Wellington, Fla. – March 28, 2019 – The final installment of the WEF Challenge Cup series took place on Thursday morning, with 60 horse-and-athlete combinations battling it out for the lion’s share of prize money and a spot in Saturday night’s grand prix as the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) comes to a close after 12 weeks of competition. At the end of a 23 horse jump-off it was Nayel Nassar (EGY) who walked away with the blue ribbon in the $134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round XII CSI5* aboard Evergate Stables LLC’s Lucifer V.
Held in the International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA) 16-effort track saw athlete’s bring out their top horses for the final 5* week at WEF. The course was well-suited for many combinations, with Lucy Davis (USA) and Caracho 14 entering the ring second in the day to be the early pathfinders of the clean and clear rounds.
Following Davis’ lead, the clear rounds continued to add up with top ranked athletes such as World No. 8 Beezie Madden (USA), Kent Farrington (USA), and Mario Deslauries (CAN) adding their names early on in the class. A number of up-and-coming athletes also joined the competitive jump-off, such as Karen Polle (JPN) and Week Eleven grand prix winner, Emil Hallundbaek (DEN). At the end of the class, with a total of 28 pairs clear, 23 elected to return to jump-off, while other competitors decided to save their horses for Saturday’s coveted $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*.
Third to go in the jump-off, Nassar and the 13-year-old Westphalian gelding set the bar for their following competitors, with a swift time of 35.909 seconds and no jumping faults. The combination’s first place standings held solidly as the remaining 20 athletes tried their hands in the eight effort jump-off. Nassar and Lucifer V are no strangers to the winner’s circle this season, having most recently won the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Ocala four days earlier. The pair has been partnered together for almost a year and following Saturday’s grand prix, Lucifer V will have a month off before heading to New York for the Longines Masters.
Two trips after Nassar’s stellar jump-off round, Farrington and Creedance, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Farrington and R.C.G. Farm, entered the ring attempting to best Nassar’s time. The pair came close, producing a swift round that left all the rails up and stopping the clock at 36.705 seconds, just under a second slower than the leading time to put them into second place. Farrington has returned to competition at the 2019 WEF circuit after sustaining a serious injury during the 2018 season, which took him out of competition for three months. With Creedance, the pair has accumulated a number of top finishes, recently including the $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4* at the 2018 National Horse Show.
Smith and Theodore Manciais, a 12-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by Torrey Pines and Ashland Farms, were sixteenth to go in the jump-off and ended in the third position after putting in a clean and clear jump-off with a time of 36.832 seconds. Although the combination came close to Farrington’s second place time, they were able to hold onto the third position, with two combinations to follow, including seasoned athlete McLain Ward (USA). Smith and the gelding, which was found and previously ridden by his trainer, Eric Lamaze (CAN), have competed both nationally and internationally, including representing the United States in the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Rome CSIO5*.
Week Twelve of WEF will conclude on Sunday, March 31. The week’s highlight event, Saturday Night Light’s $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*, will take place in the International Ring at 7:30 p.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nayel Nassar – $134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round XII CSI5* winner
On his recent success:
“It’s surreal really. Something has really just clicked in Lucifer’s head in the last couple of months and he’s an extremely gifted horse. I’m really grateful I have him. He adds a little bit of depth to my string so I could keep Lordan a little fresh and have a good result out west and come here and try to clean up a bit with Lucifer.”
On Thursday’s round:
“I was surprised to see so many clear. I thought the first course walked difficult enough, but I think everyone is in good form. It’s the last week of the circuit and it’s a big CSI5* week – we’ve got a lot of good horses here. Luckily for me, I went early in the jump-off so I didn’t have much to think about except try to go fast and leave the jumps up. He’s just naturally such a quick horse so I knew if I could be neat everywhere and stay on top of my turns that he would be tough to catch and he was today.”
On his swift jump-off time:
“I think everywhere Lucifer just has such natural speed so I did 8 [strides] and 8 [strides] down the first 2 jumps and really let him gallop. I think my turn back to the double was really neat – I got 8 strides in that turn as well – and then I left one [stride] out to the last. I don’t think anyone else was able to do that. It was his natural speed the whole way around , his ability to leave strides out and also turn so sharp that made it hard for people to catch him.”
On Lucifer V:
“He’s a little quirky but I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other really well now. I think he trusts me and I trust him. I’ve learned to ignore whatever happens in the warmup ring because he tends to be a little lazy out there but once he gets in the ring he’s really on top of the job and he’s a really fun horse for me to ride. It took a little while [to figure him out]. We struggled a bit with consistency in the beginning. He would put in a really good round and then come back and be not so good so we’ve been trying to find some sort of consistency and luckily it’s finally coming all together at the right time. He goes in a very simple bridle – just a normal snaffle. We keep him as happy as possible. He goes in the field a bunch. I do very little gymnastics and just keep him fit on the flat by taking him on the track and on the grass. I try to keep things different and entertaining for him. I think it’s all about managing his brain and keeping him happy. Now he’s in a really good place mentally and it reflects with his rounds.”
$134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round XII CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Lucifer V / Nayel Nassar / EGY / 0 | 75.04 / 0 | 35.909
2. Creedance / Kent Farrington / USA / 0 | 75.12 / 0 | 36.705
3. Theoddore Manciais / Spencer Smith / USA / 0 | 76.53 / 0 | 36.832
4. Hermelien Vd Hooghoeve / Ali Ramsay / USA / 0 | 77.32 / 0 | 38.7
5. Count Me In / Beth Underhill / CAN / 0 | 75.23 / 0 | 39.779
6. Cas 2 / Harrie Smolders / NED / 0 | 75.24 / 0 | 40.79
7. Keoki / David Blake / IRL / 0 | 79.83 / 0 | 41.742
8. Cool Hand Luke 4 / Markus Beerbaum / GER / 0 | 78.62 / 0 | 44.984
9. Noche De Ronda / McLain Ward / USA / 0 | 79.18 / 4 | 38.155
10. Chacciama / Rodrigo Lambre / BRA / 0 | 76.46 / 4 | 38.779
11. Indra Van De Oude Heihoef / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / 0 | 76.39 / 4 | 40.272
12. Confu / Laura Kraut / USA / 0 | 77.23 / 4 | 42.754
For full results, click here.