CSI 5*

Teenage Sensation Grace Debney & Zarina de Vidau Blaze to Win $37,000 Bainbridge CSI 5* at Wellington

Wellington, Florida, USA – April 01, 2022 – The third day of international competition on Friday, April 1, during the final Rolex-sponsored week of the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF),  closed out with Grace Debney (GBR) winning her first-ever five-star class in the $37,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.45m CSI 5*. WEF hosts 13 weeks of top-caliber sport featuring FEI jumper classes as well as nationally-rated hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions and concludes on April 3.

Fourteen nations were represented in the 50-horse lineup of the five-star class. Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) built a track worthy of the day’s main event with a single-round speed challenge to be completed under an efficient time of 76 seconds.

Daniel Coyle (IRL) and his top mount, Farona, took the early lead in the speed class as he stopped the clock in 55.30 seconds with Ariel Grange’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Baltic VDL x Lux Z). The pair held the headline position until nearly the end, but Debney made it clear she did not come to take second.

Debney and her long-time partner Zarina de Vidau, a horse she has had since acquiring her to do the junior jumpers, put complete faith in one another and became the only combination to lower the time on the scoreboard below 55 seconds. By leaving several strides out across the course and relying on the trust they have built, Debney and the Temple Equestrian LLC’s 11-year-old Spanish Sport Horse mare (Diamant De Semilly) shook up the competition with a final time of 54.97 seconds.

“When we originally walked the course, there were three or four lines that I had planned to do one more stride than I ended up doing,” explained Debney. “As the class progressed though, I knew I had to leave out as many strides as I could to have a shot. She has a normal stride, so I was able to gallop down there and get the leave-out numbers without slowing down.”

Debney continued that she could have never imagined competing in this caliber of event with this mare when the partnership first came together.

Grace Debney (IRL) & Zarina de Vidau

“This has been a dream of mine for the longest time, and I never actually thought it would come true but the fact that it is with her is unbelievably special,” added the 18-year-old. “She has been my rock for so long, and somehow she has stepped up even more for me this year. Never in a million years would I have thought I would win a five-star competition during Rolex week with this horse.”

According to Debney, the relationship the pair has built is key to being able to achieve what they have.

“Every time we went to leave a stride out today, I would have a split-second thought of pulling to fit in one more,” she detailed. “Then I would remember it was Zarina, and I would know that she had my back. We have so much trust in one another, and she truly enjoys her job, which makes it better for all of us.”

With his previous leading time, Coyle still received the red ribbon honors while fellow countryman Darragh Kenny (IRL) rounded out the top three.

Darrah Kenny (IRL) piloted the HKC Collection LLC’s 15-year-old KWPN mare Cicomein VDL (Chacco-Blue x Jus De Pomme) to a clear effort and cleared the timers in 56.40 seconds.

The highlight of WEF 12 and the 2022 WEF circuit is the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* on Saturday, April 2, at 11 a.m. ET. While there is no “Saturday Night Lights” event for WEF 12, fans of equestrian sport are welcomed to cheer on horses and riders at the $35,000 Wellington National Golf Club Spring 1 Grand Prix on Saturday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Final Results – $37,000 Bainbridge CSI 5*

1) Grace Debney (GBR) & Zarina de Vidau – 0 / 54.97

2) Daniel Coyle (IRL) & Farona – 0 / 55.23

3) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Cicomein VDL – 0 /  56.4

Source: Press Release by Summer Grace & Sabrina Schmidt / Jennifer Wood Media, Inc. for ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / WEF – Winter Equestrian Festival

Photos: © Sportfot