Wellington, FL - March 10, 2012 - Great Britain's Scott Brash guided Sanctos Van Het Gravenhof to victory in Saturday night's $200,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI 4* presented by The Bainbridge Companies at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). In a suspenseful jump-off, Brash beat out Richard Spooner (USA) and Cristallo, and Kent Farrington (USA) and Voyeur, who finished second and third.
Sponsored by the Bainbridge Companies, week nine will conclude with the $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic tomorrow.
Forty-five entries showed in tonight's World Cup qualifier, jumping a course set by Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela. Eleven cleared the first round course without fault and returned for an exciting jump-off. The nations of France, Ireland, Great Britain, Russia, Canada and the United States were all represented. Nine entries cleared the jump-off course.
Spooner had high praise for Leopoldo Palacios tonight. "I love Leopoldo's courses. I always have," he smiled. "I think he tests himself. I don't think he made a huge track, but he utilized the arena, the color of the jumps. He's fantastic visually for the horses. I just think he's a genius and we're lucky to have him. He really raises the level of riding as well as course building."
Ireland's Andrew Bourns and Roundthorn Madios were the first pair to clear the jump-off course and finished seventh overall with their time of 41.79 seconds. Fellow Irishman Kevin Babington bested that with his clear round in 40.51 seconds aboard Mark Q to finish in fifth place.
Great Britain's Tina Fletcher and Ursula XII, owned by Lady Harris, completed the course in 45.84 seconds to place ninth. Russia's Ljubov Kochetova also cleared the short course aboard Aslan and stopped the clock in 45.82 seconds to earn eighth place honors.
Canada's Ian Millar lowered the winning time to 39.90 seconds aboard Team Works' Star Power to eventually finish in fourth place. Kent Farrington and Amalaya Investment's Voyeur immediately followed and pushed the mark down to 38.19 seconds, which would place third.Lauren Hough (USA) and Robin Parsky's Blue Angel were next to return and stopped the clock in 40.86 seconds to earn the sixth place prize.
The final two competitors were Scott Brash and Richard Spooner, whose times were separated by just 3/10ths of a second for the top prize. Brash and Sanctos Van Het Granvehof, owned by Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, were first to compete and jumped into the lead with their time of 37.27 seconds. Spooner and Show Jumping Syndications International's Cristallo jumped last and stopped the clock in 37.52 seconds, just shy of the mark, to finish second.
The fastest round of the night belonged to Marie Hecart of France with Haras De La Roque's Myself De Breve. The pair completed the short course in 37.03 seconds, but dropped a rail at the last fence and finished in tenth place. Conor Swail (IRL) and Ecurie Michel Hecart's Oceane De Nantuel also had a rail in the jump-off and their time of 39.77 seconds took the eleventh place honors.
Class winner Sanctos Van Het Gravenhof is a ten-year-old SBS gelding by Quasimodo Vd Molendreef x Nabab De Reve. He is a new mount for Brash as of January, and the pair has already had great success together, including a win earlier this week in Thursday's $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 Section B.
Brash deemed tonight's win one of the biggest of his career, and the $60,000 first place prize his highest pay day yet. "This was definitely one of my best wins for sure," he admitted. "Toronto was also a good win. I have not won so many top classes. I have only won two World Cups and been to the championships, but I have not won a big, big grand prix like this. It's high up there."
Richard Schechter spoke on behalf of the Bainbridge Companies for their sponsorship of tonight's class as well as the whole week of competition. "We are extremely pleased to have sponsored the grand prix tonight and to have sponsored the week. This was an incredibly exciting grand prix; I think the best one so far this year," Schechter noted. "The jump-off was unbelievable. I have to give everyone incredible compliments. We are very proud that we can do this. This is my 12th year sponsoring at WEF and it has been very rewarding for us and rewarding for me personally. In our own business, we aspire to be the best in the country and what is so exciting about this is that you have the world's best riders here. There's just nothing like it and it is very, very special. We are extremely pleased that we can be part of it."
Commenting on the British success throughout the circuit, Brash stated, "We expected to come over and do the best we can. As riders it costs us a lot to come here. To jump for this prize money tonight is all down to the sponsors. It's fantastic that they have been sponsoring here for 12 years. I think I speak for all the riders when I say that we very much appreciate it."
With a great string of horses and several top finishes at this year's FTI WEF, Brash has felt confident. "I'm lucky enough to have some fantastic owners now in Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham. The four horses I've got here are good horses. I think also when you're confident as a rider and you start winning, there's nothing you can't do. At the same time, if you start making a few mistakes, it feels like you can't do anything to jump a clear round. Everyone's different, but I suppose when I'm winning and feel good, everything seems to work out."
Although he rides for Great Britain, Brash is originally from Peebles, Scotland and has not forgotten his roots. "They're great there; I always love to go home to Scotland," he smiled. "It's a fantastic country. I never forget where I come from. You can't get ahead of yourself in this game. Your next round could be a terrible round. I try to keep my form and do my best."
Second place finisher Richard Spooner was very happy with his horse Cristallo's performance tonight and spoke about his round.
"I was lucky enough to go last in the jump-off, so I saw these two lads go, and I know how fast they are. Scott was absolutely incredible," Spooner acknowledged. "It was one of those rounds that you don't want to see as you are about to go in because you think, 'How can I beat that?' He was slick and he rode brilliantly. I just hoped my horse would be faster across the ground. I could have been a bit closer as I landed from the oxer at the end of the ring. Scott was fantastic there, as was Kent. I landed and I carried down the ring a little bit and the vertical got further and further away. That's where I lost my time, but my horse felt phenomenal."
Kent Farrington and Voyeur were super fast and put in an excellent round, but Farrington is just getting to know the horse after only a month of riding him, and remarked that his round may not have been as smooth as the other two.
"My horse is new for me and he has just stepped up to this level of jumping. I took a big gamble with him," Farrington stated. "This was about as fast as he is ready to go. He still doesn't turn as well, so I had to take a wider turn to the double and then to the last fence I went as fast as I could, but I still had to square him up there because he hasn't been in too many jump-offs to be looking for the next fence at that speed."
Scott Brash and Sanctos van het Gravenhof with ringmaster Cliff Haines, Rick Giles and Richard Schechter of The Bainbridge Companies, and Michael Stone, Mark Bellissimo and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions
Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Dana Scott and Nod Hill Farm's KM Whatever RV started out the morning with a win in the Griffis Group High Junior Jumpers. Kelsey Thatcher and Pony Lane Farm's Klotaire Du Moulin won in the Surpass Medium Amateur-Owner Jumpers, and Anna McWane and her own Rusi won in the FarmVet Adult Amateur Modified Jumpers.
Martha Ingram Stays at the Top in THIS Children's Medal 14 & Under
Martha Ingram of Nashville, TN, surpassed a field of 39 competitors to claim victory in this week's Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) Children's Medal 14 & Under atop her mount, Kosta. Ingram reserved her first round lead after testing against the top four riders and emerging on top once again. The final four called back to test included Ingram, Megan Blum, Jordyn Rose Freedman and Maria Moore, with Freedman receiving second place honors on her mount, S & L Play It Again, and Blum finishing in third atop her mount, Buckwheat.
Martha Ingram Stays at the Top in THIS Children's Medal 14 & Under
Ingram's partner in today's victory, Kosta, is a fourteen-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood by Calvados. Owned by Danielle Cooper of Syosset, NY, and leased by Ingram, the chestnut gelding has had a rich show jumping career in the Jumper and Equitation arenas. Following today's win, Ingram commented on her experience with Kosta so far. "He is really sweet. He used to do the High Junior (Jumpers) with Danielle and while I'm leasing him for WEF, I've been doing him in the equitation. I didn't get much time to practice before we started showing, just had a few equitation lessons, but he's fourteen so he knows what he's doing. I love that he does this cute thing with his lips, too, where he smacks them together. It's so funny."
Describing her trips in the Equitation ring today, Ingram explained, "My first round was good. The first jump felt great, but I felt a little long and weak at the second. Then, I thought the rest were pretty good. I guess I could have been a little bolder to two of the oxers, but he jumped well. I was nervous going into the test, but I was happy to be called back and there were only four jumps, so I figured, it's not that big of a deal if I don't win."
Ingram, a rider of several years, comes from a family of equestrians and feels lucky to be able to spend time with her parents participating in a sport they all love. Her mother, Stephanie, and father, John, compete in the Low Adult 2'6" and Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 divisions respectively. According to Ingram, she spends most of her time at the barn with the family from Wednesdays to Sundays depending on her workload at school. In the coming weeks, Ingram plans to continue showing in the Equitation and Junior Hunter arenas while carefully commuting from Wellington to her home in Nashville to attend school.
In the hunter rings this week, Ellen Toon and Jeff Gogul brought home championship tricolors in the Adult Amateur Hunter 3'3" and Low Hunter 2'9" divisions. Toon earned a division total of 38 points on Invincible, a twelve-year-old Bayerisches Warmblood, while Gogul collected 22 points on Easy Does It, a twelve-year-old Swedish Warmblood owned by Mary Miglets.
Week nine will conclude with its final day of competition on Sunday featuring the $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic at 2 p.m. in the International Arena. Ring 8 will host the THIS Children's Medal 15-17 class.
Final Results:$200,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI 4* Presented by The Bainbridge Companies
1. SANCTOS VAN HET GRAVENHOF: 2002 SBS gelding by Quasimodo Vd Molendreef x Nabab De Reve SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Lady Harris And Lady Kirkham: 0/0/37.27
2. CRISTALLO: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Caretino x Cicero RICHARD SPOONER (USA), Show Jumping Syndications International: 0/0/37.52
3. VOYEUR: 2002 KWPN gelding by Tolano Van't Riethof x Goodwill KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Amalaya Investments: 0/0/38.19
4. STAR POWER: 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Quick Star IAN MILLAR (CAN), Team Works: 0/0/39.90
5. MARK Q: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Obos Quality 004 x Positively KEVIN BABINGTON (IRL), Kevin Babington: 0/0/40.51
6. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/0/40.86
7. ROUNDTHORN MADIOS: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Condios x Clover Hill ANDREW BOURNS (IRL), Andrew Bourns: 0/0/41.79
8. ASLAN: 2000 Danish Warmblood gelding by Aston x Blue Hors Agent LJUBOV KOCHETOVA (RUS), Ljubov Kochetova: 0/0/45.82
9. URSULA XII: 2001 Scottish Sport Horse mare by Ahorn x Papageno TINA FLETCHER (GBR), Lady Harris & Lady Kirkham: 0/0/45.84
10. MYSELF DE BREVE: 2000 SFA mare by Quidam de Revel x Grand Veneur MARIE HECART (FRA), Haras De La Rogue: 0/4/37.03
11. OCEANE DE NANTUEL: 2002 SFA mare by Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ecurie Michel Hecart: 0/4/39.77
12. SPRINGTIME: 1999 KWPN gelding by Indorado x Elmshorn SAER COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 1/90.06
Photo Credit: Photos © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.us.sportfot.com.