Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 27, 2018 – Week Three’s feature competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) came down to the wire as Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Cassini Z narrowly secured the win by just 2/100ths of a second in the $132,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI3* on Saturday evening.
Kenny has had the ride on Cassini Z since 2016 with the intention to produce and eventually re-sell the gelding. However, as he got to know him better, Kenny saw great potential in the talented Oldenburg and just last week asked if one of his owners would buy Cassini Z so he could keep competing the now 10-year-old. With a win in their first grand prix together under the new ownership of Ann Thompson, Kenny has high hopes and goals for Cassini Z, including being a back-up mount for the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) in September.
Saturday’s class began with 45 international horses and riders being tested around Canada’s Peter Grant’s first round course, with 16 jumping clear to advance to the tie-breaking round.
Fifth to go in the jump-off was 24-year-old Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Cristalline, owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC. With the help of U.S. Olympic veteran and trainer McLain Ward, Sternlicht planned a strategic, but risky rollback from the second to third fence in the jump-off (an oxer to a tall wall), shocking spectators by jumping the hedges and opting to go inside of the gazebo rather than around.
Sternlicht’s daring performance paid off as she jumped clear and took over Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza’s lead in 39.363 seconds.
After watching Sternlicht’s round, Kenny knew he and Cassini Z had to give it everything they had. In only his second grand prix with Kenny, Cassini Z blazed around the short course next and stopped the timers in 38.218 seconds to claim the top spot on the leaderboard from Sternlicht.
Jessica Springsteen (USA) and RMF Swinny Du Parc, owned by Rushy Marsh Farm LLC, followed and crossed the finish line with no faults in 38.230 seconds, which garnered them second place honors, while Sternlicht dropped into third place.
For Kenny, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday with a win in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Classic, Saturday’s victory closes out a spectacular Week Three for the Irish show jumper.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Darragh Kenny – $132,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI3* winner
On Cassini Z’s performance on Saturday:
“I had the horse last year for about six–eight weeks and then he got a little hurt so he was out for a little bit of time and then we started back very slowly this summer. He felt good in the warm-up and he felt very good in the first round so I just let him go. He was running the whole way and down all of the lines so over the length of the course he gradually just made up the time. He’s very, very careful so I don’t really have to worry about the jumps as much as the turning.”
On Saturday’s course:
“I had a good week so [the course designer] suited me. I think [Peter Grant] did a very good job. He may have underestimated the quality of horses that he had in this class but it ended up being a really entertaining jump-off so it was definitely good for the crowd. I think he may have just under-did the height for the standard of horses that come to Wellington.”
On Cassini Z’s new owner:
“I’m very lucky because a new owner just bought the horse for me last week. I’ve had the horse to ride for a long period of time thanks to [Bowers Cone, LLC], who had him before. I said to Ann [Thompson], ‘I think the horse is very, very good,’ and asked if she would be interested in buying him for me, and she straight away stepped up and bought him. I think it was an amazing experience for our first grand prix with her as my owner — it was a fantastic result. I have a lot of goals for him now. I think I’ll build him up towards the end of the season jumping a 5* here. Next, my aim will be to [compete with] him at some [Longines Global Champions Tour] shows during the summer and, depending on how he keeps going, he’s another back-up for my other horse at WEG.”
Jessica Springsteen – Second place
On RMF Swinny Du Parc:
“I showed her at [Holiday & Horses CSI4*] before the end of the year and she jumped really well there. We kind of just clicked right away; I feel really comfortable with her. She’s naturally really fast so she’s easy and fun to do these jump-offs with.”
On her partnership with Rushy Marsh Farm:
“It’s been really fun working with [Monica and Frank McCourt]. They’re so passionate about the sport, get really into it and have been so supportive. Both the [RMF] horses are really good rides for me. They’re both my type so I’m excited. I kind of like hotter horses better — ones that really pull me. I like that feeling, especially when you’re jumping these big classes. They’re both really sweet, really brave and really confidence-building so I’m very excited!”
Adrienne Sternlicht – Third place
On her jump-off round:
“I did three strides to the hedge but I actually planned for four. It was exciting. We actually didn’t plan that when we walked. McLain actually told me that at two Olympics he should’ve jumped the hedge and didn’t so surely I could risk it in a 3* grand prix so I did! It was a unique experience for me and my horse. She’s super brave and responded better than I anticipated!”
“My horse is unbelievable. I feel so blessed to be able to ride her. She doesn’t have the same foot speed and can be quite lofty in the air so McLain and I decided we had to get a bit creative. Unfortunately, I was quite quick but untidy in my turns, but I couldn’t have asked anything more of her; we just have to keep learning together.”
Allyn Mann – Adequan sponsor
On Saturday’s grand prix:
“What I love about this equestrian sport is it really doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are or whether you’re a man or a woman, if you have a beautiful relationship with your horse all things are possible. I think we saw that tonight. We’re just really blessed to be a part of this whole equestrian community. Whether its dressage or jumping or polo or eventing, we really want to try to give back to the sport to make these nights possible and we’re so grateful.”
$132,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI3*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Cassini Z / Darragh Kenny / IRL / Ann Thompson / 0 / 0 / 38.218
2. RMF Swinny Du Parc / Jessica Springsteen / USA / Rushy Marsh Farm LLC / 0 / 0 / 38.230
3. Cristalline / Adrienne Sternlicht / USA / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / 0 / 0 / 39.363
4. Toy Boy / Jessica Mendoza / GBR / Jessica Mendoza / 0 / 0 / 40.001
5. Eristov / Jordan Coyle / IRL / Andrew Kocher / 0 / 0 / 40.557
6. Caspar 213 / Danielle Goldstein / ISR / Starwyn Farms, LLC / 0 / 0 / 41.265
7. Troya Clovis Van De Helle / Juan Pablo Betancourt / COL / Juan Pablo Betancourt / 0 / 0 / 44.915
8. California 62 / Andrew Ramsay / USA / The California Group / 0 / 4 / 39.561
9. Dicas / Margie Engle / USA / Storm Ridge Capital, Garber, Show Horses and Gladewinds / 0 / 4 / 40.383
10. Westbrook / Mario Deslauriers / USA / Wishing Well Farm LLC / 0 / 4 / 41.134
11. Daisy / Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum / GER / Artemis Equestrian Farm / 0 / 4 / 41.223
12. Skyhorse / Lillie Keenan / USA / Chansonette Farm LLC / 0 / 4 / 41.350
For full results, click here.