Wellington, Florida, USA – February 20, 2022 – The $25,000 CP National Grand Prix wrapped up an action-packed day on the field on Sunday, closing out the sixth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Forty-seven combinations tried their hand at the first-round course. A tight time allowed of 77 seconds had competitors looking to be efficient and quick in their track, which resulted in many rails coming down. Six advanced to the jump-off, where Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) laid down the fastest double clear performance with Zayado in 38.214 seconds to claim the win.
Cathleen Driscoll (USA) was the pathfinder in the first round and found the first clear straight away aboard Dame de Pique, owned by Plain Bay Farm. It was after half of the starting list had shown before the class had its second clear in Philippaerts and Zayado. Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), Christian Coyle (IRL), Veronica Tracy (USA), and Wilhelm Genn (GER) were then also able to add their names to the jump-off list.
“I think the time, for sure, was quite challenging for everyone. I walked my own course based on what’s best for my horse and just tried to go a little bit for the time between the jumps. Zayado’s actually quite sneaky fast, so I think that helped with the time,” explained Philippaerts.
Driscoll tried to replicate her commanding first-round performance, but ran into a little trouble, leaving the door open for the competitors to follow. Philippaerts took just enough chances for a speedy clear to put the pressure on the rest of the field. It proved to be an insurmountable task, with the white, skinny vertical off of a tight turn falling numerous times as riders tried to chase the time to beat.
Christian Coyle (IRL) came the closest, crossing the timers fault-free with his horse Costa Diam, a 10-year-old Selle Français mare (Componist Champblanc x Allegreto), in 39.411 seconds for a second-place finish.
Wilhelm Genn (GER) had the time in 35.858 seconds with Bugatti, Eduardo Leon’s 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Heartbreaker x Pilot), but that white, skinny vertical coming down meant he would have to settle for third.
“There were a few more natural jumps in the course today, but Zayado is very brave. He’s jumped all over the world. I think his experience showed today, and it was a good day to have him in this class,” said Philippaerts.
Final Results – $25,000 CP National Grand Prix
1) Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) & Zayado – 0 / 0 – 38.214
2) Christian Coyle (IRL) & Costa Diam – 0 / 0 – 39.411
3) Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Bugatti – 0 / 4 – 35.858
Source: Press Release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions
Photos: © Sportfot