January 16, 2014--Torrents of rain and claps of thunder welcomed riders to the fields of the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) early Wednesday morning. However menacing, the inclement weather did not deter the field of 30 riders from entering into a heated battle in the 1.30-1.35m Ridge at Wellington Turf Tour.
Kevin Babington and Shorapur returned to the second week of competition with their sights set on victory, tackling the track to set the pace as the day's pathfinder and eventual frontrunners. Sarah Segal and Zelda were the winners of the second class, completing the course in a speedy 34.739 seconds, proving untouchable.
It seemed as though Babington would take the win during last week's commencement of the Ridge at Wellington's Turf Tour, but Kama Godek narrowly pushed them from the pinnacle of the ranks, leaving him with the second place. Wednesday, he guided Shorapur, owned by Shorapur LLC, through the Eric Hasbrouck designed track, leaving all rails in place and moving into the jump off. They kept a smooth even rhythm throughout the course, covering the ground with ease. The timers stopped at 37.557 seconds, leaving the other contenders to chase their blazing time.
"I wanted to work on getting her to carry herself, and really work on carrying a good rhythm. I wasn't trying to set an unbeatable pace, but the jumps kept coming up on every turn. It worked really well," Babington said. "She was good last week, but she was even better this week. She needs to stay relaxed out there. She is very careful and brave. Sometimes she can get ahead of herself, but today she kept her balance, and I was quite happy with that. I can't wait to see how she does this Friday."
Although Schuyler Riley and Andretti, owned by South Beach Stables, gave a valiant effort, their time of 38.935 seconds wasn't enough to catch the Irishman , earning the pair a red ribbon. Riley also snatched up the third place award with Dobra De Porceyo for their double-clear effort completed in 41.925 seconds. Ansgar Holtgers and Cocomello rode to the fourth place, while Babington cleared the course aboard his second mount Baloucat for the fifth. Brian Walker and Chico's Bandita rounded out the top six.
"I was pretty excited about the venue today; the footing was fantastic," Babington expressed. "It was such a great setting there [IPC]. Considering all the rain we had last night, I thought the footing held up extremely well. I was very, very pleased with my horse."
Young talent Sarah Segal dominated the second class of the day, and as no stranger to the Ridge at Wellington events, she rode to the top with effortlessness aboard Zelda, owned by Lowell and Robi Kabnick. Although Segal was one of the riders to take on the course later in the day, her strategy proved well worth the wait. Zelda's large stride and accuracy over the fences took the duo into the lead with a double clear round in a mere 34.739 seconds. It proved to be a time no one could come within a second of.
"She is actually a more recent horse. We have had her for a little over six months, and she is 10 years old. She is in some ways very experienced, because she consistently showed in 1.10-1.15m classes. Until we got her she hadn't jumped any bigger than that," Segal explained. "We started playing with her, and the bigger the jumps get, the better she jumps. She just started doing the 1.35m and 1.40m, and she has been doing it very easily. She is really competitive, really careful and a really, really game horse in the ring. She is always looking for the next jump. She is a really exciting horse."
Mattias Tromp, the last rider of the day, had onlookers on the edge of their seats as he prepared to challenge Segal's time. Cassius Von Nymphenburg, owned by Bayaert Farm Inc., responded easily to Tromp's commands as they sliced turns and shaved seconds. It was Segal who still arose as the victor, with Tromp's time of 35.509 seconds unable to better the pair.
Segal continued, "She has a huge stride, and she is very scopey. She is just incredibly honest and tries really hard. You know that you can spin her back and turn her, and she is always going to be there for you. I thought the course was really, really nice over there, and I was amazed by the footing. It was perfectly dry. I showed in the classes last year, and it is so nice to be able to go to different venues."
Segal also picked up the third place award with veteran partner Tilghman, owned by Horatio St. Ventures, while Sarah Wayda and Spargel finished fourth. Gemma Paternoster and Figarro D, owned by Julia Harrison Lee, took the fifth place, and Schuyler Riley and Q-7, owned by Wolfstone Stables & Sales, rode to the sixth place.
The course opened at 8 a.m. and remained open until 4:30 p.m., allowing competitors ample time to come at their convenience to ride and enjoy the ambiance of IPC. The $175,000 1.40m Invitational Grand Prix event will return to IPC this Friday for the $15,000 1.40m Ridge at Wellington Invitational Grand Prix. The 10-week series will culminate with the $24,750 Wellington Turf Tour Invitational Grand Prix Finale on Saturday, March 22, 2014.
"It seemed like such a great idea to open our field to show jumping. I felt that we have the land; we have the access, and we want to do anything to help the equestrian industry. We are a polo club, but we want to be able to support all of the disciplines," IPC President of Club Operations John Wash described. "After seeing this, I would like to expand this, and hopefully help to grow this in the future."