Wellington, Florida, USA – February 21, 2021 – It was Sam Walker (CAN) and Marbill Hill Farm’s Coralissa who jumped to the top of the leaderboard after 63 horse-and-rider combinations took to the Derby Field in the $25,000 Hermès Grand Prix CSI U-25 on Sunday afternoon, with nine pairs returning to the jump-off round set by designer Catsy Cruz (MEX).
Walker and the 2010 bay Holsteiner mare (Com Air x San Patrignan Corrado) were one of two combinations to put in two fault-free rounds, finishing the short course in 43.89 seconds.
“This past year with the pandemic, I pretty much took a full year off from competition,” said Walker. “To come back out here and do so well today, to feel her still in her prime, it really means a lot to me.”
Second place in the $25,000 Hermès Grand Prix CSI U-25 went to Violet Lindemann Barnett (USA) and Alanine de Vains (Allegreto x Adelfos) owned by Lindemann Barnett Sporthorses’ 2010 Selle Français mare, making it through the jump-off timers in 46.85 seconds.
Third place went to Ashley Vogel (USA) and her own Bellissimo Z, a 2009 Zangersheide mare by Bamako de Muze, who ended on four faults and in 42.58 seconds.
Walker stuck to his plan from start to finish and was thrilled with the pay-off. “My first round went according to plan,” he explained. “Every line I had walked in in the course walk and observed when watching the rest of the class, I stuck to the plan all the way around. My horse was really good today and jumped fantastically. The first round set us up very nicely for the jump-off. Going into the jump-off, my horse is super-fast but has a shorter step, and I took that into account. I stuck to my plan and just went for it.”
Walker and the mare have a lengthy partnership, and their resume includes the 2019 team gold and individual silver medals at the Adequan®/FEI North American Youth Championships. “I’ve had this mare since she was seven years old,” he said. “We’ve had a really great, successful partnership thus far. She has had multiple FEI wins so far. She’s a special horse, and I’m thrilled with the day’s outcome.”
Walker concluded with thoughts about the U25 Series and his hopes for its future. “It’s fantastic having a series like this for the U25 riders to compete in,” noted the 18-year-old rider. “It’s a crucial step in bringing junior riders up the ranks and also a great opportunity for riders who maybe didn’t get the chance to jump in the juniors or go to young riders. It’s a great alternative for that. As far as the competitiveness, it’s an extremely competitive division, and I think that we will only see numbers grow in the years to come because it’s also a lot of fun.”
1) Sam Walker (CAN) & Coralissa – 0 / 0 – 43.891
2) Violet Lindemann Barnett (USA) & Alanine de Vains – 0 / 0 – 46.852
3) Ashley Vogel (USA) & Bellissimo Z – 0 / 4 – 42.583
Source: Press release by Jennifer Wood & Sabrina Bashares / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot