Wellington, FL - March 28, 2012 - The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival began the 12th and final week of competition today with the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic. Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and HH Palouchin, owned by Double H Farm, are familiar faces in the winner's circle and were able to speed to victory in today's class. Richard Spooner (USA) and Molly Ohrstrom's Billy Bianca were second, while Darragh Kerins (IRL) and Hot Wheels finished third.
Sponsored by FTI Consulting, Inc., the final week of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will feature the highlight grand prix of the season, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*, on Saturday, March 31. The USHJA International Hunter Derby will host the top 25 on the grass field at The Stadium on Sunday, April 1.
There were 51 entries in the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic, and no one could come close to the time of 62.94 seconds set by Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin. The closest was Richard Spooner on Molly Ohrstrom's Billy Bianca, who were second in 64.58 seconds. Darragh Kerins and Hot Wheels were third in 65.22 seconds.
"It was a course that gave you the chance to really try to go and it was a good course," Pessoa said of the Alan Wade-designed track. "It was challenging for me because there were three water (jumps) and he always looks at water a little bit. He gave a strange jump at number three, but then the middle of the course was good, and when he came back to number 10, he was already confident and going."
HH Palouchin is always a difficult horse to catch in the speed classes, especially at the 1.40m to 1.45m height. This year, he has helped Pessoa win the G&C Farm 1.45m Classic classes, which are part of an initiative to offer more FEI ROLEX world ranking points. "The difference for this year to last year is that he's won more of these 1.45m ranking classes, which are good to push you up the rankings a little bit. That's his height, it's what he's comfortable in. When I ride properly and he goes through, he's a difficult horse to catch."
Pessoa said that the speedy chestnut "works a lot on confidence." He continued, "If he's feeling well, he'll go and always tries. He doesn't give up easily. But when he's like this, confident and on a roll, he's good. He's very comfortable in this place; it's his fifth year here. He knows the place and that's definitely an advantage for him because there are no surprises."
While HH Palouchin is known for being very animated at the show ring, Pessoa said he is a different horse at home. "He's very quiet," he explained. "When he just walks into the schooling ring, he gets excited and knows he's here to go. You feel that immediately. His eye changes completely. You couldn't find a quieter horse at home. The way he changes from home to here is like two different horses. At home you can school him over 1.60m fences, if you wanted to, and you'd think you're riding the best horse in the world. Then he comes here and all this excitement gets to him and he loses 15 centimeters of possibility."
While some would be disappointed about that loss, Pessoa feels that HH Palouchin has found his niche. "In the beginning we thought he would come over this hump and jump 1.60m, but the stress just gets to him and drives him crazy. (But) we've found a life for him. Every horse has a life somewhere, whether it's in a division, the hunters, equitation, or a 1.45m horse or Olympic horse. Every horse has a place somewhere and we're very lucky to be able to count on him in those classes. He brings a lot of first place ribbons."
Earlier in the day, the Adequan Young Jumpers had a chance to show in the International Arena before their Finals on Friday. In the Adequan 5 Year Old Young Jumper class, Alex Granato rode Socke to the win. The winner of the Adequan 7 Year Old Young Jumpers was Alazan, ridden by Ian Millar for Millar Brooke Farm. Zilona, ridden by Chris Delia for International Equine Sales Ltd. And The Balaz Family.
The final class of the day was the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class, which had 76 entries. Laura Chapot sped to the top two spots with Mary Chapot's Zealous (57.775 seconds) and her own Bradberry (59.298 seconds). Eric Lamaze and Wang Chung M2S, owned by Morningside Stud and Torrey Pines Stables, was third in 60.035 seconds.
The final week of the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with a full schedule of hunter and jumper competition. In the International Arena, the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 12 will be the highlight class. In the Rost Arena, the Performance Hunters 3'3" will award championship honors.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic
1 HH PALOUCHIN: 1999 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Baloubet Du Rouet x Chin Chin RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), Double H Farm: 0/62.94
2 BILLY BIANCA: 2001 Warmblood mare by Vechta x Iroko RICHARD SPOONER (USA), Molly Ohrstrom: 0/64.58
3 HOT WHEELS: 1997 Silla Argentino gelding by Liliputiense DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), Darragh Kerins: 0/65.22
4 LITTLE EMIR: 1998 German gelding SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 0/65.66
5 QUIET EASY 4: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Quidams Rubin x Zapateado BEN MAHER (GBR), Mrs. Phillips: 0/65.87
6 SANDOR DE LA POMME: 2002 SBS gelding by Vigo D'arsouilles x Darco DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), The Wannahave Group: 0/66.36
7 LET'S DANCE: N/A RICHARD SPOONER (USA), Oscany, Inc: 0/67.06
8 ONISHA: 1999 Holsteiner mare by Caretino x Athlet Z REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/67.25
9 S&L SLINGBACK: 2002 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi x Ekstein DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), S&L Farms: 0/67.80
10 OHLALA: 2003 Swedish Warmblood mare by Orlando x Cardento LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Lauren Hough: 0/68.22
11 CANTANO: 2000 Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/68.25
12 HH LET'S FLY: 1999 Hanoverian gelding by Lordanos x Forrest RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), Double H Farm: 0/69.02
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin; Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin with Carolina and Gustavo Mirabal of G&C Farm and ringmaster Cliff Haines. Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.