Wellington, Florida, USA – April 21, 2022 – The third week of the ESP Spring Series kicked off with FEI competition on Thursday, featuring some of the best riders in the world competing on the grass derby field. In the final international class of the day, Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Contefina LVF galloped to the win in the $37,000 Perfect Products 1.45m CSI3* ahead of Sunday’s $140,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI3*, which will be the final FEI grand prix of the Spring circuit. “Hopefully it’s a good omen for the weekend,” Bond exclaimed. Her win today comes less than two weeks after she topped the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* at the end of the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Of the winning 2012 Holsteiner mare (Contefino 2 x South Pacific), Bond had to share, “Fina [Contefina LVF] is our homebred; we bred her mother and bought her grandmother so it’s a horse I know very well, which makes my job a lot easier. She’s all heart and naturally fast, so you have to push a bit, but she pretty much is taking you the whole way around and maintains the same speed. In these kinds of courses, it makes her so fast because you don’t have to change much; her stride is big but not to the point where you have to slow down in the lines, which I feel gives us a bit of an advantage. She also turns so fast. My dad has been working a lot on cutting moves with her so that when I turn my head she goes where I look. This is her bread and butter, she loves her job.”
Fifty-two competitors tested the track for the speed class, set by Andy Christiansen (ECU), with 29 pairs placing foot-perfect rounds. Twenty-third in the order of go, Bond and Contefina LVF, owned by Little Valley Farms, stopped the clock at 62.77 seconds after placing a swift but careful round that put them in the lead and was ultimately the winning time by more than a second.
“I thought the course was great, and it flowed really nicely,” Bond shared. “When I walked the course, everyone was questioning the possibilities of inside turns, but I think it would have been too risky, and it would have slowed you down too much. I did not see anyone do the inside turns, and I did not try them either. Contefina is usually the one I take my inside turns with, but I did not feel it was necessary today. The course rode beautifully already because you could keep that nice gallop throughout, which I like a lot for these types of classes.”
Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) and Louisburg Farm’s Berdien finished in second place with a clear time of 63.96 seconds, followed by Mexico’s Eugenio Garza Perez and Victer Finn DH Z, owned by David Garza, in third position with a fault-free time of 64.08 seconds.
Final Results – $37,000 Perfect Products Speed Challenge CSI 3*
1) Ashlee Bond (ISR) & Contefina LVF – 0 – 62.77
2) Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) & Berdien – 0 – 63.96
2) Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) & Victer Finn DH Z – 64.08
Source: Press Release from ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions / Wellington International
Photos: © Sportfot