75,000 Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC Grand Prix starting at 2 p.m. Both events can be viewed live online HERE.
2016 Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) saw 43 starters, with 21 clear in the power phase, and eight double clear rounds in the speed phase of Friday morning's $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed. Addison Gierkink rode S&L Slingback to the win in a time of 29.65 seconds. Taylor Alexander and Alexander LLC's Ryanair de Riverland finished second in 30.49 seconds, and Benjamin Simpkins rode Grindstone Farm LLC's Vivaro B to third place in 31.71 seconds.
S&L Slingback, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Hors La Loi II x Ekstein), is a veteran competitor previously ridden by Ireland's Darragh Kerins and USA's Adrienne Sternlicht before changing reins to Gierkink in 2015.
"He is awesome. He is an old pro," Gierkink described. "He is a funny horse. Two days ago I rode him in the 1.30m as a warm-up, and after the last vertical he bucked me off in the schooling area. It was the first day back and he was excited and a little fresh, but he is awesome. He is always out to win. He has a huge stride. The cool thing about him is that because he has such a big stride, I can leave out strides everywhere and save a lot of time, even though he is such a big horse."
Detailing her winning round, Gierkink stated, "I don't often get to do power and speeds, and I actually quite like them. The first part, I just wanted to jump clear. I ride Sling out of a pretty bold canter anyway because that is how I ride and how he likes to go. Then in the speed round, I know I can always leave one more stride out with him. I landed from the double, and I just legged him and followed down and got to the next fence in eight strides. I think most people in the class did nine. Then I just followed through the rest of the course out of a big, bold canter and covered a lot of ground, so that is how I managed to make up time."
Gierkink is a student at Brown University and will ride full-time the first two weeks at WEF before classes start up again. She will then make the trip back and forth each week between Florida and Rhode Island, juggling school and riding.
"I like being here full-time because I like to be in the barn everyday, but I know the horses are well taken care of when I'm not here, so it's manageable," said Gierkink, who trains with Missy Clark and John Brennan at North Run.
With a full schedule for the winter, Gierkink still has big goals for her riding throughout the circuit, and feels confident with a good win to start things off. She also rode a new mount, Wisconsin III, to a tenth place finish on Friday.
Gierkink concluded, "I have a new horse that I also did in the class today. I want to show them both in the (Hollow Creek Farm) U25 (Series) classes and be successful in that level. I have been jumping this height for a few years now, and I am pretty comfortable. I jumped several 1.50m classes and smaller grand prix classes last year, but I want to be more competitive and more consistent at 1.50m this season."
Also competing in the International Arena on Friday, Anna Beth Athey and Cantero da Lagoa won the $1,500 Sleepy P Ranch High Junior Jumper Power and Speed. The $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m Speed Challenge concluded the day in a California Split with 111 entries. Alex Granato (USA) was the winner of Section A riding Alliy Moyer's Beorn, and Sarah Scheiring (USA) rode Thomas Welsh's Newtown Jumping Jack to the win in Section B.
For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Final Results: $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper Power and Speed
1. 828 S&L SLINGBACK ADDISON GIERKINK KADLEY HOLDINGS LLC: 0/0/29.653
2. 1287 RYANAIR DE RIVERLAND TAYLOR ALEXANDER ALEXANDER LLC: 0/0/30.491
3. 4560 VIVARO B BENJAMIN SIMPKINS GRINDSTONE FARM LLC: 0/0/31.713
4. 1000 HITCHCOCK VD BROEKKANT ALISE OKEN HI HOPES FARM LLC: 0/0/31.864
5. 848 CHARLIE SAMANTHA KASOWITZ FAIR PLAY FARM: 0/0/31.882
6. 1169 CHAPLIN W EMILY MOFFITT PODEN FARMS: 0/0/32.041
7. 1327 WAUW DANIELA STRANSKY STRANSKY'S MISSION FARMS, INC: 0/0/33.151
8. 2088 CARLINA MAYA NAYYAR MAYA NAYYAR LLC: 0/0/33.514
9. 4884 ORIENTALES SIMA MORGELLO DOUBLE S FARM LLC: 0/4/29.372
10. 822 WISCONSIN III ADDISON GIERKINK KADLEY HOLDINGS LLC: 0/4/29.684
11. 2864 CHAKATO VL OLIVIA HERBERT KATIE LAMBERT-BOONE: 0/4/30.763
12. 709 CONTENANCE 15 KAELY TOMEU SIBONEY RANCH: 0/4/30.916