Wellington, Florida, USA – February 11, 2021 – Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Hester, owned by Lisa Deslauriers, were in fine form on Thursday, February 11, as they flew to the top of the leaderboard in the International Arena for a victory in the $73,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 CSI 5* at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Over a track set by Kelvin Bywater (GBR), 18 combinations from a starting field of 56 qualified to return for the jump-off, with 15 electing to challenge the second round. Deslauriers and her partner of eight years answered all the questions to fly into first with a time of 31.97 seconds.
“There weren’t too many places to change the strides in between the jumps so I knew I just had to be super prompt everywhere,” said Deslauriers. “He was really right with me today, I felt like I was just looking, and he knew what I was going to do before I did it.”
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA) and Akuna Mattata, a 13-year-old Holsteiner mare (Quinar x Landwind II), owned by Silver Raven Farms, finished in second place in a time of 32.89 seconds.
Rounding out the podium was Brazilian rider Eduardo Menezes (BRA) aboard the 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding H5 Quintol for H5 Sport Horses, LLC, stopping the timers in 33.19 seconds.
Deslauriers and Hester will have another shot at victory on Saturday when they jump under the lights in the $401,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI 5* in the International Arena. While she’s only 22 years old, she has already proven herself as a fierce competitor on the international stage and has a solid understanding of what it takes to be successful.
“He really knows me so well,” she said of Hester, a 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker). “I feel like he knows what I’m going to do before I do it so in a class like this and especially on Saturday night when you know it’s going to be a big and technical course, it’s always an advantage. The competition here is as tough as it ever has been, and it’s the goal to win when we compete in these classes. I can use today’s victory to boost my confidence before Saturday, but I know I still have a job to do in a few days.”
The dynamic duo has climbed the ranks together, picking up some impressive victories along the way including individual gold at the 2015 Adequan®/FEI North American Young Rider Championships and rode to a team bronze medal representing the United States at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
“I go into the jump-off, and I know it’s just going to be fun,” she said with a smile. “I have to stick to my plan, and he’s always with me. I came out of the ring last week and I was like, ‘I think he had fun.’ It’s always a good time.”
Wrapping up the day in the International Arena, Samatha Cohen and Carmen were victorious in the Lugano Diamonds $2,500 High Amateur Owner Jumpers.
Held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), competition is underway in the first CSI5* of the season at the 2021 WEF, sponsored by Douglas Elliman Real Estate with a concurrent CSI2* running as well, sponsored by Restylane. Competition continues on Friday with the $37,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Classic along with the $37,000 Restylane 1.45m Qualifier CSI2*. And, always a crowd favorite, Saturday night features jumping under the lights with the $401,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5* in the International Arena. The wraps up with an exciting Sunday lineup with the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic and the $50,000 Restylane 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2*. Spectators can watch feature classes live and on demand using the livestream.
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