Wellington, FL - The Winter Equestrian Festival saw an unprecedented streak of wins last year in the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series by Olympic Gold Medalist Eric Lamaze of Canada. He took home five victories in the Series in 2015, including four in a row and the top placing in this same class with the same horse, Rosana du Park, owned by Artisan Farms. Lamaze topped a large jump-off field on Thursday, which included Laura Kraut (USA) on Andretti S, who placed second, and Beezie Madden (USA), who rode Breitling to third.
Week two of the Winter Equestrian Festival continues through Sunday, January 24, and is sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance. The week will feature several major classes including the $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI 2* on Saturday, January 23, and the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Equine Couture/TuffRider, on Sunday, January 24.
Today's class had 96 entries, and while 24 were clear to advance to the jump-off, only 20 chose to return. Setting the winning pace as the first entry back in the second round, Lamaze and Rosana du Park blazed through the course in 35.58 seconds. Finishing second in the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup for the second week in a row were Kraut and Andretti S, owned by Stars and Stripes. They were just off the pace in 36.35 seconds. Third place went to Madden and Breitling, owned by Abigail Wexner, in 36.66 seconds. Finishing in 37.67 seconds, Margie Engle (USA) and Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds, were fourth, while Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and Comanche 28, owned by Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC, were fifth in 38.92 seconds.
Lamaze followed the same plan as 2015 for the start of the WEF circuit; he gave his horses a long break so that they were "really fresh" to start the winter show season. He noted that Rosana du Park, an 11-year-old Selle Francais mare by Kannan, was ready for WEF to start. "She did two little classes the first week and then geared up toward this class, and it paid off today," he confirmed.
Praise for Rosana du Park comes easily as she is a jack-of-all-trades. Lamaze explained, "She's a really competitive horse so if you're in a jump-off with 20 horses - even if you're first - it's clear what you have to do, so strategy is simple and I'm very much sitting on the right horse. She's versatile; she can do anything."
Lamaze will compete on Saturday night in the $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI 2* with Rosana du Park and plans to aim her at some other big classes throughout the circuit.
Building a 1.45m course today in the second week of WEF with 96 starters was no easy feat, but Lamaze praised the design by Course Designer Catsy Cruz of Mexico. "I thought it was very fair, time allowed was short, (and) the triple combination was very careful, but not overly scopey, so a lot of young horses could make a debut in this competition. It was a good introduction," he said.
In addition to his class victory, Lamaze picked up a $3,000 bonus for wearing SSG 'Digital' style riding gloves as part of the 'SSG Gloves Go Clean for the Green' promotion.
Kelley Farmer of Keswick, VA, kicked off her week with the tricolor honors in the Regular Conformation Hunter division, which was sponsored by Shapley's Grooming Products. Farmer piloted Clever Conversation to two wins and fourth place over fences and also won the model and the under saddle. Scott Stewart and Stephanie Danhakl's First Light settled for the reserve title after winning both over fences classes on Thursday and jumping to second and fifth on Wednesday. They were third in the model and fifth under saddle.
Clever Conversation is a seven-year-old Warmblood gelding, owned by Woodland Way, Inc. and Kensel, LLC. "He is still a First Year horse and does the Green Conformation Hunters as well," Farmer remarked. Farmer noted that the young horse easily jumps the 3'9" height in the Regular Conformation division.
She added, "He still has his baby moments, but he is a really good horse. He is super brave, super quiet, super easy and very straightforward."
Farmer only showed the horse a handful of times last year, but she has high hopes for him this season. "He has all the parts and wants to do it right," she commented.
Competition was fierce during this second week of WEF. Farmer was thrilled with the quality and quantity of horses in the division. "It's lovely to see. It's really nice to have some [good] numbers in the hunter divisions," Farmer commented.
WEF 2 continues tomorrow with a full day of jumper competition, including the $2,500 MAYBACH - ICONS OF LUXURY High Amateur-Owner Jumpers, as well as championship presentations in the Animal Medical Center Low Adult Hunter 2'6" Section A. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Final Results: $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 2
1. Rosana Du Park: 2005 Selle Francais mare by Kannan
Eric Lamaze (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/0/35.58
2. Andretti S: 2005 KWPN gelding by Corland x Animo
Laura Kraut (USA), Stars & Stripes: 0/0/36.35
3. 2006 Dutch Warmblood stallion by Quintero x Accord II
Beezie Madden (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/36.66
4. Indigo: 2000 KWPN gelding by Indoctro
Margie Engel (USA), Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek & Gladewinds: 0/0/37.67
5. Comanche 28: 2006 Oldenburg gelding by Coupe de Couer x Baloubet du Rouet
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC: 0/0/38.92
6. Helios: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Couleur-Rubin x Baladine van T' Heike
Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), Starlight Farms LLC: 0/0/39.33
7. Al Calypso: 2002 Hanoverian gelding by Askari x Calypso II
Manuel Fernandez Hache (DOM) Aristides Fernandez Zucco: 0/4/36.01
8. Crespo PKZ: 2006 Westphalian gelding by Cornet Obolensky x Landadel
Cian O'Connor (IRL), Ronnoco Jump Ltd.: 0/4/36.33
9. Heros: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Canadian River x Vivita de Fribois
Amy Millar (CAN), AMMO Investments: 0/4/36.77
10. Ad Nouvelle Europe Z: 2004 Zangersheide mare by Nelson Z x Jimtown
Dodo De Miranda (BRA), A.A. de Miranda Neto & Victory Equestrian Sport BV: 0/4/37.46
11. Lady Maria BH: 2006 Holsteiner mare by Cartani x Corrado I
Amanada Derbyshire (USA), David Gochman: 0/4/37.47
12. Harriri: 2007 Belgian Warmblood mare by Nabab de Reve x Rani VD Blauwe
Abigail Mcardle (USA), Plain Bay Sales, Inc.: 0/4/37.76
Photo Credit: Photos © Sportfot, An Official Photographer of the Winter Equestrian Festival, sportfot.com.