Wellington, Florida, USA – April 11, 2021 – The first week of the 2021 ESP Spring Series took place April 7-11 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), with Sunday’s action capping off the first week of National competition following the Winter Equestrian Festival. Concluding the first of five installments of the Spring Series as the week’s big winner, Germany’s Wilhelm Genn (GER) and Bugatti celebrated victory in the $35,000 ProElite Spring I Grand Prix after beating a small three-horse field in the jump-off.
The feature event of the week, the $35,000 ProElite® Spring 1 Grand Prix attracted a field of 28 horse-and-rider duos to compete for the top prize. Challenged over a course of 13 efforts from designer Héctor Loyola (PUR), only three duos from the starting field advanced to the tie-breaker round, which trimmed the list of double-clears down to only two. As the last to go during the jump-off, Genn and longtime partner Bugatti, owned by Eduaro Leon, took the leading position in a fault-free time of 42.38 seconds.
“[Bugatti] felt really, really good today, and he was fantastic on Friday. I wasn’t sure how he was going to feel today. He’s the kind of horse who has to feel good. It’s like us old guys! If we feel good, we can win any day, but if we don’t, it’s not a good day!” remarked Genn of the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Heartbreaker x Pilot).
Genn and Bugatti’s victory added to their success for the week, having already earned third place on Friday in the $25,000 Premier Equestrian Spring Welcome Grand Prix.
“We’ve been longtime partners, so I knew what I could get away with today. On Friday, I was 11th in the jump-off out of 24, so I gave it a good go, but there were still 13 who went after me,” noted Genn of his jump-off strategy on Friday. “If they go behind you, they’re able to see what they need to do. The really good, fast riders that have a good horse know what to do. That’s what I did today because I was last to go. Of course, even then, everything still has to go right.”
Second place in the class went to Mexico’s Santiago Lambre (MEX) and Comtess 202, the 2011 Westphalian mare owned by Mario Onate. The pair were the first to try their hand in the jump-off round and went double-clear over the fences in a time of 43.23 seconds, just behind Genn.
Competing for Israel, Alberto Michan (ISR), atop his own mount Case-Tout Z, a 2009 Zangersheide gelding (Clinton x Chellano Z), followed Lambre in the jump-off order and earned third place after knocking down only one rail.
The 2021 ESP Spring Series will continue with four more weeks of competition. The next two weeks, Spring II and III, will be held at both Equestrian Village for the jumpers and PBIEC for the hunters. FEI competition at the CSI3* level will feature international competitors, including Spring II’s $137,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI3* on Sunday, April 18, and Spring III’s $137,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI3* on Sunday, April 25. Live Streamed content will be available each week here.
Final Results – $ 35,000 ProElite Spring I Grand Prix
1) Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Bugatti – 0 / 0 – 42.381
2) Santiago Lambre (MEX) & Comtess 202 – 0 / 0 – 43.23
3) Alberto Michan (ISR) & Case-Tout Z – 0 / 0 – 44.373
Source: Press Release from Palm Beach International Equestrian Center – PBIEC / Equestrian Sport Productions – ESP
Photo: © Anne Gittins Photography