Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 16, 2019 – During the penultimate day of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA week at the CP Palm Beach Masters CSIO5*, presented by Suncast, a tidy field of 25 international competitors took to the grass field at Deeridge Farms for a shot at the title in the $72,000 NetJets Classic. Making her mark on the afternoon, Israel’s Ashlee Bond piloted Poden Farms’ Ereina to the only double clear of the class to secure the victory after fending off of an elite field that included a number of Olympic veterans in an almost all-female jump-off, which Bond led from start to finish.
Once again with world-renowned course designer Alan Wade (IRL) at the helm, challengers were up against a first round track at the 1.55m height that consisted of 16 efforts, including an airy triple combination that saw a number of rails fall. At the onset, the initial pack of horse-and-athlete partnerships represented 10 nations, which was whittled down to only three headed into the jump-off. A total of five pairs qualified for a slot over the short course, with Bond and Ereina leading the way as the first to leave all the fences intact as the fifth duo to ride. Two trips later, owner-rider Eve Jobs (USA) and Venue d’Fees Des Hazalles added their names to the list, and they were quickly followed by the ever-consistent Longines FEI world-ranked No. 2 McLain Ward (USA) aboard Kessler Show Stables Europe B.V.’s Tradition De La Roque. Erynn Ballard (CAN) navigated Ilan Ferder’s Fellini S to the fourth clear trip during the first round of riding, and Lauren Hough (USA) was the final entry to advance to round two with the reins on Kathleen Kamine’s Paloma.
First back in the ring, Bond and Ereina left nothing to chance, slicing around the abridged 8-fence pattern successfully in 42.32 seconds to set a high bar for the remaining returners. Falling victim to the double combination, Jobs and her mount accrued 4 faults against them and were a few seconds too slow, increasing the chances for medal-winning Olympian and FEI World Equestrian Games™ reigning team champion Ward and his 12-year-old mare to earn a podium spot. In similar fashion as their American counterparts, Ward and Tradition De La Roque attempted to slice time off the clock on the long gallop from fence 9 to the precarious double combination, but the mare’s knees caught the top rail on the way in to rack up 4 penalties.
The only Canadian representatives still in the running, Ballard and Fellini S made the same fatal flaw, dropping a rail in the double combination with only one pair left to go. Last to take her turn, fellow Olympian Hough, who had already won the morning’s $20,000 Palm Beach Masters Speed Tour, maneuvered her relatively new partner Paloma to what appeared to be the winning ride after leaving the double combination still standing, but their chances were dashed when they lowered the second-to-last fence, solidifying Bond and the 10-year-old mare Ereina as the head of the leaderboard in the $72,000 NetJets Classic.
Even though they had the faster time of 41.68 seconds, Ward and Tradition De La Roque ultimately claimed the reserve position with a single rail down, and Hough and Paloma earned the third podium spot, also with a time faster than the leaders. Ballard and Fellini S finished in fourth place just one second behind, while Jobs and Venue d’Fees Des Hazalles rounded out the jump-off competitors with their overall fifth place in the standings.
Saturday’s win is the second for Bond this week, having galloped Donatello to the best result in the $10,000 CSIO5* CP Welcome Stake on Thursday. Bond only recently took over the reins on Ereina, but the relationship has already proven itself a good one, with Saturday’s win the most prestigious of the horse’s competitive career. The pair are aiming for the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4* with Team Israel in two weeks, which will be held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center just down the road in Wellington, Fla. during the eighth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival. In summer 2018, Bond began representing Israel after changing flags from the United States, and in that short time she has already secured herself as a staple on the team and has contributed to her country’s show jumping status with a series of strong performances.
One final day of show jumping action remains in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA week at Deeridge Farms, with the grand finale, the $230,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA CSIO5*, bringing athletes from nations around the world to center stage, all vying for the top prize for their countries.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Ashlee Bond – $72,000 CSIO5* NetJets Classic winner
On her strategy for the jump-off:
“Lately my strategy has just been to do what I feel is right for me and my horse. I might not win as much but we have been a lot more consistent. I haven’t been thinking as much about who is coming after me, which is a new concept because I used to stress about riders like McLain [Ward] and Lauren [Hough] coming after me and having to leave it all out. Now, I just do what I feel like my horse and I are ready for, and if we win then we’re really happy. If I don’t, I’m still happy. Today it just worked out. I got lucky because I had a really good rub at the Longines oxer, and it stayed in the cups, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here.”
On her newfound riding strategy:
“World Equestrian Games (WEG) was the worst, best experience of my life. [My horse,] Chela LS had been out of the sport a long time and I had a baby, so I felt like there was a lot of pressure to perform. She had just come back from an injury so I didn’t really use her. I did two big classes at Spruce [Meadows] and that was it, so I kept second-guessing my program and what I was doing because I hadn’t done a championship and I was kind of on my own. It was definitely humbling and it taught me that anything can happen and go wrong. After that experience, I figured it couldn’t get any worse than falling on the ground the first day and walking out, so after that I decided to ride for me. You get so into the sport and winning and wanting to be the best, and it was getting in my head too much. Now I do what I feel we are ready for.”
On her reaction to winning:
“It’s definitely a confidence-booster. I haven’t been at this level in a really long time. I’d like to scratch out [what happened at] the WEG. I haven’t really been competing at this caliber of the sport. To come here and still feel like I have it and I can still compete at this level is really nice, and it is a good confidence boost heading into tomorrow[‘s $290,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America].”
On riding for Israel:
“Israel has always been really close to my heart. My dad was born there and he came over here when he was 12 years old. I have a lot of family still there. I know a lot of people think if you’re Israeli you must be Jewish, but I’m actually Christian. I’m really strong in my faith so I feel like I have a real deep connection in that respect to Israel. Israel is something emotionally that I’m really attached to, so being able to represent them is really an amazing feeling. We have really great riders. We don’t have many of them, and it is always the depth of horses that is the problem. If we can maintain getting good depth, I have a good feeling we have a shot anywhere we go. On any given day we can perform as good as anybody if we have the horses to do it on.”
McLain Ward – second place
On his strategy in the jump-off:
“My strategy was to beat Ashlee. I got to see a little bit of her round on the screen. I thought it looked neat and fast, but not crazy. She went a little wide from fence one to two. The mare I have is quite fast, but I also knew that the long run to the double was a little bit of a bogey for her. I tried to set it up well but it didn’t come off. She was great, but it wasn’t our day.”
Lauren Hough – third place
“Paloma is a new ride for me. She is a very quick horse and she has been successful with other riders. I wanted to take a shot and I messed up at the second-to-last jump. I had a good distance, but I think I pushed a bit too much. Hopefully we have a great future together.”
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults | Time
1. Ereina / Ashlee Bond / ISR / Poden Farms / 0 / 0 / 42.32
2. Tradition de la Roque / McLain Ward / USA / Kessler Show Stables Europe B.V. / 0 / 4 / 41.68
3. Paloma / Lauren Hough / USA / Kathleen Kamine / 0 / 4 / 41.89
4. Fellini S / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Ilan Ferder / 0 / 4 / 42.94
5. Venue d’Fees des Hazalles / Eve Jobs / USA / Eve Jobs / 0 / 4 / 44.97
6. Lincourt Gino / Alejandro Karolyi / VEN / Monica Carrera / 1 / 82.29
7. Cula Lou V / Wilton Porter / USA / Sleepy P Ranch LLC / 4 / 74.84
8. Diamonte Darco / Lucas Porter / USA / Sleepy P Ranch LLC / 4 / 78.56
9. Amsterdam / Mario Deslauriers / CAN / Luja LLC, Wishing Well Farm LLC / 4 / 78.66
10. Truman / Amy Millar / CAN / Millar Brooke Farm Ltd. & Overlund / 4 / 79.66
11. Cirus du Ruisseau Z / Ben Maher / GBR / Poden Farms / 4 / 80.06
12. Balintore / Susan Horn / CAN / Kingsfield Farm / 4 / 80.19
For full results, please click here.