Wellington, FL - At the Holiday & Horses Show at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the $30,000 Holiday & Horses Opener was the main class in the International Arena today. Hillary Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, rode Corlett, owned by The Dobbs Group, to victory.
The Holiday & Horses Show is the first competition in the Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) Holiday Series, which consists of seven shows through the beginning of January. The highlight class of the week is the $50,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix, CSI 2* on Saturday, December 4, at 7 p.m. The Holiday & Horses Show runs through Sunday, December 5.
The course designer in the International Arena this week is Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY. There were 40 entries in today's $30,000 Holiday & Horses Opener, and the class was a Time First Round speed format. There were nine clear rounds in the class. The very first into the ring was Hugh Graham of Schomberg, Ontario, on King Ridge Stables' Fifth Estate 3E. They led the class for 24 trips with a clear round in 66.96 seconds until Dobbs and Corlett entered the ring.
Graham, who is based in Ocala, FL, during the winter, has not shown Fifth Estate 3E in Wellington before. The talented nine-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding by Class Action, won the Young Jumper 7&8 Year Old championship in Canada last year.
"When I went in there, I had a plan for that horse," Graham said. "He hasn't shown since September, and I just went in there and tried to be efficient. You don't know what the field (of competitors) is like, so you ride the way that suits (the horse). He just wants to be a winner. The course had a nice flow to it. It was a nice speed class before Saturday night."
Dobbs and Corlett were steady through the beginning of the course and picked up speed as they went. By the last jump, they were ahead of the winning time and crossed the timers in 65.36 seconds to go into the lead. None of the remaining entries were able to catch her quick time. Third place went to Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, on Indigo, owned by Gladewinds Farm Inc., who were clear in 67.09 seconds.
Dobbs saw Graham go first in the class. "I had a similar plan to Hugh's and took a couple of risks," she admitted. "I watched him go and it was textbook. I knew it would be tough to catch; I knew it'd be one of the times to beat. It's always lucky to see someone like that go and maybe guess where you can take a shot and roll the dice."
For today's class, Dobbs had different plans for her horses, Quincy B and Corlett. "Quincy and Corlett have different styles and temperaments. With Corlett, I knew I didn't want to open her up that much that early," she explained. "I know both of them like the back of my hand and they know me. (With Corlett), I was able to take a couple of risks that may not look pretty, but they pay off in the end. I turned back pretty short to the wall, and I did one less (stride) to the jump after the triple bar. She was so responsive even being at a gap from that jump to spin back to the next jump."
Corlett, a 13-year-old Sachsen-Anhalten mare by Consul, is "naturally a competitive speed horse," Dobbs described. "She's a naturally quick horse; she's quick across the ground with a big stride."
Dobbs and Corlett were sixth in the World Cup qualifier in Syracuse last month. "She was brilliant," Dobbs remembered. "She's really coming into form again, right in time for WEF. I'm excited to have her back in the game again. She's just a quick, careful, brave horse and everything I can ask for. I know I can trust her, whether it's today or Saturday night."
"It feels great to be back in Florida," Dobbs revealed. "I came down and watched the night class last week and was itching to horse show again. I get a little anxious if it's too long before I show, so I'm thrilled to be down here and showing my horses again." Dobbs will show Corlett and Quincy B in Saturday night's $50,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix, CSI 2*.
The Holiday & Horses show continues tomorrow with junior/amateur jumpers in the International Arena, children's and adult jumpers, equitation classes, and amateur-owner hunter divisions.
Final Results: $30,000 Holiday & Horses Opener
1 508 CORLETT, HILLARY DOBBS: 0/65.36
2 103 FIFTH ESTATE 3E, HUGH GRAHAM: 0/66.96
3 241 INDIGO, MARGIE ENGLE: 0/67.09
4 648 FATALIS FATUM, DANIEL BLUMAN: 0/67.23
5 208 PAPARAZZI 10, AARON VALE: 0/68.76
6 165 TOSCA 290, MOLLY ASHE-CAWLEY: 0/68.98
7 245 CLEU, DEBORAH STEPHENS: 0/70.63
8 494 ULTIMO, HECTOR FLORENTINO: 0/73.00
9 253 VENT DU NORD, KATE LEVY: 0/75.37
10 110 UP CHIQUI, KENT FARRINGTON: 4/62.76
11 286 ATHENA, CHARLIE JAYNE: 4/63.60
12 628 BULL RUN'S ALPHA & OMEGA, KRISTEN VANDERVEEN: 4/66.13
As always, the added convenience of online entries and live ring updates are available at http://esp.showgroundslive.com.
For more information on Equestrian Sport Productions and their horse shows, please visit www.equestriansport.com.
Photo Credit: Corlett and Hillary Dobbs were victorious in the $30,000 Holiday & Horses Opener at the 2010 Holiday & Horses Show. Photo © Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.