U.S. Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Breitling LS claimed victory in the first international grand prix of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit, topping an all-female podium on Saturday, January 16, at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC)
There were 44 entries for the $137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Grand Prix CSI3*, competing over a course set by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen Jr. (ECU) consisting of 13 numbered obstacles.
Just three were able to find the clear path to the jump-off in the first of four grand prix events under the lights for the 2021 circuit.
The pathfinder was Sydney Shulman (ISR) on J-Boston S.E., a 12-year-old BWP gelding by Boris VH Kluizebos owned by Jill Shulman. With a rail in the double combination, their four faults in 48.86 seconds landed them in third place.
It was a solid start for Shulman and J-Boston S.E., who have been paired together for a year but have only competed at nine FEI-rated horse shows.
Shulman noted, “Tonight was actually his second night class ever. I’d only gotten to do him one time in Tryon this summer, and we went at 6:30 in the first ten in the class, so it wasn’t really under the lights. This was his first class here under the lights.
“We’re just building up,” she continued. “I was thrilled with the way he jumped the first round. He made it really easy for me. He’s had a long break and is just getting back into the groove. I wanted to make it a confident experience this time so it can carry us through the rest of the circuit. I was really happy with that result.”
Next in the ring was Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), a team gold medalist from the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018. Riding Bennys Legacy, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Lupicor x Acordia owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC, they put in a solid clear trip in a time 45.17 seconds for second place.
After an unfortunate slip in the jump-off in Thursday’s qualifier, Sternlicht returned to the grand prix jump-off planning on giving Bennys Legacy a confident ride.
“My horse jumped amazing this week,” said Sternlicht, who also won the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award, given in memory of Dale Lawler. “I knew there were places that I could open up his stride, like the eight [strides] across the middle came up naturally for my horse but I thought about being a bit conservative on the turns tonight to give him a conservative and confident ride with so much to look forward to this season. He responded really well, so I’m happy to be second tonight and always happy to be second to Beezie.”
Wrapping up the jump-off were Madden and Breitling LS, a 15-year-old SLS stallion by Quintero x Accord II. They made quick work of the short course, coming home clear in 41.87 seconds.
“Adrienne [Sternlicht] is so good at working out of that big gallop and that horse is naturally quick anyway,” explained Madden of the jump-off. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to beat her on that part,’ so I tried to do it on the turns and just match her. The eight [strides] across the middle to the double looked a little risky from where I was sitting, but he did it well and I think I beat her from fence one to two and maybe the turn after the double [combination] as well. I thought those were the only places that I could try and catch her.”
While Madden believed that the course suited Breitling, an uncharacteristic “rocky” performance in Thursday’s qualifier led her to ride him “a little on the strong side.”
She added, “I thought I’d just have to have a nice, confident round, and he really responded to it and jumped well anyway. A lot of times it’s hard for them to concentrate when you’re riding them a little strong, but I thought he really rose to the occasion and did that well. I was really happy.”
Madden is known for giving her horses a lengthy winter vacation, but after so many cancellations in 2020 due to the pandemic, she was ready to bring out Breitling early at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“I’m going to pick and choose where I think he’s going to do well,” she said of her 2018 FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final and 2019 Pan American Games double bronze medal winner. “I think for his confidence right now starting out, he probably doesn’t need a five star right away. I’m going to pick some classes where he can get confident, and when he feels really good, I’ll slot him into a five star here and there.”
Talking about her Leading Lady Rider Award, Sternlicht, 27, said: “It’s an incredibly prestigious award. We have incredible depth in terms of females competing in this sport, not just in our country but of every nationality. Winning this award sets a really nice tone and I want to thank Martha for sponsoring this award. It’s always something we aspire to win as female riders.”
In recognition of the award, Sternlicht of Greenwich, CT, was presented with a bottle of champagne, a bouquet of flowers, and a gift certificate for a shopping spree at Hunt, Ltd. by Martha W. Jolicoeur and her husband, Dr. Stephen Norton.
“It was so fun to be part of a ‘ladies’ night’ with one of my best friends and a rider every American girl looks up to,” said Sternlicht. “There’s so much to look forward to this season and I’m sponsored really well, so I’m happy to be second tonight. I’m always happy to be second to Beezie.”
Final Results: $137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Grand Prix CSI3*
- BREITLING LS: 2006 Dutch Warmblood stallion by Quintero x Accord II
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/41.87
- BENNYS LEGACY: 2008 Oldenburg gelding by Lupicor x Acordia
ADRIENNE STERNLICHT (USA), Starlight Farms, LLC: 0/0/45.17
- J-BOSTON S.E.: 2009 BWP gelding by Boris van het Kluizebos
SYDNEY SHULMAN (ISR), Jill Shulman: 0/4/48.86
- TOPBLUE: 2011 ISH gelding by Chacco-blue x Sea Top Lady
ANDREW BOURNS (IRL), Andrew Bourns: 1/80.42
- CREEDANCE: 2007 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Lord Z x Notaris
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington & Haity McNerney: 4/72.87
- NORTHERN LIGHT: 2011 SWB mare by Plot Blue x Contender
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 4/74.56
- IGOR VAN DE WITTEMOERE: 2008 BWP gelding by Cooper Vd Heffinck x Dahlia Vd Heffinck
NAYEL NASSAR (EGY), Evergate Stables, LLC: 4/74.74
- ALEJANDRO: 2009 Rheinländer gelding by Acorado’s Ass x Contanga
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Seabrook, SpyCoast Farm and Sweet Oak Farm: 4/75.36
- H5 QUINTOL: 2005 Oldenburg gelding by Quintender x Cento
EDUARDO MENEZES (BRA), H5 Sport Horses, LLC: 4/75.56
- CHACCO KID: 2006 Oldenburg by Chacco Blue x Come On
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Chacco Kid Group: 4/76.22
- UNE DE L’OTHAIN: 2008 Selle Français by Conterno Grande x Cento
HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Evergate Stables LLC: 4/76.94
- QUIBELLE: 2009 Hannoverian mare by Frh Quaid x Sherry
SPENCER SMITH (USA), Gotham Enterprizes, LLC: 4/76.96
‘Like riding a cloud in the canter’
Nineteen equitation riders entered the South Ring on Saturday to compete for the top prize in the Bruno Delgrange Palm Beach Adult Medal in Week 1 at the Winter Equestrian Festival. After a first round course and a flat phase, Alexander Goet, of Delmar, NY, rode his own Calvanos to the blue ribbon.
This year marks Goet’s first year as an amateur and it will also be his third year partnered with Calvanos. The pair had successfully shown in the junior equitation classes, including the finals last fall under the tutelage of Stepping Stone Farm.
“We imported him November 2018 from Germany as a five-year-old,” Goet commented of the eight-year-old Westphalian gelding. “From the second he got off the trailer from Europe he has never disappointed us. He is always there to win. Having a horse that wants to walk into the ring and win is a great quality.”
The medal consisted of a first round course, which was followed by a flat test for the top 12 riders. Goet was the sixth rider to go and impressed the judges with his style in both phases of competition.
“The first round was good, and he felt amazing,” Goet explained. “It was nice to have a little bit more horse so I could easily get up the bending line, shape him, and then step down in the turns. He is also very fun to flat; he is so comfortable and like riding a cloud at the canter.”
Goet will be staying and competing in Wellington for the whole season, where he plans to start transitioning from equitation to more hunters and jumpers. “Hopefully we will do some [hunter] derbies this year. Last year we did some over at [Equestrian Village] and a few here,” Goet described. “That’s another good part about Calvanos. He is not just set as an equitation horse; he is a lot of fun in the derbies too.”
The second-place honor went to Lauren Reid, of Kiawah Island, SC, and her horse Norway. Wellington, FL, resident Page Tredennick and her own Tomcat earned a third-place finish in the medal.