Nick Skelton of Great Britain continued his winning ways at the 2012 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a victory in Sunday afternoon's $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix CSIO 4* riding Beverley Widdowson's Carlo 273. The pair beat out Laura Kraut (USA) and Cherry Knoll Farm Inc.'s Cedric and Richie Moloney (IRL) and Equinimity LLC's Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve, who finished second and third respectively.
Forty-eight entries showed in Sunday's grand prix, jumping a course set by Anthony D'Ambrosio, of Red Hook, NY. Eleven riders representing eight different countries made it to the jump-off. Great Britain and USA were represented by two riders each, along with competitors from Australia, Italy, Colombia, Ireland, Germany, and The Netherlands. Just five entries were able to jump without fault over D'Ambrosio's shortened jump-off course. Italy's Luca Moneta guided Neptune Brecourt, owned by Mastroeni Nicoletta, to the first double clear in 46.92 seconds, which eventually finished in fifth place.
Richie Moloney and Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve cleared the final course in 39.76 seconds to take the lead, but finished third in the end. Moloney and his mount were immediately pushed from the top when Skelton and Carlo 273 blazed through the course in 36.60 seconds to take over. Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum was next to compete in the jump-off and rode EOS Sport's Bella Donna 66 to a double clear in 45.94 seconds to land in the fourth position.
The final jump-off round belonged to Laura Kraut and Cedric, who came the closest to Skelton and Carlo 273 with their clear round in 37.14 seconds to finish in second place. Colombia's Daniel Bluman was faster than Kraut in 36.87 seconds with his mare Sancha LS, but had a rail at a tall liverpool vertical in the jump-off to finish in sixth place.
Skelton and Carlo 273, an eleven-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle, have excelled in this year's competition and today was their biggest win yet. The pair earned back to back victories in the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series during weeks two and three and finished second in this week's $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 8. Skelton has had more victories with his other top mounts Unique and Big Star.
Commenting on his win today, Skelton stated, "I was sweating a bit at the end, to be honest. I knew I didn't have the best draw. I went relatively early and the fast ones were at the end. Carlo jumped amazing; he was absolutely brilliant today." With Kraut and Cedric, as well as several other fast combinations to follow, Skelton knew he could not leave the door open. He noted, "I didn't leave a lot. Maybe to the double I could have left one more stride out. I went a little bit wide to that, but the rest he was very, very good."
The first few competitors did nine strides down the last line, but when Skelton saw Moloney do the line in eight, he decided to do the same. "I saw the jump-off course before, but I didn't really study it that well because the second part of the double was in the way, so I went along and stepped it off on the side of the ring," he explained. "I thought it would probably be nine strides, but then Richie went in eight, so I thought I'd better do that." Skelton also watched Kraut and Cedric go at the end, and knew it was going to be very close. "Cedric jumped great. He is a fast horse," Skelton said. "He is a little horse and he takes a lot of little strides, which makes you think he's not very quick, but he is very quick."
Commenting on her round, Kraut noted that she did not get to see Skelton's whole jump-off round. "I only saw the last line and he did seven and then eight strides," she said. "When I was standing on the platform watching, Beezie (Madden) and George (Morris) and I thought I should do eight and nine because he's not big and doesn't have a very big stride. I tried to go fast as I could to that point. I did eight on the first line. I got there so well and landed strong, so I thought, 'What the hell, I'll give a try,' and got the second eight easily. In hindsight maybe I should have tried for the seven, but that's not always the best thing for him. It's hard for him to win when it's a gallop like that; he does better with a lot of turning."
On competing against Skelton, Kraut explained, "We pretty much stay apart and stick to what we do. We are both super competitive. He's not going to give me advice to beat him, nor would I give him any. We both do what we think we can do. I went as fast as I could today and he was just that much faster."
Both riders commented on Anthony D'Ambrosio's course designing, both today and throughout the week. Skelton stated, "I think Anthony has done an absolutely amazing job the whole week. Nothing was gut-wrenching or really testing the horses. He has built brilliant courses every day. It shows what can be done. All of these horses jumped today and maybe Friday night, and they are still fresh and capable to go on again next week; that is what it's all about." "Anthony is the sort of guy you can talk to, and he oversees the whole courses, with all of the course builders that come," Skelton acknowledged. "I take my hat off to him; he has done a very good job. All of the riders said that as well, it's not just my opinion."
Kraut agreed, reflecting, "I think he did an incredible job this whole week. There are not many course builders in the world who can build for 86 entries the first day and then today and Nations Cup and all of the 1.50m classes, and be so right on with every course he built; he should be celebrating."
Third place finisher Richie Moloney was pleased with his horse Ahorn Van De Zuuthoeve in the class and also thought D'Ambrosio did a great job course designing. "It was a good course and a nice amount of clears for the amount in it," Moloney said. "My horse is a ten year old and I got him last summer in June. He's a really good horse. I don't think you could build a big enough course for him. He's quite straightforward to ride and he has a really big stride, that's why I knew the eight to the last would be easy for him. I'm very happy with him today."
Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Derly Chin De Muze, owned by Torrey Pines and Ashland Stables, Scott Brash (GBR) and Intertoy Z, owned by Stan Brash, and Kent Farrington (USA) and Uceko, owned by RCG Farms, all had four faults in the final round. Lamaze stopped the clock in 38.47 seconds to place seventh, Brash completed the course in 39.58 seconds to finish eighth, and Farrington finished in 41.80 seconds to earn ninth place honors. Harrie Smolders (NED) and Exquis Walnut De Muze had eight faults in 39.64 seconds to place tenth, and Matt Williams (AUS) and Samantha Tuerk's Watch Me VD Mangelaar rounded out the jump-off finishers with eight faults in 43.62 seconds to finish eleventh.
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $150,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix CSIO 4*
1. CARLO 273: 2001 Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverley Widdowson: 0/0/36.60
2. CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z LAURA KRAUT (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 0/0/37.14
3. AHORN VAN DE ZUUTHOEVE: 2002 Hanoverian gelding by Acorado x Calypso II RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 0/0/39.76
4. BELLA DONNA 66: 2003 Holsteiner mare by Baldini II x Calido I MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), EOS Sport: 0/0/45.94
5. NEPTUNE BRECOURT: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Cumano x Kayack LUCA MONETA (ITA), Mastroeni Nicoletta: 0/0/46.92
6. SANCHA LS: 2003 SLS mare by Chin Chin x Polydor DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman: 0/4/36.87
7. DERLY CHIN DE MUZE: 2003 BWP mare by For Pleasure x Nebab de Reve ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Torrey Pines & Ashland Stables: 0/4/38.47
8. INTERTOY Z: 1999 Zangersheide gelding by Interadel x Centauer SCOTT BRASH (GBR), Stan Brash: 0/4/39.58
9. UCEKO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Celano x Koriander KENT FARRINGTON (USA), R.C.G. Farm: 0/4/41.80
10. EXQUIS WALNUT DE MUZE: 1999 BWP gelding by Nabab de Reve x Chin Chin HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Team Exquis: 0/8/39.64
11. WATCH ME VD MANGELAAR: 2003 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Wolfgang MATT WILLIAMS (AUS), Samantha Tuerk: 0/8/43.62
12. DON CESAR: 1997 Westphalian gelding by Drossan x Fruhlingsball DAVID WILL (GER), Deitmar Gulder Reitsport: 4/71.75
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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