Wellington, Florida, USA – April 23, 2021 – Kicking off another beautiful day of the ESP Spring Series, Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Jack Van’t Kattenheye, owned by Lindemann Barnett Sporthorses, flew to the top of the leaderboard to claim victory in the $37,000 Equine Tack and Nutritionals Qualifier CSI 3* on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village.
A field of 55 entries contested the two-phase track set by Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA). A total of 13 horse-and-rider combinations from the starting field qualified for the jump-off, with eight pairs electing to give it a shot. Ballard and the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Diabeau x Canadian River) posted the fastest time of the day, finishing on a double-clear jumping score in 34.39 seconds.
“Jack is quite new for me,” said Ballard of her winning mount. “It’s only our fourth week showing together. So far it has been very straightforward. He is just a reliable guy; he knows the game, he does what he’s supposed to do when he’s out there, and he tries his best to give us a good effort every time. Darragh [Kenny] is hard to beat so we just ran from start to finish and it ended up in our favor, so that was pretty cool. It’s a privilege to be able to ride in these classes.”
A regular winner on the Derby Field, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny (IRL) landed in second place with Arena UK Winston, owned by Norman Oley. The ninth-ranked rider in the world rode the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion (Waldo Van Dungen x Hamilton Tropics) to a double-clear finish in 34.58 seconds.
The third nation represented on the podium was Great Britain as Matthew Boddy (GBR) guided Balotelli 5, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Balou du Rouet x Contendro I), for Purple Road, LLC, to a clear jump-off, crossing the finish line in 37.77 seconds.
While Ballard has experienced a great deal of success throughout her career, the sport always finds a way to keep her humble. These past few weeks she’s come close to the winner’s circle, so Friday’s victory felt even more rewarding.
“In the grand prix last week, I had the fastest time with one jump down,” she said. “Thursday, I had the fastest time with a rail once again, so it felt like it was time. Like Ilan [Ferder] says, you can’t win if you don’t practice going fast and trying to win, so today everything felt right.”
The Canadian veteran has made Wellington, FL, home since the COVID-19 pandemic forced show jumping events to shut down last March. The decision to stick around is one that has paid off as she notes her horses are back in top form despite the pause on the season last year.
“I think I’m probably the biggest fan of WEF,” she said. “We started here at Equestrian Village in June because the organizers were at the forefront of restarting horse shows after the pandemic hit. I haven’t missed any opportunities; the horses haven’t missed any classes and they’re right where they should be, where maybe last year you felt a young horse didn’t get enough experience. They’re all caught up by now and ready to go anywhere.”
“These two three-star spring shows are certainly a bonus,” she continued. “They’ve afforded us the opportunity to give the five-star horses a little bit of a recovery while still staying at the top of the sport. It has certainly not been easy to win these past two weeks and I think that says something for the people that chose to stay here and support. This grass is my favorite ring in the whole world and competing against the best in the world week after week here in Wellington just makes you better.”
The third week of the ESP Spring Series will continue with a busy weekend highlighted by the $37,000 Nutrena 1.50m Classic CSI 3* on Saturday, followed by the $137,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI 3* and the $35,000 Wellington Agricultural Services Spring III Grand Prix on Sunday, April 25. Feature classes will be available live and on-demand for free on the livestream.
Final Results – $37,000 Qualifier Equine Tack & Nutritionals CSI 3*
1) Erynn Ballard (CAN) & Jack Van’t Kattencheye – 0 / 0 – 34.393
2) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Arena UK Winston – 0 / 0 – 34.582
3) Matthew Boddy (GBR) & Balotelli 5 – 0 / 0 – 37.774
Source: Press Release by Kate Pettersen for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions
Photo: © Sportfot