Wellington, FL - March 12, 2010 - Saturday Night Lights at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival brought a crowd of over 4,200 spectators out to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center this weekend to watch Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and Let's Fly jump to victory in the $231,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI 4*-W Presented by Bainbridge Companies. Pessoa earned the winning cut of prize money after an exciting jump-off of many of the top horses and riders in the world.
The FTI Winter Equestrian Festival's ninth week of competition, sponsored by Bainbridge Companies, will conclude with the Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic on Sunday at 1 p.m. The 2011 WEF will continue through April 3 and award more than $6 million in prize money.
Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela designed tonight's course for a field of 42 starters. Eight jumped clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off. Six of those eight were the top women riding for the United States followed up by two of the world's best men from Great Britain and Brazil. The men were able to best the ladies tonight, taking the top two places with the only clear rounds over the short course.
Rodrigo Pessoa and Double H Farm's Let's Fly went last in the jump-off and were double clear in 51.57 seconds to take home top prize. Nick Skelton (GBR) and Beverly Widdowson's Carlo 273 finished double clear in 55.23 seconds to place second.
Following the men, the ladies rounded out the top eight places. Lauren Hough (USA) and Laura Mateo's Quick Study had the fastest four-fault round in 49.50 seconds to finish in third. Candice King (USA) and Skara Glen's Davos had four faults in a time of 50.36 seconds to place fourth. Laura Kraut (USA) with Happy Hill Farm's Cedric and Beezie Madden (USA) riding Abigail Wexner's Danny Boy each had eight faults to finish in fifth and sixth respectively. Christine McCrea (USA) riding Candy Tribble's Romantovich Take One and Kate Levy (USA) riding Vent Du Nord placed seventh and eighth.
Class winner Let's Fly is a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Lordanos x Forrest. Pessoa described his mount, stating, "Let's Fly has good basics. We bought him as a young horse from Peter Wylde and we have had him now for three or four years. He has won a lot of great classes for our stable. He's sharp (and) a little suspicious, but he always tries. He has great heart and he never gives up, but he has to be ridden."
"He is a nice horse to compete - a good, quality horse," Pessoa continued. "I was lucky to go last and see everything that happened in the jump-off. This is Let's Fly's third time in the jump-off this circuit, and I thought 'I really have to get it right this time or I never will.' I was really lucky to go last, to be able to know exactly what to do and to stay out of his way. He jumped really well both rounds."
Let's Fly will now have a week off in preparation for the circuit's premiere event, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* on Saturday, March 26, 2011.
Speaking about his ride, Nick Skelton stated, "I knew I had to go clear with two left. I was slower then I wanted to be, but I thought to go clear was better and I hoped to finish second."
Skelton has a special mount in Carlo 273, who he described as 'quirky.' He explained, "Carlo's best place is in the ring; everywhere else he is hot. He is spooky outside, especially schooling by the barn, but when he goes in the ring he is a totally different horse. If you were to ride him outside of the show ring you would think that you would never be able to get around the ring, but once he is in there he is careful and does not look at anything. He is a trier."
Third place finisher Lauren Hough spoke about her round with Quick Study, stating, "I thought Quick Study jumped really well in the first round. Going fourth in the jump-off with some fast ones behind me I had to take a shot. Overall I'm thrilled; he has been really consistent and he is going to have a well deserved week off this week."
Also showing in the International Arena earlier in the day, Charlie Jacobs and Leap of Joy won the $15,000 ECB Equine Spa High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic.
The ninth week of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will conclude tomorrow with the $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Classic at 1 p.m. in the International Arena.
For full results please visit www.showgroundslive.com and for more information, visit www.equestriansport.com.
Final Results: $231,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 4* Presented by Bainbridge Companies
1 LET'S FLY: 1999 Hanoverian gelding by Lordanos x Forrest RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), Double H Farm: 0/0/51.57
2 CARLO 273: 2001 Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 0/0/55.23
3 QUICK STUDY: 1999 SFA gelding by Quick Star x What a Joy LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura Mateo: 0/4/49.50
4 SKARA GLEN'S DAVOS: 2000 Zangersheide gelding by Carthago Z x Pericles XX CANDICE KING (USA), Skara Glen Stables: 0/4/50.36
5 CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z LAURA KRAUT (USA), Happy Hill Farm: 0/8/48.49
6 DANNY BOY: 2000 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Clinton x Alexis Z BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/8/52.09
7 ROMANTOVICH TAKE ONE: 2000 KWPN gelding by Numero Uno x Karandasj CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/16/51.37
8 VENT DU NORD: 1998 BWP gelding by Canadian River x Quidam De Revel KATE LEVY (USA), Kate Levy LLC: 0/16/52.73
9 ATHENA: 2000 Belgian Warmblood mare by Toulon x Capital CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), The London Group: 1/85.02
10 OSIRIS: 1996 KWPN gelding by Polydox x Lucky Boy GEMMA PATERNOSTER (GBR), Gemma Paternoster: 1/85.26
11 ZORRO: 1999 Hanoverian stallion by Rabino x Westmister FEDERICO FERNANDEZ (MEX), Federico & Paola Fernandez: 2/91.06
12 CADETT 7: 1997 Holsteiner gelding by Cordelabryere x Capitol I ASHLEE BOND (USA), Little Valley Farm: 4/79.29
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Pessoa and Let's Fly won the $231,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 4* Presented by Bainbridge Companies during week nine at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Rodrigo Pessoa and Let's Fly with ringmaster Cliff Haines, Richard Schechter of Bainbridge Companies, Bainbridge representative, owner Hunter Harrison of Double H Farm, Mark Bellissimo and Michael Stone of Equestrian Sport Productions, and Roger Smith of Wellington Equestrian Partners. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.sportfot.com.