Wellington, FL - February 18, 2010 - The unstoppable Pablo Barrios (VEN) and Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal's G&C Blanchee Z bested a field of 38 entries today in the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round Six. Taking home the red ribbon for second place today was Carlos Lopez riding his own Penny Lane. Kent Farrington (USA) claimed both the third and fourth places with RCG Farm's United, and Up Chiqui, owned by William Dobbs, Alex Boone, and Kent Farrington.
The sixth week of the FTI WEF is sponsored by Bainbridge and runs through Sunday, February 21. The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 4, 2010, and they will be awarding almost $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
Olympic course designer Steve Stephens built today's course in the DeNemethy Ring. The course featured 12 numbered obstacles, including three double combinations, in lieu of a triple combination. The most problematic obstacle of the day was 6b, which was an oxer out of a pressing one-stride combination off of a short approach, causing the back rail to come down many times throughout the class. Ten horse/rider combinations went clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off.
"The course was very fair. I liked it a lot. There were three double combinations, which is good. It was delicate and careful, especially the vertical-vertical double, and coming into the last double. There were several options. It was a nice course," Barrios commented about today's WEF Challenge.
The jump off course consisted of fences 3-4a-14-9ab-10-5-12. The tie-breaker started over a long run to a single oxer, followed by a tidy right hand turn to a very careful vertical, and eventually finished over a difficult bending eight or nine stride line that was set at a 90 degree angle.
Georgina Bloomberg and Gotham Enterprizes' Metropolitan were the trailblazers in the jump-off today. The pair were the winners of the WEF Challenge Cup during week one of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, and hoped to repeat their winning performance today. Bloomberg's hopes were dashed when her ten-year-old Selle Francais stallion pulled a rail at the last jump, which would eventually earn Bloomberg the eighth place.
Next to go in the jump off was Kent Farrington with RCG Farm's United. Farrington made a very tidy turn from fence one to two, and did eight strides down the last line to cross the timers in 37.881 seconds. Farrington and United were the first clear duo in the jump-off, and put pressure on the remaining eight competitors.
The lead changed hands two rounds later when Carlos Lopez entered the ring on his Penny Lane. Lopez flew to the double combination and made a tight inside turn to fence 5, and crossed the timers in a time of 37.248 seconds to take over the lead.
Lopez's lead would only last for two rounds before Barrios entered the ring on G&C Blanchee Z. Barrios did not seem to touch the reins throughout the entire jump-off, and his mare reacted beautifully as he kept pushing her to go faster. Barrios was the only person to do four strides to the Spy Coast oxer after the double combination, and raced through the timers in 36.65 seconds, with only three horses left to contest him.
"I had Ramiro Quintana coaching me for the jump-off and he told me if I wanted to win the class, I would have to do four strides in the line after the double," Barrios smiled. " It was a little scary when I saw the four because it was very long, and I couldn't make the inside turn that I was planning to do because it was so long, but it definitely was faster. That mare has a huge step ,and I think that was a key part of winning today."
None of the remaining riders were able to jump clear or come close to Barrios' speedy time. The only contender to come close to matching Barrios' time was Nicholas Dello Joio riding Malcolm, owned by the Federman Family & Ellie Belkap. Dello Joio had a prompt time of 37.429 seconds, but knocked down fence 9a, and ended up in fifth place.
G&C Blanchee Z is a new ride for Barrios, who showed the mare for the first time during the first week of the FTI WEF this year. Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal bought the nine-year-old mare in September 2009, but Barrios was not able to ride her much because he was competing in Calgary at the time. Prior to this win the pair won a 1.45m class during the first few weeks of the FTI WEF.
"This mare is very green for here, and I used her in the first few weeks for the grand prix. She had one rail in each one and jumped really well. She's grown up so much in only six weeks that I've been showing her. I think I picked the right class for her, and she was nice here today. I'm very happy," Barrios acknowledged.
This is Barrios' second WEF Challenge Cup win, and his third grand prix win of the 2010 FTI WEF. Barrios won round four of the WEF Challenge Cup with G&C Quick Star 11, and was victorious last Sunday in the $150,000 Spy Coast Farm World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix with G&C Lagran.
"It's a good feeling because when you get to the ring you know you can win. This is my best winter ever, and I don't know if it will ever happen again. At the moment I feel like I'm riding at the top of my career. I have a solid group of horses, and things are happening the right way. I'm getting sharper in the jump-off because I'm practicing and making it to more jump-offs than ever in my life," Barrios commented on his remarkable winning streak.
Barrios also credited his sponsors for his many successes this year, and noted, "Gustavo (above in presentation photo) and Carolina are such a big support, and we pick the right horses for every week. I can bring the horses fresh because we have so many horses (that) we can rotate them. I think that's the key."
Tomorrow's highlight jumper class is the Spy Coast 1.40m Speed Challenge that will take place in the DeNemethy Arena. The $50,000 CN Palm Beach Jumping Derby will run on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Stadium, located on the corner of South Shore Blvd and Pierson Rd.
Final Results: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round Six
- 1.G&C BLANCHEE Z: 2001 BWP mare by Utrillo Van De Heffinck xx Riedel Pablo Barrios (VEN), Gustavo & Carolina Mirabal: 0/0/36.65
- 2. PENNY LANE Carlos Lopez, Carlos Lopez: 0/0/37.248
- 3. UNITED: 2001 gelding by Cavalier xx Jessica V Kent Farrington (USA), R.C.G. Farm: 0/0/37.881
- 4. UP CHIQUI: 1997 BWP Quidam de Revel xx Quendelien Vogelzang Kent Farrington (USA), William Dobbs, Alex Boone, Kent Farrington: 0/4/36.783
- 5. MALCOLM: 1997 KWPN gelding Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), Federman Family & Ellie Belkap: 0/4/37.249
- 6. NAVALO DE POHETON: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Cumano xx Uzel de Poheton Schuyler Riley (USA), Wolfstone Stables: 0/4/40.135
- 7. VIA VOLO: 1998 BWP mare by Clinton xx Run Away Beezie Madden (USA), Coral Reef Ranch LLC: 0/4/43.851
- 8. METROPOLITAN: 2000 Selle Francais stallion by Cabdula du Tillard xx Quedy de Kelenn Georgina Bloomberg (USA), Gotham Enterprizes: 0/4/44.054
- 9. COULETTO K. JAMES: 1996 Hann gelding by Continue xx Zeremonie Katherine Dinan (USA), Katie Dinan, LLC: 0/4/44.607
- 10. BROOKE VAN DE ZUUTHOEVE: 2001 BWP mare by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve xx Diancara Richard Moloney (IRL), Sweet Oak Farm: 0/8/41.163
- 11. TENESSEE: 2000 KWPN gelding by Lancelot xx Kaleida Tim Hendrix (NED), Stal Hendrix: 1/77.035
- 12. TEIRRA: 2000 KWPN mare by Tolano Van't Riethof xx Oldatussa Addison Phillips (USA), Addison Phillips: 1/77.420
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.
Photo Credit: Pablo Barrios and G&C Blanchee Z Win the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round Six at the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc., Official Sport Photographer of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.