The 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hosted it second day of competition on Thursday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, with the second win of the circuit for Canadian Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze. After winning the first class of the circuit in Wednesday's 1.45m speed class with Check Picobello Z, Lamaze topped Thursday's $25,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 1 aboard Artisan Farms LLC's Rosana du Park. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through March 29, 2015, awarding over $8.2 million in prize money.
Eric Hasbrouck (USA) is the course designer in the International Arena at PBIEC for week one competition and set another great track for Thursday's Challenge Cup class. Forty-five entries showed in round one with nine advancing to the jump-off and four double clear rounds. Eric Lamaze and Rosana du Park were first to go in the jump-off and put the pressure on with a clear round in 38.18 seconds that would hold on for the win.
Darragh Kerins (IRL) and Jan Van Tricht's D Elia van het Molenhof finished second in 38.47 seconds. Ian Millar (CAN) and The Baranus Group's Baranus placed third in 39.13 seconds, and Denise Wilson (USA) and Blue Gate Farm LLC's Quidam's Hero finished fourth in 43.39 seconds. Leslie Howard and The Utah Group's Utah had the fastest time in 37.91 seconds, but dropped a rail at the second to last fence to finish fifth.
Rosana du Park, a ten-year-old Selle Francais mare (Kannan), competed in Wellington last season with rider Carly Anthony and Lamaze took over the ride in Chantilly over the summer. She is a horse that Lamaze has high hopes for this winter.
"Rosana as well as Check Picobello Z are horses that we bought young to hopefully become great horses in the future, and I think we have achieved that," Lamaze stated. "Rosana was ridden by Carly Anthony last year, and she brought her along fantastic for me. She gave her such great mileage with great confidence. The mare is now ready to do whatever you ask of her. Picobello is also an outstanding young horse. I am pretty fortunate for this Winter Equestrian Festival that I have fresh older horses and I have upcoming young ones that are ready to really start doing some big things, so I am very well mounted."
In Thursday's jump-off, Lamaze and Rosana went first and held onto the lead with some top horses and riders still to come. Lamaze knew he had to be fast to force the other riders to catch him.
"All of the classes are very competitive here. I don't care if they are two-star, national, or anything, as you see, this jump-off was still fast enough," he commented. "I think I went quite fast being first in the ring. I think the time was beatable. Some riders came close and some riders had the time with four faults, but I think as an opening WEF class I was happy with my plan. At the end it paid off."
Describing Rosana's ride, Lamaze explained, "She is very hunter like. She doesn't really like to go in a frame or be held together. She is one of those horses where you just let her nose poke up a little bit and give her a little balance and she takes care of the fences. She is really a careful mare. She wants to overachieve if anything. She has a canter that you can just stay in balance and canter along. It's not a really complicated ride."
With his second win of the week, Lamaze praised this week's course designer, stating, "I think Eric Hasbrouck is doing a fantastic job. He is giving us some great opening lines to the courses. They start easy from the beginning and then get very technical as you go around. The time allowed has been short enough that it makes the course quite difficult, but it is really fair. I think for the opening week we could not have asked for a better course designer. Every class starts with a long line or a seven stride. At the beginning of the season that is what you need. We don't need anything too severe, but it is challenging and the horses are learning, so great credit to him."
Rosana du Park will now compete in Sunday's $30,000 WEF 1 Grand Prix while Check Picobello Z will do Saturday's $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. In addition to the winning portion of prize money, Lamaze was awarded the $3,000 SSG Gloves "Go Clean for the Green" bonus. Each week of the WEF Challenge Series, a $3,000 bonus will be awarded to the winning rider if they are wearing SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves in all rounds of competition with the SSG logo clearly visible.
Also competing in the International Arena on Thursday, Ireland's Conor Swail won the $8,000 1.45m jump-off class aboard Simba de la Roque, owned by Sarl Ecurie Sens O Riel. The class saw 33 rounds with 16 in the jump-off and eight double clear rounds. Swail finished in 38.01 seconds, just ahead of Laura Chapot and Mary Chapot's ISHD Dual Star, who placed second in 38.62 seconds.
Final Results: $25,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 1
1 121 ROSANA DU PARK ERIC LAMAZE ARTISAN FARMS LLC: 0/0/38.185
2 1684 D ELIA VAN HET MOLENHOF DARRAGH KERINS JAN VAN TRICHT: 0/0/38.470
3 3831 BARANUS IAN MILLAR THE BARANUS GROUP: 0/0/39.130
4 1677 QUIDAM'S HERO DENISE WILSON BLUE GATE FARM LLC: 0/0/43.393
5 2140 UTAH LESLIE HOWARD THE UTAH GROUP: 0/4/37.918
6 2351 CASPER ANDREW BOURNS ANDREW BOURNS: 0/4/38.855
7 3768 DOBRA DE PORCEYO SCHUYLER RILEY WOLFSTONE STABLES & SALES, INC: 0/4/40.170
8 2956 ARKOS DES ROSIERS Z ROBERTO TERAN SYNCHRONICITY GROUP: 0/4/40.753
9 1765 QUATOUR DE B NEVILLE MARIE HECART ROGELIO PELLERANO: 0/4/41.851
10 3890 BON JOVI EMANUEL ANDRADE EMANUEL ANDRADE: 1/78.364
11 1755 RUBENS LS LA SILLA VANESSA MANNIX VANESSA MANNIX: 1/78.621
12 5028 GOODWINS LOYALTY KEVIN BABINGTON KEVIN BABINGTON: 2/79.591
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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