Wellington, Fla. – February 28, 2020 – Young show jumpers from 13 different nations descended on the International arena during Week 8 for the FEI $37,000 Hermes U25 Grand Prix Semi-Final. Under lights of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on the brisk Friday evening 56 horse and rider pairs fought to claim the tricolor and a piece of the purse. Following tough competition brought on by some of the top FEI Jumping U25 ranked athletes in the world it was Israel’s Sydney Shulman aboard Jill Shulman’s 10-year-old Selle Français mare Azilis Du Mesnil who came out on top.
The 13 obstacle 1.45m course designed by The United States very own Ken Krome asked contradictory questions of the horse-and-rider pairs forcing the young talents to make quick adjustments based on their own pace and horse. An open water jump to the signature Hermes vertical in the middle of the course proved to be the most challenging obstacle as numerous riders fell victim to lack of brakes after such a forward push as well as a deceiving red and white vertical that unseated several riders as horses failed to lock onto the obstacle. Time proved to be an added concern for the young show jumpers to tackle as they eased into the rhythm of the course and lost valuable time in the deceivingly sweeping turns on either short sides of the arena.
Dozens of horse-and-rider pairs funneled through the in-gate, and 12 emerged with a ticket to the six obstacle jump-off. Ned Cunniffe (USA) and Buckle Up were the first pair to set foot on the course and had their strategy pay off as they nabbed the first jump-off spot of the evening. Eleven more duos laid down clear rounds including Cormac Hanley (IRE) and Copain Z, Sydney Shulman (ISR) and Azilis Du Mesnil, Gabriela Reutter (CHI) and Atticus Diamant, Daisy Farish (USA) and Great White, Isabella Russekoff (USA) and Balou’s Fly High, Jessica Mendoza (GBR) and Diamants Aurora, Sophie Gochman (USA) and Carola BH, Delaney Finn (USA) and Milan IV, Flo Norris (GBR) and Con Pleasure 5, Jennifer Gates (USA) and Capital Colnardo, and Tanimara Macari (MEX) and Feminka.
The first half of the jump-off followed the same track as the first round, though the riders were tasked with making a tighter, tidier track around the course including a gutsy gallop to the final fence. In total, six nations were represented in the abridged course, and again it was The United State’s, Ned Cunniffe aboard Buckle Up that navigated the first track around the jump-off. The pair had two unfortunate rails taking them out of contention for the blue. Irish rider Hanley followed also taking two rails down. Shulman came blazing into the arena on Azilis Du Mesnil, laying down the first double clear of the round with a time of 31.596. The pair showed off their handy technique as they carefully navigated the tight turns on course, but Azilis kicked into high gear coming off of the penultimate obstacle utterly attacking the last fence.
Several unsuccessful rides followed Shulman’s daunting time, but Great Britain’s Mendoza came into the ring with a game plan. She and Diamants Aurora, a 10-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Jessica Mendoza, Paul Mendoza, and Sarah Mendoza, laid down a tight and tidy track riding clean to produce the second clear of the round, and only three-tenths of a second shy of Shulman. Gochman (USA) followed suit aboard Carola BH putting in the third double clear of the round, but was not able to match the pace of Shulman or Mendoza settling into third place. Unlucky rails took the following riders out of the running, but it was Norris of Great Britain that buzzed around the track on Con Pleasure 5 putting in the fourth clear round with enough pace to beat out Gochman. Mexican rider, Macari, was the last trip of the day and with her eyes set on a blue Feminka, the 10-year-old KWPN mare owned by Jorge Macari, flew around the course. They came in hot to their track carving out tight turns running for the hopes of a win to the last fence. Her speedy efforts were not able to eclipse Shulman and “Ginger,” but the duo was able to bump Mendoza to third as they settled into a second place position.
Sydney Shulman has more than one speed demon mare in her arsenal of horses and it was all girl power out on course today. “Ginger” made her first ever night class debut in last year’s U25 series and was able to come full circle fighting for a win to close out the 25-year-old Israeli rider’s last season in the U25 series. Shulman is making a seamless transition out of the up-and-coming young rider series and into the big leagues planning to ride in the senior Nation Cup classes in Europe for team Israel this spring. Shulman came into the class today of her win in the $36,600 Palm Beach Masters Classic CSIO5* earlier this month aboard her other headstrong mare, Villamoura.
This pivotal series comes to a conclusion with The Hermes U25 $50,000 Grand Prix Series Final Sunday, March 22 slated to take place on the Derby Field at the Global Dressage Facility. Showjumping competition continues tomorrow under the Saturday night lights with the highly anticipated FEI $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO 4* class held in the International Arena at 7:00 p.m.
From the Winners Circle
Sydney Shulman — FEI $37,000 Hermes U25 Grand Prix Semi-Final Winner
On the U25 Series:
“I love this series — thank you Hermes for sponsoring it. It is a great stepping stone for horses and riders. I did it the first year I think when I was 16, and it has been a great class for myself to grow in and for my horses to come up. You get to jump on the grass, under the lights, in the daytime, so it’s a great system that they have set up. I was lucky enough I got to switch horses throughout so far this series to keep them a little bit fresher and it seems to be working in my favor.”
On Azilis Du Mesnil:
“We call her ‘Ginger’ in the barn. She is 10-years-old and last year this was her first class night class. She has progressed nicely, and she was a little green here last year under the lights, so it is nice to see her come back here and win. She is super game and has a mind of her own, but if you go with her and just let her do her thing she will usually fight with you instead of against you. She is awesome and a lot of fun and great for these kinds of classes.”
On her round:
“I planned to do five strides, which was the leave out, from fence 2 to fence 3. I did not get it done as well as I would have liked, but I am very grateful for Ginger at that moment because she really took the wheel. Jess had asked me before I went if I thought five strides were there and I said, ‘I’ll try.’ So she was great there and then she was very quick back through the blind run to the double where she was very careful and got out of the way. I actually did one more stride to the second to last jump than I wanted, but she is just naturally quick across the ground and doesn’t have much airtime so I think I got a little bit lucky. These are all great riders in this class and the top three were really competitive, but it just worked in our favor today.”
On her plans:
“I am 25-years-old so this is my last year in this series and I am very sad about it, but it is time to move forward. This horse will jump the series final week 11, and then after Florida I am going to go to Europe and jump some of the Senior Nations Cups for Israel in the Spring.”
FEI $37,000 Hermes U25 Grand Prix Semi-Final
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Azilis Du Mesnil / Sydney Shulman / ISR / Jill Shulman / 0 | 73.96 / 0 | 31.596
2. Feminka / Tanimara Macari / MEX / Jorge Macari / 0 / 74.59 / 0 | 31.844
3. Diamants Aurora / Jessica Mendoza / GBR / Jessica Mendoza, Paul Mendoza, Sarah Mendoza / 0 | 74.88 / 0 | 31.897
4. Con Pleasure 5 / Flo Norris / GBR / Cisca Norris / 0 | 75.01 / 0 | 31.96
5. Carola BH / Sophie Gochman / USA / Gochman Sporthorse LLC. / 0 | 76.18 / 0 | 33.706
6. Milan IV / Delaney Finn / USA / Grace Jacobsen / 0 | 72.84 / 4 | 33.121
7. Great White / Daisy Farish / USA / Daisy Farish / 0 | 73.9 / 4 | 34.168
8. Copain Z / Cormac Hanley / IRE / Heathman Farm LLC. / 0 | 74.26 / 8 | 30.963
9. Atticus Diamant / Gabriela Reutter / CHI / Lumiere Horses INC. / 0 | 74.81 /8 | 32.905
10. Buckle Up / Ned Cunniffe / USA / Whipstick Farm, LTD. / USA / 0 | 76.48 / 8 | 36.522
11. Capital Colnardo / Jennifer Gates / USA / Evergate Stables LLC. / 0 | 76.8 / 8 | 42.561
12. Balou’s Fly High / Isabella Russekoff / USA / Suave Pony LLC. / 0 | 75.68 / 8 | 46.554
For full results, click here.