Wellington, Florida, USA – March 25, 2022 – The 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival continued week 11 competition, sponsored by Palm Beach County Sports Commission, on Friday, March 25, 2022, with top hunter competition on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village and international jumpers in CSI 4* and CSI 2* classes on the main grounds of Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Over at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s International Arena, 59 of the highest-level show jumpers in the world prepared to vie for the top title in the $50,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round XI. Following a 10-horse jump-off, Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) emerged victorious aboard his 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding entry, Malibu de Muze (Nabab De Reve x Tornedo FCS).
Top course designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. (GER) gave the field 77 seconds on the clock to navigate the long track, which included a double combination, triple combination, and multiple related distances. As the first round concluded, 14 entries created their plan for the jump-off. The returning number of contenders dropped to 10 when Ioli Mytilineou (GRE), Daniel Bluman (ISR), Emanuele Camilli (ITA), and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) elected to save their efforts for another day.
Ireland’s Brian Cournane (IRL) and Armik were the first of seven nations represented to return, but it was Margie Engle (USA) who would be the pathfinder to the first clear round. Engle ultimately settled for fifth place as the time to beat continued to increase in speed. Despite top efforts by Ireland’s Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Mark McAuley (IRL), Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) produced the leading round as he flew through the timers with a time of 35.36 seconds.
“He has a huge stride and a ton of blood,” said Alvarez Moya. “It is funny because I don’t have the best control with him, but when I am going fast I don’t need as much, so I guess that helps. The first few fences of the jump-off I really had to make a plan and ride, but then I just let him go a bit and followed him for the rest.”
The gelding originally appeared on Alvarez Moya’s radar as a prospect for a client, but when the two were not found to be a good match, he pursued the horse.
“We have only been paired for roughly five months,” he explained. “Control was a bit of an issue for me at first, but we have been working hard at getting to know each other and I think we are starting to get there. I always say the horses will find you, and it is true because I was not looking for another horse but now, I have him. He doesn’t have much experience at this level, but I have been very pleased with him throughout the majority of the season.”
Irishmen Kenny and McAuley settled for second and third place, respectively. Darry Kenny (IRL) produced one of the final efforts on course with Vlock Show Stables LLC’s 11-year-old Westphalian stallion Chic Chic (Comme Il Faut 5 x Contendro I) and slid into the second spot a little over a second slower than Moya in 36.98 seconds.
Mark McAuley (IRL) and SNC McAuley Equestrian’s 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Jasco VD Bisschop (Dulf Van Den Bisschop x Krunch De Breve) chased Kenny down to the wire but landed in third with their time of 37.07 seconds.
Weekend competition at WEF will resume on Saturday, March 25, as competition revs up in anticipation of the $50,000 Beerbaum Stables Grand Prix CSI2*. Saturday’s much anticipated “Saturday Night Lights” event, the final Saturday night of the 2022 WEF, will feature the $140,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Championship Final CSI 4*, and will highlight the re-naming ceremony of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Final Results – $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Round XI CSI 4*
1) Sergio Álvarez Moya (ESP) & Malibu de Muze – 0 / 0 – 35.36
2) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Chic Chic – 0 / 0 – 36.98
3) Mark McAuley (IRL) & Jasco vd Bisschop – 0 / 0 – 37.07
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