Wellington, Florida, USA – January 30, 2020 – Action in week four of the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village (home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival) for the second day, with the $73,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 4 CSI 4* on Thursday, January 30. Irish rider Bertram Allen (IRL) continued his winning streak, leading the class of 54 on Ballywalter Stables’ GK Casper and making it two wins from two starts in two days on the turf.
Eight combinations made it through to the jump-off over course designer Anderson Lima’s (BRA) testing track. All eight jumped clear in the second round, so it all came down to speed to determine the finishing order. Allen, who had the benefit of being last to go, broke the beam in 39.00 seconds, with home rider Natalie Dean (USA) and Marigold Sporthorses LLC’s Jewel De Kwakenbeek nipping at their heels in a time of 39.02 seconds. Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) rode Gochman Sport Horses LLC’s Luibanta BH into third in 39.28 seconds.
“It’s a good start and long may it continue,” said Allen, 24. “I’m chuffed; he’s a good horse this one and very, very careful so you can really ride him at the jumps and normally he doesn’t have too many down.”
In the jump-off, Allen started at a blistering pace, taking a big pull mid-way round the course.
“I wasn’t getting there on the stride that I wanted, and so I had to add one, but that’s okay,” explained Allen. “I wanted to win this class, but it wasn’t a class to take a crazy stupid risk in, so I said I’d just do as good as I can. It was very close, but thankfully it was good enough for today.”
GK Casper is no stranger to North America, having been here in 2019. “I did a trip at the back end of last year to America and Canada and he was very good,” added Allen. “He won the World Cup class in Toronto and, since then, I haven’t campaigned him too hard. This is the first week back up and at it and he feels great, so hopefully now he’s in for a good few weeks.”
Debbie Lane, presenting the Barry Louise Lane Perpetual Memorial Trophy, with ringmaster Steve Rector and Bertram Allen (IRL) aboard GK Casper.
Allen, who has ridden the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Canto 16 x Quantum) since he was six, added, “We know each other inside out. He’s taken a bit longer to get to the top level, but he seems to be getting there now. He’s a cheeky bugger but he’s bold and he knows he’s good and has a big character, which is nice.”
Allen is spending two weeks in Florida with the three horses he has shipped over for the season, before returning home to Germany for a week to campaign his others. In Wellington, his “really good groom” Marlen Schannwell and friend William Hickey will keep working the horses in his absence.
Fourth-placed Brazilian Eduardo Menezes (BRA) also clocked a time of under 40 seconds on Magnolia Mystic Rose, an 11-year-old mare by Zirocco Blue. He was closely followed by Kent Farrington (USA) on his own and Robin Parsky’s talented mare Gazelle, who posted a time of 40.07 seconds.
WEF continues through March 29, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida, with 12 consecutive weeks of world-class competition and $13 million dollars on offer. The fourth week of competition at WEF, sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance/Great American Insurance Group and recognized as a CSI 4* by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), runs January 29 through February 2. Highlights include the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic and $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Team Event on Friday, and the $214,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI 4* on Saturday. The Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments® will take place during “Saturday Night Lights” at 7 p.m. in the International Arena.
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Source: Press release by Alice Collins / Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot