Wellington, Florida, USA – April 02, 2021 – A busy Friday afternoon at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) was highlighted by a victory for Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Indra van de Oude Heihoef owned by The Blue Buckle Group, in the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic Series Final on Friday, April 2, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
The series final began over a 1.50m opening round track set by Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) featuring 16 jumping efforts for the 33 competitors who qualified for Friday’s competition. From there, 13 horse-and-rider combinations representing five different nations put forth clear efforts to punch their ticket into the jump-off.
First to return for the second round, Erynn Ballard (CAN) piloted Gakhir, owned by Ilan Ferder and Esperanza Imports, LLC, to a clear effort in 40.60 seconds, setting the pace for the remainder of the field. Next to go, Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Brighton, owned by Artisan Farms, LLC, had an unlucky rail at the final fence on course. With the following combination, there was a change atop the leaderboard as Jessica Springsteen (USA) and RMF Zecilie, owned by Rushy Marsh Farm, jumped a clear round in 39.04 seconds.
The overall CaptiveOne Advisors Jumper Series leader was caught by the final jump as Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Scarlett Du Sart Z, owned by Vlock Show Stables, LLC, landed on four faults in a time of 35.58 seconds.
Two riders after that, Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Bennys Legacy owned by Starlight Farms, LLC, moved into the lead, stopping the clock at 37.60 seconds. In the end, the 27-year-old rider would land in third position aboard the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Lupicor x Acordia).
Following Sternlicht, the door was left open just a crack and one of the world’s fastest Irishmen seized the opportunity. Sweetnam and Indra van de Oude Heihoef, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Casantos x Action-Breaker), who shaved nearly a full second off the leading time to take over top spot in 35.56 seconds.
Last to go, Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) and Armani SL Z owned by El Milagro, gave it their best shot and came close. The 24-year-old rider piloted his 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion (Asca Z x Cumano) to a second-place finish in a time of 35.70 seconds, less than two-tenths of a second off the leading pace.
“This class was the aim for my horse for the end of circuit,” said Sweetnam of his plan heading into Friday’s final. “I actually gave her a break and then did two nice classes last week on the derby field. She won one of them, and then her focus was to try to have a good chance at winning this, which she delivered. I’m very happy when the plan comes together.
The twelfth week of WEF, sponsored by Wellington Agricultural Services, has CSI 4* competition along with a concurrent CSI2* running through Sunday, April 4, the final day of the 2021 WEF. An exciting weekend schedule is highlighted by the $214,000 Wellington Agricultural Services Grand Prix CSI 4* and WEF Circuit Champion Parade on Saturday. The week concludes with the $50,000 Wanderers Club 1.45m Grand Prix CSI 2* on Sunday.
Hunter competition continues on the grass during WEF 12 at the Derby Field at Equestrian Village with the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Round 1 on Saturday at 11 a.m. Following that, the top 12 will return for a handy round. All feature classes can be watched for free both live and on-demand on the livestream.
Final Results – $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors CSI 4*
1) Shane Swetnam (IRL) & Indra Van De Oude Heihoef – 0 / 0 – 35.564
2) Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) & Armanu SL Z – 0 / 0 – 35.73
3) Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) & Bennys Legacy – 0 / 0 – 37.605
Source: Press release by Kate Pettersen & Summer Grace / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot