Ocala, Florida, USA – June 25, 2022 – It was a momentous evening as Lauren Balcomb (AUS) notched her first international grand prix victory in Saturday night’s $140,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI 3* during the inaugural week of international competition at the World Equestrian Center – Ocala.
A diverse field of 31 horse-and-rider combinations representing 12 nations tried to tackle the imposing track set by world-renowned course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) for the 2022 Ocala Summer Series Week III feature class on June 25.
Five pairs found the clear path to advance to the jump-off, where it was Balcomb aboard her own 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding Verdini D’Houtveld Z who could not be caught, stopping the clock in 37.15 seconds for the win.
“I bought ‘Verdini’ as a six-year-old to be a three-day horse. I evented him for a little bit, then decided that was not the route to go down. I met Sharn [Wordley] and that’s when I started to compete in show jumping,” explained Balcomb. “I have been knocking on the door recently, so to win right in my backyard is so special. All of my friends were here to support me and now I can’t wipe the smile off my face.”
The first entry to return was Aaron Vale (USA), who managed to deliver clean first rounds on both of his mounts, Prescott and Condarco. Vale was the first to return on Prescott, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Lordanos. The pair swiftly completed the course in 39.06 seconds, but with an unfortunate rail at the final fence.
Hunter Holloway (USA) and Hays Investment Corp.’s Pepita Con Spita were the next pair down the ramp into the WEC Grand Arena with the hopes of a clear round. Holloway and the 11-year-old Westphalian mare (DSP Con Spirit x Come On) delivered an exceptional round in 37.64 seconds, to ultimately secure second place.
Holloway was effusive about her mare, “Pepita is my tried-and-true mount. I know her like the back of my hand. She comes out and proves herself every time she steps in a ring. Tonight, she felt like amazing, and she put it all out there for me.”
Lauren Balcomb (AUS) and scopey 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Verdi Tn x Carentino 2) followed Holloway. Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z galloped throughout the track, taking tight inside turns while soaring to the top of the standards, setting the new time to beat of 37.15 seconds.
Balcomb never thought that Verdini D’Houtveld Z would be winning an FEI grand prix, “I bought Verdini as a six-year-old to be a three-day horse. I evented him for a little bit, then decided that was not the route to go down. I met Sharn [Wordley] and that’s when I started to compete in show jumping.”
Final Results – $140,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI 3*
1) Lauren Balcomb (AUS) & Verdini D’Houtveld Z, Lauren Balcomb: 0 | 0 | 37.15
2) Hunter Holloway (USA) & Pepita con Spita, Hays Investment Corp: 0 | 0 | 37.64
3) Aaron Vale (USA) & Condarco, Thinkslikeahorse: 0 | 0 | 38.87
4. Peter Petschenig (AUT) & Ennebel van het Posthuijs, Brooke Peterson: 0 | 0 | 38.89
5. Valdes Z, Evan M. Coluccio (USA), Hampton Green Farm LLC: 0 | 4 | 38.99
6. Prescott, Aaron Vale (USA), Thinkslikeahorse: 0 | 4 | 39.06
7. Alberto Michan (ISR) & Nabal de Trivera, , Alberto Michan: 2 | 80.48
8. Richard Spooner (USA) & Chatinus, Richard Spooner: 3 | 81.21
9. Luis Larrazabal (VEN) & Sligo Balou Boy, Luis Larrazabal: 4 | 75.61
10. Santiago Lambre (BRA) & Comtess 202, Santiago Lambre: 4 | 76.3
Source: Press Release from Jump Media for WEC – World Equestrian Center Ocala
Photos: © WEC / Andrew Ryback Photography