Wellington, FL - It was a full night of show jumping and entertainment for equestrian fans as they saw some of the best horses and riders in the world compete in the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, CSI 2*. Tonight's class was also the USEF World Equestrian Games (WEG) Trial #2 and led to exciting results for America's show jumping team. The winner of the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, CSI 2* was Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) on Champ 163, owned by Legacy Stables LLC. Nicolas Pizarro of Mexico finished second on Crossing Jordan, while Laura Kraut (USA) and Happy Hill Farm's Cedric were third.
Kraut, of Wellington, FL, and Cedric are on the top of the leaderboard for the USEF WEG Trials, tied with Lauren Hough of Wellington, FL, on Quick Study (left), owned by Laura Mateo. Sitting in third with just one fault is Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, on Quincy B.
The seventh week of the FTI WEF is sponsored by Fidelity Investments and runs through Sunday, February 28. A crowd of nearly 3,500 spectators were on hand to watch the combined grand prix and USEF WEG Trial. The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 4, 2010, and they will be awarding almost $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
Guilherme Jorge of Brazil designed tonight's challenging course, which featured a difficult opening line as well as a very careful triple combination. There were 14 numbered obstacles and 17 jumping efforts. Out of the 49 entries in the class, eight were clear in the first round. Of those eight, three were USEF WEG Trial riders who did not return for the jump-off because of horse declaration.
The first to go in the jump-off was McLain Ward on Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms. They had a rail for four faults and finished in 40.46 seconds for fourth place.
Next in was Nicolas Pizarro (left) of Mexico, who rode his own horse Crossing Jordan to a double clear round to set the early lead in 41.13 seconds. "I went the fastest I think I could go," Pizarro said. "My turn from one to two was probably a little bit wide. The horse doesn't have a big stride. Normally he does nice turns, but I got a little bit late."
Pizarro and Crossing Jordan were especially impressive considering it was their first grand prix at WEF, and it was Pizarro's first time ever showing under lights at a nighttime grand prix. Pizarro has had Crossing Jordan for a year and a half, and they started doing major grand prix classes at Spruce Meadows last year. They helped the Mexican team win the bronze medal at the BMO Nations Cup at Spruce Meadows, and next week's FEI Nations Cup, presented by CN, is their main goal for this winter. He noted, "Today I felt he was fantastic."
This is Pizarro's first time competing at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. "I think it's incredible," he commended. "The facility couldn't be better."
Lauren Hough and Quick Study were next in but had an unfortunate rail at jump 11b to finish with four faults and a time of 40.64 seconds for fifth place. However, with their first round clear, they sit tied atop the leaderboard in the USEF WEG Trials standings with Kraut.
"For me personally, the horse jumped the first round as good as he could jump. He's a horse with a lot of energy. With only five in the jump-off, I wasn't going to go full speed, but I didn't think it would hurt to jump another round tonight. He's a horse where the more rounds he jumps, the better he is," Hough explained. "I'm very pleased with where we're sitting at the moment."
Hough also praised the system that is used to determine the United States' championship teams. "I am where I am in my career because of the idea that in America, everybody has a chance, and I think that's important," she remarked. "I do believe in our process, and I think we have a lot of good riders here. Everybody should have a chance to make it to Europe, and then you have to prove yourself again."
Riding Champ 163, a 1999 Holsteiner stallion by Kornblume xx Coronado, Rodrigo Pessoa would set down a clear round in a winning time of 39.41 seconds to take the lead.
Pessoa felt that today's stout, challenging course suited his horse. "He has a very big stride. There were a lot of place to open up and get going. When you open his stride, he covers a lot of ground. The overall track was really good for him," he said.
Pessoa and Champ 163 were paired together a year ago, and Pessoa has had to adapt himself to the big stallion. "He's a larger horse that what I'm used to," he explained. "The last couple of weeks here, we changed his way of going a little bit, and it seems to be working. We give him more room to take off. I was coming too close (to the jump) and now I ride him a little bit different, and he seems to like it."
This was their first grand prix win together.
Pessoa would not be challenged by Laura Kraut and Cedric (right), who would take an easy clear round in 42.16 seconds to finish in third. "My goal was to jump a nice double clear," Kraut confirmed. "I made the turn from one to two, but I did it much slower than Rodrigo. I wanted him to get back in the ring. It's the beginning of the year for us and there's a lot of work to do. We had to get the rust out."
It was another great day for Kraut and Cedric, who won the Olympic Games Trials at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in 2008. Kraut believes that this year is different, thanks to Cedric's experience in the show ring.
"I haven't felt him better ever," she remarked. "He's now more seasoned; I can rely on him, whereas before I had to help him a lot. Now he's doing most of the work and I just go along for the ride."
Kraut also feels that Cedric's success this week is meaningful. Peter Wetherill of Happy Hill Farm, Cedric's owner, passed away this past week. Kraut said, "I wish he was here to see this, but hopefully he knows about it. He would be very pleased."
The Fidelity Investments week of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival concludes tomorrow with the Suncast 1.50m Classic. The USEF WEG Trials continue with the $40,000 1.60m third trial on Wednesday, March 3, at 3 p.m. at The Stadium. The $30,000 1.60m CSIO fourth trial will run on Friday, March 5, at 12 p.m. in the International Arena, while the FEI Nations Cup, presented by CN, follows that evening at 7 p.m. The fifth trial will run in conjunction with the $150,000 CN U.S. Open Grand Prix, CSIO 4*, on Sunday, March 7, at 1 p.m.
Final Results: $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix, CSI 2*
- 1. CHAMP 163: 1999 Holsteiner stallion by Kornblume xx Coronado RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), LEGACY STABLES: 0/0/39.41
- 2. CROSSING JORDAN: 2000 WB stallion by Champion du Lys xx Calypso II NICOLAS PIZARRO (MEX), NICOLAS PIZARRO: 0/0/41.13
- 3. CEDRIC:1998 KWPN gelding by Unknown xx Unknown LAURA KRAUT (USA), HAPPY HILL FARM: 0/0/42.16
- 4. ROTHCHILD: 2001 WB gelding by Artos xx Elegant De L'ile MCLAIN WARD (USA), SAGAMORE FARMS: 0/4/40.46
- 5. QUICK STUDY: 1999 Selle Francais gelding by Quick Star xx What A Joy LAUREN HOUGH (USA), LAURA MATEO: 0/4/40.64
- 6. CRISTALLO: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Carentino xx Cicero RICHARD SPOONER (USA), SHOW JUMPING SYN.: 1/91.560
- 7. QUINCY B: 1996 Holsteiner gelding by Quidan De Revel xx Lagos HILLARY DOBBS (USA), HILLARY DOBBS: 1/91.810
- 8. ATHENA: 2000 BWP mare by Toulon xx Capital CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), THE LOUDON GROUP: 4/ 85.790
- 9. GRAF LANDO: 1997 Hannoverian gelding by Graf Grannus xx Landadel ROBERT KRAUT (USA), MEGHAN KRAUT: 4/89.930
- 10. PRESLEY BOY: 1997 KWPN stallion by Concorde xx Damiro JAIME AZCARRAGA (MEX), JAIME AZCARRAGA: 4/90.00
- 11. TORONTO: 2000 KWPN gelding by Furore xx Indorado CANDICE KING (USA), AAA EQ LLC: 5/91.33
- 12. FIEDI 3: 1998 Hannoverian gelding by Graf Top xx Palisander GEORGINA BLOOMBERG (USA), GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES: 6/95.59
CLEAR FOR THE USEF WEG TRIAL #2
URICO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Zandor Z xx Fedor MARIO DESLAURIERS (USA), JANE CLARK: 0/87.410
MADEMOISELLE: 1997 Holsteiner mare by Libetino I xx Silvester - BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), ABIGAIL WEXNER: 0/90.180
SKARA GLEN'S DAVOS: 2000 Zangerscheide gelding by Carthago Z xx Pericles XX - CANDICE KING (USA), SKARA GLEN STABLES: 0/90.950
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.
Photo Credit: © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc., Official Sport Photographer of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.mustphoto.com.