Nick Skelton accumulated another win at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) Thursday in the $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup 2, this time taking the top prize with Beverley Widdowson's Carlo 273. The Irish took the next two places, with Richie Moloney on Slieveanorra, owned by Equinimity LLC/Richie Moloney in second and Cian O'Connor on Ashkirk Ltd. & Cian O'Connor's Blue Loyd 12 in third.
This week's course designer in the International Arena is Luc Musette of Belgium. Skelton commented, "Luc is one of the best course builders. He's very underestimated and he's one of the best course builders in the world for me. For the amount of people in it today, it was a good course and a good jump-off. It wasn't crazy big. You don't have to go in there every time and jump massive courses. The horses will last longer doing what we're doing instead of keep testing them every day to the maximum."
The $32,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series had 59 entries, and there were 18 first round clears. The best in the jump-off round was Skelton on Carlo 273, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender x Cascavelle, who were able to clear the shortened course in 38.39 seconds for victory. The final line, which included a double combination in eight strides to the last oxer, was where Skelton considered he could make up time, but changed his mind on course.
"They said you could do seven (strides) there and I went for it, but then I thought, 'No, that's too far away.' I think if it had been in 10 weeks time, I might have gone a bit harder at it. For now I have to leave a bit in the tank. He was happy coming out of the ring," Skelton said.
Moloney and Slieveanorra, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Voltaire x Flagmount Diamond, were just behind in 39.16 seconds. O'Connor and Blue Loyd 12, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Landor S x Hadj Ax, had a time of 39.76 seconds.
Fourth place in the class went to Ben Maher (GBR) on Emma Phillips' Tackeray, who finished in 39.87 seconds, while Andrew Bourns (IRL) and his Roundthorn Madios were fifth in 40.40 seconds.
Skelton noted that he was pleased with Carlo's performance since he hadn't jumped since the Holiday and Horses show on December 3. He went on to say, "He likes to jump. I know that the money is coming later in the circuit, but for him, he's not a horse who can just sit there and not do anything and then just bring him out. Once you've got him up and running, you can put him away for a couple of weeks and he can come back. But you've got to get him going and jumping first. He gets bored in the stable. He's a happy horse; he likes to jump."
Skelton has a solid string of winners with Unique, who won last week's Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic, and Big Star, a multiple winner at last year's FTI WEF. "I still have Big Star to come out," Skelton noted. "He gets out of quarantine in two weeks. Then he can start jumping."
Skelton, who won the individual and team bronze medals at last year's European Championships with Carlo, is part of a British contingent at the FTI WEF training for this summer's Olympic Games in London.
When asked his thoughts on the British team, he said, "We've come here because there's not a lot on at home, and they can't all go to the indoor shows. The indoor shows, you don't get the same build up as being outside. Here, the weather's always good, the rings are always good, the courses are good. You can try and put a team together."
For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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