Wellington, Florida – January 27, 2022 – The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) on January 27, 2022, with week three competition sponsored by NetJets. The International Arena at the venue held three international jumper classes with the $50,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Series Round Three as the feature. The class had the most entries of the day and rising to the top was Nayel Nassar (EGY) riding Igor van de Wittemoere, owned by Evergate Stables, LLC.
Peter Grant (CAN) produced a course which tested 66 first-round combinations across a thorough track which included both a triple bar and a triple combination to size up the competition. An impressive 22 countries were represented in the international event and by the halfway mark, seven of those had earned themselves space in the jump-off. Time was definitely a determining factor of the class as it kept eight entries from advancing to the short track. Alessandra Volpi (USA) and Tiffany Foster (CAN) made the decision to withdraw from the eventual returning field of 15 which left just over a dozen pairings for the second phase. Olympian Nayel Nassar (EGY) took the early lead with his trusted partner Igor van de Wittemoere and held it in 40.18 seconds.
“We changed our plan a little bit this week, and it seemed to work out for the best,” explained Nassar. “Igor usually jumps a warm-up class first because he is so high strung, and it just takes the edge off. This week we decided against it though because it’s a long circuit and he is a year older and wiser now. We went without it today, and he was a little fresh but he jumped fresh and was still manageable.”
Nassar and the 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Cooper Van De Heffinck x Orlando) have had multiple major wins since the inception of their partnership and have navigated the keys to success against tough competition.
“He was awesome in the jump-off. I wasn’t necessarily planning to go that fast with him, but once he gets rolling it’s a lot easier to just go with him instead of trying to conserve him,” he admitted of the gelding. “His general footspeed is incredible; he really is always going somewhere, and I was very impressed with how he rolled back to number three. Typically, full right-hand rollbacks are difficult for him, so when he gave that to me so easily, I figured I might as well keep my foot on the gas and keep rolling.”
Nassar noted of the first-round track, “I thought it was a very fair; it wasn’t overly big but technical enough with a tight time allowed that it pressured you into making some decisions you probably wouldn’t make if you weren’t up against the clock. That being said, there were enough places where you could make up that time and then address the technical parts of the course.”
Bluman and his own 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding Cachemire de Braize (Nissan Quality Touch Z x Jaguar Mail) laid down a tidy and fault-free effort with a time of 41.64 seconds, which was good enough to earn runner-up honors.
Young up-and-comer Tanner Korotkin (USA) rounded out the top three on Volo’s Diamond. He and the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Stakkatol x Baloubet Du Rouet) owned by Sandalwood Farms blazed ahead as the final combination to return and catapulted to the podium with a time of 42.01 seconds.
WEF includes AA-rated hunter, jumper, and equitation competition and week three features CSI4* and CSI2*, sponsored by Helgstrand Jewellery, competition. The feature class of the week and part of the “Saturday Night Lights” series is the $216,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI4* during Saturday Night Lights.
Final Results – $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Series CSI 4*
1) Nayel Nassar (EGY) & Igor Van De Wittemoere – 0 / 0 – 40.18
2) Jos Verlooy (BEL) & Luciano Van Het – 0 / 0 – 42.27
3) Hector Florentino Roca (DOM) & ABC Quantum Cruise
Source: Press Release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / WEF – Winter Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Sportfot