February 25, 2016 - The seventh week of competition at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival continued on Thursday with the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 7 featured in the International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and a win for Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Fine Lady 5. The victory marks Lamaze's fourth win in the series this year, including wins in weeks two and three with Rosana du Park, and a win week four aboard Check Picobello Z.
WEF 7, sponsored by Suncast®, runs February 24-28, 2016. The week's highlight classes include the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic on Friday, the $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5* on Saturday evening, and the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
On Friday, February 26, the EQUUS Foundation's Fete Cheval Etoile will feature the second annual Best Performance Team Invitational showcasing teams of grand prix riders judged on their style, function, and execution by Timmy Kees and Frank Madden with live commentary by Don Stewart and Jimmy Torano. One-hundred percent of event proceeds benefit horse welfare in the United States. Starting at 6 p.m. in PBIEC's International Club, guests will enjoy cocktails, an auction, dinner, and a tribute to the 2016 Horse Stars Hall of Fame inductees. This event is not part of the International Club ticket holder schedule, but tickets and tables are still available for purchase. RSVP at equusfoundation.org/fete. Contact Shannon Coakley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-259-1550 for more information.
Santiago Varela (ESP) set the track for Thursday's WEF Challenge Cup for 71 starters. Twenty-nine entries jumped clear in round, and 27 moved on to the jump-off, where 11 were clear over the short course.
Tiffany Foster (CAN) was the first rider to clear the jump-off track in 37.77 seconds, eventually finishing third with her mount Victor, owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable. Hardin Towell (USA) and Jennifer Gates' Lucifer V were next to clear the track in 37.83 seconds, holding on for fourth place. Todd Minikus (USA) then took the lead in 37.42 seconds aboard Quality Girl, but soon settled for second as Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 raced to the finish in a time of 36.30 seconds.
The 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II), owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable, won the Challenge Cup class three times with Lamaze in the 2015 Series and notched her first win for this year.
"I thought the course was nice," Lamaze said of the competition, "but at the end, there were a lot of clears. The jump-off almost became another class, so strategy is quite simple.
"I think whenever you are in a jump-off like that, you basically just go as fast as you think your horse can go and hope that some of those forward distances keep showing up so that you can keep going fast," Lamaze explained. "With her, I can really trust her and show her some hard angles and believe that she will do the right thing, so I was again on the right horse for a jump-off with so many in it. A lot of it becomes about risk and what you are willing to risk. That is how you win those classes."
Lamaze also spoke about his students and fellow Canadian riders that were successful in the class.
"I was really happy today also with Tiffany (Foster) being third, and another student, Kara Chad, that was in the jump-off. Also, Elizabeth Gingras that had to go first and finished with a very fast four faults to qualify for the grand prix, and Yann Candele that finished tenth," Lamaze continued. "As a group, I am really proud and happy that everybody did great and everything is coming together. We have a plan, and so far everybody is really doing great, and I am very happy about that. It means as much to me as winning."
In addition to the winning prize money, Lamaze picked up a $3,000 bonus for the fourth time this season for wearing SSG 'Digital' style riding gloves as part of the SSG Gloves 'Go Clean for the Green' promotion. That brings his tally up to $12,000 in bonus money for the circuit so far.
Also competing in the International Ring on Thursday, Kent Farrington (USA) and RCG Farm's Creedance topped the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m jump-off class. A $2,500 MAYBACH - ICONS OF LUXURY High Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class was also held with a win for Rogelio Pellerano and Precieuse Platiere.
Victoria Colvin Captures Antares Pre-Green Hunter Level 1 Championship
Victoria Colvin piloted her own mount My Way to the Pre-Green Hunter Level 1 3' division championship on Thursday morning. Colvin topped the division with 30 points, winning two of the four over fences classes and the under saddle. Sandy Ferrell settled for the reserve tricolor honors aboard Hemmingway. Ferrell earned a first, second, and two third-place ribbons over fences for owner Stephanie Bulger.
Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, recently acquired the seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding as part of her new string of hunters. She purchased him from Chad Keenum following a successful trial four months ago at Keenum's farm in Virginia. "He's been a darling to work with," Colvin commented about the pair's growing partnership.
This week was Colvin's second outing with My Way. "It was quite good for his second show," Colvin remarked. "The first rounds of each day this week were a little spooky, but he actually jumped around pretty great."
Putting in flawless rounds on a green horse is always a challenge, but the windy conditions today added another obstacle for the horses and riders to contend with. "He's still a little spooky with the wind and everything, but he is very smooth across the ground," Colvin explained. "I was hoping he was going to win the second round!"
My Way is a pretty young horse and beautiful mover, and Colvin said that she recalls one of her famous junior hunter mounts when she rides My Way. "He reminds me of Ovation a little bit, especially in the way that he canters. He's quite smooth and pretty to look at," Colvin stated. "I just let him figure out himself. I make a big trot toward all the jumps so he can have a look at them and then I just let him do what he wants."
Colvin plans to continue showing My Way in the Pre-Green Hunter division. If he continues to do well, she hopes to move him up to the 3'3" by the end of the year.
WEF 7 continues on Friday, featuring the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic in the International Ring. The Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search will be the highlight in Ring 6. For more information and full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.