Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa jumped to victory with Citizenguard Cadjanine Z in Saturday night's $280,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 4*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, at the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) in Wellington, FL. The class featured a roster of the world's top riders and saw a win for the legendary show jumper and his promising new mount ahead of three young U.S. riders. Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W, Wilton Porter and Paloubet, and Katie Dinan with Nougat du Vallet finished second, third and fourth respectively.
Alan Wade (IRL) set the track for 45 competitors that qualified during the week to compete in Saturday night's World Cup qualifying grand prix competition. Seventeen combinations jumped clear to advance to the jump-off and seven of those were able to clear the second round course without fault. Rodrigo Pessoa and Alain van Campenhoudt's Citizenguard Cadjanine Z blazed to victory in 39.52 seconds.
Twenty-two-year old Jessica Springsteen flew to a second place finish with Stone Hill Farm's Vindicat W in 41.97 seconds. First to go in the jump-off, 20-year-old Wilton Porter set a very fast pace with Sleepy P Ranch LLC's Paloubet in 42.64 seconds to finish third. Twenty-one-year-old Katie Dinan finished fourth with Grant Road Partners' Nougat du Vallet in 43.11 seconds. The Leading Lady Grand Prix Rider Award was also presented to Dinan on Saturday night for her success throughout week nine. The award is presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler.
For his win, Pessoa was presented with the Herman 'Kappy' Kaplan Perpetual Memorial Trophy, established for Kappy with fondness by the Farriers of the 1995 WEF. Pessoa has won the trophy twice before, topping the week nine grand prix in back to back years in 2010 aboard Double H Farm's Night Train and 2011 with Double H Farm's HH Let's Fly.
Pessoa started riding Citizenguard Cadjanine Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide mare (Canabis Z x Feinschnitt I Z), in July of 2013 and has been working on developing a good rapport with what he calls a "special" and particularly quirky horse.
The pair made big steps competing in Wellington this winter, including a shared victory with fellow Brazilian Alvaro de Miranda in week seven's $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challene Cup Round 7. Pessoa has big hopes for the mare and thinks that she has great potential. She has already done big things, including a 2012 Olympic Games appearance in London with Belgium's Gregory Wathelet.
"She had a couple of good shows last year," Pessoa detailed. "In Barcelona in the Nations Cup Final we were second and she went clear, and then she won the Grand Prix in Arezzo. Slowly, we have been getting better. She is not an easy mare, but she has a lot of potential, a lot of scope and she's really a fighter. She has her own way, and we are starting to understand her better, and she really turned a corner here in Florida. She has been really comfortable, jumping well and it's good."
"She has the potential to jump any track. She is super brave and she has tremendous scope, it's just that some days she can be a little bit quirky," Pessoa noted. "She's special. She has days that she is not really into it and she doesn't give you any warning. She is fairly unpredictable, but when she is in the mood to go, she is as good as any horse out there, and she was definitely in the mood today!"
Pessoa spoke about the course, which yielded a large number of clear rounds. "I didn't expect the 17 clears," he admitted. "The course had a really nice flow to it. It was nice, but maybe a little bit too nice. The starting order had a lot of really good horses, and immediately we saw clears coming. It was more than what he wanted I think, but we had a nice jump-off. The conditions were really perfect. The temperature was perfect, the footing was perfect, so I think maybe Alan was a little bit too soft given the quality of horses and riders that were on the start list, but he's a great builder nonetheless. They can't get it right every time, but he is still one of my favorite course builders."
"The jump-off suited my horse really well," Pessoa added. "I thought if I did the plan that I had in mind, and everything showed up right, it could be good, so I was lucky that everything really showed up how I wanted. Coming out, I thought okay, 'It's fast, but you never know.' With so many fast combinations coming behind you, you never know. I thought if it wasn't good enough to win it would be close – second or third – but in the end it held up, and I'm really happy."
Jessica Springsteen was very happy with her second place finish with Vindicat W, especially since the young rider has been commuting back and forth between Florida and North Carolina for school. She is in her third year at Duke University.
"He felt great tonight," Springsteen said of Vindicat. "I rubbed the third fence really hard, so I'm lucky it didn't come down, but it was great. I thought by the end the fences got a lot bigger, so I was surprised there were so many clear, but I was really happy with him."
Springsteen admitted that although she has gone fast with Vindicat before, this was probably the fastest she has gone while still leaving the fences up. "That's my problem. I usually go a little bit too fast and get too much going, so I tried to keep it together," she stated.
Springsteen had the additional challenge of going after the very fast round that Pessoa put down, and she did her best to keep up. "I wasn't expecting to beat him, but yeah, I was happy," she smiled. "Wilton was so fast too. There were so many fast rounds I wasn't really expecting tonight, but he's naturally a really fast horse, so if I get to the jumps correctly it works out."
Springsteen explained that she has been going back and forth to school and skipping two weeks in a row to show. "This is my second week. I showed last week, so it was kind of nice," she admitted. "I was practicing more, and I think that helped."
"It's hard to really train a lot," Springsteen said of the challenge to stay competitive while not riding regularly. "I fly down Wednesday night and go straight into the 'WEF' (Challenge Cup). I think I have gotten better at not riding as much. I used to get jumped loose all the time, but I have gotten used to it a bit more. I'm lucky that I know my horses really well that I am riding. If I had a new horse it would be different, but with Vindicat, it's my third year with him. I know him really well, so I feel confident stepping into a big grand prix."
Third place finisher, Wilton Porter, is also a young rider traveling back and forth from school as a freshman at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and has faced the added challenge of staying up to par to compete against the world's best riders in Wellington.
"I personally kind of feel like an underdog," Porter admitted. "If I don't do well it's not the end of the world, but I'm trying to prove something, so I am constantly pushing myself harder. Being a young rider and balancing school and riding, I have a great team helping me out, so I can always count on them when I'm competing."
Porter went first in the jump-off with his horse, Paloubet, and set a very fast time. "I think the first round course actually suited me because it was a little more open, which is better for me and Paloubet because he is definitely a horse that I try to be softer with," Porter said. "The softer I can be, the better he is. In the jump-off, going first probably worked out better for me as well because if I had seen Rodrigo go first, I would have tried to go faster than I should have! The last jump, it was definitely fast. I wasn't sure how it was going to end up. I'm actually on spring break this past week, so I have been able to ride all week, which has helped for sure."
Final Results: $280,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 4*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies
1. CITIZENGUARD CADJANINE Z: 2002 Zangersheide mare by Canabis Z x Feinschnitt I Z
RODRIGO PESSOA (BRA), Alain Van Campenhoudt: 0/0/39.52
2. VINDICAT W: 2002 KWPN gelding by Guidam x Libero H
JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/0/41.97
3. PALOUBET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Baloubet Du Rouet x Voltaire
WILTON PORTER (USA), Sleepy P Ranch LLC: 0/0/42.64
4. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif d'Elle
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/0/43.11
5. CORNET D'AMOUR: 2003 Westphalian gelding by Cornet Obolensky x Damiani
DANIEL DEUSSER (GER), Stephex Stables: 0/0/44.55
6. MYSELF DE BREVE: 2000 SFA mare by Quidam de Revel x Grand Veneur
MARIE HECART (FRA), Normandie Connection: 0/0/44.98
7. SLIEVEANORRA: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Voltaire x Flagmount Diamond
RICHIE MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity LLC: 0/0/45.13
8. CELLA: 2002 BWP mare by Cento x Chin Chin
BEN MAHER (GBR) Jane F. Clark: 0/4/41.04
9. CORTES 'C': 2002 BWP gelding by Randel Z x Darco
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/4/41.26
10. ZIGALI P S: 2004 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Palfrenier
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/4/41.46
11. HH CARLOS Z: 2002 Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z x Voltaire
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm: 0/4/41.74
12. CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 0/4/42.31
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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