Eighteen-year-old Katie Dinan and Grant Road Partner's Nougat Du Vallet led the victory gallop in the $50,000 Horseware Ireland CSI 2* Grand Prix at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Running through April 1, 2012, the FTI WEF will award more than $6 million in prize money throughout its 12-week circuit. Today's class concluded the third week of competition, sponsored by Horseware Ireland.
Thirty-seven entries showed in this afternoon's grand prix over a course set by Olaf Petersen, Sr. of Germany. Fifteen were able to clear the first round course to advance to the jump-off, and seven finished the class double clear. The lead changed hands several times throughout the jump-off as riders chased the clock, but it was Katie Dinan and Nougat Du Vallet, second to last in the order, who captured the win. The pair blazed through the course in 37.36 seconds for their first major grand prix victory.
"It was just exciting for me to be in the jump-off," Dinan beamed after her win. "This is the first grand prix that I have done with Nougat. He has been fantastic the last two weeks of WEF, so we all decided that it would be a great week to move up with the grand prix on Sunday afternoon. I was thrilled with how he went in the first round. In the jump-off we decided it was a great place to try to go fast and see what happened and it could not have gone better. He helped me out a lot."
It was a great day for the American women as they took the top three places in the class. The second place round belonged to Christine McCrea (USA) and Candy Tribble's Avenir, who completed the track in 37.54 seconds. Lauren Hough (USA) and Robin Parsky's Blue Angel followed with their time of 38.12 seconds. In addition to her third place prize, Hough was also named the Leading Lady Jumper Rider for the third week of competition, an award sponsored by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler.
Sponsor Horseware Ireland was thrilled with the class today and representative Lorraine MacGuinness praised the riders on a great class. "It's our first year sponsoring a big class here and we were absolutely delighted," MacGuinness stated. "We think the course today was brilliant, as were the riders. It was a great competition out there. Obviously we were kind of hoping for an Irish victory, but these Americans proved too tough for us today! We're more than happy to be beat. They put on a great show here, and we are delighted to be sponsors. We hope to come back next year and do the same. This is heaven for horse lovers."
Following the U.S. ladies, Irish rider Cian O'Connor and Blue Lloyd 12, owned by O'Connor and Ashkirk Ltd., earned the fourth award with their time of 38.61 seconds. French rider Marie Hecart and Myself De Breve, owned by Haras De La Rogue, finished fifth in 38.81 seconds. Sixth place was awarded to USA's Catherine Pasmore and Pasmore Stables' Vandavid in 39.99 seconds, and the final clear round in the seventh position belonged to Dominican rider Hector Florentino and Ultimo, owned by Stransky's Mission Farm, in 40.19 seconds. Nick Skelton and Beverly Widdowson's Carlo 273 had the fastest four-fault round in the jump-off in 37.60 seconds to finish eighth.
Dinan was up against some tough competition in the class, but as one of the last to go in the jump-off, she knew she had to go for it, and her speed paid off. "(My trainer) McLain (Ward) said that we might as well try to go fast because we have to learn how to go fast eventually," Dinan smiled. "He said I could really make up a lot of time from fence one to two, so he told me to just canter as fast as possible and I somehow pulled it off. It could have gone either way, but Nougat was fantastic. It could not have gone any better."
Nougat Du Vallet is an eleven-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle that Dinan purchased last June. "We thought he would be great for me because he is a little on the small side and I am a little on the small side, so we are a good match and he is really game and ready to go," she described.
Commenting on her transition into a winning grand prix rider, Dinan stated, "My horses are all going really well and I think I have worked really hard in the last year trying to make the step up from being a junior jumper rider to being competitive in the bigger classes. I took a lot of lessons with McLain and McLain's dad, who I can't thank enough. They have both taught me so much. It has been more than I could ever hope for. This is really my dream to be competitive in the big classes here. I am riding against people that I still look up to and it is just humbling to be in the jump-off with them and to really be able to be a competitor is great."
With her trainer McLain Ward sidelined with an injury, Dinan is stepping up to the plate. "McLain has been at the horse show all week and he has been watching everything. It is nice because with him unable to compete, the fact that I have been able to bring home some grand prix ribbons is really exciting for all of us," Dinan said. "I can't thank my team at our farm Staysail, my parents, and everyone at McLain's barn Castle Hill enough because they have all been behind me and they all come and watch. It is nice to have such a large group of people supporting you."
Dinan graduated high school last year and will attend Harvard University as a freshman in August. Until then, she is focused on her riding. "This is really my year to ride as much as I want and I want to be able to make the most of it," she acknowledged. "If all goes as planned hopefully I will do one or two horses in the Olympic Trials to have the experience of jumping a championship format that big. I am hoping for a positive experience."
For full results please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Top Five in the $50,000 Horseware Ireland CSI2* Grand Prix
1. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/0/37.36
2. AVENIR: 2000 BWP gelding by Phin Phin x Flamingo
CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/0/37.54
3. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/0/38.12
4. BLUE LOYD 12: 2000 Oldenburg gelding by Landor S x Hadj Ax
CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Ashkirk Ltd. & Cian O'Connor: 0/0/38.61
5. MYSELF DE BREVE: 2000 SFA mare by Quidam de Revel x Grand Veneur
MARIE HECART (FRA), Haras De La Rogue: 0/0/38.81
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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