Week nine of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies, concluded on Sunday with a win for Japan's Eiken Sato and Egano van het Slogenhof in the $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic showing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL.
Alan Wade (IRL) finished the week out with a tough course for 59 entries in the 1.50m Classic with just three clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Eiken Sato and Stephex Stables' Egano van het Slogenhof were the first combination to jump off and set the leading time in 46.15 seconds. Great Britain's Scott Brash and Hello Annie, owned by Lord & Lady Harris and Lord & Lady Kirkham, jumped another clear round and finished second in 47.03 seconds. Venezuela's Andres Rodriguez and Arao Enterprises LLC's Caballito had one rail down over the short course and finished third in 53.06 seconds.
Twenty-eight-year-old Eiken Sato grew up riding in Japan. His father was a horseman as well, and Sato started riding at the age of eight. At 18 years old he moved to Belgium to pursue his passion, and four years ago he began riding for the world-renowned Stephex Stables.
"I moved to Belgium when I was 18 years old, and it was really hard," Sato admitted. "I didn't speak English at all, and I didn't know anybody. I have been riding for Stephex for nearly four years now, and we have a really good team. We have Daniel Deusser in the top 10 riders in the world. Everyday we are training in the same place and that is really important for us. We have top grooms and a good boss, Stephan Conter. We have top management at the moment and top sponsors, so the whole team has been really good."
Sato began riding Egano van het Slogenhof, a ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Electro x Nagano), six months ago. "I have ridden this horse for six months, and I have always jumped 1.40m or 1.45m and he has gotten better and better," Sato explained. "This show was really good. Last week in the grand prix he had one down. The 'WEF' (Challenge Cup) was not so good. He had two down, so I didn't qualify for this week's grand prix, so I was really motivated for this class."
"I was first to go, so it was difficult to say what would happen with Scott going behind me," Sato said of the jump-off. "I tried to do my best. My horse is naturally fast and he is very careful, so I can go fast and it really works out. I have nothing bad to say, I am really happy."
"He is quite big for me," Sato noted. "He is a big horse, but he has a lot of scope and so much quality and I am so happy that I can ride him. He is really amazing."
Sato will remain in Wellington for the remaining three weeks of FTI WEF competition, showing Egano again during the last two weeks of 4* and 5* competition. He has his sights set on qualifying for the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* during week twelve.
Final Results: $84,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. EGANO VAN HET SLOGENHOF: 2004 BWP gelding by Electro x Nagano
EIKEN SATO (JPN), Stephex Stables: 0/0/46.15
2. HELLO ANNIE: 2004 Hanoverian mare by Contender x For Pleasure
SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Lord & Lady Harris/Lord & Lady Kirkham: 0/0/47.03
3. CABALLITO: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Contendro x Argentinus
ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (VEN), Arao Enterprises LLC: 0/4/53.06
4. BARRON: 2004 Swedish Warmblood gelding by For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve
LUCY DAVIS (USA), Old Oak Farm: 1/74.58
5. CARRABIS Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Canabis Z x Grannusso
RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 1/74.88
6. MIC MAC DU TILLARD: 2000 Selle Francais mare by Cruising x Galoubet A
DAVID WILL (GER), Bernadette LeJeune: 4/66.44
7. QUIZ: 2004 Selle Francais gelding by For Pleasure x Laudanum
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Spruce Meadows: 4/69.31
8. ALSVID: 2001 Hanoverian gelding by Escudo I x Azur
RICHARD MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity, LLC: 4/70.35
9. ANDRETTI S: 2005 KWPN gelding by Corland x Animo
LAURA KRAUT (USA), MH Sporthorse: 4/70.66
10. CARRIERE: 2003 Oldenburg mare by Catoki x Contango
LAUREN TISBO (USA), Tequestrian Farms LLC: 4/71.96
11. EVERYTHING: 2004 BWP gelding by Toulon x Mast vd Vrombautshoeve
KELSEY THATCHER (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 4/72.08
12. ARTEMIS: 2005 Zangersheide mare by Chamberlain Z x Casimir
ALI WOLFF (USA), John C. Wolff: 4/72.73
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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