Day two in Florida, Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) was able to beat a field of 39 competitors to take the first round victory in the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series. Ward and Oh' D Eole triumphed in the jump-off over Charlie Jayne (USA) on Chill R Z and Darragh Kerins (IRL) riding Hot Wheels. Today's grand prix marked the start of an exciting show jumping season, where riders will compete over 12 weeks to win bonus money in the $100,000 FTI Consulting Rider Challenge.
Seven of the original starters were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off. The first to contest the shortened course was Merlin, ridden by Jeffery Welles (USA) for Noel Gross. They pulled a rail at the last fence to finish with four faults in 39.130 seconds for fourth place.
Ward and Oh' D Eole, a horse he owns, were next in. Ward guided the mare around the jump-off and rode a sharp angle to the "WEF wall" jump. Oh' D Eole hesitated, but was able to clear the wall and continue to the final oxer. They finished clear with a very speedy time of 38.420 seconds for the win. "It got a little dicey!" Ward admitted. "She's a brave horse at walls and she jumped it great in the first round, but I think she wasn't used to the angle in the jump-off. I tried to hold her together there and she trusted it. We got away with a little rub and kept galloping home. You need the little things to go your way."
Margie Engle (USA) and Ashland Farms' Lord Spezi contested next, but with eight faults in 40.890 seconds, they would finish in sixth place. Rebecca Conway (USA) and Twister, owned by Blue Hill Farm LLC, had the final jump down for four faults in 44.311 seconds. They placed fifth. Katherine Dinan (USA) and Grant Road Partners' Couletto K James registered eight faults with a time of 43.090 seconds and finished in seventh place.
Although they posted a quick time of 39.028 seconds, a rail at the last jump relegated Darragh Kerins and Hot Wheels to third place. Riding last in the jump-off, Charlie Jayne made a bid for the win with a clear round on Chill R Z, owned by Pony Lane Farm, but finished just off the pace in 40.354 seconds for second place.
Ward was very pleased with Oh' D Eole's win today as she is "still relatively green." The talented mare posted three victories in national level grand prix classes and wins at Spruce Meadows and the Hampton Classic Horse Show last summer. She hadn't competed since the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic in September.
The FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival will continue tomorrow with a full schedule of hunter and jumper competition. The highlight class in the International Arena is the Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge at 2 p.m.
For full results please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
Final Results: $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 1
1. OH D'EOLE: 2002 SFB mare by Kannanx Papillon Rouge MCLAIN WARD (USA), McLain Ward: 0/0/38.420
2. CHILL R Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Chellano Z x A Lucky One
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/0/40.354
3. HOT WHEELS: 1997 gelding by Liliputiense
DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), DARRAGH KERINS:
4. MERLIN: 2002 Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding by Hors La Loi II x Emilion
JEFFERY WELLES (USA), Noel Gross:
5. TWISTER: 2000 KWPN gelding by Goodtimes x Skorpio
REBECCA CONWAY (USA), Blue Hill Farm LLC:
6. LORD SPEZI: 1998 Oldenburg gelding by Lord Pezi x Grandeur
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Ashland Farms:
7. COULETTO K JAMES: 1996 Hanoverian gelding by Continue x Zeus
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), GRANT ROAD PARTNERS:
8. VATRICIA: 2002 KWPN mare by Niveau x Burggraaf
NAVONA GALLEGOS (USA), Bar X Ranch LLC: 1/84.058
9. UNIQUE: 2001 KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Voltaire NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 4/77.146
10. ROLETTE: 1998 KWPN mare by Lester x Voltaire
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 4/77.224
11. DIKTATOR VAN DE BOSLANDHOEVE: 2003 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Capital
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm: 4/78.885
12. ALSVID: 2001 Hanoverian gelding by Escudo I x Azur RICHARD MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity, LLC: 4/79.155
Source:Jennifer Wood Media,Inc.
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