The seventh week of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, concluded on Sunday, February 25, with wins for Rodrigo Pessoa and Santiago Lambre. Pessoa (BRA) rode Chaganus to the win in the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2*, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, while Lambre (MEX) and Doloris were victorious in the $70,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.50m Classic CSI 5*.
WEF continues with its eighth week of competition on February 28-March 4 with CSIO 4* competition sponsored by U.S. Trust & Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Highlights include the $35,000 Hermès Under 25 Semi-Final Grand Prix on Friday, March 2, at 7 p.m., the $150,000 Nations Cup, presented by U.S. Trust & Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Saturday, March 3, at 7 p.m., and the $205,000 CSIO4* Grand Prix, presented by Lugano Diamonds on Sunday, March 4, at 1 p.m. WEF hosts hunter, jumper, and equitation competition until April 1 and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
The Sunday feature class had 45 entries, and 12 of those were clear to move on to the jump-off. The top three were the only double clears in the class. Pessoa and Chaganus, a ten-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Chacco-Blue x Carthago owned by Pessoa Stables LLC, ended up with the winning time of 36.11 seconds for victory.
Wilhelm Genn (GER) and Dieta, Taylor Reid’s ten-year-old KWPN mare by Ukato x Indorado, placed second with a time of 37.28 seconds. Wilton Porter (USA) and Delinquent JX, an 11-year-old SHBGB gelding by Darco x I Need You owned by Sleepy P Ranch LLC, finished third with a time of 39.33 seconds.
Pessoa took over the ride on Chaganus in 2017 from fellow Brazilian Yuri Mansur and praised his carefulness and competitive nature, but knew he had to work on the horse’s flexibility.
Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) & Chaganus in their presentation ceremony with ringmaster Steve Rector and Guido Klatte.
“I would say he would be a little bit stiff, and we were working on getting him a little bit looser to have more control in the ring,” said Pessoa. “I really focused from October until now on a lot of flatwork and a lot of getting him supple because I knew to get him to the next level he would need to be better with control.”
After their success this week, Pessoa feels ready to move Chaganus up to the next level.
“He is a horse that is really eager to go, and we want to contain him a little bit. He is a fun horse to ride because he wants to jump the fences clear,” he noted. “He was third on Friday and won today. For me that was the most important that he performed well both days.”
The pairing of Genn and Dieta had a slow start due to Dieta’s late start to competition and Genn dealing with multiple injuries in 2017, but has recently come together for success.
“She had several foals, so she didn’t come in to the sport until she was seven,” said Genn. “I bought her here in the States when she just came into the country. We developed her up to 1.30m, then one of my clients bought her for me to stay on and ride her.
“She’s a little tricky,” he continued. “She has an old-fashioned body, a little long in the back, and she takes her head extremely high. I haven’t found out a different way to ride her. This seems to be the best way she goes. She has a lot of scope, she’s careful, and she tries really hard. This was her first FEI week, so I am really happy.”
Porter was happy with his mount’s consistency and that he and his younger brother Lucas both made it to the jump-off in the grand prix while their trainer, World Champion show jumper Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED), was out of town.
“These two-star weeks are the perfect level for him and me,” said Porter. “He’s been really consistent, which I’m proud of, and also this is the first week my brother and I have shown without Jeroen here, so I am proud of the fact that he has been able to teach us to do it independently.”
He added, “It’s an honor to be sitting here with these two great riders. They have a lot of grand prix wins between the two of them, so hopefully one day I can have a record that matches theirs.”
Source: Press Release by Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP / WEF
Photos: © Sportfot