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Nicky Galligan and VDL Nikita van de Leeuwerk give it their all in BrainJava CSI2* Grand Prix

Sunday, 24 March 2024
CSI4*/2* Winter Equestrian Festival 2024 (W11)

Photo © Sportfot Nicky Galligan and VDL Nikita van de Leeuwerk, winners of the $62,500 BrainJava CSI2* Grand Prix. Photo © Sportfot.


Press release from Wellington International



Ahead of ‘Saturday Night Lights,’ two-star riders took to the International Arena on Saturday afternoon for the BrainJava CSI2* Grand Prix. Forty-five riders attacked the Andy Christiansen (ECU) designed course, with eight riders returning for the short course. 

Of the returning group, it was Nicky Galligan (IRL) and VDL Nikita van de Leeuwerk, owned by the Santa Rosa Group, who sped to the grand prix win. The win came just in time for the pair’s one-year anniversary. They jumped double-clear and claimed the win with a time of 38.09 seconds. 

“We bought her as a project horse this time last year, actually, here in Wellington. We've gotten to know each other over the course of the year and really enjoyed the benefit of a season here and gotten to work on the small things being here at WEF throughout the season,” said Galligan of the 11-year-old mare (Zavall VDL x Argentinus). 

“Today I just felt that my horse gave me every centimeter that I asked for. Regardless of where I finished or what happened, I could not have been prouder of how she's learned and evolved over this season,” mentioned Galligan. “It's just one of the most rewarding feelings as a rider when your horse understands and learns what you're asking for them to grow, so to me that was special.” 

Photo © Sportfot Nicky Galligan and VDL Nikita van de Leeuwerk are presented as winners of the $62,500 BrainJava CSI2* Grand Pri by Lisa Ellis, CEO of BrainJuce. Photo © Sportfot.

Following Galligan on the podium was the 2* Grand Prix winning combination from WEF 9, Caitlin Boyle (USA), and Navaar (Tonixe x Deauville van T&L), owned by Beyaert Farm Inc. The pair nearly caught the win, finishing on a clear time of 38.15 seconds. Closing out the podium was Luke Jensen (USA) and Meadowvale Cruise (Creevagh Ferro x Cruising), owned by Wyndmont. The pair finished clear in 40.07 seconds. 

A horse Galligan acquired thanks to his clients, the Buckingham family, VDL Nikita has quite the fan club behind her and it has been easy to see the pair’s progression together. Taking second in the 2* Grand Prix just a few weeks ago, they returned to move up on the podium today.

“Without the team, without the people supporting you, we can't do this. It takes a village to get the horses here and get them in the right place. Vets, farriers and everyone in between,” said Galligan of the team behind his win today, including his sister who came all the way from Ireland to witness his win. 


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