Luis Sabino Gonçalves & Bemol des Champs are the Champions of the $100,000 UF Health Grand Prix

Ocala, Florida, USA – January 28, 2023 – Spectators packed the stands at World Equestrian Center – Ocala Saturday night to watch the highlight event of the week, the $100,000 UF Health Grand Prix. Thirty-two athletes representing 12 different nations put forth their best effort over a technical first round track designed by FEI Level III course designer Kenny Krome (USA). Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) dominated the class taking home first and third place after an exciting 12 horse jump-off.

Nine of the 12 jump-off competitors yielded a double-clean effort, with multiple placings separated by just one tenth of a second.

Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Vick du Croisy

Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) led the charge in the jump-off aboard Sigma Stables LLC’s 14-year-old Selle Francais mare Vick du Croisy (Lord Carthago x Merveille Ducroisy) with a quick time of 38.517 seconds to set the pace.

Last week’s grand prix winner, Hunter Holloway (USA) followed aboard Hays Investment Corp.’s Eastern Jam. The pair found an efficient track in 40.556 seconds with one rail down.

Sharn Worldey (NZL) entered the arena next aboard fan favorite Gatsby. The pair navigated a swift track, but fell short with a time of 42.557 seconds.

Rowan Willis (AUS) and his own Wellington Grey Goose (Corlensky x Grandira) followed. Willis and the 12-year-old Warmblood mare put forth a stellar performance just shy of the leading time by one tenth of a second in 38.680 seconds.

Armando Hassey (MEX) & Lomax

Armando Hassey (MEX) entered the WEC Grand Arena next with his own Lomax (Lord Pezi x Queen). Hassey and the 13-year-old Westphalian gelding navigated a blistering fast jump-off in 38.445 seconds to take over the lead.

Vicente Guillen (VEN), Devin Ryan (USA), Santiago Lambre (BRA) and Tom Foley (IRL) all gave a good effort, but couldn’t find Hassey’s quick time.

Gonçalves returned for his second try at the course aboard his new mount Bemol des Champs (Chef Rouge x Ornella Des Champs). Goncalves was determined to take back the leading spot in the class, “I have been second and third in the past during the Saturday night grands prix, but I have never won one, so I made that my goal tonight,” laughed Goncalves.

Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Bemol des Champs

“Normally, the mare [Vick Du Croisy] is faster, because Bemol des Champs is just starting to do the bigger classes,” Goncalves shared. “I just tried to leave out strides wherever I could, turn short and let him show his quality. He jumped so well tonight, and was a real fighter in the arena.”

Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Bemol des Champs

Goncalves and the talented 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding flew around the jump-off track, finding an incredibly tight turn back to the UF Health vertical to fly around the remainder of the course. The pair soared through the timers stopping the clock at an unimaginable 37.424 seconds, more than a second faster than Hassey’s time.

Gonçalves spoke about his new mount, “I have just had him for a few months. He came over from France where he was competing with an amateur in the 1.45m and a few 1.55m. I flew him into LAX in California, and we did a few national shows over there. Then we did the World Cup™ in Fort Worth, Texas where he was eleventh in the CSI4* Grand Prix. I am so proud of him for jumping so well tonight and I am looking forward to our partnership together.”

Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Bemol des Champs

Gonçalves was thrilled to take home his first grand prix win at World Equestrian Center – Ocala tonight, “That ring is amazing. The organization does such an incredible job taking care of the facilities and the riders. The jumps are beautiful. You feel like you’re riding at a world championship or the Olympic games. The atmosphere is always so much fun with the crowd and horses always rise to the occasion. They feel confident with the footing and the jumps are always new each week. I love jumping here.”

Sharn Wordley (NZL) had one more chance to try and snag the time aboard Valentine Car owned by Fernando Cardenas Jr., but the pair couldn’t quite get there with a time of 39.595 seconds. Santiago Lambre (BRA) was the last to go, but opted to save his horse for another day.

An additional $5,000 was awarded to the fastest four-faulter of the $100,000 UF Health Grand Prix. Jacqueline Ruyle and San Chano received the award with an incredibly fast time of 73.777 seconds with one down.

Daniel Geitner received the $5,000 ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.

Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Bemol des Champs accepting their first-place award presented by Traci d’Auguste, Chief Operating Officer at UF Health Shands Hospital, Luciano Dome, Elena Armas and Jim Wolf of World Equestrian Center. 

Final Results – $100,000 UF Health Grand Prix

1) Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Bemol des Champs, Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 0 | 37.424

2) Armando Hassey (MEX) & Lomax, Armando Hassey: 0 | 0 | 38.445

3) Luis Sabino Goncalves (POR) & Vick du Croisy, Sigma Stables LLC: 0 | 0 | 38.517

4) Rowan Willis (AUS) & Wellington Grey Goose, Rowan Wills: 0 | 0 | 38.680

5) Devin Ryan (USA) & Eddie Blue, LL Show Jumpers, LLC: 0 | 0 | 38.884

6) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Valentine Car, Fernando Cardenas Jr.: 0 | 0 | 39.595

7) Vicente Guillen (VEN) & Rustica LS La Silla, Tranquility Farm: 0 | 0 | 40.762

8) Sharn Wordley (NZL) & Gatsby, Della Wordley: 0 | 0 | 42.557

9) Tom Foley (IRL) & Skara Glen’s Para Bellum, NRG Farm LLC: 0 | 0 | 50.208

10) Hunnter Hollowa (USA) & Eastern Jam, Hays Investment Corp.: 0 | 4 | 40.556

Source: Press Release from World Equestrian Center

Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography