Wellington, Florida, USA – February 18, 2022 – The 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued on Friday, February 18, with international show jumping on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village. Out of field of 102 entries and in a California split, Ali Wolff (USA) with Blacklick Bend Farm’s Casall and Karl Cook (USA) riding Fecybelle, owned by Helen Signe Ostby, came away with victory in the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round VI CSI 3*.
As the only class on the Derby Field on Friday, the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round VI featured a challenging course from designer Ana Catalina Cruz Harris (MEX), who was able to narrow the field down to 16 for the jump-off with nine countries represented. Of those, three chose not to return.
Second to last to go in the jump-off, Wolff guided her veteran partner Casall through the jump-off to record the fastest time of 39.15 seconds for the Section A victory.
Wolff likens Casall to a “fine wine – better with age.” She added, “Maybe this is entering our second prime.”
Hutton held onto second place in Section B, while fellow British rider Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) piloted Cornwall BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horses LLC, to third place in 45.86 seconds.
Wolff, of Columbus, OH, has ridden the 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Casall x Capitol I) since he was seven years old, and he has stepped up at various points of Wolff’s show jumping career, including as an eight- and nine-year-old. Together they have scored major victories, including in the 2018 Upperville Grand Prix CSI4*, and they helped the U.S. team to victory in the 2015 FEI Nations Cup CSIO 4* with two clear rounds in Coapexpan, Mexico.
“When [he was eight years old], we saw what he could really do and what he was capable of,” said Wolff.
As Casall has aged, Wolff has found that the main grand prix ring at PBIEC is not as much to his liking, but the grass Derby Field was where he shined. The pair was double clear and third in the $216,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix CSI4* during WEF 4.
“He loves this footing, and this footing has been fantastic,” she remarked. “I decided this year I’m just going to only stay here and only jump FEI here with him. And so far, knock on wood, it has paid off for me.”
Wolff has found that the grass field opens up horses as well. “These horses get massive strides out here. This field is huge, and they get this gallop and it’s like a 14-foot stride,” she said.
As for Casall’s signature incredible jumping style, Wolff has adjusted to it over the years.
“When he jumps well, it kind of pops into your chest a little bit,” she described. “He jumps the most beautiful jump, but he kind of squirrels over it a little bit too. He doesn’t clear it by a lot, and he’s kind of grown into that style and now he knows exactly where his feet are, exactly where he needs to pick it up. I think that’s also allowed us to be a little bit quicker. Over the years, we’ve really tried to focus on getting quicker. We’re not the fastest across the ground, and that’s been our only challenge out here on the field. But when it comes turning and everything, I think that’s where we can kind of catch up.”
WEF 6, sponsored by IDA Development, features World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) competition as the main feature in the International Arena with the USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular on Saturday, February 19, at 6:30 p.m.
Final Results – $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round VI CSI 3* – Section A
1) Ali Wolff (USA) & Casall – 0 / 0 -39.15
2) Beth Underhill (CAN) & Chacco Kid – 0 / 0 – 39.37
3) Jonathan McCrea (USA) & Fantasy BB – 0 / 0 – 43.48
Source: Press Release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / WEF – Winter Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Sportfot