Wellington, Florida, USA – January 6, 2021 – The 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) opened up its first day of competition on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). It is a welcome return of the largest and longest-running equestrian circuit in the world after an early cancellation of the final two weeks of competition in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 WEF runs for 13 weeks through April 4. Ramiro Quintana (ARG) started the show season off on a high note with a victory on the first day in the $8,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers.
Eight riders, representing six different nations, took their turn over the two-phase power and speed track designed by Eric Hasbrouck (USA). Quintana aboard Orpen Horses’ Hemerald-Balia produced a clear ride in a winning time of 31.67 seconds, with a five second lead on the runner-up. Johan Kachelhoffer (GER) piloted Ursula Esser’s Gabrovo to a second-place finish after the pair stopped the timers at 36.85 seconds. Third place honors went to Victoria Colvin (USA) and Justine Bestler’s Bipper du Libaire with a fault-free time of 40.54 seconds.
Quintana has been working with Hermald-Balia for the past year and hopes to continue their success while also progressing the gelding’s career. “I produced him myself for a year as an eight-year-old, and he did a bunch of national Grand Prix [classes] this past year at the 1.40m and 1.45m level,” Quintana said of the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Emerald x Indoctro. “He jumped really well and got a lot of ribbons. And now I’m just looking to step him up and he can start doing the 1.50m. He’s a lovely horse.
“He is a typical Emerald, really careful and really willing,” continued Quintana “An uncomplicated, honest horse. He is so simple, I enjoy it.”
Quintana returned to Wellington in October and has been busy competing in the ESP Fall and Holiday Series horse shows held at PBIEC. “We have to be careful with [social distancing], but I think that if we’re all careful we will be able to pull through,” said Quintana regarding the COVID-19 protocols. “Now there’s a vaccine out, so maybe there’s a little bit of the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully in a year or so we can all go back to normal.”
McLain Ward (USA) also had a first successful day back in the International Arena on his own Kassiodam, with a victory in the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m. Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Ilan Ferder’s Nespresso Van’t Laekhof topped the second $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m of the day.
Competition at the 2021 WEF continues on Thursday with the $35,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Premier Round in the International Arena and the crowning of the Equine Tack & Nutritionals Green Hunter 3’6” champion. For full results, visit www.PBIEC.com.
The WEF Premiere week will continue through Sunday, January 10, and is sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies. It features national-level competition for hunters, jumpers, and equitation. International jumper classes will begin at WEF 1 on January 13-17 with a CSI 3*. The live stream schedule for the WEF Premiere week will include Thursday’s $35,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Premiere Round, both rounds of the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Friday, the $25,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic taking place Saturday, and Sunday’s $75,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix at 2 p.m. EST.
Source: Press release from ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions
Photo: © Sportfot