OCALA, Florida - Jessica Springsteen decisively won the $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm CSI3* on her little speedster, Davendy. Springsteen finished fault-free in a blazing time of 69.73 seconds, more than a second faster than the rest of the field.
"She is my speed horse," said Springsteen. "The faster you go the more confidence she has. She doesn't look fast, she has a big belly and just wanders around the barn, but she really turns on in the ring."
Mattias Tromp followed Springsteen into the ring and left in second place. His time aboard Avon was 71.37 seconds, not quite fast enough for the lead but fast enough to edge ahead of Lucy Deslauriers, who had been the class leader until Springsteen's round.
"I thought the place to try and win it was at number 3, the skinny fence," said Tromp. "I think one less stride at the last jump would have been good, but I don't think it would have changed my placing."
Deslauriers and her mount Hester held on for third place with a time of 72.90, but she was very happy with her result. "I called my dad (Olympic veteran Mario Deslauriers) to find out how fast he thought I should go," said Deslauriers. "I am trying to get more experience at the Grand Prix level and my horse performs well on grass fields so I was very happy to come here rather than stay in Wellington. A second and a third in the two classes today, I think coming here was a good choice."
Bob Ellis, course designer for the 2012 London Olympic Games, designed a challenging track that truly tested the horses and riders. Only 17 out of a starting field of 67 starters were able to navigate the course fault free.
Friday's class served as a qualifier for Sunday's $100,000 CSI-W3* Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, which is the last chance for riders to qualify to compete at the Longines FEI World Cup Final, March 29-April 2, in Omaha, Neb.
Prior to the Hollow Creek class, jumping competition at Live Oak International got underway with the $10,000 Waldron Private Wealth 1.40m Power and Speed which saw horses and riders from 11 countries vie for ribbons and prize money. First place went to Sharn Wordley of New Zealand on Caiman des Sequoias. Wordley bested the field of 57 entries, leaving all the fences intact in a time of 37.36 to take top honors. Sharn Wordley and Cainman des Sequoias (c)Pics of You Wordley is currently based in Wellington, FL, and represented his home country in the Beijing Olympic Games. Lucy Deslauriers was second, piloting Hamlet through the tricky course in 37.77 seconds. Deslauriers, who went eighth in the order, held the lead through most of the class, only giving way to Wordley, who entered the ring in the 47th spot, and his speedier time.
Live Oak is also hosting four USEF National Championships in combined driving including Four-In-Hand Horse, Pair Horse, Pair Pony and FEI Single Pony. Driving continues with the thrilling Marathon on Saturday, and concludes with Cones on Sunday.
Competition on Saturday begins at 8:00 am with the Driving marathon and continues at 2:00 pm with the $35,000 Sovaro CSI3* Longines World Ranking Competition. General admission tickets are available online or at the gate for $10 per person, with proceeds going to Marion Therapeutic Riding Association. Children under 12 receive free admission. Parking for the event is free.
Attendance at Live Oak International offers spectators a rare chance to visit the normally private Live Oak Plantation, known for its outstanding race horse breeding operation as well as its 1,000-head beef cattle operation. Now in its 26th year, the event counts among its competitors some of the world's leading drivers, riders, trainers, coaches and owners from over 20 countries in both disciplines.
For the non-horse enthusiast, come test drive a new Porsche, shop the beautiful jewelry designs of Lugano Diamonds, or let Joan Pletcher show you the hottest real estate available in Ocala.
"We would like to thank all of our sponsors who have made Live Oak International possible," said Juliet W. Reid, co-president of the event. "Several of our sponsors have been with us from the very beginning!"
General admission tickets, week passes and tailgate reservations are all available online at https://liveoakinternational.com/shop/.