The seventh week of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival concluded today with an exciting 11 horse jump-off in the $32,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. Nick Skelton (GBR) scored yet another big win with Big Star, owned by Beverley Widdowson. Second place went to fellow British rider Ben Maher on Quiet Easy 4, owned by Mrs. Phillips, while Darragh Kerins (IRL) and S&L Slingback, owned by S&L Farm, finished third.
There were 54 entries competing over a course set by Germany's Olaf Petersen Jr. in the 1.50m class. Eleven of those were clear in the first round to continue over the shortened jump-off course. Skelton and Big Star came back ninth in the order and with a bold gallop, they brought the winning time down to 33.29 seconds. "I saw Ben on the screen and knew he was quick," Skelton recalled. "I know Big Star's quick. When you let him go, he can go! He has a big stride and in a big ring like that you can go. The course was quite a running course today in the jump-off, so it was easy to let him go. He still keeps his shape, even if he's going quick."
Five horses earlier, Maher and Quiet Easy 4 finished in 34.39 seconds. The previous leader was Teirra, ridden by Laura Kraut (USA) for Stars and Stripes, who were clear in 35.60 seconds for fourth place. Darragh Kerins and S&L Slingback completed the course in 35.49 seconds for third place. Finishing in fifth place was Marie Hecart (FRA) on Opal du Golfe, owned by Ecurie Michel Hecart, who had a time of 37.24 seconds.
Skelton and Big Star won the $80,000 Adequan Grand Prix during week four. This week, they had one rail in the WEF Challenge Round 7. Skelton noted that he showed today because, "I thought he could do with jumping a bit more. He's well fresh with himself really. Carlo is the same. Neither of them are good when they're fresh; they're better when they jump a bit more," he said. Skelton commented that Big Star, who is known as "Henry" in the barn, is a sweet horse and well-behaved. "You wouldn't know he was a stallion. He has a really good temperament. You can stand him with the mares and everything. He's not a noisy stallion. He nearly neighs every time he goes in the ring. I don't know why, but that's the only noise he makes." Skelton plans to compete in week eight with Carlo 273 and Big Star, and believes he will show Big Star in the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm on Friday night. It will be Big Star's first Nations Cup competition.
Final Results: $32,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly and Gary Widdowson: 0/0/33.29
2. QUIET EASY 4: 2004 Oldenburg gelding by Quidam's Rubin x Zapateado BEN MAHER (GBR), Mrs. Phillips: 0/0/34.39
3. S&L SLINGBACK: 2002 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi x Ekstein DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), S&L Farms: 0/0/35.49
4. TEIRRA: 2000 KWPN mare by Tolano Van Het Riethof x Aldatus LAURA KRAUT (USA), Stars & Stripes:: 0/0/35.60
5. OPAL DU GOLFE: 2002 Selle Francais by Elf D'or SF MARIE HECART (FRA), Ecurie Michel Hecart: 0/0/37.24
6. DOMINO: 2003 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Azur Depaulstra JOS VERLOOY (NED), Axel Verlooy: 0/0/38.26
7. WOODSTOCK O: 2003 KWPN gelding by Hors La Loi x Ferro LAURA KRAUT (USA), Joan Kalman/The Freedom Group: 0/4/34.76
8. GELEDIMAR: 2003 Zangersheide mare by Grosso Z x Lord Z NICHOLAS DELLO JOIO (USA), Wembley Farms Inc.: 0/4/38.42
9. EMERALD: 2004 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Diamant de Semilly x Carthago HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Axel Verlooy: 0/4/42.88
10. OLYMPIC DE CHAMANT: 2002 Selle Francais gelding by Gentleman IV SF x Apache D'Adriers
CEDRIC ANGOT (FRA), Nicolas Paillot: 0/12/42.09
11. OCEANE DE NANTUEL: 2002 SFA mare by Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel ALEXANDRA PAILLOT (FRA), Michel Hecart: 0/13/54.81
12. CHAMBERLAIN Z: 2001 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Peter Pan DAVID MCPHERSON (GBR), David McPherson & M/M Holtgers: 1/68.46
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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