Wellington, Florida, USA – December 13, 2020 – Another “Super Sunday” concluded the second week of the Holiday Series at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and it was Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu who shone the brightest, claiming the win in the $214,000 Spy Coast Farm Grand Prix CSI 4*. A total of forty-five combinations representing Canada, Chile, Colombia, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Puerto Rico and the USA were set to enter the ring to face the 14 obstacles with 17 elements, all set on a course designed by Hector Loyola (PUR), trying to answer all the questions and complete the task within the time allowed of 84 seconds.
Alonso Valdez Prado (PER) and Acuero were the trailblazers, having only one rail down for a score of four penalty-points. Carly Anthony (USA) and Jet Blue came close to being the first ones to conclude the first round without having any penalties attributed to them, but unfortunately the duo stopped the timers at 85.35 seconds, incurring in one time-penalty.
As the sixteenth pair to go, it was finally up to Bliss Heers (USA) and Antidote de Mars to post the first flawless performance of the challenge. Only five rides later, Schuyler Riley (USA) and Robin de Ponthual secured a jump-off. Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Hester have been on fire and kept the the chance of winning back-to-back CSI 4* Grands Prix, also stamping their ticket to the decisive phase. Shortly after, the speedy duo of Todd Minikus (USA) and Amex Z secured an even more exciting jump-off as the fourth ones to advance to the tiebreaker.
Nicole Simpson (USA) and Akuna Mattata also qualified for the jump-off round after clean effort. Jessica Springsteen (USA) on Don Juan van de Donkhoeve followed, posting another penalty-free effort, feat also duplicated by the next ones, Daniel Bluman (ISR) on Colestina H. Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu made it three clear runs in a row.
The second half of the order continued to provide most of the finalists as Shane Sweetnam (IRL) with Alejandro, Harrie Smolders (NED) aboard Monaco and Margie Engle (USA) on Royce all registered no penalties for what promised to be a thrilling jump-off.
Bliss Heers (USA) and Antidote the Mars showed the way to the rest of the field in the jump-off with another faul-free performance, setting the mark of 41.155 seconds to be lowered by the other following combinations. Schuyler Riley (USA) and Robin de Ponthual managed to go clear too, falling short of taking the lead due to their time of 41.607 seconds. Lucy Deslauriers (USA) on Hester could not duplicate last Sunday’s win due to one rail dow. Todd Minikus (USA) with Amex Z blazed through the course, being faster than the leading pair at the time, but they had one rail down and four penalty-points each.
Known for their speed and being one of the favorites, Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA) and Akuna Mattata (Quinar x Landwind II) gave a good effort, going through the timers in 40.133 seconds a mark that would earn them bronze honors.
Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Colestina H (Colestus x Cardenio 2) lowered the 40-second mark, taking over the lead in 39.931 seconds. However, Daniel’s mark was surpassed by the next combination.
It was up to the 2018 World Equestrian Games Team Gold Medalist, Laura Kraut (USA) and the brilliant Confu to challenge the standard, with the American showing her brilliance aboard Confu, guiding the St. Brides Farm’s 13-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding (Contact Me x Cambridge) to the win in 39.754 seconds.
Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Alejandro also knocked one pole down. Harrie Smolders (NED) did register the fastest jump-off time aboard Monaco but he had the same fate as Minikus, one rail down for a score of four. Margie Engle (USA) and the imposing Royce were the final contestants, falling short with the same score as the previous pair.
In the end, it was a win for Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu, followed by Daniel Bluman (ISR) on Colestina H while Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA) and Akuna Mattata completed the podium.
Text: Jumper News, no reproduction without permission.
Photos: © Jumper News / Snowmanview Magazine / Jeena Jah