Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 19, 2019 – Week Two of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hosted the first international grand prix of the 12-week circuit on Saturday evening. The International Arena saw 44 combinations turn out to compete under the lights over course designer Oscar Soberon’s technical tracks, but it was Canadian veteran Mario Deslauriers who came out on top, taking home the first FEI grand prix victory of the season, aboard Amsterdam 27 in the $72,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI2*.
Eight horses and athletes cleared the 13-fence first round track to advance to the jump-off, where Colombia’s Juan Pablo Betancourt kicked things off and set the standard to beat with another clear performance in 38.725 seconds with his own My Way.
One round later, Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL) and his own Armik bested their time by just three-tenths of a second in 38.486 seconds to move into the top spot.
Lauren Hough (USA) and Wyndmont’s Valinski S, who claimed Thursday’s $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup II out of 93 entries, returned to the ring as fifth in the jump-off order-of-go and showcased their consistency with another double-clear effort in 37.281 seconds to takeover the lead next.
The penultimate pair, Deslauriers and Amsterdam 27, an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Wishing Well Farm LLC, completed the short course fault-free in 36.591 seconds, which held through the final round to secure the win, garnering Hough second place honors and Cournane third place.
Hough also earned Week Two’s Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider Award for her top finishes on Thursday and Saturday.
International show jumping competition will continue during Week Three of WEF (Jan. 23–27) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and will highlight the $134,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI3* on Saturday evening.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Mario Deslauriers (CAN) – $72,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI2* winner
On Amsterdam 27:
“This horse just arrived in the [United States] in early May, and he campaigned on the East Coast and at Spruce [Meadows] and started in the FEI at my dad’s show in Bromont. He’s very simple to ride. He has a nice canter, is very adjustable, his mind is great and he’s not spooky. He actually rides better in the ring. When he competes, it’s the easiest place to ride him. He waits for the jump and he’s a gem to ride.”
On his jump-off strategy:
“I have a big step and I think I wheeled back very close on the oxer, but then I had a very good number 15 across the middle. I was quick to the double and I stayed out to the last eight because I have a big step so I didn’t need to slow down. Everything kind of worked perfectly in the jump-off and, usually, when you hit everything right on you have a good time.”
On his plans:
“I am looking for high results with this horse. I like him a lot and I think he’s a super nice horse. I am lucky right now to have two great horses and he’s come along quite fast. As we saw tonight, he jumps very easily. He’s got a great head and he’s learned a lot. It’s very easy for him and I think we have very big goals.”
Lauren Hough (USA) – Second place
On Valinski S:
“He was fantastic all week. I am so grateful to have the ride. He’s a wonderful horse who has been wonderful to so many riders. As I left after my round in the jump-off, I knew I had left the door open a touch. I slowed down quite a bit to the double after going very fast the other day. I felt a touch on the flat side so I didn’t take every risk there. Mario had a super round and his horse has a very big stride. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
On Saturday’s course:
“[Oscar Soberon] did a fantastic job all week. This is a hard week to build and he had perfect numbers in both classes.”
On her partnership with Valinski S:
“Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman have been very good friends of my family for many years. I did ride the horse four years ago for a brief time but when I went back to Europe, they went in a different direction. I have always followed him and they rang me in the fall and asked if I could start to ride some horses for them this winter. With Ohlala hurt, I left her in Europe for the winter, it really fit nicely and I am just honored that they asked me. I am really enjoying riding him. He’s just a fantastic little campaigner. We might do the 3* next week and then I will give him a little bit of a break.”
Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL) – Third place
On his jump-off:
“Armik hasn’t gone fast in a jump-off before so I really wanted to teach him to do it nice and quick. It was an educational round for him.”
“I am really excited about him. He is owned by my mother and father-in-law. They are great to me and own most of my best horses. He’s going to do Week Five for the 5* grand prix.”
$72,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI2*:
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Amsterdam 27 / Mario Deslauriers / CAN / Wishing Well Farm LLC / 0 | 74.22 / 0 | 36.591
2. Valinski S / Lauren Hough / USA / Wyndmont / 0 | 75.43 / 0 | 37.281
3. Armik / Capt. Brian Cournane / IRL / Brian Cournane / 0 | 72.55 / 0 | 38.486
4. My Way / Juan Pablo Betancourt / COL / Juan Pablo Betancourt / 0 | 74.88 / 0 | 38.725
5. Dragonfly De Longchamps / Zoe Conter / BEL / Stephex Stables / 0 | 74.85 / 0 | 39.926
6. Tradition De La Roque / McLain Ward / USA / Kessler Show Stables Europe / 0 | 73.00 / 4 | 36.027
7. Kirschwasser SCF / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Spy Coast Farm, LLC / 0 | 71.47 / 4 | 36.304
8. Just A Gamble / Adrienne Sternlicht / USA / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / 0 | 72.38 / 4 | 36.317
9. Carlito’s Way 6 / Markus Beerbaum / GER / Michaels and Beerbaum GmbH / 1 | 76.04
10. Hadja Van Orshof / Kelli Cruciotti / USA / Kelli Cruciotti / 1 | 78.32
11. Roulette BH / Amanda Derbyshire / GBR / Gochman Sport Horses LLC / 1 | 78.43
12. Amice Z / Charlie Jayne / USA / Charlie Jayne / 4 | 70.94