Wellington, FL - Round nine of the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup ran today with a full afternoon of 78 entries and the winner was Pablo Barrios (VEN) on G&C Quick Star 11, owned by Gustavo and Carolina Mirabal. Yann Candele (CAN) rode Susan Grange's Mustique to second place, while Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Atlete van T Heike, owned by Stephex Stables, was third.
The ninth week of the FTI WEF is sponsored by CN and runs through Sunday, March 14. The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of competition that conclude on April 4, 2010, and they will be awarding almost $6 million in prize money through the circuit.
Course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela set the course for the 78 entries, which was shortened to 15 to return for the jump-off. The large field was due to today's grand prix serving as the qualifier for Saturday night's $200,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix, CSI 3* presented by CN, where festivities kick off at 6 p.m. Four combinations - Urbanus/Charlie Jayne, Presley Boy/Jaime Azcarraga, Flexible/Rich Fellers, and Aslan/Ljubov Kochetova - chose not to return for the jump-off.
For Barrios, it was nice to win over his fellow Venezuelan's design. "It was great to win when we had a Venezuelan course designer," he agreed. "He is always very tough. The riders have a lot of respect for him because he's a very good course designer and (they are) always very tough courses. To be 1.50m, I think it was tough enough. Fifteen clears is the right amount."
The time allowed for Palacios' course was brought down to 77 seconds from the original 80 seconds, but it was not a problem for Barrios. "I've been riding faster than normal, so I had no problem with the time allowed. I've been riding smooth, and I have very quick horses. Quick Star goes very fast. Even if I went slow, she would be fine with the time allowed," he pointed out.
Of the 12 that returned for the jump-off, there were five double clear rounds. The opening clear round in the jump-off was Margie Engle on Hidden Creek's Campella, who set a slower clear time in 48.12 seconds and finished in fifth place. Candele and Mustique then went to the top of the list with a time of 43.55 seconds, followed by fellow Canadian Jenna Thompson on Zeke, who posted a time of 45.90 seconds for fourth place.
Barrios and G&C Quick Star 11 were second to last, and they were extremely fast across the end of the ring on the approach to the American flag wall jump. Although they added down the final line, they still went to the top of the leaderboard with a time of 42.57 seconds.
Of his jump-off ride, Barrios said, "I watched a few and I watched Sapphire, who is always a fast horse. I thought I could beat the time. I knew I had Eric behind me, and Eric is always fast."
He explained why he did eight strides down the last line, while most did seven strides. "Something happened with the mouth of the mare after I jumped the liverpool," he recalled. "She jumped so weird for the last two fences, very afraid in the mouth. I think the full cheek got stuck in the noseband. I had to add before the last jump. I think I could have gone faster."
Lamaze and Atlete van T Heike were the last combination in the ring, and they finished in third place with a time of 43.73 seconds.
This was Barrios' second win with G&C Quick Star 11 in a WEF Challenge Cup, his third total WEF Challenge Cup victory, and fourth grand prix victory in this year's FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, not to mention his numerous wins in other jumper divisions. It's an incredible string of victories for any rider, and Barrios says that "everything came at the right time."
"I think I was riding well, and then Gustavo decided to move to Wellington and we started finding horses," he explained. "I have a great sponsor. We are good friends and we have a good relationship. Everything is happening in the right way. When I'm at the gate, he tells me, 'I don't care if you have three down, I want the faster time.' That's good support and he's a competitive guy and makes me go for it. That's part of the key for success."
Gustavo Mirabal commented, "From the beginning, I knew we were going to win, but not this much. It's been really great. This is my first year here, and it's been an incredible season. Pablo has been a top rider, and I think he needed the horses to prove it."
Barrios plans to show G&C Quick Star 11 in Saturday night's grand prix and will compete next week with G&C Blanchee Z, and then plans to compete in the $500,000 FTI Consulting Grand Prix, CSI 5* with G&C LaGran.
Tonight's competition includes the $25,000 G&C Farm Young Riders Grand Prix at 7 p.m., while tomorrow hosts the $6,000 Spy Coast 1.40m Speed Challenge. The highlight event of the week is the $200,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix, CSI 3*, presented by CN on Saturday, March 13. Festivities begin at 6 p.m.
Final Results: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round Nine
- 1. G&C QUICK STAR 11: 2000 KWPN mare by Quick Star xx Grannus Pablo Barrios (VEN), Gustavo & Carolina Mirabal: 0/0/42.57
- 2. MUSTIQUE: 1997 KWPN mare by Indoctro xx Grannus Yann Candele (CAN), Susan Grange: 0/0/43.55
- 3. ATLETE VAN T HEIKE: 2000 BWP mare by Voltaire xx Landgraf I Eric Lamaze (CAN), Stephex Stables: 0/0/43.73
- 4. ZEKE: 1997 Oldenburg gelding by Zeus xx Grannus Jenna Thompson (CAN), Jenna Thompson: 0/0/45.90
- 5. HIDDEN CREEK'S CAMPELLA: 2000 SWB mare by Cardento xx Stanford 687 Margie Engle (USA), Hidden Creek Farm: 0/0/48.12
- 6. OBELIX: 1996 KWPN gelding by Libero H xx Zeus Darragh Kenny (IRL), Trade Winds Farm: 0/4/42.26
- 7. SAPPHIRE: 1995 BWP mare by Darco xx Hedjaz McLain Ward (USA), McLain Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock: 0/4/42.43
- 8. LITTLE JOHN: 1999 Rheinlander stallion by Burggraaf xx Polydor Eliza Shuford (USA), Eliza Shuford: 0/4/45.04
- 9. PROMISED LAND: 1994 Holsteiner gelding by N. Eingetragen xx Lenz Christine McCrea (USA), Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables: 0/4/45.43
- 10. MURKA'S NEVADA R: 2001 stallion by unknown Peter Charles (GBR), Olga White: 0/4/49.58
- 11. ZAMIRO 16: 2000 Sachsen-Anhalter gelding by Zenturio xx Landstreicher Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Spy Coast Farm: 0/8/44.47
- 12. PRESLEY BOY: 1997 KWPN stallion by Concorde xx Damiro Jaime Azcarraga (MEX), Jamie Azcarraga: 0/WD
- 12. FLEXIBLE: 1996 ISH stallion by Cruising xx Unknown Richard Fellers (USA), Harry & Molly Chapman: 0/WD
- 12. URBANUS: 1997 BWP gelding by Heartbreaker xx Ramiro Charlie Jayne (USA), Alex Jayne: 0/WD
- 12. ASLAN: 2000 DWB gelding by Aston xx Blue Hors Agent Ljubov Kochetova (RUS), Ljubov Kochetova: 0/WD
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.
Photo Credit: Pablo Barrios and G&C Quick Star 11 won the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round Nine at the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc., Official Sport Photographer of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, www.mustphoto.com.