Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 25, 2020 – The third installment of the Saturday Night Lights series at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) welcomed riders from around the world to the International Arena for the $137,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI3*. The class drew an impressive crowd of spectators that watched as 45 horse-and-athlete combinations vied for the top spot. Ultimately, it was Erin Davis-Heineking aboard Leonie that rode away with top honors.
Great Britain’s Kelvin Bywater’s 13-obstacle first-round course proved challenging as competitors struggled to keep the rails up in order to claim their seat in the jump-off. With rails down all over the course and many riders incurring time faults, just five horse-and-athlete pairs managed to remain clear, including Davis-Heineking (USA), Spencer Smith (USA), Cameron Hanley (IRL), Amanda Derbyshire (GBR), Shane Sweetnam (IRL), and Kent Farrington (USA).
The course was reset for the eight-obstacle jump off with a time allowed of 60 seconds. Davis-Heineking was the first to challenge the jump-off, setting the time to beat at 45.51 seconds with a clear round. Smith and Theodore Manciais, a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Ashland Farms, were the next pair in the ring, but could not take over the top spot. The pair finished in 61.934 seconds with 6 faults.
Hanley tackled the course next aboard Kasper Van Het Hellehof, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Poden Farms. The pair had an unfortunate rail down at the first jump of the combination mid-course, finishing the jump off in 48.329 seconds with 4 faults. Derbyshire put down the second clear round in the jump off riding a 12-year-old Holsteiner stallion owned by Gochman Sport Horses LLC, but was still short of Davis-Heineking’s lead, finishing in 49.894 seconds.
Sweetnam gave a valiant effort to catch Davis-Heineking, but was just under her time aboard his quick mount Karlin Van’t Vennehof, a 10 year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC. The pair sat in second place with a time of 45.67 seconds with just one horse-and-athlete pair that remained. Concluding the jump off, Farrington also cleared the course, finishing with a time of 46.02 seconds. Though not fast enough to take over the lead, Farrington and Kaprice, owned by Farrington and Haity McNerney, would ride away with third place. Sweetnam and Karlin Van’t Vennehof would ultimately receive second place.
The $137,000 Adequan Grand Prix marked Davis-Heineking’s first major win since returning from retirement. She has been paired with Leonie, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by October Hill Farm, for two years. Davis-Heineking began riding Leonie simply for fun, never expecting to one day win a major grand prix at WEF with the mare. The pair will remain in Wellington for just one more week, hoping to notch another win in their belt.
Week Three of WEF will conclude Sunday, January 26, featuring the $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic kicking off at 10:00 a.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Erin Davis-Heineking – $137,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI3* winner
On her jump-off:
“I was a little bit in disbelief that I had left a couple of jumps up out there! It didn’t quite go as I planned – I had an idea in my mind of the numbers that I wanted to do and then right before I went in my trainer and husband [Christian Heineking] told me to leave one stride out from all of those. I took a shot at the last line trying to do six strides, but I realized that I was probably going to turn myself over and chipped in a seven, but [Leonie] left it up. I was really proud of her.”
“I started riding [Leonie] about two years ago. She was a sales horse that my husband [Christian Heinekin] brought over to the United States. At that point I was retired, I was no longer riding. He was trying to get me back in the saddle and he said, ‘Why don’t you just play around with this horse at home.’ Before I knew it, he talked me into going into a small grand prix. I was in the jump off and I almost won. After that, I kind of got the taste for competing again. Honestly, I never saw myself here two years ago. It has been quite a ride.”
On returning to WEF:
“I’m going to age myself, but I came out here in my early twenties and competed mostly in a lot of amateur divisions. When I first started coming here, [the International Arena] was a turf ring and Grand Prix Village was a fairly new concept. I haven’t been back here in awhile but wow, what a way to come back! It is fun to see everyone here and catch up with some old friends and see how everyone is doing, especially Kent [Farrington] who has been all over the world. But there is lots of history here.”
On what this win means and the rest of the season:
“I never really imagined that I would win one of these grand prix. I have a little bit of thinking to do. I’m only supposed to be here for two weeks, I came this week and then for next week and then I’m supposed to be going home and spending time there and letting my child go to school and concentrating on family and traveling to California to go do that circuit out there with all the students that ride with my husband. I don’t know, we will see where it goes from here.”
Shane Sweetnam – second place
On Karlin Van’t Vennehof:
“I’m very excited, she did a great job. It’s her first CSI3* ever and her first night class. I’ve had her for six months and have been building her up. She still has a bit to go with her rideability, but it is getting better all the time. When I walked the course tonight it looked like a very tough course, but she’s a good mare and she really enjoys her job. I think in the jump off we could have been a bit faster, but she did a great job and that is very important. I’m very happy with it.”
Kent Farrington – third place
“I think Kaprice is really a spectacular horse, and this is the biggest class that she has ever jumped. She was jumping super high in the first round. I was trying to compete in the jump off going as fast as I thought she would be comfortable going under the lights.”
On the class:
“Erin [Davis-Heineking] had an amazing round. I’ve known her since I was a kid riding in the Midwest. I’m really excited to see her here in Wellington and to come out with a big win. It was a great night for a great horse and a great win for Erin.”
$137,000 CSI3* Adequan® Grand Prix CSI3*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Time / R1 Faults | R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. Leonie / Erin Davis-Heineking / USA / October Hill Farm, Inc. / 73.61 | 0 / 45.51 | 0
2. Karlin Van’t Vennehof / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Sweet Oak Farm & Seabrook LLC / 72.85 | 0 / 45.67 | 0
3. Kaprice / Kent Farrington / USA / Kent Farrington & Haity McNerney / 69.56 | 0 / 46.02 | 0
4. Cornwall BH / Amanda Derbyshire / GBR / Gochman Sport Horses LLC / 71.96 | 0 / 49.894 | 0
5. Kasper Van Het Hellehof / Cameron Hanley / IRL / Poden Farms / 73.51 | 0 / 48.329 | 4
6. Theodore Manciais / Spencer Smith / USA / Ashland Farms / 70.17 | 0 / 61.934 | 6
7. Figor / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms, LLC / 74.04 | 1
8. Viva Colombia / Brianne Goutal-Marteau / USA / Rose Hill Farm / 74.47 | 1
9. Keoki / David Blake / IRL / Pine Hollow Farm / 74.60 | 1
10. Enjoy Louis / Catherine Tyree / USA / Catherine Tyree LLC / 75.10 | 1
11. Evita / Thaisa Erwin / AUS / Thaisa Erwin / 76.80 | 1
12. Villamoura / Sydney Shulman / ISR / Jill Shulman / 66.72 | 4