Twenty-two-year-old Daniel Bluman from Colombia, jumped to an exciting victory on Saturday night in the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5* at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF). Over 7,000 fans filled the stands to see the best of the best from the winter circuit compete under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Bluman and his mount Sancha LS earned the top prize in a three-horse jump-off over Canada's Ian Millar and Star Power and USA's Lauren Hough and Quick Study.
Alan Wade, of Ireland, designed the course for tonight's grand prix and set a challenging track for the 45 qualified entries. Only three were able to jump the first round course entirely without fault to advance to the jump-off, and all three had single rails through the short course, making time the deciding factor. An impressive cheering section exploded with applause as Daniel Bluman and Sancha LS completed the first perfect trip through round one's course. The pair then returned first for the jump-off and had four faults, but when the following two riders also had rails, Bluman's time of 48.97 seconds made him the victor.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lauren Tisbo (USA) and her mount King Kolibri, owned by Tequestrian Farms LLC, showed their cool under pressure in front of the huge crowd in round one. The duo completed the first clear round over the course, but incurred a single time fault for exceeding the time allowed.
Eighteen-year-old Katie Dinan (USA) also cleared the course, but finished with one time fault aboard Nougat Du Vallet, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC. Dinan was the faster of the two, completing the course in 88.56 seconds to earn the fourth place prize. Tisbo and King Kolibri's time of 91.91 seconds placed fifth.
Class winner Daniel Bluman is based in Wellington and has been training with Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze for the past year. Prior to training with Lamaze, Bluman began his show jumping career in the United States under the tutelage of American rider Todd Minikus, and then trained with Venezuela's Pablo Barrios. Bluman's mount Sancha LS is a nine-year-old La Silla bred mare by Chin Chin x Polydor, that the rider has owned since November of 2010.
After the class, Bluman reflected on this monumental moment in his career. He stated, "This win means everything to me. I'm surprised I did it, but I'm not surprised my mare did it. I know she's one of the best horses out there. It's great that she has a win like this on her record. I already felt great before the jump off; it was great what I had already accomplished. Eric Lamaze, who has been training me, told me to just go for it and see what happens, so that was my plan."
Bluman purchased Sancha LS at the end of her seven-year-old year in Monterrey, Mexico. He spoke about the mare's progress and rise to success, explaining, "She is a very careful horse. I think everyone was surprised that she could be a grand prix horse. She wasn't too scopey, but she tries super hard. It's a pleasure to have her in my barn. I was grateful to go back to the jump-off. To have Ian and Lauren coming after me was nerve wracking. They had some cheap rails at the end, so I guess it was meant to be for me tonight."
"Tonight was a fantastic, stand-alone occasion," Ian Millar praised after the class. "My congratulations to Daniel; it was well deserved."
Third place finisher Lauren Hough came very close tonight, but had an unfortunate rail at the last fence in the jump-off. Hough and Quick Study also finished second in this same class last year. On her finish tonight, Hough declared, "My word tonight is heartbreak. We just needed to jump a clear round. My horse jumped a great first round and I was really thrilled; he felt on tonight. As the jump-off progressed I started to protect and with only one fence left, I let go of the reins to clear it. I congratulate Daniel and Ian. I'm proud of my horse and grateful to my owners and the sponsors."
Bluman will now return to Colombia for some vacation time with his family. He will then go to Europe with Lamaze and Artisan Farms to show in Antwerp, La Baule, and Madrid, amongst other shows to prepare for the Olympic Games this summer. The Colombian team has two spots open, and Bluman hopes to receive one of them. As he acknowledged, tonight's win should definitely help that selection process.
The $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge concluded tonight after twelve weeks of jumper competition at the 2012 FTI WEF. Laura Kraut led the standings and earned a $50,000 cut of the bonus money for her success during the circuit. Kent Farrington finished in second place ($25,000), Eric Lamaze third ($15,000), and Ben Maher fourth ($10,000).
"It was completely unexpected and it's completely appreciated," Kraut said. "I was just hoping to hang onto second, (and) miraculously I won. Unfortunately Nick (Skelton) didn't have a good night tonight. He did deserve to win the Leading Rider because he won more than anybody."
Final Results: $500,000 FTI Consulting CSI 5* Finale Grand Prix
1. SANCHA LS: 2003 SLS mare by Chin Chin x Polydor
DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman, LLC: 0/4/48.97
2. STAR POWER: 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Quick Star
IAN MILLAR (CAN), Team Works: 0/4/49.30
3. QUICK STUDY: 1999 SFA gelding by Quick Star x What a Joy
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura Mateo: 0/4/55.97
4. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 1/88.56
5. KING KOLIBRI: 2002 Hanoverian stallion by Kolibri x Achill-Libero H
LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 1/91.91
6. OCEANE DE NANTUEL: 2002 SFA mare by Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ecurie Michel Hecart: 4/85.14
7. BLUE LOYD 12: 2000 Oldenburg gelding by Landor S x Hadj Ax
CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Ashkirk Ltd. & Cian O'Connor: 4/85.49
8. TEIRRA: 2000 KWPN mare by Tolano Van Het Riethof x Aldatus
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Stars & Stripes: 4/85.57
9. DERLY CHIN DE MUZE: 2003 BWP mare by For Pleasure x Nebab de Reve
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Torrey Pines & Ashland Stables: 4/86.38
10. VANDAVID: 2002 KWPN stallion by Madison x Voltaire
CATHERINE PASMORE (USA), Pasmore Stables: 4/87.85
11. LISONA: 2001 Irish Sporthorse mare OBOS Quality 004 x Porsch
DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), Kevin Babington: 5/88.06
12. URBANUS: 1997 BWP gelding by Heartbreaker x Ramiro
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne: 5/88.25
Source; Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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