Wellington, Florida, USA – February 18, 2021 – On the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village, Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Imagine, owned by Aurora Farms and Little Valley Farms, captured the Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers CSI3* to open FEI competition during the sixth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
A total of 40 entries contested the two-phase track set by Catsy Cruz (MEX), which featured nine jumping efforts in the first phase, moving over to an additional six efforts in the second phase. With 15 passing the initial test, it was the best for last on the day as Bond and the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Emerald x Heartbreaker) jumped double clear and posted the fastest time of 26.24 seconds.
“We got her when she was five,” said Bond. “It was a partnership horse for a while, but we bought them out at the beginning of last year because we really felt like she was something special and really suited me. I know her really well, and she’s just one of those horses that is so naturally careful. She doesn’t really know what she can or can’t do.
“I love jumping on this field,” Bond continued. “The footing feels wonderful, the horses were really bouncing off of it, and the course was really smooth and flowed very nicely. I thought Catsy’s course was beautifully done.”
Bond credits the extra time at home due to the pandemic for helping her further the development of her talented mare, noting her flatwork and rideability have significantly improved. The extra down time also allowed the horse to mature, continuing to learn the ropes, and Bond thinks she now has a better mind in the ring.
“I didn’t know if I was going to do the 1.50m this week because she’s only eight but she’s so unfazed by the height,” Bond continued. “I felt like the jumps could be three holes bigger, and she still would jump it like it’s no big deal. I jump big in the warmup ring because when I jump small, she feels ‘blah.’ If I put the jumps up and get her head up, she’s a little better because she thinks, ‘Oh, I have to pay attention and try.’ She had a few shows under her belt but to develop her and then win a 1.45m CSI 3* her first time out is just so rewarding. I have such a young string of horses that every one of these is just so fulfilling. It feels so good. I’m just so excited.”
Canada’s Erynn Ballard (CAN) was second last to go, posting a double clear effort aboard Classic Penny, a nine-year-old Norwegian Warmblood mare (Clapton x Brokers Plastic City), owned by Ilan Ferder, finishing in 27.38 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Alex Matz (USA) with Davidson, a 13-year-old gelding (Harley VDL x Chin Chin) owned by 5 Star Partners, crossing the finish line fault-free in 28.45 seconds.
“Lazy has never been the number one horse before,” she said. “She was so good during the CSI 4* here and jumped effortlessly, so I’m really excited for this week. Hopefully we’ll qualify to jump on Sunday.”
Bond will continue to jump on the Derby Field throughout the week with plans for Imagine and Contefina LVF to jump in Saturday’s $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic while Lazy, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, owned by Stephex Stables and Aurora Farms, LLC, will be stepping up to jump the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 6 CSI 3* on Friday.
Final Results: $6,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumpers CSI 3*
1) Ashlee Bond (ISR) & Imagine – 0 / 0 – 26.24
2) Erynn Ballard (CAN) & Classic Penny – 0 / 0 – 27.38
3) Alex Matz (USA) & Davidson – 0 / 0 – 28.45
Source: Press release by Kate Pettersen, Summer Grace & Sabrina Bashares / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot