Wellington, Florida, USA – April 04, 2021 – On the final day of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), David Blake (IRL) and Dy Zento, owned by Pine Hollow Farm, put forth a stellar double clear effort on their way to being crowned victorious in the $50,000 Wanderers Club Grand Prix CSI 2* on Sunday, April 4, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
In the feature class on Sunday morning, a total of 44 pairs represented the starting field as course designer Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) set an impressive 1.45m track. Just five horse-and-rider combinations from the first half of the class qualified for the jump-off while another 10 pairs were added to the list from the second half. In the end, an exciting group of 15 set to return represented seven different nations.
The fourth rider to jump in the subsequent round posted the first double clear effort of the day, as Alejandro Karolyi (VEN) guided Venitienne, a Karolyi Showjumping Inc.-owned entry, around the track effortlessly. He and the 12-year-old Selle Français mare (Lando x Flipper d’Elle) crossed the finish line in a time of 47.90 seconds.
Next to go would answer the questions even faster as Kevin Mealiff (IRL) and Tupac Van De Vrombautshoeve Z, owned by Oakmont Stables, LLC, set the new leading time of 44.05 seconds. Mealiff and the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Thunder VD Zuuthoeve would hold the lead through the next few pairs until Blake and Dy Zento returned.
Blake and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zento x Goodtimes) zipped around the track, opening up their stride for a long gallop down to the final fence on course. The pair managed to leave all the jumps in their cups in an impressive time of 42.93 seconds, a time that would hold for top spot in the end.
“I’ve taken it slow with him the last couple of years,” said Blake of the gelding he has been riding for four years. “We haven’t done a whole lot with him, but we built him up for the early circuit, and it all came together today, so it was worth the wait.
“He has a lot of blood,” continued Blake. “The jump-off really suited him today because he’s a big horse, so it really suited his stride and the run down to the last jump, I feel like I was quicker than anyone else there. For a big horse, he’s got a lot of blood and he’s very athletic, so it makes it easier in the ring.”
Peter Lutz (USA) rounded out the top three finishers with a double-clear effort aboard Hollerno, owned by Lutz/Manfredi Show Jumping and LMW Sporthorses. He and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Baltic VDL x Ahorn) stopped the timers at 44.47 seconds.
Blake noted that he has had a slower circuit than normal with fewer horses in his string to campaign. With that in mind, his grand prix win gives him a little extra motivation for what is to come this summer.
“It was really nice to get the win today and end the winter on a high note,” he said. “It was a really exciting finish and feels very rewarding. We’re going to stay in Wellington to do the two three-star shows on the grass Derby Field during the ESP Spring Series before we head up north. I’m really looking forward to jumping on the grass and giving the horses a little bit of something different here.”
Source: Press release by Kate Pettersen & Sabrina Bashares / Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Sportfot