Victory on the grass derby field on Sunday, February 18, in the $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix went to 17-year-old Madison Goetzmann (USA) riding Prestigious at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. In the WEF International Arena, Tracy Scheriff-Muser rode Shoreline and Samantha Karp rode Zentina B to win sections of the Peggy Cone Adult Amateur Hunter Classic.
WEF competition continues on February 21-25 with CSI 5* competition sponsored by Lugano Diamonds and featuring the $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* on Saturday, February 24. WEF goes through April 1 and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
On the grass derby field on Sunday, 50 entries competed over a course designed by Ana Catalina Cruz-Harris (MEX), and ten of those were clear to advance to the jump-off. Lacey Gilbertson (USA) and Seabrook LLC’s Baloppi set the early winning pace in 41.97 seconds with no faults, which would hold up for second place.
Next into the ring for the jump-off was Ailish Cunniffe (USA) on Baloucento 2, owned by Whipstick Farm Ltd. They finished in 42.16 seconds and placed third.
Five trips later, the winning time was lowered to 41.53 seconds when Goetzmann and her own Prestigious finished the jump-off. Three additional rounds were unable to catch Goetzmann’s time and stay clear through the course.
Madison Goetzmann (USA) & Prestigious in their winning presentation with James Sardelli, Hermès Senior Equestrian Account Executive, and ringmaster Steve Rector.
It was the second win in a row for Goetzmann, who also captured Saturday’s $10,000 Hermès U25 Welcome with Prestigious.
“I think yesterday’s round really set me up for today,” said Goetzmann. “I got my horse’s rideability really nice yesterday and patting off the ground with the short turns and efficient track. Coming in today, I knew he was going to be set for the long strides and galloping in the jump-off.
“Going into the jump-off, I knew that I could trust him to gallop up in the first line and maybe do one less (stride) than the others,” she continued about her second round. “He came right back after that and really was just perfect through the rest of the jump-off. He really saved me to the last jump; I was a little deep and he covered it right up. I trust him in that and he was really perfect. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Goetzmann and Prestigious, an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding by Con Cento x Corofino, have been strong competitors in the U25 division leading up to this winter, having won the silver medal at the USEF U25 Show Jumping National Championship in November.
“He’s a horse that I want to move up to the bigger level – 1.50m, three-star, four-star eventually,” she said.
Lacey Gilbertson (USA) & Baloppi
Gilbertson, 24, describes Baloppi, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, as “pretty simple” and “good in all sorts of rings.”
Gilbertson has been extremely consistent throughout the Hermès U25 series thus far, having won the week 2 grand prix in the WEF International Arena and recording a clear round in the team event in week 4 under the lights in the Global International Arena.
“It’s an advantage for us for her to be able to stay consistent throughout the series when we have to do so many different arenas,” said Gilbertson. “I think it’s really cool. It makes it really exciting and it doesn’t get boring. For them, it keeps them sharper and fresher and ready for what’s coming next.”
Ailish Cunniffe (USA) & Baloucento 2
Cunniffe and Baloucento 2 have been paired together a year and the “energizer bunny,” according to Cunniffe, wasn’t tired at all after competing two days in a row.
“All of our horses are kind of on the hotter side and it’s really hot out today,” said the 20-year-old student at Southern Methodist University. “They had to work hard yesterday and without a day off in between. It was to our advantage that our horses are on the hotter side.”
WEF 8 hosts the next Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix class, with the $35,000 Semi-Final on Friday, March 2, under the lights at 7 p.m. in the WEF International Arena.
Source: Press Release by Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP / WEF
Photos: © Sportfot