Wellington, Fla. —Feb 14, 2020 — Show jumping athletes braved the weather and took center stage this Valentine’s day in the Global Dressage Festival (GDF) Stadium to compete during the FEI $137,000 Grand Prix CSI3*.. A total of 37 horse-and-rider combinations fought for a spot in the jump-off and nine were able to progress onto the short course. The United States’ Jessica Springsteen and Volage Du Val Henry were able to deliver two fault free rides to top the class and earn the winning title.
Course designer Catsy Cruz (MEX) built a stout course for riders to navigate at a height of 1.50m, consisting of 13 obstacles managed against a 75 second time-allowed. The class trailblazers Samuel Parot Jr. (CHI) and his mount Thriller P finished within the time allowed but unfortunately had 4 faults. Megan McDermott aboard HH Callas produced the first fault free round, while Lauren Fischer came in directly after McDermott and produced a second clear round guaranteeing a jump-off. Many of the riders fell victim to the challenges of one of the three double combinations built into the course. The time allowed also posed a problem for riders as many fell short of a fault free ride by split seconds. Veterans and rising athletes alike were represented in the jump-off with the additions of Jorge Matt Capdevila, Todd Minikus, Ali Wolff, Jim Ifko, Rachel Cornacchia, Jessica Springsteen and rounded out with Martin Fuchs.
The shortened course dropped to eight total jumping efforts with a 44 second time-allowed. Minikus took the early lead with a 4-fault effort in 33.95 seconds, but Wolff directly followed and bested his time by seven-tenths of a second. Cornacchia galloped to the first double clean round of the night with a time of 36.13 seconds. Springsteen was next in the ring though, and knew with a clear round at the top she had to be hoof perfect. ., Springsteen and Volage Du Val Henry left each fence intact and with a quick pace they stole the top spot by just one-tenth of a second. The podium was lined by ladies as Cornacchia and Wolff finished second and third respectively.
Springsteen has been riding Volage Du Val Henry, an 11-year-old Selle Français mare owned by Stone Hill Farm, for three years now after purchasing her as an 8 year-old. The pair has had great success in CSI5* events across the world stage and consistently compete in 1.50m and 1.55m classes. Springsteen, who is currently part of the U.S. Show Jumping Nations Cup team at the Palm Beach Masters, was not planning on competing this week during the Winter Equestrian Festival However, Volage Du Val Henry performed spectacularly during week four and Springsteen chose to return for this week of competition and utilize the smaller arena to her advantage
The only other double clean ride belonged to Cornacchia and her mount Valkyrie De Talma, an 11-year-old Selle Français mare owned by Eventyre Farms Ltd. The day is even more special for Cornacchia as it marks the third anniversary of her riding the mare and this is also the pair’s first time competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival.. Wolff, while having the quickest jump-off ride, rounded out the podium with her mount Casall, a 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Blacklick Bend Farm. Casall is a veteran mount for Wolff as the two compete in major CSI3*, CSI4*, and CSI5* events on a world stage.
Competition during World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week at WEF will continue Saturday, February 15 when the hunters take to the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for the highly-anticipated $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular, set to begin at 7:00 p.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jessica Springsteen — FEI $137,000 Grand Prix CSI3* winner
On her jump-off round:
“I thought I would still try to go fast in case I knocked one down because she’s such a fast mare. I thought I had fence one down and got really distracted. She jumped amazing though, so I’m really lucky to have her. She’s such a talented mare and she really tried her heart out tonight.”
On what the win means and plans for rest of season:
“With her, I jumped week four and the weather caused us to jump in this arena as well and she jumped great, so I was looking forward to coming back here again. Now after tonight’s win I’m going to give her a little bit of break because she’s just been so consistent. I’ll probably bring her back out at the end of the season. I try to keep her at the 1.50m level because that’s where she really shines.”
On her mount Volage Du Val Henry:
“I got her when she was 8 years old, which is nice because she’s 11 now, so I know her really well. In the beginning she was a little bit difficult, she had a tricky mouth and it took me some time to get to know her. Things really clicked this fall, she’s just been jumping unbelievable – clear round after clear round, she’s so consistent. I can really rely on her. She’s so careful, but she has so much heart. She always wants to win, she always tries so hard. She’s really fun to compete in classes like this.”
Rachel Cornacchia — FEI $137,000 Grand Prix CSI3* second place finisher
On her jump-off round:
“I didn’t watch anybody go, I just stuck to my plan and it worked out. We had a little bit of a slip in our rollback to 5b. Then I pressed on the gas a little bit after that and it just worked out in the end.”
On competing at WEF:
“This is actually my very first time in Florida, so far loving it, this was a great start! Usually we go to California, it’s a little bit closer for us, we live in Calgary. We feel like we have the horses and wanted to step it up a little bit this winter, so we decided to make the trip here. It’s just an amazing venue, the whole concept of this whole horse village is just amazing. We’re just having a good time so far. Today is my third anniversary with her – she’s my valentine today.”
Ali Wolff — FEI $137,000 Grand Prix CSI3* third place finisher
On her jump-off round:
“He’s been a long time partner, eight years we’ve been together. I know him pretty well. He’s 15 now, so we try to use him sparingly, but he still has a lot left in the tank. I always have to go in riding my own ride and he’s gotten quicker and quicker through the years. I should have added one, I kind of went for it because I knew there were a lot of strong competitors behind me. We’ll practice that for next time and he’ll get a little bit of a break and he’ll come back out at the end of the circuit.”
On her mount Casall:
“For the past couple years he’s been up and down in Florida, so we usually just save him and gear him towards summer because then he just explodes as soon as we leave here. Really we’re just going to wait for the summer. We’ve had such great luck at Devon last year, Upperville, and Traverse City. So we’re going to save him and aim him for those kinds of horse shows again.”
FEI $137,000 Grand Prix CSI3*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Volage Du Val Henry / Jessica Springsteen / USA/ Stone Hill Farm / 0 / 0 | 36.046
2. Valkyrie De Talma / Rachel Cornacchia / CAN/ Eventyre Farms / 0 / 0 / | 36.13
3. Casall / Ali Wolff / USA / Blacklick Bend Farm / 0 / 4 | 33.189
4. Amex Z / Todd Minikus / USA / Bit By Bit Group / 0 / 4 | 33.957
5. Un Diamant Des Forets / Jim Ifko / CAN / Eventyre Farms / 0 / 4 | 33.981
6. Stalando 2 / Martin Fuchs / SUI / Gospodarstwo Rolne Andrzej Oplatek / 0 / 4 | 34.405
7. HH Callas / Megan Mcdermott / USA / Counter Balance LLC / 0 / 8 | 38.222
8. Tradition De La Roque / Lauren Fischer / USA / Lauren Fischer / 0 / 12 | 39.957
9. Toy Boy / Jorge Matte Capdevila / CHI / Jorge Matte Capdevila / 0 / EL
10. Catinka 25 / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 1 | 75.64
11. Vertige De Vigneul / Nicolette Hirt / USA / Nicolette Hirt / 1 | 75.84
12. Cacharel / Kelly Soleau-Millar / USA / Bridge Brook Arms & Vander-Woude-Dyment