Antonio Martinez Jr. & Forman de Virton Victorious at Wellington

Wellington, Florida, USA – March 02, 2022 – A starting field of 46 horse-and-rider combinations made their way to the International Arena for the second $5,000 Premier Equestrian Welcome CSIO 4* class of Wednesday, which ran under the lights. Granat and Stephens designed an intricate course that included several combinations and an optional water obstacle with an efficient time allowed of 75 seconds. Contenders from 12 nations rode their way across the single-round speed track but Venezuela’s Antonio Martinez, Jr (VEN) produced the winning effort aboard Forman De Virton.

At the event’s halfway mark, Lebanon’s Jad Dana (LBN) held the fastest time with Caro W after the pair stopped the clock in 66.38 seconds. Dana’s time was good enough to hold off the majority of the challengers until Heather Caristo-Williams (USA) took over. Williams looked fit for the win, but Martinez shaved an impressive five seconds off of her time of 65.70 to skyrocket to the top with a time of 60.24 seconds.

“I’ve had him for approximately three years now, and he and I share a very special bond,” explained Martinez of Tack Up Stable Corp’s 11-year-old SBS gelding (Aragorn Van Schuttershof). “We have been bringing him back up the levels slowly as he recovered from an injury, but he is feeling even better than before now.”

The gelding was one of two mounts that the Wellington, FL, resident had to put in the ring for the class. His other mount, Fonzie D’Herlaimont, saw the course first but had the easier night as Martinez plans to compete him in the Nations Cup on Saturday night.

“I was able to study the course on my first horse which definitely is always helpful,” added Martinez. “I thought it was a good course because it gave you time to pick up the pace but did not give you enough opportunity to get carried away. Our plan for this week was to try our best from the start, and I know Forman [De Virton] so well that I knew he would give it his all.”

The runner-up honor went to Jessica Mendoza (GBR) who recorded a close time of 60.99 seconds piloting her own 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding I-Cap CL Z (I’m Special De Muze x Air Jordan). Williams’ ride on Stephanie Bulger’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Marciano MVF (Castelan x Aragorn) put forth the third and final round worthy of the victory gallop.

WEF week 8 will resume on Thursday, March 3, with featured competition including the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round VIII CSIO4*, and the $10,000 Hermès Under 25 Welcome.

Heidi Zorn, President, and Mark Neihart, CEO, of Premier Equestrian stand with Antonio Martinez, Jr. (VEN)

Final Results – $5,000 Premier Equestrian Welcome CSIO 4*

1) Antonio Martinez, Jr (VEN) & Forman De Virton – 0 / 60.24

2) Jessica Mendoza (GBR) & I-Cap CL Z – 0 / 60.99

3) Heather Caristo-Williams (USA) & Marciano MVF – 0 / 65.7

Source: Press Release from Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / WEF – Winter Equestrian Festival

Photos: © Sportfot