Enrique Gonzalez and Chacna topped an international field of horses and riders on Saturday to win the $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI2* at WEF Week Two.
Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 21, 2017 – Week Two of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) showcased its highlight event on Saturday with the $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI2*. Of the 44 original starters, Mexico’s Enrique Gonzalez stood atop the podium at the end of the night after laying down a blazing fast jump-off round in 40.369 seconds aboard his own Chacna.
“I’ve been developing [Chacna] and this last year has been really good for her,” said Gonzalez. “We have seen her learn a lot, she has improved and now I think she is ready to compete at this level. My plan this week was to qualify for the night class. She has never shown here and she has never shown in an open arena like this at night so I really wanted her to compete tonight to get ready for the coming weeks.”
Enrique Gonzalez (middle) with Margie Engle (left) and Laura Kraut (right) after winning the $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI2*.
Course designer Ana Catalina Cruz-Harris of Mexico set the stage for Saturday’s international competition, designing a tricky course of which only eight were able to navigate faultlessly in the first round.
Gonzalez was third to go in the jump-off and was the first to pilot the 9-year-old Hanoverian mare to a clear finish, taking the early lead.
Highlights from Enrique Gonzalez and Chacna’s jump-off round.
“It was a complicated week for the course designer,” said Gonzalez. “She had 119 people in the qualifier and it’s very tough to make a nice qualifier to get the horses and riders ready for tonight. I think she did a fantastic job on the course tonight. She only had eight clears with such a big group of talented horses and riders so I think she did a great job. There was not one place where she was catching horses or making trouble. I remember seeing every single rail in the course coming down.”
Kara Chad (CAN) and Torrey Pines Stable’s Gin Tonic VD Laagakkers followed Gonzalez’s performance with another clear round but was four seconds off the winning pace in 44.134 seconds to eventually claim fourth place honors.
Kara Chad and Gin Tonic VD Laagakkers
Margie Engle and Laura Kraut of the United States were separated by only tenths of a second to claim second and third place. Engle rode the powerful 17-year-old grey KWPN stallion, Indigo, owned by Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds, to a time of 41.024 seconds, while Kraut and Nouvelle, owned by Evita Group, stopped the timers in 41.353 seconds.
Margie Engle and Indigo
“[Indigo] doesn’t know he is any older, he acts younger than most of my young horses,” said Engle. “He gave it his best shot and I went as fast as I could. He is always ready to go. He is very enthusiastic and is always wanting to go forward. He is still trying hard and feels sound. He doesn’t know he is getting up there in years, he is still young at heart and doesn’t owe me anything. He is probably going to show the first few weeks and take off the rest of the season. I wanted to start him early because it gets bigger and bigger as it goes on. Now that he is a little bit older, I like to pick my spots with him.”
“We were all here to try to win tonight,” said Kraut. “I knew [Gonzalez] was really, really fast and I went as fast as I could but I just messed up that last turn. I started to turn too early and she cut in so I had to pull her back out. She made a heroic effort over that last fence to not knock it down because I did everything in my power to knock it down. This was her first week jumping since I think the beginning of November. I’d like to jump her next week. I’ll see how she feels after tonight because this course had a lot of jumping and galloping. If she feels good, I’ll probably go again next week.”
Laura Kraut and Nouvelle
Gonzalez returned to Wellington this season to compete for the first time in years, and wasted no time securing his first grand prix win at WEF. Currently ranked number one in the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping North American Western Sub-League rankings, Gonzalez is looking ahead to the World Cup Finals in Omaha, Nebraska, in March.
“My last time at WEF was probably five or six years ago, and at that time I came with younger horses,” said Gonzalez. “We are here for the whole season and this is definitely a very nice way to start. Hopefully we can keep it up for the rest of the season.
Enrique Gonzalez and Chacna
“I am deciding if I really want to take [Chacna] to the World Cup Finals,” continued Gonzalez. “Being from Mexico, I have qualified already. I plan not to show too much here. I just want to get her ready to take a shot in Omaha.”
Week Two of WEF will conclude on Sunday with the $25,000 Hollow Creek Farm U25 Grand Prix at 8 a.m. and the $35,000 Suncast 1.50m Classic wrapping up jumper competition in the International Arena at 12 p.m.
Results: $86,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI2*
Rider/Country/Horse/First Round Faults/Jump-Off Faults/Time
1. Enrique Gonzalez/MEX/Chacna/0/0/40.36
2. Margie Engle/USA/Indigo/0/0/41.02
3. Laura Kraut/USA/0/0/41.35
4. Kara Chad/CAN/CAN/Gin Tonic VD Laagakkers/0/0/44.13
5. Daniel Coyle/IRL/Cita/0/4/39.49
6. Beezie Madden/USA/Breitling LS/0/4/40.12
7. Andrew Ramsay/USA/Cocq A Doodle/0/4/40.55
8. Mavis Spencer/USA/Cornetiero/0/8/46.43
9. Markus Beerbaum/DEU/Tequila de Lille/1/72.12
10. Brett Burlington/USA/Bluf/1/72.15
11. Todd Minikus/USA/Babalou 41/1/72.48
12. Spencer Smith/USA/Rivale du Barques/1/73.17