Wellington, Florida, USA – February 23, 2023 – Israel’s Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Donatello 141 were lightning fast during the $78,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round VII CSI 5* in the International Arena on Thursday during the Winter Equestrian Festival’s (WEF) Week 7, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds.
Fifty contenders tackled the Steve Stephens (USA) track where some of the easy favorites fell victim to a testing course. Fourteen advanced to the tie-breaking jump-off, including Bond and her trusted partner, “Donnie”.
Small in stature and stride but massive in heart, Donatello 141, a 12-year-old Westphalian gelding (Diarado x Lamoureux I) stopped the short course timers at 32.62 seconds.
The seasoned partnership between Bond and Donatello 141 was obvious as they pipped Jessica Mendoza’s (GBR) more than respectable time of 33.39 seconds. Mendoza (GBR) and her own Play settled for second.
Belgium’s Jos Verlooy (BEL) and Igor finished third on a time of 33.89 seconds for owners Eurohorse.
“He always gives me one hundred and ten percent,” said Bond of her 2020 Olympic games mount. “I brought him out [after some time off] a couple weeks ago and he felt a little bit rusty, but I think we knocked the rust off today. I said coming out of the ring, ‘he’s back in form,’ so it was just reassuring for him to go out there and do so well. He was actually running today. Normally I’m kicking him, but today he was pulling me, so I just kept pushing.”
Bond was leaving nothing to chance from the first fence in the jump-off and left out valuable strides thanks to Donatello’s scope and speed, “It’s almost not fair because he’s so agile,” said Bond with a smile. “I did seven strides from one to two where people were doing eight or nine, and he probably has the smallest stride out of the field.”
The seventh edition of the Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup during WEF 2023 served as a qualifier for the $425,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI 5* taking up the spotlight during Saturday Night Lights this weekend. Bond will point Donatello towards Saturday night as she gears up to defend her 2022 title in the season-culminating Rolex CSI5* Grand Prix during WEF 12.
Final Results – $78,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Round VII CSI 5*
1) Ashlee Bond (ISR) & Donatello 141 – 0 / 0 – 32.62
2) Jessica Mendoza (GBR) & Play – 0 / 0 – 33.39
3) Jos Verlooy (BEL) & Igor – 0 / 0 – 33.89
Source: Press Release from Equestrian Sports Productions
Photos: © Wellington International / Sportfot
Categories: CSI 5*, English, Jumper News Israel, Winter Equestrian Festival