Wellington, Florida, USA – March 20, 2021 – Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Vertige de Galarzacs, owned by Morning Star Sporthorses dashed to the top of podium in the $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI 3* on Saturday, March 20, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) during the tenth week of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
A total of 79 entries contested the first round of competition with just nine qualifying for the second round. First to return in the jump-off, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Ideal, owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook, LLC, set the tone for the rest of the contenders, executing the 1.50m shortened course set by Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) with ease. Sweetnam and the nine-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Cardento 933 x Paskitt) posted the time to catch of 36.67 seconds.
Both Kenny and Martin Fuchs (SUI) qualified two horses to return for the jump-off, and it was Fuchs who posted the second double clear round of the day with Conner 70, owned by Thomas Fuchs. The second-ranked rider in the world guided the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Connor 48 x Cosimo) around the course, crossing the timers in 37.10 seconds.
After finishing on four penalty-points with his first entry, Kenny capitalized on the luxury of multiple mounts, making adjustments according to how he felt the track rode, to capture the win aboard Vertige de Galarzacs. Kenny and the 12-year-old Selle Français gelding (Quaprice Bois Margot x Si Tu Viens) stopped the clock at an impressive 35.69 seconds to win by nearly one full second.
“It made a big difference,” said Kenny of the advantage of already riding the jump-off course with his first mount. “With the first horse I did six strides up the first line thinking that maybe it would be too long to do five [strides]. I ended up too short to the next oxer and had the back rail, so with the second horse I did five strides up the first line and stayed a bit wider. It worked out better.”
In the end, the only three double-clear efforts of the day reigned supreme on the podium, as Sweetnam held on for the second-place finish while Fuchs landed in third.
For Kenny, the partnership with Vertige de Galarzacs, known as “Vince” in the barn, is fairly new, having acquired the ride from Karrie Rufer (USA) of Morning Star Sporthorses just four weeks ago.
“He’s a very talented horse,” said Kenny. “He has his own technique a little bit, but he wants to be very careful. He’s really, really scopey, and I think he’s going to be a really good horse. At the start, he didn’t know me, so we just took a week to get used to each other, but now it seems to be really good.
“Shane’s horse is also a little bit green,” continued Kenny. “His horse was a little bit difficult to turn, so I think the difference was just a matter of picking up a little bit of time here and there.”
Rufer had originally purchased the gelding to campaign herself but decided handing over the reins to Kenny, ranked ninth in the world, would be a better fit.
“I bought him a little over a year ago from Enda Carroll at Ashford Farm,” said Rufer. “He’s super honest, has as a really good heart, great character, and is very, very scopey. That’s what immediately attracted me to him.
“The horse is amazing, but not necessarily my natural ride,” she continued. “He needs a little bit more of a strong, seat-driven ride, and I thought Darragh would be a good fit for him. He’s an easy choice to pick when you look at top riders who really get the horses on their side. Clearly it worked.”
Vertige de Galarzacs will have some well-deserved rest for WEF 11 and will be back in the International Arena to jump during WEF 12.
WEF 10 concludes on March 21 with three-star competition in the International Arena, sponsored by Horseware Ireland. It’s an action-packed Sunday schedule that features the $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Final as well as the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3*. Feature classes are available free live and on-demand on the livestream.
Full Results – $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic CSI 3*
1) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Vertige de Galarzacs – 0 / 0 – 35.699
2) Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Ideal – 0 / 0 – 36.677
3) Martin Fuchs (SUI) & Conner 70 – 0 / 0 – 37.102
Source: Press release by Kate Pettersen / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot