Wellington, FL - Week twelve of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Rolex, continued on Thursday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, with two featured FEI world ranking classes in the International Ring.
Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Victor won the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12 in the afternoon, and Conor Swail (IRL) and Grafton took top honors in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Jumper Classic in the morning.
The 2016 WEF circuit concludes with its twelfth and final week of competition featuring CSI 5* jumper and 'AA' rated hunter competition running March 30 - April 3, 2016. Friday features young jumpers in the International Ring with the $10,000 Gut Einhaus Young Jumper Five-Year-Old Final, the $15,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Six-Year-Old Final, and the $20,000 Adequan® Young Jumper Seven-Year-Old Final.
Saturday highlights include the $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final Jump-off, presented by SOVARO®, at 6:30 p.m. followed by the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*. The circuit concludes on Sunday featuring the final round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC.
Anthony D'Ambrosio (USA) is the course designer in the International Ring for the final week of WEF competition. He set the track for 38 entries in the final edition of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series on Thursday. Ten combinations went clear to advance to the jump-off, where eight continued on, and four completed double clear rounds. The win went to Tiffany Foster of Canada aboard Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable's Victor in a time of 40.22 seconds.
Chile's Samuel Parot and Atlantis finished second in 42.22 seconds. Great Britain's Ben Maher and Jane Clark's Sarena clocked the third place time of 45.91 seconds, and USA's Lauren Hough guided Paris Sellon's Cornet 39 to fourth place honors in a time of 46.51 seconds.
Foster's longtime partner, Victor, is 14 years old this year. She began riding the Dutch Warmblood gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) when he was just eight, and knows her mount very well. "We have been together for a long time, so I knew this jump-off was going to suit him because he has a pretty good right drift, and a lot of the turns were going to the right," Foster said of their tiebreaker.
"When I walked the jump-off I thought, 'Okay, hopefully I can get into this one, because this would be a good one for him.'" In the jump-off, Foster left a big stride out to the last jump, and her experience and trust in Victor paid off.
"That was a bit of a Hail Mary," Foster laughed. "I did walk that number. It walked 12 strides, and I was thinking I could get there in nine. Then I was thinking to myself, 'That sounds a little extreme,' in my head. I knew he would go right at the skinny, and then if I kept going, he has a really big stride when you open it up, and I figured if I could stay committed to going to something forward then hopefully the number would show up. When I left the ground I just said a little prayer and hoped."
Foster also spoke of the first round and how she had a little good luck in getting to the jump-off as well. "I got a little lucky in the first round. He rubbed one jump pretty hard, but that was probably good for the rest of the course because then he was a little bit extra sharp," she admitted. "He is a really old campaigner of mine. We know each other very well, and it feels good to go into a class like that when you know your horse so well. He also travels naturally very quickly, so you never have to worry too much about the time."
This week's WEF Challenge Cup was a little different since it was not a qualifier for the final grand prix. That changed the entries a bit and laid the cards in Foster's favor, as she explained, "It feels good to win any class, but it definitely feels good here week 12. You know that everybody has their best horses out and the money is up. One thing that was different this week than normal was that this WEF was not a qualifier for the grand prix because everybody qualified throughout the circuit, so you saw a variety of horses. You saw a lower number in the entries, so that was a big factor. Then you had kind of two categories of horses. You had young horses that were stepping up and this was their finale, or you had horses that were getting ready for the grand prix. There were not too many in there that were really second horses going in there to win like I had, so I think that made a big difference. The Suncast Final on Saturday is also worth a lot of money, but sometimes you have to play your odds. Sometimes when you know your horse is jumping well, you take the win when you can get it."
Foster hopes that the momentum of her win with Victor on Thursday will carry over, as she plans to jump him again in the $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final on Saturday. She will ride Tripple X III in the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* to conclude the circuit.
In addition to the winning prize money, Foster earned a $3,000 bonus for wearing her SSG 'Digital' style riding gloves as part of the SSG Gloves 'Go Clean for the Green' promotion. It was her second bonus of the circuit, notching up $6,000 in total after also winning the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 8 aboard Brighton.
For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
$35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 12
1. VICTOR: 2002 KWPN gelding by Elmshorn x Grandeur TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC & Torrey Pines Stable: 0/0/40.22
2. ATLANTIS: 2003 Zangersheide gelding by Andiamo x Royal Bravour L SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 0/0/42.22
3. SARENA: 2006 Selle Francais mare by Calvaro Z x Damoiseau d'Or BEN MAHER (GBR), Jane Clark: 0/0/45.91
4. CORNET 39: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Cornet Obolensky x Caletto I LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Paris Sellon: 0/0/46.51
5. CAPITAL COLNARDO: 2005 Holsteiner stallion by Colman x Coronado AUDREY COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 0/4/49.54
6. BULL RUN'S TESTIFY: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by Dollar du Murier x Oberon du Moulin KRISTEN VANDERVEEN (USA), Bull Run Jumpers Inc: 0/8/48.14
7. S & L SAGE: 2007 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Wandor van de Mispelaere x Radiator DAVID RAPOSA (USA), S&L Farms: 0/8/51.42
8. COCO BONGO: 2005 Rheinlander stallion by Caretino x Calido ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms & Torrey Pines Stable: 0/16/67.92
9. QUABELLE: 2004 Selle Francais mare by Helrios de la Cour II x Kannan BLYTHE MARANO (USA), Riverview Farm LLC: 0/24/63.08
10. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au Lait x Grandilot MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/WD
10. BABALOU 41: 2005 Oldenburg mare by Balou du Rouet x Silvio I TODD MINIKUS (USA), Two Swans Farm: 0/WD