Wellington, Florida, USA – April 15, 2021 – The second week of the 2021 ESP Spring Series opened on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village, kicking off the first of two consecutive weeks of three-star competition. In Thursday afternoon’s feature class, Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, also known as “Frosty” and owned by Bull Run Jumpers, jumped to the top of the podium, taking top honors in the $37,000 CCTV Agent 1.45m Jumpers CSI 3*.
Over a technical speed track set by Catsy Cruz (MEX) and Andy Christiansen (ECU), 50 horse-and-rider combinations took on the test, with 19 pairs producing clear efforts. Vanderveen proved to be the quickest of the day, crossing the finish line in a blistering 61.31 seconds. The victory also marked a pair of firsts for Vanderveen as she jumped on the grass for the first time this season and campaigned her veteran mount for the first time ever on the distinguished turf track.
“Just because of the way my schedule unfolded this winter, it’s my first time getting a chance to jump on the grass field,” said Vanderveen. “Even though I’ve had ‘Frosty’ for so long, this is actually his first time jumping on the grass. He’s naturally pretty fast so I wanted to go quick enough but not too fast. I saw Erynn [Ballard] go and she was fantastic, so I tried to do about the same track she did and then just one less stride to the last jump. He felt fantastic.”
The aforementioned Erynn Ballard (CAN) landed in the runner-up position with her clear effort aboard Verdict de Kezeg, owned by Ilan Ferder. Ballard and the 12-year-old Selle Français gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Hazelle De Rhuys stopped the clock in 62.38 seconds.
Ireland’s Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Arena UK Winston, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion (Waldo van Dungen x Hamilton Tropics) owned by Normal Oley, rounded out the podium in a time of 62.56 seconds, to finish in third.
Notching an impressive win by a margin of more than a full second, Vanderveen credits her horse’s big stride for helping her gain the edge in the opening class.
“With his big stride, I can do things that a lot of other horses just don’t have the range for,” she said. “We ended up doing four strides down the last line, which I think helped land and hit the timers the right way.
“I’m not normally a big fan of grass myself as a rider,” she continued. “I’m always a little hesitant but the field was great. I thought the footing was nice and I’m really happy with the result today.”
Looking ahead, Vanderveen will focus on Saturday’s $37,000 HorseLinc 1.50m Classic CSI 3* with Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili while her other mount Bull Run’s Prince of Peace will contest Friday’s $37,000 JTWG Qualifier CSI 3* in hopes of qualifying for the grand prix on Sunday.
ESP Spring II continues with a busy Friday of competition at both Equestrian Village and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), featuring the $37,000 JTWG Qualifier CSI 3* on the grass Derby Field and the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby presented by Perfect Products in the International Arena at PBIEC. Saturday’s schedule features the $37,000 HorseLinc 1.50m Classic CSI 3* and the week concludes with the $137,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI 3* on Sunday, April 18. The 2021 ESP Spring Series continues with a total of five weeks of competition until Sunday, May 15. Feature classes will be available live and on-demand for free on the livestream.
Final Results – $37,000 CCTV Agent Speed Challenge CSI 3* – 1.45m
1) Kristen Vanderveen (USA) & Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili – 0 / 61.31
2) Erynn Ballard (CAN) & Verdict De Kezeg – 0 / 62.38
3) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Arena UK Winston – 0 / 62.56
Source: Press Release by Kate Pettersen for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions
Photo: © Sportfot