Sweden’s Petronella Andersson scored the Friday victory on the grass derby field at the Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), home of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. Andersson and Eclatant, owned by Stephex Stables, took the top prize in the $70,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.50m Classic. WEF continues through April 1 at PBIEC in Wellington, FL, and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
The fourth week of WEF, sponsored by NetJets, runs January 31-February 4 and features the $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 4* on Saturday, February 3, at 11 a.m. on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village (home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival), and the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the International Arena.
Friday’s class on the derby field had 32 entries competing over a course designed by Anderson Lima of Brazil. Twelve were clear to advance to the jump-off, and Andersson and Eclatant rode out of the eighth position over the shortened course. Seemingly never lifting her foot off the gas pedal, Andersson picked up a fast pace from the start and sped through the jump-off in 44.959 seconds with the nine-year old KWPN gelding by Berlin x Heartbreaker.
Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Don’t Touch du Bois (owned by Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm, and Paul Tracy) finished second with a time of 46.33 seconds, while Laura Kraut (USA) and Old Willow Farms LLC’s Curious George were third in 46.53 seconds.
Andersson started riding Eclatant in the summer of 2016 and knew he had quality, but took her time bringing him up to the top level.
“I didn’t know how big he could jump because he always jumped a little too high,” she said. “For almost one year, I did 1.30-1.35m. Last year, Rome was his first five star show and he right away placed in a few classes. Most of the time he goes clear.”
Petronella Andersson (SWE) & Eclatant with ringmaster Steve Rector.
In Friday’s class, Andersson felt there was a certain point on course where she and Eclatant made up time, and they kept up the speed thanks to prompting from coach George H. Morris.
“I went really fast to the double (combination) and I was lucky,” recalled Andersson. “I had a rub coming in. George was shouting on the side, ‘Keep going! Keep going!’ I thought I had it down, so it was probably lucky that he kept pushing.
“It’s a quick horse, as long as you keep following everywhere,” she continued. “You don’t have to take strides out. His stride is not that long. As you keep the rhythm, you’re fine. I had nice spots forward.”
Andersson started working with Morris when he came to Europe and helped the Stephex Stables riders. “When I came over (to the United States), I called him and asked if he could help for a bit. I’m grateful that he can do that for me,” she said.
This is Andersson’s first time competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival. She and the rest of the Stephex Stables team will stay through week 8. While she has visited Wellington, Andersson was pleasantly surprised when she came to the grass derby field at Equestrian Village.
“For us coming from Europe, it’s quite a long time ago that we jumped on grass,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of really good grass fields in Europe. We have a few at the big shows, but since he was only eight, he didn’t do a lot of big shows. I was really amazed when I came here. I’ve visited here before, and the other ring is also always nice, but here I have to say I was impressed. It’s beautiful.”
Source: Press Release by Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP / WEF
Photos: © Sportfot