Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 20, 2019 – The seventh week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) got underway at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Wednesday, marking the start of the second FEI-designated CSI5* week of the 12-week circuit. The $36,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI5* was the third and final class of the day in the International Arena and saw Kelli Cruciotti (USA) and her longtime partner Zidante walk away with the victory.
Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) set the stage with a twisting 13-fence track which saw 11 riders produce a double-clear round. The class was run similar to a power-and-speed format, where riders aimed to go clear within the time-allowed before continuing on for the speed portion of the course.
Tenth to go in the order, Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) was the early pathfinder in the class riding H5 Quantador 3, owned by H5 Stables. Navigating the first half of the course clear in 46.81 seconds, Guerreiro sped around the second half of the course clear in 24.861 seconds.
Though the time-allowed was tight and ultimately caused multiple riders to have time faults, Marilyn Little (USA) demonstrated an impressive trip in the power portion in 46.23 seconds prior to a quick speed round in 24.986 seconds riding Clearwater, owned by Karen O’Connor. Little’s time was fast, but was just shy of Guerreiro’s performance to put her in second place behind him.
The talented young rider was able to hold his lead for the majority of the class until Kelli Crucciotti (USA) trotted into the ring and laid down a clear round aboard Serenity Farm’s Zidante in 44.98 seconds in the power and 24.601 seconds in the speed. Cruciotti’s stellar performance consequently bumped Guerreiro down in the standings, leaving him to settle for second place honors and Little to round out the top three spots.
Cruciotti shares a special partnership with Zidante, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, who she has had since she started competing in the Junior Jumper ranks. Now, the pair proved themselves as a fierce combination showing at the CSI5* level. The 22-year-old rider is trained by her mother, Cindy Cruciotti, who owns and operates Serenity Farm located in Elizabeth, Colorado and Wellington, Florida. Cruciotti is also helped at the ring by Olympic gold medalist, Peter Wylde.
Action will continue at WEF on Thursday with the feature class of the day being the $134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 7, which is set to take place at 11 a.m. in the International Arena. Riders will try their hands in the weekly class on Thursday in hopes of qualifying for the week’s most prestigious show jumping event, the $391,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix CSI5*, which will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kelli Cruciotti – $36,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI5* winner
On her win:
“It feels pretty surreal. I’ve actually never won an open class here at WEF, a 2* or a 5* or any star, so it feels really unbelievable.”
“My horse is really special to me. She was my first Junior Jumper. I’ve had her for six years now. She has done everything and more for me than I could have ever hoped. She just tries so hard, so it’s really special. When I got her, she was doing the 1.30m, and we never thought she would do the High Junior Jumpers, let alone CSI5* speed classes. My whole team – my mom, Cindy Cruciotti, Peter Wylde, everybody that is involved – is so amazing at developing horses and bringing them along slowly, so they have the confidence to do it. I feel really lucky to be a part of that.”
On Zidante’s performance:
“She felt amazing. It’s always hard for me when she feels this good because I know that I just can’t mess up. I can’t get in her way. She is a naturally very fast horse and I have a little bit of a tendency to pull. I’ll be the first one to say it – I’m a slow rider. Time faults are my thing, so I knew I couldn’t have a time fault in the first round even though there were a lot of riders who did. I went late enough, so the numbers were pretty set. We wanted to get the nine [strides] from the double to the vertical and the seven [strides] from the double to the last fence, so those numbers worked out and it was my day. I’m just so grateful and excited.”
On the course:
“I thought the course was awesome. The time-allowed got a lot of people in the first round, so I think that’s something you had to think about. It wasn’t a “give me” first round; you couldn’t just lope around and then start. You had to be conscious of it. The jump-off was long but it was set numbers so you really had to commit and then once you did them, hopefully your horse was careful and thinking because everything came up really fast.”
On her plan for the rest of the week:
“Actually, this is the only horse who I am showing this week. I was planning on just doing this class anyway, so I’m done. The plan was if she was good, regardless of if she won or not, to finish today because she is a little bit older. She is 15 years old so we try to be a little conscious of that and try to have her peak at the right times and then give her a nice break.”
On Zidane’s program:
“It has definitely changed throughout the years because she is a little bit older and wiser. Before, she had so much energy and she is a horse who doesn’t really have natural 1.45m scope. She has to believe she can do it. Typically, she has two or three weeks off before she shows, and the week before we always do a 1.30m class to drop her down and make her feel like she can do it really, really easily. Throughout the week, we don’t really jump her. We take her on long trail rides and hack out. She likes to do that and it keeps her really fit. Yesterday, we did a small gymnastic at home before she came over and then she showed and hopefully it ends up the way it did today. It makes you feel really good when it works out like this.”
$36,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI5*
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R1 Time / R2 Faults / Time
1. Zidante / Kelli Cruciotti / USA / Serenity Farm / 0 / 44.98 / 0 / 24.601
2. H5 Quantador 3 / Carlos Hank Guerreiro / MEX / H5 Stables / 0 / 46.81 / 0 / 24.861
3. Clearwater / Marilyn Little / USA / Karen O’Connor / 0 / 46.23 / 0 / 24.986
4. Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili / Kristen Vanderveen / USA / Bull Run Jumpers Five LLC / 0 / 47.78 / 0 / 25.222
5. Caillu / Luis Pedro Biraben / ARG / Miguel Madero & Luis Pedro Biraben / 0 / 47.66 / 0 / 26.376
6. Farrero / Rodrigo Pessoa / BRA / Hillside Farm LLC / 0 / 46.31 / 0 / 26.594
7. Jiva / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0 / 46.64 / 0 / 26.624
8. Z Diamanty / Erynn Ballard / CAN / The Z Group, Javier Salvadore Stables, Diamante Ate / 0 / 46.22 / 0 / 26.843
9. So What HP Z / Luiz Francisco De Azevedo / BRA / Santa Cecilia Stables / 0 / 47.78 / 0 / 28.026
10. Dutsboy / Darragh Kenny / IRL / Stone Hill Farm / 0 / 47.57 / 0 / 28.788
11.Chacciama / Rodrigo Lambre / BRA / Rodrigo Lambre / 0 / 47.91 / 0 / 31.202
12. Ibabco / Santiago Lambre / MEX / Santiago Lambre / 1 / 48.57 / 0 / 25.697