CSI 5*

Jad Dana Beats the Odds to Win $78,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic CSI 5* at Wellington

Wellington, Florida, USA – March 12, 2023 – The 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) has providd career defining moments for Jad Dana and it was no different on Sunday as the Lebanese rider teamed up with After Eight this time for his fifth win the past four months at the Wellington International equestrian venue.

Once again, Alan Wade (IRL) designed another masterpiece for Sunday’s showdown, the $78,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic CSI 5*. Fifty-six combinations took to the skies at the ring of the International Arena with fifteen of them advancing to what promised to be a thrilling tiebreaker.

Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Chic Chic

Dana faced fierce competition from some of the best riders in the world in the 1.50m challenge, including renowned names of the noble sport who had advanced to the decisive round: Laura Kraut (USA), Margie Engle (USA), Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Kristen Vanderveen (USA), Eduardo Menezes (BRA), Nayel Nassar (EGY), Lillie Keenan (USA). However, it was the Irishman Darragh Kenny (IRL), a multiple-five-star grand prix winner, who was hot on Dana’s heels, giving him run for his money.

Margie Engle (USA) and Jack of Hearts were the pathfinders in the jump-off but two poles were knocked down, resulting in eight penalty-points for the duo. The first clean performance of the decisive phase was produced by Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Dorado de Riverland but their time of 36.17 seconds would end up in fourth place. Nassar was one of two riders to have two opportunities to claim the win, however he was a bit slower with his second mount, Coronado, being out of contention for a podium finish. The ensuing competitors were either slower or had at least a pole down causing Nayel’s name to remain at the top of the leaderboard but not until the end. However, his mark would be lowered by two other riders, three combinations.

Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Vancouver Dreams

It was not until Darragh Kenny (IRL) rode into the arena with his first of two rides he had managed to qualify for the tiebreaker that the Egyptian was challenged. And Darragh did not disappoint at all! He would go on to claim both the second and third spot on the podium. His first attempt came aboard Vancouver Dreams, the Oakland Ventures’ 13-year-old chestnut Hanoverian mare (Valentino 240 x Stakkato), and he made the most of it, temporarily taking over the lead with the time of 35.15 seconds.

Four other pairs tried to beat Kenny’s time but nobody else could match his mark and he still had a second chance for the win with Chic Chic. The Irishman sped on the course aboard the 12-year-old bay Westphalian stallion (Comme Il Faut x Contendro I) but he could not improve it.

Jad Dana (LBN) & After Eight

Although Jad Dana (LBN) had the advantage of going last, he shouldn’t have been considered the favorite to claim the blue ribbon. Actually, the odds were against him since both Nassar and Kenny got two chances to claim the blue ribbon. However, Dana delivered. The Lebanese didn’t seem to feel the pressure on his shoulder, guiding Springhill Farm 1850’s After Eight in flawless fashion. The 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Diarado x Cardento) responded, not only leaving all the poles up but dashing across the finish line five-hundredths of a second faster (35.10s), thus giving him the win.

Jad Dana (LBN) & After Eight during the awards ceremony

Winner’s Circle – Jad Dana (LBN)

“I went late in the jump-off, which is definitely an advantage because I got to see how fast they went. Honestly, when I saw Nayel who ended up fourth, I didn’t think I could beat him, and I thought it would be impossible to beat Darragh. 

“Even though my mare is very fast, the riders today had so much experience and they are incredibly talented,” continued Dana. “I truly thought I had no chance. I was happy to just be in the jump-off to start with. This mare tried her heart out for me today.”

Final Results – $78,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Classic CSI 5* 1.50m

1) Jad Dana (LBN) & After Eight – 0 / 0 – 35.10

2) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Vancouver Dreams – 0 / 0 – 35.15

3) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Chic Chic – 0 / 0 – 36.04

Text: Jumper News, no reproduction without permission.

Source Interview: Press Release from ESP – Equestrian Sports Productions

Photos: © Jeena Jah Photography