Wellington, Florida, USA – January 17, 2021 – Hilary McNerney (USA) flew to the top of the podium aboard Singuletto in the $30,000 Pilates Rocks Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, January 17, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) to close out 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) competition for the week.
A total of 48 entries contested the opening round of the Pilates Rocks Grand Prix with nine moving on to the jump-off over a shortened track set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen Jr. (ECU). Last to go in the second round, McNerney had her work cut out for her with three double clear efforts already on the board in the International Arena. She and her own 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding put the pedal to the metal and crossed the timers in a blistering 41.274 seconds.
“After the first round I could tell that he wasn’t going to hit a jump,” she said. “Going into the jump-off, it kind of makes it more fun because it’s like, ‘Okay, he’s into this, so let’s go. Get with the program, mom.’ It motivates you even more when they jump like that for you. I think that motivated me heading into the jump-off for sure.”
It was veteran Canadian rider Tiffany Foster (CAN) finishing just off the winning time in the runner-up position aboard the 10-year-old mare Vienna for the Artisan Farms, LLC with a double clear effort in 41.378 seconds. It was a clean sweep of the podium for female riders as Gabriela Reutter (CHI) piloted 11-year-old Maharees Rock, owned by Lumiere Horses Inc to a third-place finish in 44.482 seconds.
Singuletto, or “Ziggy” as he’s known around the barn, is a horse McNerney has had since he was seven years old. Five years later, the pair is very well acquainted with each other and continue to develop their careers together. They shaved time off the clock by maximizing their effort with his big stride, helping to land them atop the podium.
“We’re just stepping up so we might start to do some WEF Challenges and see how it goes,” said McNerney. “Maybe we’ll do some CSI 4* classes with my horse Captain Cooper, who can do some of the bigger classes, so we’re just saving him right now and using Ziggy to do a little bit more of the bigger classes, which is nice. It’s my goal to do well in these kinds of classes, so I guess I have a good start.”
In preparation for WEF, McNerney opted to stay in Florida throughout the summer and fall and took part in the shows offered by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) in Wellington. She credits the quality of the competition and extra experience she gained for how well prepared she is coming into the winter circuit.
“It was so nice. The [derby] field at the dressage grounds is amazing,” she said. “We usually go to Europe and Spruce Meadows so usually we travel a lot more, but I have to say those shows were perfect. I think we were smart in staying here.”
The second week of international show jumping at WEF will feature CSI 3* competition on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village with the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 2 on Friday, Saturday’s $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Jumper Classic and $10,000 Hermès U25 Welcome, and an exciting Sunday of competition featuring the $137,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI 3* followed by the $25,000 Hermès U25 Grand Prix. Don’t miss a minute of the action and watch all the feature classes for free on the livestream. WEF hosts 13 weeks of shows through April 4 in Wellington, Florida.
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media, Incfrom Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot