Wellington, FL - January 26, 2011 - The third week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) began today. In the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumper class, Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and his always speedy HH Palouchin, owned by Double H Farm, brought home the win.
The third week of the FTI WEF continues through Sunday, January 30. The 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition through April 3, 2011, and they will be awarding more than $6 million in prize money through the circuit. The highlight jumper class is Saturday night's $40,000 Surpass Grand Prix, CSI 2* at 7 p.m.
This week's course designer in the International Arena is Olaf Petersen of Germany. There were 31 entries in the class, and 10 of those were clear to lead the top ribbons.
Pessoa and HH Palouchin (formerly named Palouchin de Ligny, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Chin Chin) have been a dynamic duo in the speed classes for many years, and this morning's class was no different from their winning ways. They set the time to beat at 61.125 seconds.
Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) and Katina were close to catching them in 61.989 seconds in the closing rounds of the class, but just missed out for second place. Week 1 winners Nick Skelton and Unique, owned by Beverly Widdowson, were third in 64.212 seconds.
HH Palouchin is out of a mare named Chin China, a horse that Pessoa used to ride as a junior, and by Baloubet du Rouet, Pessoa's famous champion mount. Being a homebred horse, Pessoa has ridden HH Palouchin for his entire career. "He's been a very good horse for us," Pessoa acknowledged. "He's a horse that's very competitive and wins a lot of classes. He's maybe the best in his category. It gives good morale to have a horse that wins like that. They may be smaller classes, but a win is a win. If you enter, you know you have a chance at winning. I wouldn't venture to enter him in a big grand prix, but in the classes where he's good, we try to pick those and ride well. In the end, he does all the rest."
The chesnut speedster has a distinctive way of going, with Pessoa easing him around the course and letting the horse continue in his fast pace. Pessoa smiled, "He's always been a very sensitive horse with a lot of blood. It's easier for him to do a round like this than to go slow and do training. He doesn't like that. He gets all upset. The best is to let him go and let him do his thing and try to leave the jumps up."
Double H Farm, owned by Hunter Harrison, is Pessoa's sponsor. They purchased HH Palouchin just a few weeks ago. Pessoa explained, "After the first (Equestrian Sport Productions) grand prix here in the New Year where he won Saturday night, some people were interested in him. Mr. Harrison said that we should keep the horse in our string. We transferred him from our ownership to Double H Farm, which is really great for me because I get to continue to ride the horse. We're really happy to keep him in our string."
Pessoa is also the doting father of daughter Cecilia and the newest addition to his family, daughter Sophia - who is just weeks old - with his wife Alexa. Pessoa said proudly, "It's a great thing to get back to her at the end of the day. She's my second daughter, and it's really exciting. You can win any grand prix or championship, but it's nothing like this feeling. It's very special."
Week three of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival continues tomorrow with the $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 in the International Arena at 1 p.m.
Final Results: $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers
1 HH PALOUCHIN RODRIGO PESSOA DOUBLE H FARM: 0/61.125
2 KATINA ENRIQUE GONZALEZ ENRIQUE GONZALEZ: 0/61.989
3 UNIQUE NICK SKELTON BEVERLY WIDDOWSON: 0/64.212
4 DA VINCI ANDRES RODRIGUEZ ANDRES OLIVARES/ANDRES RODRIGUEZ: 0/64.966
5 LANZAROTE HOLGER HETZEL HOLGER HETZEL: 0/68.171
6 HH RADCO QUENTIN JUDGE DOUBLE H FARM: 0/70.963
7 SASSICAIA II KATHERINE MONAHAN-PRUDENT PLAIN BAY FARM: 0/72.234
8 WALDMAN Z MARILYN LITTLE-MEREDITH RAYLYN FARMS: 0/72.872
9 AX-CENT KENNETH BERKLEY RIVERS EDGE: 0/73.576
10 VASCO FELIPO GODINHO: 0/77.186
11 VICTOR TIFFANY FOSTER ARTISAN FARMS & TORREY PINES LLC: 1/79.222
12 S & L SLINGBACK DARRAGH KERINS S&L FARM: 1/79.441
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin won the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Jumpers during the second week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.