Ocala, Florida, USA – February 18, 2023 – It was a packed house tonight as spectators near and far surrounded the WEC Grand Arena to watch the $100,000 Florida Coast Equipment Grand Prix at World Equestrian Center – Ocala. Thirty-eight elite show jumping athletes representing ten nations put forth their best efforts over a complex track built by world-renowned course designer Leopoldo Palacios (VEN). Ultimately it was pathfinder Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) and Sigma Stables LLC’s Vick du Croisy (Lord Carthago x Merveille Ducroisy) who scored their second feature class win of the week and galloped away with the lion’s share of the prize money.
FEI Level IV course designer Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) set the challenging track that featured 16 jumping efforts including an imposing triple combination with a tight time allowed that caught numerous riders throughout the evening. Seven horse-and-rider combinations navigated their way to a clean first round to return for the jump-off.
“I went toward the beginning of the order, so I didn’t have time to watch the class. I had to go with my plan of how I thought the course would ride when I walked. Most of the riders were saying that the line was going to be short after the triple bar to the double combination, but it ended up being a bit more open, so people were having the back rail down of oxer going in. In the last line, everyone thought it was going to be a holding five after the triple combination, but it ended up being a very going five. It was such a big combination with the arch walls right next to the VIP area, so the horses were backed off,” said Goncalves.
The crowd was on the edge of their seats as Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) entered down the ramp aboard the speedy 14-year-old Selle Francais mare. Goncalves and Vick du Croisy flew over the Florida Coast Equipment oxer to stop the clock at an unbeatable 37.592 seconds.
“The question was to do the six or the seven from one to two, but I was first in, so I wanted to put the pressure on so the rest would have to go after me. She walked down the six and we found everything else forward. The double combination was big, but my mare is so careful, I trusted her quality and she proved herself. To the last, I just went for it. I am not even sure how many I did to the last fence. I even asked my team, and they couldn’t even tell me because they were all just focused on the clock,” laughed Goncalves.
Aaron Vale (USA) and Thinkslikeahorse’s Cristo Beech were in next, and the pair gave a good effort, but had a rail down along the way.
Olympic gold medalist William Simpson (USA) and his own Chacco P were the next duo to try their hand at Palacios’ winding track. Simpson and the 14-year-old Mecklenburg gelding made light work of the track to stop the clock just shy of Goncalves’ time in 38.552 seconds.
Richard Spooner (USA) and Show Jumping Syndications International’s Quirado RC (Quinar x Ursula) followed. The pair found a textbook round in 43.054 seconds to ultimately earn fourth.
Peter Petschenig (AUT) and Tom Foley (IRL) both put forth a good effort but had an unlucky rail to keep them out of the top three placings.
Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) and Barbara Disko’s Ivaro N (Elvaro x Celli) were the final pair to attempt to snag Goncalves’ time. Goldman-Smolen and the ten-year-old KWPN gelding flew around the track in 40.279 seconds which was good for third place.
An additional $5,000 was awarded to the fastest four-faulter of the $100,000 Florida Coast Equipment Grand Prix. Santiago Lambre and Pampero received the award for a time of 80.507 seconds with one down.
David Cameron received the ‘Luck of the Draw’ award.
Final Results – $100,000 Florida Coast Equipment Grand Prix
1) Luis Sabino Gonçalves (POR) & Vick Du Croisy, Sigma Stables LLC – 0 | 0 – 37.592
2) William Simpson (USA) & Chacco P, William Simpson – 0 | 0 – 38.552
3) Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA)& Ivaro N, Barbara Disko – 0 | 0 – 40.279
4) Richard Spooner (USA) & Quirado RC, Show Jumping Syndications International – 0 | 0 – 43.054
5) Aaron Vale (USA) & Cristo Beech, Thinkslikeahorse – 0 | 4 – 40.483
6) Peter Petschenig (AUT) & Ennebel Van Het Posthuijus, Peter Petschenig – 0 | 4 – 41.175
7) Tom Foley (IRL) & Skara Glen’s Para Bellum, NRG Farm LLC – 0 | 5 – 48.762
8) Lillie Keenan (USA) & Chili Pepper H M Z, Lillie Keenan – 1 – 85.268
9) Sarah Jeanne Scheiring (USA) & Margriet De Mariposa, Bellwyn Farm LLC – 1 – 85.435
10) Tracy Fenney (USA) & MTM Apple, MTM Farm – 1 – 85.605
Source: Press Release from World Equestrian Center
Photos: © WEC – Andrew Ryback Photography