Thirty-five competitors showed up on Saturday afternoon with the hope of taking home the top prize in the $25,000 Suncast ® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic, but it was 21-year-old amateur rider Ali Wolff and her 18-year-old veteran horse Lanoo that were able to best the field for the win. Six were able to jump the first round course without fault and then all returned to jump double clear over the short course, making it a race against the clock. Wolff (USA) and Lanoo, a Dutch Warmblood gelding by Herbie x Caruso, had the fastest time of 38.703 seconds for the win.
After her win, Wolff explained that this was Lanoo's second biggest class in a year after he was injured in Florida last season. She was very proud of her experienced mount of nearly seven years and stated, "I was hoping to go clean and just hoping for him to jump well, so it is really special that he actually won. He is 18 now, so he really made a good comeback."
"We are not always the quickest in the field, but we do have a pretty big gallop and our turning has gotten a lot better, so some days he just really pulls it off," Wolff continued with a smile. "He has really developed into a great horse for me over the years and I know him really well it, so it worked out here."
Following behind Wolff, Scott Brash (GBR) rode Liz McTaggart's Bon Ami slotted into second place with a time of 38.826 seconds. Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) rode What's Next through the timers in 38.968 seconds to finish third. Ken Berkley (USA) piloted Ax-Cent, owned by Rivers Edge, to a fourth place prize with a time of 40.153 seconds. Mario Deslauriers (USA) and Diablo finished in 40.362 seconds to place fifth, and Darragh Kerins (IRL) rode S&L Slingback into sixth place with a time of 40.874 seconds.
Wolff is currently finishing college and would like to eventually become a professional, but for now she will maintain her amateur status. "Being an amateur, it kind of feels like I am an underdog going into these big classes and it is really fun," she acknowledged. "I did the WEG Selection Trials last year and those were really big, so that gave me a lot of experience to be able to come back in here and do what I am used to. It just makes me feel more confident as an amateur knowing that I could actually move up and be a professional."
Other than Lanoo, Wolff has some nice young horses that she is bringing along and hopes to have success with. She explained, "I started getting into the younger horses this year. I have one seven-year-old and two eight-year-olds. I am going to try to develop them a little bit while I still have Lanoo since he is getting older now. The young ones are fun to play with, but it is really fun to just get on your old wise, experienced horse and just go!"
Earlier in the day the International Arena hosted the junior and amateur-owner riders in their classics for week ten. Kalvin Dobbs rode Ultimate VDL, owned by Treesdale Farms, to victory in the $10,000 EquiFit High Junior Jumper Classic to begin the morning. Charlie Jacobs then earned his fourth victory of the circuit in the $15,000 ECB Equine Spa High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic riding Leap of Joy, owned by Deeridge Farm.
Week ten of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will conclude tomorrow at The Stadium with the $15,000 Artisan Farms Young Riders Grand Prix at 10 a.m. and the $78,000 Pennfield Feeds FEI CSI 2* Grand Prix at 2 p.m., each held on the grass field.
Final Results: $25,000 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic
1 LANOO ALI WOLFF (USA) BLACKLICK BEND FARM: 0/0/38.703
2 BON AMI SCOTT BRASH (GBR) LIZ MCTAGGART: 0/0/38.826
3 WHAT'S NEXT SERGIO ALVAREZ MOYA (ESP) MARTA ORTEGA PEREZ: 0/0/38.968
4 AX-CENT KENNETH BERKLEY (USA) RIVERS EDGE: 0/0/40.153
5 DIABLO MARIO DESLAURIERS (USA) MARIO DESLAURIERS: 0/0/40.362
6 S & L SLINGBACK DARRAGH KERINS (IRL) S&L FARM: 0/0/40.874
7 BILLY BIANCA RICHARD SPOONER (USA) MOLLY OHRSTROM: 4/79.838
8 CANDLELIGHT VAN DE WARANDE NICOLE SHAHINIAN-SIMPSON (USA) BG REITANAGE REWIDE R. KUNCE: 4/82.145
9 CELESTA RODRIGO DIAZ (COL) RODRIGO DIAZ: 4/83.006
10 UTAH LESLIE HOWARD (USA) THE UTAH GROUP: 4/84.485
11 CELLA MARIO DESLAURIERS (USA) JANE F. CLARK: 4/86.527
12 AD SIMONE METODO MARCOLAB LOISSE GARCIA (VEN) LOISEE GARCIA: 4/86.986
Photo Credit: Ali Wolff and Lanoo won the $25,000 Suncast ® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic during week ten at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Ali Wolff and Lanoo with ringmaster Cliff Haines and Lauren Tisbo of Suncast. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.