Wellington, Florida, USA – April 03, 2021 – As the final week of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continues, Saturday’s feature class led to an exciting finish for Adam Prudent (USA) and Baloutinue, owned by Plain Bay Farm, as they raced to a victory in the $214,000 Wellington Agricultural Services Grand Prix CSI4* on Saturday, April 3, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
A starting field of 42 horse-and-rider combinations set out over the 1.60m track designed by Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) with eight pairs, representing four different nations, qualifying for the jump-off round.
First to return, Ioli Mytilineou (GRE) and Levis De Muze set the tone for the day with an impressive double-clear round making 40.20 seconds the time to beat. Multiple changes atop the leaderboard would continue from there as Canada’s Jim Ifko (CAN) entered next guiding Un Diamant Des Forets owned by Eventyre Farms Ltd, to a double-clear finish, besting the leading time in 36.54 seconds.
The next rider found a way to get the job done even faster as Prudent and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Balou du Rouet x Landor S), produced a double-clear round in a blazing 35.28 seconds.
Riding in the sixth spot in the jump-off field of eight, Kent Farrington (USA) and Gazelle, owned by Kent Farrington and Robin Parsky, gave it a solid run. The Olympic team silver medalist guided his 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro) to a clear round in 37.37 seconds.
For Prudent, the win marks an even sweeter victory with a horse he has had for almost four years. He and his team at Plain Bay Farm have taken the development of the talented gelding slowly, only moving him up to the four and five-star level this season.
“The horse is very careful,” he said. “I haven’t really had a chance to go fast yet since this is only my third grand prix jump-off with him. I pushed it to the limit this time and really asked him to perform the best he could. I knew I had a lot of fast people behind me so wanted to really lay it down and take every risk I could, and it worked out quite well.”
Ifko and “Monty,” a 13-year-old Selle Français stallion (Diamant de Semilly x Papillon Rouge), ended the day in second place to wrap up a very successful 2021 WEF campaign that included wins in the $37,000 Restylane 1.45m Qualifier CSI2* during WEF 5 and the $50,000 Wellington Equestrian Realty Grand Prix CSI2* during WEF 9.
“Monty is a very aggressive stallion when he’s in the ring,” said Ifko with a smile. “He’s a competitor for sure! In the jump-off we maybe had a bit of an advantage in the two lines that were both long nine strides to verticals. He has the ability to run down to a vertical and still leave it up, so I felt confident galloping quickly down both of those lines. Luckily enough, it worked in our favor.”
Currently ranked seventh in the world, Farrington finished the day in third place and expressed his high regard for the impressive work of the two riders finishing ahead of him on the leaderboard.
“I went later in the jump off. These two guys went early and went aggressive to try to win, which I love,” he said. “I think that is great sport. They both had incredible rounds today, and the jump-off was very open which as Jim said, suited a very quick-moving horse which both of their horses are.
“I think this year we saw more European riders than in the past,” he continued. “I think at least five of the top 10 riders in the world are here, which raises everybody’s level. I don’t think there is an easy class to win during the 2021 circuit, so anyone that has won a class here has earned it. It has been a high caliber of horses and great riding; today was no exception. My mare is 15 years old, and I’ve been kind of bringing her back up slowly. She was a little rusty here when she started so I’m glad she’s back in form and she is shortlisted for the Olympics. We’ll see where that goes, but I like to feel like she’s on the upswing again so that’s a good day for us. I thought Adam had an incredible win. I’ve known him and his family a long time. They are great horse people, so hats off to them today.”
Looking ahead, Prudent plans to give his string of horses at least a month off at their farm in Virginia after a busy winter circuit of competitions. For Ifko, the plan is to return to Canada for a much-deserved break as well. With a similar plan to his fellow competitors, Farrington will stay in Wellington a little while longer and give his horses some time off in the Sunshine state.
The twelfth week of WEF, sponsored by Wellington Agricultural Services, has CSI4* competition along with a concurrent CSI2* running through Sunday, April 4, the final day of the 2021 WEF. The week concludes with the $50,000 Wanderers Club 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2* on Sunday. All feature classes can be watched for free both live and on-demand on the livestream.
Final Results – $214,000 Wellington Agricultural Services Grand Prix CSI 4* 1.60m
1) Adam Prudent (USA) & Baloutinue – 0 / 0 – 35.28
2) Jim Ifko (CAN) & Un Diamant des Forets – 0 / 0 – 36.544
3) Kent Farrigton (USA) & Gazelle – 0 / 0 – 37.37
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