Wellington, Florida, USA – February 05, 2021 – Bliss Heers (USA) and Antidote de Mars owned by Bridgeside Farm, LLC, found their way to the top of the podium in the $50,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 4 on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Friday, February 5, as part of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
A field of 68 contested the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 4, looking to punch their ticket into Sunday afternoon’s $214,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI 4*. With 16 jumping efforts in the first round, a total of 15 entries mastered the track set by Anderson Lima (BRA) to qualify for the jump-off, with two combinations opting not to return. In the subsequent round, Heers and the 11-year-old Selle Français stallion (Diamant de Semilly x Jarnac) emerged victorious in a time of 38.98 seconds.
“Antidote is extremely fast,” said Heers. “I don’t worry too much about leaving out strides; I try to just get in a rhythm and where I have to make adjustments, I have to make adjustments. It’s kind of the way the cookie crumbles on this field. I just do my best, focus on making good turns, and the rest is going to fall into place when you’re going that fast.”
The 34-year-old rider spoke fondly of her partner in the ring, singing his praises for being such a solid teammate. When asked what makes him so special, the answer was simple.
“Everything,” she said with a giant smile across her face. “For me the most incredible part is his mind. He’s scopey, talented, careful, and brave, but the best part is, he’s just the kindest soul. He’s very intelligent and never wants to put a foot wrong. I’m incredibly grateful for him.”
The competition gave it a good effort to try to catch the day’s leading lady, but it couldn’t be done. Daniel Deusser (GER) came closest aboard the Stephex Stables entry Killer Queen VDM (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x For Pleasure). He and the 11-year-old BWP mare by (Eldorado Vd Zeshoek x Derly Chin de Muze) stopped the clock at 39.23 seconds.
Laura Kraut (USA) and Fleurette, owned by St. Bride’s Farm, gave it a solid run as well, as she and the 12-year-old Selle Francais (Verdi TN x Concorde) mare crossed the finish line in 39.55 seconds.
Heers has spent a large part of her career based across the pond in Europe. It’s her third year competing at WEF, and Friday’s win marked the first of her career during the winter circuit, making the victory even sweeter on home turf.
“It’s definitely extra special and really exciting for me,” she said. “To win anywhere is a big deal but to be home and to have the European crowd here, it’s a great feeling.”
On Saturday, many international riders will compete in the $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic on the Derby Field as Lima continues to set technical and exciting tracks to test a talented field some of the world’s top competitors. And, according to Friday’s winner, he’s doing a great job thus far.
“I thought the course designer did an amazing job,” said Heers. “If you saw the number of four faulters across the field, it was a very good class. Most of the horses jumped very well and for a field that included some of the top 30 riders in the world, it was very impressive to see how well the course designer did. I couldn’t imagine he was disappointed with the turnout based on the number of faults and how many clears he had.”
Following the class, Heers also received the Barry Louise Lane Memorial Trophy, established in 2003, in loving memory of Barry by her family and friends.
As the Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group CSI4* week rolls on, Saturday’s schedule features the $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic on the Derby Field followed by the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments® taking place in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on Saturday night. The week’s finale comes on Sunday with the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2* followed by the $214,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI4*, both set to go on the Derby Field. Don’t miss a minute of the action and catch all feature classes for free on the livestream.
Final Results – $50,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round IV CSI 4*
1) Bliss Heers (USA) & Antidote de Mars – 0 / 0 – 38.988
2) Daniel Deusser (GER) & Killer Queen VDM – 0 / 0 – 39.236
3) Laura Kraut (USA) & Fleurette – 0 / 0 -39.550
Source: Press release by Kate Pettersen & Sabrina Bashares / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot