The 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued on Friday with the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge featured in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. Continuing his top form throughout the first two weeks of the circuit, Canada's Eric Lamaze raced to victory aboard Artisan Farms LLC's Fine Lady 5 over teammate Tiffany Foster and Artisan Farms' Melody des Hayettes Z.
Sponsored by Wellington Equestrian Realty, the week's competition continues through Sunday, January 18, featuring the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix CSI 2* on Saturday, January 17. The "Saturday Night Lights" event will stream live online beginning at 7 p.m. on The Chronicle of the Horse website at http://bit.ly/1AgguDe.
The Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series will also get underway with its first two competitions of the circuit this week. The $10,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Welcome will be held on Saturday, January 17. The $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by Equine Couture/Tuff Rider, will be held on Sunday, January 18. WEF features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 29, awarding over $8.2 million in prize money.
Luc Musette of Belgium set the track for Friday's Speed Challenge with 75 starters and 12 clear rounds. Ireland's Richie Moloney took an early lead with Equinimity LLC's Carina in 70.55 seconds and eventually finished sixth. About 30 rounds later, Venezuela's Emanuel Andrade and Nokia de Brekka upped the ante in 66.36 seconds and ended up third. Darragh Kenny (IRL) immediately followed with the fifth place time of 67.99 seconds aboard Eva Castegren's Cicomein VDL.
Tiffany Foster came along several rounds further and briefly took the lead in 64.86 seconds with Melody des Hayettes Z, but settled for second in the end. Julie Welles (USA) then jumped into fourth place aboard Missy Clark and Stephex Stables' Twan in 66.71 seconds. With three left to go, Eric Lamaze breezed through the course aboard Fine Lady 5 to knock out the competition in 62.64 seconds to earn his fourth major win of the early season.
Things got off to a great start for Lamaze with a win in the very first class of the WEF circuit, an $8,000 1.45m speed competition, with Check Picobello Z. He then topped back-to-back WEF Challenge Cup classes in weeks one and two aboard Rosana du Park.
Lamaze spoke recently about how great his up-and-coming horses are this season in addition to his more experienced mounts such as Fine Lady 5. The 12-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) came out for the first time on Wednesday after a nice rest, and Lamaze noted that she felt fresh and ready to go for the winning round on Friday. With lots of experience and wins all over the world, including a standout first season with Lamaze in 2014, the class was really just a nice school for the speedy mare in preparation for next week.
"Fine Lady had a great year last year," Lamaze detailed after his win. "Artisan Farms bought her really as a 1.50m speed horse and she ended up doing way more. She was third in Chantilly in the Global Champions Tour. She jumped incredible most places and she is going to be my lead horse here for the next two weeks, for next week and the World Cup week, so she is definitely more than we bought."
"She felt great today," Lamaze acknowledged. "She (will compete in) the WEF (Challenge Cup) and the grand prix (next week), and I am away on Wednesday, so this was her last class before I put her in the WEF. Normally in a show, I would always do a speed class the first day and then a big class, so this was kind of her speed class prior to that. Normally I wouldn't necessarily run her in a class like this, but because I am missing Wednesday, I thought this would be a good opportunity for her. She likes going fast, and it is good for her to go fast before jumping a bigger class."
Commenting on his winning round, Lamaze explained, "I didn't watch anybody to be honest. I think a lot of people are just schooling their horses in these classes, but for me that was the way of schooling her, was to go fast. I didn't even walk the fast track, I just know her well and I know the speed that she has to carry to start feeling comfortable. She gets a little bit aggressive herself at the fences. She is like a race car. She is just so quick."
Lamaze also praised another great track from Musette, stating, "Luc is doing a great job all week long. I think this was a speed course that was nice to school a horse, but also educational if you were moving up a young horse. I think the courses have been great. These classes are really for a younger horse to move up, an older horse to prep himself, and some really have legit 1.40m speed horses that they decide to compete, so it opens the door for all kinds of horses."
Final Results: $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge
1 122 FINE LADY 5 ERIC LAMAZE ARTISAN FARMS LLC: 0/62.646
2 108 MELODY DES HAYETTES Z TIFFANY FOSTER ARTISAN FARMS LLC: 0/64.868
3 3898 NOKIA DE BREKKA EMANUEL ANDRADE EMANUEL ANDRADE: 0/66.364
4 813 TWAN JULIE WELLES MISSY CLARK & STEPHEX STABLES: 0/66.717
5 1492 CICOMEIN VDL DARRAGH KENNY EVA CASTEGREN: 0/67.880
6 88 CARINA RICHIE MOLONEY EQUINIMITY LLC: 0/70.554
7 2930 SHOOTING STAR LAURA CHAPOT MARY CHAPOT: 0/72.130
8 5261 SOMBRERO BRIMBEL LES KEEAN WHITE ANGELSTONE PARTNERS: 0/72.769
9 545 Q ROYAL PALM Z RODRIGO PESSOA STEPHEX STABLES: 0/72.793
10 2116 WELCOME COR WILHELM GENN ANN ANASTASIO: 0/75.710
11 5538 COMANCHE 28 MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM ARTEMIS EQUESTRIAN FARM LLC: 0/75.838
12 3180 ROSEAU DE SAIRE AIDAN KILLEEN S WEBER LLC: 0/76.538
Source: Press release from Lauren Fisher and Maddy Stover for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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