Wellington, Florida, USA – March 24, 2022 – In the largest class of the day, 89 international pairs crossed under the bridge into the International Arena for the $37,000 Beerbaum Stables Grand Prix Qualifier CSI 2*. Petersen Jr. set a sufficient course to challenge the impressive number of entries. With a tight time-allowed, 12 riders had their hopes dashed by added time to the clock, and another 13 incurred just a single jumping penalty.
Only 11 duos managed to successfully produce a fault-free first round leaving them to contest the day’s final jump-off track. As the clear round trailblazer, Laura Chapot (USA) and her long-time partner Chandon Blue were the first to test their skills a second time but would end up settling for seventh place with a downed rail. The top honors eventually landed with Matthew Sampson (GBR) as he landed over the final obstacle thirteen-hundredths of a second faster than the runner up. Sampson and his 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Curraghgraigue Obos Flight (Obos Quality 004 x Errigal Flight) have been knocking on the door of victory throughout the season and their efficient time of 38.62 seconds over an arguably challenging track sealed their fate.
“Today’s course was very difficult – you could tell that when you walked it – but with the amount of entries that there were, the course designer had a lot of decisions to make,” explained Sampson. “To me, it definitely rode more like a two-star grand prix than a qualifier but my horse jumps amazing, and he has deserved this win for a while. He has had some incredible rounds this season with maybe just an unlucky rail keeping us from the top.”
Sampson has been paired with the “game-y” gelding for close to three years and has been competing him successfully up to the five-star level.
“He is the type of horse that wants to win as much as I do,” he stated. “He has had great rounds the rest of the season in some of the bigger five-star events, but today’s two-star was equally as difficult. Where I think the course suited us best was his smaller stride allowed us to be quick down several of the lines that other riders may have had to steady for.”
Caelinn Leahy (USA) and Coldplay 31 dashed around the arena in an effort to overthrow Sampson but the ride settled for second place. Leahy piloted Steve Schaefer’s 13-year-old Westphalian gelding (Cassini II x Phantom) in a time of 38.75 seconds.
Wesley Newlands (CAN) and Weslands Farms’ 10-year-old BWP stallion Maestro Van Het Binnenveld (Hunter’s Scendix x Conan Z) rounded out the finishing lap of honor on a clear-round that clocked them in at 40.30 seconds.
Final Results – $37,000 Beerbaum Stables Grand Prix Qualifier CSI 2*
1) Matthew Sampson (IRL) & Curraghgraigue Obos Flight – 0 / 0 – 38.62
2) Caelinn Leahy (USA) & Coldplay 31 – 0 / 0 – 38.75
3) Wesley Newlands (CAN) & Maestro Van Het Binnenveld – 0 / 0 – 40.30
Source: Press Release by Summer Grace and Amanda Picciotto Feitosa / Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / WEF – Winter Equestrian Festival
Photos: © Sportfot