On the final day of week nine at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Francisco José Mesquita Musa (BRA) and Sharapova Imperio Egípcio, owned by Daniel Aguiar Morelli, won the $50,000 Rose Hill Farm Grand Prix CSI 2*. Tiffany Foster (CAN) captured the win in the $50,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.50m Classic with Artisan Farms’ Brighton at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.
WEF continues with week ten of competition on March 14-18 and CSI 3* competition sponsored by Horseware Ireland. It features the $132,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday, March 17. WEF hosts hunter, jumper, and equitation competition until April 1 and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
There were 45 entries in Sunday’s grand prix, and 12 were clear for the jump-off. It was Francisco José Mesquita Musa and Sharapova Imperio Egípcio who posted the fastest of eight double clear rounds for the win in 37.01 seconds.
The top four were all inside one second from each other; Abigail McArdle (USA) and David McArdle’s Cade finished second in 37.40 seconds, Karrie Rufer (USA) and Morning Star Sporthorses’ Georgie d’Auvray EC were third in 37.74 seconds, and Johan Sebastian Gulliksen (NOR) rode Stall Gullik’s David Guetta to fourth place with a time of 37.92 seconds.
This is Musa’s first time competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Based in Brazil, Musa has the goal in mind to continue on to Europe in the spring and compete to hopefully land a spot on his country’s team for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon.
Musa was able to get a lot out of “Sharapova” in the jump-off and pushed to do eight strides in the last line.
Francisco Musa (BRA) & Sharapova Imperio Egípcio in their awards presentation ceremony with ringmaster Steve Rector.
“I look at the first one, and for me it was possible to do seven strides from number one to number two and turn really short on three,” he said. “I did eight for the finish line. It was a better plan.”
Although they have only been together since September of 2017, Musa knew he could rely on his veteran partner. “She is very experienced,” he said of the 15-year-old Brazilian Sport Horse mare by Baloubet du Rouet. “She’s a very special horse in Brazil. She’s easy for the ride and careful. She’s really fast and really careful. A super, super horse.”
McArdle also had an experienced partner for the jump-off in Cade, a 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Heartbreaker x Darco.
“This is the only horse that I have now that I get to keep, and he’s mine,” she said of her mount of five years. “So it’s very, very special. I haven’t actually had very good luck this season. I’ve had a couple of rounds where I just had a rail down, so today’s finish was really great for me.
“He has a] huge personality,” she continued. “There are some days that he comes out, and you can see he wants to win. Other days he doesn’t want to play, but that’s what we love about him. He’s been so good for me.”
Rufer and Georgie d’Auvray EC, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Vancouver d’Auvray x Nabab de Reve, made a big effort in the jump-off, but had to add a stride in the first line.
“I think that’s where we got a little bit slower,” she said. “That was the first jump-off that I’ve really pushed and kind of tried to go faster. He came out today and just had a great attitude. I could just tell by the third jump in the first round, that he wasn’t going to touch anything.”
Also riding in her first time at WEF, Karrie Rufer of Sacramento, CA, is enjoying the new experience.
“This is my first time here from the West Coast and his first time out here as well,” she confirmed. “He enjoys it. He’s just a good sport. He just comes out all the time happy. He’s unfazed by pretty much anything.
“I was starting to step up into the World Cup Qualifier classes. I really just felt like continuing to push myself and continuing to do bigger, tougher classes with more competition,” she said of her decision to come to Florida for the winter. “It was just time for a change; time for a new challenge. It’s been wonderful here.”
Full Results here.
Source: Press Release by Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP / WEF
Photos: © Sportfot