Wellington, FL - Peter Leone (USA) and Wayfarer concluded week seven of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a win in the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* on Sunday, February 26, in Wellington,
Coming up, week eight at WEF features CSIO 4* competition, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds, on March 1-5. Week highlights include the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup on Friday night, March 3, and the $216,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSIO 4* on Sunday afternoon, March 5. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.
Course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio (USA) concluded week seven with 44 entries in the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Eleven entries qualified for the jump-off, where Olympic silver medalist Peter Leone completed the fastest of seven double clear rounds in 35.49 seconds aboard Lionshare Farm's Wayfarer.
Jonathon Millar (CAN) and Millar Brooke Farm's Daveau finished second in 35.63 seconds. Abigail McArdle (USA) placed third riding David McArdle's Cade in a time of 35.96 seconds. Wayfarer, an 11-year-old gelding (Languster x Lancer II), was born and raised at Leone's Lionshare Farm in Greenwich, CT. In 2012, the gelding won the Six-Year-Old Young Jumper Final at WEF and has since developed into a top horse for the rider.
"He is a big-strided horse," Leone described. "In the jump-off, I tried to take advantage of my horse's big stride. I kept him a little fresh coming into today. That is when he jumps his best. He really felt in good form."
Leone continued, "The first round, I only got to watch a little bit because one of the wonderful things, but also challenging things about being at the Winter Equestrian Festival, is that many of us have students that are jumping in other rings. Right after the course walk, I went and put a wonderful rider in the Low Junior Jumpers. Then I came back and watched a couple and did my first round. Then I ran back to go do another great student of mine that went into the lead in the High Children's Jumpers. Then I came back just in time to jump on and give it a go in the jump-off."
Commenting on the course, Leone added, "I was glad that Anthony set (the course). It is hard to set a challenging two-star track for 45 horses because you are limited to how big the jumps can be. It is hard to get the right number clear, but I think he set a really good course today and had a good number for the jump-off. I love that that they are having these two-star classes, because I would not have been jumping this week if there was not a two-star along with the five-star. I think it is one of the best things that this show management has done."
Second place finisher Jonathon Millar was also pleased with the opportunity to jump in the two-star division this week with his young mount Daveau, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zento x Glennridge).
"We bought him as a seven-year-old," Millar detailed. "He is a quick horse. For being a big horse, he is pretty handy. He is very smooth, and I think that is what makes him quite quick. Plus, he is smart. If I ask him to turn, or I ask him to go on an angle, he knows where we are going.
"I am taking advantage of the two-star classes with him this year just to develop him and give him this experience and every week try to be a little faster," Millar added. "He was fifth two weeks ago in the two-star grand prix as well. He has had a great winter here. He is just a fun horse to ride, and he is a real competitor. I am looking forward to a bright future with him."
McArdle was aboard a veteran mount in her horse Cade, a 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Heartbreaker x Darco) that she has owned for five years.
"We retired him last year, and then we brought him back this year," McArdle noted. "He had a little over a year off. Our philosophy is if they are sound, they keep going. There is nothing like nature and time that gives a horse its way back into the ring.
"This format has been great," she said of the two-star division. "I have been kind of easing him in to see what he is ready to go back and do again. It is special because this is the only horse I have that is not a sales horse; it is mine. I finally have one of my own back to do the big classes, and he is incredible."
The Winter Equestrian Festival continues in its eighth week of competition on March 1-5, 2017. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Final Results: $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2*
1. WAYFARER: 2006 gelding by Languster PETER LEONE (USA), Lionshare Farm: 0/0/35.49
2. DAVEAU: 2008 KWPN gelding by Zento x Glennridge JONATHON MILLAR (CAN), Millar Brooke Farm Ltd: 0/0/35.63
3. CADE: 2002 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Heartbreaker x Darco ABIGAIL MCARDLE (USA), David McArdle: 0/0/35.96
4. POLIAS DE BLONDEL: 2003 Selle Francais gelding by Desir du Chateau x Souviens Toi III ALEXANDRA PAILLOT (FRA), Paillot Equine Consulting Inc: 0/0/36.08
5. AKUNA MATTATA: 2008 Holsteiner mare by Quinar x Landwind II NICOLE SHAHINIAN-SIMPSON (USA), Silver Raven Farms: 0/0/36.48
6. QUI VIVE DES SONGES Z: 2006 Zangersheide stallion by Quaprice Z x Lagos HEATHER CARISTO-WILLIAMS (USA), Holly & Ralph Caristo: 0/0/36.81
7. FALCO VAN SPIEVELD: 2005 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Toulon x Lys de Darmen NICOLE WALKER (CAN), Nicole Walker: 0/0/36.92
8. BE GENTLE: 2006 KWPN mare by Ticallux Verte x Gentleman LILLIE KEENAN (USA), Chansonette Farm LLC: 0/4/36.06
9. DSARIE: 2008 KWPN mare by Veron x Ahorn BEAT MANDLI (SUI), Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/4/36.87
10. UITTERAARD: 2001 KWPN gelding by Numero Uno x Burggraaf ANGEL KAROLYI (VEN), Stransky's Mission Farms, Inc: 0/4/36.99
11. LUIBANTA BH: 2008 Irish Sport Horse mare by Luidam x Abantos AMANDA DERBYSHIRE (GBR), Gochman Sport Horses: 0/8/35.81
12. TINY TOON SEMILLY: 2007 Selle Francais gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Kannan EVE JOBS (USA), Eve Jobs: 1/77.02