Wellington, FL - The young jumpers took to the International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Friday to compete in their final classes of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Easy were victorious in the $20,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Seven-Year-Old Final, Adolpho Franco (BRA) and Mia won the $15,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Six-Year-Old Final, and 13 horse and rider combinations jumped clear in the $10,000 Gut Einhaus Young Jumper Five-Year-Old Final to earn prizes, rewarding clear rounds from the circuit's youngest horses.
The 2016 WEF circuit concludes with its twelfth and final week of competition, sponsored by Rolex, featuring CSI 5* jumper and 'AA' rated hunter competition through April 3, 2016. Saturday highlights include the $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final Jump-off, presented by SOVARO®, at 6:30 p.m. followed by the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*.
The circuit concludes on Sunday featuring the final round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC.
Anthony D'Ambrosio (USA) set the course for 52 starters in the $20,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Seven-Year-Old Final, with 13 clear rounds to advance to the jump-off, and five double clear rounds. Riders were given an a/b option to either jump-off immediately following their round or wait until the end of the class, and all but one chose option a to go immediately following their first round.
Alexandra Paillot set the pace in 40.32 seconds aboard Paillot Equine Consulting Inc.'s Jalanta P, eventually finishing fourth. Laura Kraut jumped a faster round in 38.95 seconds with Poden Farm's Cicero's Electric, but settled for second place in the end. Katie Dinan jumped into third place with Grant Road Parnters' Chiara M in a time of 39.45 seconds. Erynn Ballard and Javier Salvador Stables' Easy were next to clear the course, shaving over three seconds off of the leading time to win it in 35.42 seconds. Cody Auer later jumped into fifth place with a clear round in 41.29 seconds riding Sarah Ryan's Elertina.
Seven-year-old winner, Easy, is a Dutch Warmblood mare (Mr. Blue x Burggraaf) owned by Javier Salvador. Ballard explained that she purchased a new horse named Z Diamanty from Salvador at the beginning of the winter, and through the process of getting to know each other and showing that horse, he asked if Ballard would show Easy in the seven-year-olds. She just got the ride on Easy halfway through the circuit, and their plan was to gear the mare up for this final class.
"I have ridden her in six classes, and she has been clear in every single one," Ballard stated. "The first two weeks I showed her, she was fourth in the first class and second in the qualifier. Then this week, I was sixth in the first class and I was like, 'I think that's good, because if I was fourth, I was going to end being second again.' I changed it up, but I was pretty serious about giving it my best shot to win. I saw Laura (Kraut) go and she was fast, so I went as fast as I could, which held up to be incredibly fast."
Speaking of her track in the jump-off, Ballard detailed, "My plan was to do six strides from one to two, put a little curve in it, and then get me in on the third jump in the jump-off. Then I left out one stride for seven, but that horse is so competitive and so smart. She always knows where she is, and even when I was going so fast, she still knew that her job was to jump the jumps."
Easy jumped some six-year-old classes last year and spent her summer showing in Europe in 2015. She is a sale horse and came to WEF to be promoted. If she does not get sold, she will continue on with Ballard through the summer.
"I don't know what her destiny is, but she is going to be quite good at whatever she does," Ballard stated. "If she stays with me, I will continue to develop her as a seven-year-old. Not that seven-year-olds are limited, but she is so smart and so careful that she probably does not need to do so much in different rings for exposure. I would say as an eight-year-old she could be great in the 1.45m ranking classes, but as a seven-year-old, I would just want to make sure she gets good experience and stays competitive at her level. That way she will be ready to move up as an eight-year-old."
In addition to her winning prize, Easy was presented the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award for week twelve. Commenting on Easy's style, Ballard remarked, "She is pretty flashy. She is a very impressive jumper. When you look at her pictures, she is not centimeters over the jump, she is feet over the jump. I was saying earlier, in the jump-off, even though she is so high, she does it out of stride so she is not wasting time in the air. She puts in an impressive effort over every single fence, but she is still very competitive. She does not waste any time, and she knows that she is supposed to win first place."
WEF 12 continues on Saturday featuring the $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final Jump-off, presented by SOVARO®, at 6:30 p.m. in the International Ring, followed by the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*.
The first round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby will also be held on Saturday in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring. The top 25 competitors will then continue on to the second round on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC on Sunday at 1 p.m.
For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Final Results: $20,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Seven-Year-Old Final
1 4822 EASY ERYNN BALLARD JAVIER SALVADOR STABLE BV: 0/0/35.428
2 1730 CICERO'S ELECTRIC LAURA KRAUT PODEN FARMS: 0/0/38.950
3 1688 CHIARA MIA KATHERINE DINAN GRANT ROAD PARTNERS LLC: 0/0/39.458
4 4084 JALANTA P ALEXANDRA PAILLOT PAILLOT EQUINE CONSULTING INC: 0/0/40.327
5 5208 ELERTINA CODY AUER SARAH RYAN: 0/0/41.296
6 7737 CASSIOPAYA MCLAIN WARD MCLAIN WARD & SUSAN HELLER: 0/4/36.189
7 6573 CHILI PEPPER CHRIS SURBEY SPRUCE MEADOWS: 0/4/36.583
8 7356 CAELLE LAURA KRAUT STARS AND STRIPES: 0/4/36.687
9 1743 CHARMING FELLOW LAURA KRAUT ARDENCOTE FARM: 0/4/37.618
10 7511 CURO LUCY DESLAURIERS MARIO DESLAURIERS: 0/4/39.145
11 6047 VIRTUOSO DE TALMA ROBERTO TERAN JR. ARK PARTNERS LLC: 0/4/39.490
12 7317 ERATO M CARLO GRAZIANI CARLO GRAZIANI: 0/4/41.217