Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum rode to an exciting one-two finish on Thursday afternoon in the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 12 at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Michaels-Beerbaum topped the class aboard Cantano and finished second riding Checkmate 4, both owned by Octavia Farms LLC.
The final round of the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series featured 45 horse and rider combinations on Thursday afternoon. Ireland's Alan Wade designed the course, and 11 went clear to advance to the tie breaking jump-off. The challenging track for the short course saw only four entries jump without fault.
First to go, Egypt's Nayel Nassar and Raging Bull Vangelis S set the pace with the first clear round in 49.53 seconds and finished in third place overall. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate 4 were next to jump clear and took the lead in 47.67 seconds, eventually finishing second. Great Britain's David McPherson also cleared the course aboard his own Silver Exchange II and his time of 55.67 seconds placed fourth.
Michaels-Beerbaum was last to go with her second mount Cantano and beat her own time in 47.34 seconds to take the lead once more. Cantano earned the first place prize, placing Checkmate in second.
Checkmate 4, a 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Contender x Pik Bube II, has earned many big wins as a longtime partner for Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Cantano, a twelve-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord, is a newer mount that she earned her first win with just two weeks ago. Although the two horses are at very different levels of experience in their careers, both had the guidance of a great rider to place them at the top.
"I think Cantano has a lot of ground speed," she noted. "Checkmate is really difficult on right hand turns, and the jump-off had quite a few right hand turns, so I couldn't risk too much on those. That is maybe where he caught Checkmate a little bit."
On getting getting to know Cantano better this winter, Michaels-Beerbaum acknowledged, "He has scope and heart and everything. The only thing I struggled with was the rideability, which seems to be a lot better now. This circuit is great for things like that. Bringing along a young horse like Bella Donna. I have another mare, my eight-year-old Malou, who jumped two clear rounds in the WEF last week, so I was able to bring her up from the 1.30m to the 1.50m here on this circuit. It is wonderful for young horses and it is wonderful for getting to know your horse."
Michaels-Beerbaum will compete this Saturday with her young, up and coming star Bella Donna in Saturday night's $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, CSI 5*. That mare, along with Checkmate 4, have both been named to the short list for Germany's show jumping team for this summer's Olympic Games in London. Michaels-Beerbaum has high hopes for the summer and looks forward to a great experience with the mare on Saturday night.
Final Results: $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 12
1. CANTANO: 2000 Holsteiner stallion by Cascavelle x Acord
MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/0/47.34
2. CHECKMATE 4: 1995 Hanoverian gelding by Contender x Pik Bube II
MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Octavia Farms LLC: 0/0/47.67
3. RAGING BULL VANGELLIS S: 1998 BWP stallion by Nonstop x Feinschnitt I Van De Richter
NAYEL NASSAR (EGY), Nayel Nassar: 0/0/49.53
4. SILVER EXCHANGE II: 2001 Oldenburg gelding by Landjunge x Lavallo
DAVID MCPHERSON (GBR), David McPherson: 0/0/55.67
5. BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor
NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly and Gary Widdowson: 0/4/45.94
6. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au lait x Grandilot
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/4/50.12
7. WATCH ME VD MANGELAAR: 2003 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Wolfgang
MATT WILLIAMS (AUS), Samantha Tuerk: 0/4/50.46
8. SANDOR DE LA POMME: 2002 SBS gelding by Vigo D'arsouilles x Darco
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), The Wannahave Group: 0/8/52.28
9. HUNTER'S SCENDIX: 2003 Hanoverian stallion by Stakkato x Dinar
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Torrey Pine Stables & LVS Hunters: 0/8/52.60
10. ATTICUS: 2003 Holsteiner stallion by Colman x Contender
SAER COULTER (USA), Copernicus Stables LLC: 0/8/57.38
11. KEC ALLIGATOR ALLEY: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Aldatus Z x Clover Hill
CIAN O'CONNOR (IRL), Sinead & Oonagh Kennedy: 0/11/64.93
12. LA BOOM: 1999 Oldenburg gelding by Last Liberty x Libris
LISA CARLESEN (CAN), La Boom Syndicate: 1/87.82
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