Wellington, Florida, USA – January 10, 2019 – Brazil’s Celso Ariani won the first round of the Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, on Thursday, January 10. The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continues with 12 consecutive weeks of world-class competition through March 31, 2019.
The first week of competition at WEF is sponsored by Wellington Regional Medical Center and features the crowd favorite $75,000 Battle of the Sexes, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center, during “Saturday Night Lights” on January 12 at 7 p.m. in the International Arena.
With their share of $35,000 on the line, Ariani‘s mount Ukulman de la Nutria was fast across the ground and careful over the fences to top a six-horse jump-off over courses designed by Eric Hasbrouck of the United States. The pair will now focus on the $75,000 Rosenbaum PLLC Grand Prix, which takes center stage on Sunday, January 13.
From a starting field of 36, Ariani saved the best for last and posted the fastest double-clear time in 40.530 seconds as the final rider. He bumped Hunter Holloway (USA) and VDL Bravo S, owned by Hays Investment Corp., to second in 41.402 seconds. Peter Lutz (USA) rode Excellent to third for Bosch Sport Horses in 42.464 seconds, while Christine McCrea (USA) settled for fourth aboard Jarcobond van den Oude Eik, owned by Candy Tribble, with a single rail in 45.043 seconds in the tie-breaker. Ireland’s Conor Swail rounded out the top five by riding Koss van Heiste for Eadaoin Collins to an eight-fault jump-off performance in 42.238 seconds.
After a late start to the mount’s career in the show ring, Ariani got the ride on Ukulman de la Nutria, a 2008 Selle Français gelding by Quick Star, two years ago. The horse was not broke until his seven-year-old year, but is quickly making up for lost time.
Celso Ariani (BRA) & Ukulman de La Nutria during the awards ceremony
“He is from Mexico and it’s the system there to break them at five or six, but for some reason he was in pasture for a little longer,” said Ariani. “I was very happy with his results over the last year and I have a lot of expectations for him. I believe he can become a very important horse.
“He has a huge stride and I was confident in the jump-off because it was a long track,” continued Ariani. “The last line was seven or eight [strides], but I believed he could do it in six and he did!”
Ariani now calls Wellington home and has based his business here for three years, saying, “It’s like Disney Land! The level and amount of good horses, riders, and sponsors is amazing.”
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Source: Press release by Lindsay Brock & Summer Grace / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sport Productions & PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos © Sportfot