In the $32,000 G&C Farm 1.45m Classic, 17-year-old Reed Kessler notched yet another win at the FTI WEF, this time with Onisha. They sped around the course in 62.24 seconds, more than three seconds faster than second place finishers, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Little Emir, owned by Spy Coast Farm. Cian O'Connor (IRL) and KEC Alligator Alley were third in 66.57 seconds. There were 45 entries in the class and 13 clear rounds.
Kessler has been victorious in multiple classes so far this season, including the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 6, but this class added the bonus of ROLEX FEI ranking points and something special. "It's CSIO week, so it means a lot for the national anthem to play, no matter what class it is," Kessler stated. "You want America to win on home turf during Nations Cup week. I was immensely proud that I could be the one to bring in the national anthem. It's great for the ranking points too. It's great that G&C Farm has put up the money to bring more ranking classes at WEF. I think that's another reason why they've attracted so many international riders this year. It makes a big difference. I'm really happy. I've been successful, but I've been winning in national classes so far. A lot of invitations to shows are based on ranking points, so it's nice to have won a FEI class."
Kessler commented on Rodrigo Pessoa and HH Palouchin, who have been racking up speed victories again this year. "He's beaten me every class and I've been second and third behind him," Kessler said with a smile. "I think I even had the time today though he had the rail. Any day that I can be faster than Rodrigo is a great day for me." Kessler said that Onisha, a 1999 Holsteiner mare by Caretino x Athlet Z, is "freakishly careful." She continued, "I don't think there's another horse at this horse show that's more careful than she is. She's totally master of the 1.45m speed. I can go belly to the ground. She was great and it worked out well." Giving credit, Kessler said, "All of the horses have been going great. I'm lucky; I have a fantastic string, great owners in my parents, and a phenomenal trainer. If I can just do my part, I have all the factors to do it. I have no excuses but myself."
In this afternoon's $25,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Jumper Stake, there were 56 entries. Fifteen were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off, and six of those ended up double clear. The fastest in the jump-off was Wang Chung M2S, ridden by Eric Lamaze (CAN) for Morningside Stud and Torrey Pines. They set the winning time at 38.308 seconds. Reed Kessler (USA) nearly came away with her second win of the day but settled for second place in 39.316 seconds on Ligist. Ben Maher (GBR) and Cloud Nine were third in 39.728 seconds.
Lamaze has been riding Wang Chung MS2 since this past summer, and the horse is owned by Lamaze and Tom Reed of Ireland. Lamaze described, "The horse has been really competitive all his career. He knows how to go fast! I've been trying to see if he has a gear to jump bigger fences. Running around at a 1.45m he's really good at and has done that. I'm hoping he has a little more in him. That's what I've been aiming for. I'm taking my time because he's really careful. It's a new horse for me."
Speaking of his jump-off plan, Lamaze said, "Reed was quite fast. My plan was to go faster to fence number one in the jump-off more then most people did. I was fast to it because he turns really well to the left. So I wasn't worried about missing my turn. I had a short turn to the liver pool, and then to the second to last fence, I turned really short to that. He's great in that he only needs a second to see it and jump it. I trust he'll do the right thing. Experience comes into play there. I know my way around the ring a little bit, so I know where to try to shave off some time in the turns. I saw Reed go and a few others with the screen now in the warm-up ring. That's great to have. Before, we all had to jam ourselves at the in-gate, which was difficult. But now we can see everyone go, so I could see where she (Reed) went, and had in my head where I could be a little quicker and it worked out."
Lamaze plans to compete in tomorrow's $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix, CSIO 4* with Derly Chin de Muze, his mount that went double clear in Friday night's FEI Nations Cup. He will start with Verdi next week, another new horse in his string.
He said of his summer plans and string, "Derly Chin is doing more then I thought she would be at this stage. I knew she was a good horse so it's great to be ahead of where I thought I'd be at this point of the circuit. She has surprised me with her attitude and everything else. Scendix I think is out of this world. Verdi has the most mileage in regards to London. But I've come to learn with horses you never know. You just have to compete in the season and see who steps up. It's hard to get used to any horse in such a short amount of time in preparation for an Olympic Games. I think the best way is to spend three to four years with a horse. Even in this stage in my career, the horse and rider need to have a rapport. I'm on a short track here, but London is really important to me, so we've done the best we could. Hopefully, in that short amount of time, I make a team with any one of these horses to be competitive there."
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood, Inc.
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