Two classes were highlighted in Sunday’s competition in the International Arena on the final day of the second week of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Marilyn Little (USA) led the field in the $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.45m Classic with Clearwater, while Lacey Gilbertson (USA) was the winner of the $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix riding Baloppi. The 12-week WEF circuit, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, runs through April 1, 2018, WEF offers more than $9 million in prize money.
The third week of WEF, sponsored by Adequan®, runs January 24-28 and features the $132,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday, January 27, at 7 p.m.
Despite recently returning to riding after an injury, Marilyn Little of Frederick, MD, rose to the challenge to pilot Clearwater to a blazing jump-off time of 36.23 seconds for victory.
Second place went to Wilton Porter (USA), who nearly caught Little as the last to go in the jump-off riding Delinquent JX, an 11-year-old gelding by Darco, to a time of 36.65 seconds. Emily Moffitt continued her successful start to WEF with a third place finish on Galip, and turned in a time of 37.09 seconds.
Clearwater, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Clearway, last competed at the Washington International Horse Show in October. In November, Little broke her foot when eventing. The two-sport athlete spent time recovering and only got back on a horse 10 days ago.
“I’ve been on a scooter!” Little exclaimed. “I’ve been scooting around since November. It was really a lot of fun to get back out there and for it to go the way it did today. I felt a little loose out there on Thursday. As it turned out, I’m glad we didn’t do the grand prix this week. It gave him a nice time to get in there and have a lower class. He’s been my first horse for the last year, and he’s only 11. It was good for him to get in there and feel like King Kong again.”
Clearwater and the rest of Little’s string were ready for the start of WEF, thanks to her team.
“I’m so grateful for the many professionals who have stepped up and helped me keep my horses fit and in form,” said the two-time Pan American Games gold medalist in Eventing. “It’s really a tribute to my staff and my riders and other professionals who have helped me, because the horses have come out fit and fresh and really ready to go. In the end, it probably won’t matter that I got a late start. I’ve had to be a bit patient, but this is certainly a good start!”
Little and Clearwater in their winning presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector and owner Karen O’Connor.
Along with Clearwater’s owner, five-time U.S. Eventing Olympian eventer Karen O’Connor, the new U.S. Eventing Performance Director, Erik Duvander, was on hand to see Little’s win.
“This was a good taste for him to see how we do it over on this side,” said Little.
With 26 in the jump-off, Little stuck to her plan, knowing her horse has speed to spare, saying, “He’s a very, very fast horse. I know exactly what his stride is, and if it’s possible to get there, he’s the one who will in terms of the distances. I knew exactly what the plan was. He just needed to put in his personal best and it would be very hard to catch. I wouldn’t want to run against him.
“He’s such an unassuming character,” she continued with a smile. “When you see him at the side of the ring, he may as well have a flowered hat and a cart behind him! But as soon as he steps into the ring for the jump-off, he’s Seabiscuit.”
Source: Press Release by Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP / WEF
Photos: © Sportfot
Categories: CSI 2*