The 2017 CP Palm Beach Masters highlighted the $25,000 Upperville Colt and Horse Show 1.40m Jumpers, presented by Attention Span Media, on Saturday afternoon in the Hollow Brook Wealth Management Grand Prix Field. With over 100 horse and rider combinations entered in the class, the competition was once again split into two sections. Ireland's Darragh Kenny secured the win in Section A, while USA's Taylor Land took the first place prize in Section B.
Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) and his own Iron Man III (Chatman x Capitol I) were the first of 48 starters to attempt the challenging track, designed by Alan Wade and Nigel Jess, in Section A. They advanced to the immediate jump-off round and produced the first double clear performance in 36.696 seconds to take the early lead.
Moya held on to his lead for the majority of the class until Kenny entered the Grand Prix Field as 53rd in the order aboard Bolero 111 (Chatman x Darco), owned by Kerry Anne LLC. The pair effortlessly completed both courses to best Moya's time by one second in 35.869 seconds to take over the top spot on the leaderboard and secure the win, while Moya finished with second place honors.
"[Bolero 111] jumped very good today," said Kenny. "He's only just back jumping again. He had a little bit of a rest but he feels in great form and feels fresh again so I'm really happy with today. He did a lot of shows with me in Europe last summer so I wanted to give him a little break before starting him here again. This is his first show back. It's a good start! He's a really cool horse. He never gets flustered or crazy. You can not jump him for two months and then turn up here and do this on him. I think he's very talented, careful and scopey. He's jumped some 1.50m classes with me in Europe, but I'm just happy to have him back showing again. He's going to jump the 2* next week at WEF and then he'll probably jump some of the 4* events later on in the circuit.
"I think they do a super job at this show," continued Kenny. "It's really excellently done and Alan Wade is, I think, probably one of the best course designers in the world. He's really unbelievable. He knows how to build a super course that's up to the right height and is difficult but never like a big trouble course. I think he's brilliant. He designed a super course today and turned out a great class. The footing is fantastic here. The show is amazing, I love it. It's really nice."
Of the original starting field, 18 jumped clear to move on to an immediate jump-off. Six were able to produce double-clear performances. Henrik Gundersen and his own Ladina rounded out the top three of Section A in 36.876 seconds, just two tenths of a second behind Moya's time.
In Section B, it was 24-year-old Land who bested the field of 50 entries to bring home the win with her family's Nepal (G.S. Raimundo x Halbin von H-SB). The duo took part in the 11-horse jump-off, where they became one of three combinations to jump double-clear.
"Nepal deserves to do well," Land said. "I thought the course was difficult enough, but I had a pretty solid plan. The time-allowed was a little tight, so it forced you to ride forward in the long bending lines. That's perfect for Nepal because he jumps better if you ride forward to careful jumps, so it worked out. He's such a fighter."
Land and Nepal held on to their leading time of 39.504 seconds for the win, leaving Christine McCrea to finish in second after crossing the wire in 40.59 seconds aboard Candy Tribble's Wannick WH (Heartbreaker x Joost). Third place went to Kerry McCahill and Kerry Anne LLC's Utopia Di San Patrignano with their effort of 42.451 seconds.
Land said that Nepal, now 15 years old, has been a part of her family for 10 years, and both her sister and father ride the gelding. Land won her first grand prix with Nepal and also competed in the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships with the gelding. The young talent said she is happy to add Saturday's special win to her list of memories with her horse.
"Nepal doesn't know how old he is," Land laughed. "I know him really well, which makes it easier to ride him confidently. He's a very special horse for our family; you just don't get the opportunity to have one for that long and keep jumping well. It's so nice to win today; you can't ask for a better venue than this. I'm so, so happy this show exists."
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group / Photo (c) Taylor Renner.
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