First thing Thursday morning, there were 26 entries in the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 11. The class saw 11 clear rounds advance to the jump-off, and once again it was Nick Skelton and Beverley Widdowson's Big Star that sped to the win. They knocked almost two seconds off the winning time and finished in 33.77 seconds. Ben Maher, who went first in the jump-off with Tripple X 111, led for almost the whole jump-off with a time of 35.39 seconds, which would stay in second place. Laura Kraut and Joan Kalman's Woodstock O put in a time of 35.61 seconds for third place.
Skelton has had an unbelievable circuit, with nine major wins. The list of his results include:
Week 1: $30,000 Surpass Grand Prix - 2nd with Unique, Suncast 1.50m - 1st with Unique
Week 2: Suncast 1.50m - 2nd with Unique, WEF Challenge Cup - 1st with Carlo 273
Week 3: WEF Challenge Cup - 1st with Carlo 273
Week 4: $80,000 Adequan Grand Prix - 1st with Big Star
Week 7: Suncast 1.50m - 1st with Big Star
Week 8: $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix - 1st with Carlo 273, Suncast 1.50 - 2nd with Unique, WEF Challenge Cup - 2nd with Carlo
Week 9: Suncast 1.50m - 1st with Unique
Week 10: $80,000 Pennfield Feeds Grand Prix - 1st with Big Star
Week 11: WEF Challenge Cup - 1st with Big Star
Skelton, who is 54 years old, admitted that he's never had a circuit like this, but also that, "I've never been to a circuit as long as this." He recalled, "Years back at Wembley and the Horse of the Year Show, I hadn't won a ribbon. It started on a Monday and I hadn't won a ribbon until Thursday. I won a class on Thursday and then I won every one after that until the end. I won 10 classes on the balance. That's the best I've done. I won six in two days once (too)."
Of Big Star, he said, "This horse is going great. He's come along leaps and bounds. He's only nine years old." Skelton noted that while nothing is really different this year, his key has been to try and keep his horses fresh. "I know you would say, 'Oh god he jumps those horses all the time.' But I haven't actually gone crazy with them. Unique jumped almost every week, but the first week he jumped three classes and then he's jumped once a week. He didn't jump last week. He hasn't over-jumped really. For Big Star, he's jumped but I haven't gone mad at him. He probably jumps more than others because he jumps a lot of clear rounds. But he's feeling well."
He compared, "The thing is here, we haven't got all of the traveling to do, like in Europe. There you've got to put them on a truck after three days, travel 2,000 miles and then off the truck and jump again, then back on the truck. There's a lot of traveling involved in Europe, which tires them out. You haven't got that here."
Skelton said that he plans to ride Carlo 273 in next week's $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* on March 31. "At the end of the day, he's still a little more experienced and has a couple years on Big Star," he said.
Final Results: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 11
1 BIG STAR NICK SKELTON BEVERLEY WIDDOWSON: 0/0/33.77
2 TRIPPLE X 111 BEN MAHER BEN MAHER & MRS. PHILLIPS: 0/0/35.39
3 WOODSTOCK O LAURA KRAUT JOAN KALMAN: 0/0/35.61
4 ROYCE MARGIE ENGLE ELM ROCK LLC: 0/0/36.01
5 OSCAR DU ROZEL JOHANNES EHNING EQUESTRIAN SPORTS GMBH: 0/0/36.14
6 LIGIST REED KESSLER REED KESSLER: 0/0/36.43
7 SILVER EXCHANGE II DAVID MCPHERSON DAVID MCPHERSON: 0/0/36.50
8 URSULA XII TINA FLETCHER LADY HARRIS: 0/0/38.43
9 MALOU MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM CAMILLA ANDERSON: 0/0/40.13
10 V KATHERINE MONAHAN-PRUDENT: 0/4/35.58
11 VANDAVID CATHERINE PASMORE PASMORE STABLES: 0/17/54.08
12 AZZARO VAN'T HAGENHOF LAURA KRAUT SUSAN GRANGE: 4/79.66
Source: Press release Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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