Wellington, Florida, USA – March 09, 2022 – The third out of four internationally-rated five-star weeks at the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) brought back some of the world’s best riders to the International Arena on Wednesday, March 9. The ninth week of competition, sponsored by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, features five days of FEI five-star and two-star classes in tandem with nationally-rated hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions.
The week will build in action leading up to the $406,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5* during “Saturday Night Lights” on March 12 and finish with the $75,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic on Sunday, March 13. Wednesday’s competition culminated in the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI5* where Ireland’s Darragh Kenny (IRL) rose to the top aboard Chic Chic.
Top course designer Alan Wade (IRL) set up a power-and-speed track worthy of its 62 opponents as the premier event of the day. The task proved difficult for many, and only 18 managed to navigate fault-free. Of the 18 nations represented in the event, representatives from seven countries earned a clear round while 14 riders suffered from a disobedience or downed obstacle. The Irish dominated the day with Kenny blazing the trail and fellow citizen Mark McAuley (IRL) taking up second with O’Hara ELS. Kenny went early in the class but proved he still has a knack for speed, holding himself nearly a second shy of any further competitors with a top time of 32.69 seconds. McAuley gave it his best shot but stopped the clock in 33.36 seconds which promoted him to second place with LT Competition’s 10-year-old CH mare by Ogano Sitte x Liandero.
“I’ve had this horse for several years now, and I know he is naturally quite fast,” explained Kenny. “He had a bit of a break over the fall, and he is just building back up to this level. He felt like he was in good form today so I wanted to try and have a good go.”
Darragh Kenny (IRL) has been partnered with the Vlock Show Stables LLC’s 11-year-old Westphalian stallion (Comme Il Faut 5 x Contendro I) for more than two years, and they have previously been successful at the grand prix level.
“He is a very good horse, and he was competitive today,” added Kenny. “Some of the lines in today’s course were a bit short which suited him well because he doesn’t have the biggest stride. If I don’t have to worry about getting down a line it allows me to keep my forward pace better.”
Chic Chic will return to the International Arena on the final day of WEF 9 to compete in the $75,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m CSI5*.
“It has been competitive here as it is every year,” finished Kenny. “It is always difficult to win here but if you do, you know you are doing something right.”
Brazil had a top showing today as Eduardo Pereira de Menezes (BRA) and Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) secured the third and fourth positions. Menezes jumped into third with H5 Sport Horses LLC’s 10-year-old KWPN stallion H. Big Action (Action-Breaker x Big Star) after narrowly missing McAuley with a finishing time of 33.79 seconds.
Pessoa followed closely aboard the Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC’s Venice Beach in a time of 33.93 seconds to just miss the victory gallop.
Final Results – $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI 5*
1) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Chic Chic – 0 / 0 – 32.69
2) Mark McAuley (IRL) & O’Hara ELS – 0 / 0 – 33.36
3) Eduardo Menezes (BRA) & H. Big Auction – 0 / 0 – 33.79
Source: Press Release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / WEF – Winter Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Sportfot