Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) hosted its Holiday Festival III this week on December 19-21, 2014, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. Friday featured the $10,000 Equiline Open Stake with a win for Nina Fagerstrom and Flower. Sunday highlighted the $25,000 Nutrena Holiday III Grand Prix with victory for Ronan McGuigan and Capall Zidane.
Hector Loyola of Wellington, FL, was the course designer in the International Ring for Holiday III competition. In Sunday's Grand Prix, he saw 34 competitors with six clear rounds to jump-off. Only three were able to clear the short course, where Ronan McGuigan and Capall Zidane went first and set a blazing pace at 39.88 seconds that would hold on for the win.
Kira Kerkorian guided Lisa Kerkorian's Cassiopeia to second place honors in 40.87 seconds, and Juan Ortiz jumped Stransky's Mission Farms, Inc.'s Phenix Royal to third place in 42.75 seconds. Two entries were able to surpass McGuigan's time, but incurred faults along the way. Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run's Eternal had four faults in 39.27 seconds to place fourth. Darragh Kenny and Spruce Meadows' Quiz had eight faults in 39.36 seconds and finished fifth.
Capall Zidane, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Concorde x Baloubet du Rouet, has had an incredible season with many grand prix wins. The pair also won the $10,000 Equiline Open Stake the week before in ESP's Holiday II competition. Commenting on his ride on Sunday, McGuigan noted, "He was very good. He felt nice and fresh. I didn't jump him since Thursday, so he was well rested for Sunday. He won the stake and had a rail down in Thursday's grand prix and then he did nothing until today, so he was pretty fresh with himself today."
First to go in the jump-off with six in it, McGuigan knew he had to set a fast time to make the other riders chase him. "I knew Darragh Kenny was coming behind me with that Quiz horse, who is very fast and has beaten me previous times, so I knew my horse can go just as fast as his," McGuigan stated. "I just tried to put as fast a clear round up as I could without taking too many chances and hopefully push Darragh a little harder so that he might make a mistake. It's not often that he makes one, but he was my main worry. A few other people got very close to the time though."
Describing the first round course, McGuigan detailed, "It was a little smaller than it was on Thursday here or there, but the later half of the course was quite technical. Most people were able to jump around the first seven or eight jumps okay and then the last five or six jumps were tough. There was a plank at the gate with a short five stride that took a lot of people out. The very last fence, the in-and-out, was short and that also took a lot of people out. It was a nice course. He started nicely and then built you up and got a little more technical at the end."
On Sunday, McGuigan also had the added bonus of having his parents there to see his win. "My mom and dad came in as a surprise. I didn't know they were coming, so they were there today to be able to watch that," the rider smiled. "I think that is the first time they have ever seen me win a class, so that was nice for them."
Capall Zidane will now have a short break through the holidays and then come back to compete in the FEI classes during week two of the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival in January. He finished out the season with a lot of great wins and McGuigan feels good going into the winter circuit. "I feel confident now. I came down here during Holiday & Horses and he won a class there and he just had an unlucky rail in the World Cup qualifier," McGuigan noted. "I think I have jumped him in five classes and he has won three of them, so we are heading into circuit feeling pretty confident."
Earlier in the week, the $10,000 Equiline Open Stake was held on Friday with victory for Nina Fagerstrom and Finca Horse's Flower. Out of 32 entries, seven made it to the jump-off, and Fagerstrom completed the only double clear round for the the win. David Blake and Pine Hollow Farm's Cassinjo had three time faults and finished second. Darragh Kenny and Spruce Meadows' Quiz had the fastest time, but incurred four faults to finish third.
The 2014 ESP Holiday Series concludes with its Holiday Finale on December 31-January 4. The week will feature the $10,000 Open Stake on Thursday, January 1, and the $25,000 Holiday Finale Grand Prix on Saturday, January 3. For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.
Final Results: $25,000 Nutrena Holiday III Grand Prix
1. 217 CAPALL ZIDANE RONAN MCGUIGAN RONAN MCGUIGAN: 0/0/39.887
2. 441 CASSIOPEIA KIRA KERKORIAN LISA KERKORIAN: 0/0/40.877
3. 749 PHENIX ROYAL JUAN ORTIZ STRANSKY'S MISSION FARMS, INC: 0/0/42.756
4. 1310 BULL RUN'S ETERNAL KRISTEN VANDERVEEN BULL RUN JUMPERS ONE LLC: 0/4/39.274 5. 2137 QUIZ DARRAGH KENNY SPRUCE MEADOWS: 0/8/39.362
6. 1077 WHITE LIGHTNING ANDREW KOCHER ANDREW KOCHER: 0/EL
7. 724 BUGATTI WILHELM GENN EDUARDO LEON: 3/96.954
8. 1450 PREM' DOLLAR BOY MICHAEL MURPHY MARY KATE OLSEN: 4/89.889
9. 1449 FYI DEBORAH STEPHENS CENTENNIAL FARM: 4/90.594
10. 300 ROSIERE VESQUERIE LAUREN TISBO TEQUESTRIAN FARMS LLC: 4/91.307
11. 1471 ORBETELLO CHRIS EWANOUSKI HAMPTON FARMS LLC: 4/92.125
12. 1654 ZERLY CHRISTINE MCCREA CANDY TRIBBLE: 5/94.194
Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions
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