Wellington, Fla. – April 1, 2017 – The $216,000 CSI4* Grand Prix presented by the Wanderers Club capped off what has been an exciting show season in Wellington, Fla. Forty-five top horse and rider combinations competed under the lights of the International Arena for the top honors in the final grand prix competition of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival. After a challenging track that only produced five clear first rounds, Chilean equestrian, Samuel Parot, took home the top honors aboard Atlantis.
“I have had a very good season but every Saturday night is hard,” said Parot after his win. “This is a very good ending and I am very, very happy.”
German course designer, Olaf Petersen Jr., challenged the riders with a difficult track that winded its way across the length of the grand prix ring. Riders struggled to answer the questions that were asked by the course that produced multiple 4, 8, and 12 fault efforts.
Parot on his longtime partner, Atlantis, was the second rider to find a path to a clear round over the long course, following Lillie Keenan on Super Sox. Earlier in the winter show season, Parot piloted the fiery 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding to a win in the $35,000 WEF Challenge Cup during Week 6. Parot has had previous success on Atlantis, winning several FEI World Cup qualifying classes on the West Coast in 2015.
“Good horses make good riders,” commented Parot. “When I find good horses I try to buy them. All of my horses are a little difficult, but they are fast with a lot of scope and that really helps.”
Entering the ring after Keenan produced a four-fault jump-off effort, Parot, in his own unique style, sped through the jump-off, setting a blazing clear pace of 42.52 seconds.
Margie Engle and Royce were the third pair to return to jump-off after making the jumps in the first rounds look easy. Royce, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Café Au Lait X Petula) has consistently placed with Engle in some of the most difficult classes of the season, including being 2nd in the CSI5* Douglas Elliman Grand Prix. Tonight, however was not their night to win as the front rail of the Suncast oxer came down after Royce lightly brushed it. They completed the short course in 43.31 seconds.
“I got a little excited after watching Samuel and I thought that I would take a shot because it was the last one of the season, smiled Engle. “I went really forward to the first one and I got too geared up.”
Engle, who took the reins on Royce when he was just a 7-year-old, has been working hard on his rideability and the hard work is finally beginning to pay off.
“He (Royce) has always had all of the jump in the world but lately I have been working on his rideability and he has gotten so much nicer this year and he comfortable and is riding better than ever,” explained Engle. “He did everything backwards- as a 6-year-old he was doing the big classes and then I got him at 7 and then he had to learn how to do flatwork. Lisa Wilcox has been helping with some dressage work with him it has made a huge difference for me.”
Daniel Coyle aboard Ariel and Sue Grange’s, Cita (Casall X Vorr), entered the ring after Royce and knew that Parot had the round to beat.
“Tonight, I was riding for second place,” said Coyle. “I wasn’t going to try and be crazy- for one, it is her first time at this height and I knew I was going to have to be really fast to beat him and if I beat him, I beat him- and if I didn’t I was still going to be happy.”
Coyle and Cita (Casall X Vorr) crossed the Rolex timers with no faults and with a time of 43.85 seconds, taking over the second-place position from Engle.
“This is probably the biggest Grand Prix that she has had a good result in,” remarked Coyle. “To be fair to her, I underestimated her in the beginning. I always knew she was going to be a great 1.50m horse but I think she is going to be more now. I changed my ride half way through circuit and thankfully, I think the future will be bright for her.”
Coyle, who has taken over the reins on all the horses at Lothlorien, the stable of Ariel and Sue Grange, is still adjusting to his new position as head rider.
“It is hard for me because I got all the horses that Conor (Swail) rode and I had great horses before, so I am trying to take my time and decide what is my best direction to go in. It is an incredible opportunity for me and I am very happy to be sitting here- it means a lot.”
Beezie Madden was the last rider to return for the jump-off on Abigail Wexner’s stallion, Breitling LS. The four-time Olympic veteran gave it her best effort and completed the jump off in 44.40 seconds and with four faults, settling her into fourth place overall.
Results: $216,000 The Wanderers Club Grand Prix CSI4*
1 2220 ATLANTIS SAMUEL PAROT CHI
2 1533 CITA DANIEL COYLE IRL
3 3031 ROYCE MARGIE ENGLE USA
4 325 SUPER SOX LILLIE KEENAN USA
5 2292 BREITLING LS BEEZIE MADDEN USA
6 2575 DSARIE BEAT MANDLI SUI
7 306 RUBENS LS LA SILLA CONOR SWAIL IRL
8 3106 WATERFORD LAUREN HOUGH USA
9 5981 A S D FARFALA PABLO BARRIOS VEN
10 3225 TOY BOY JESSICA MENDOZA GBR
11 67 MAIN ROAD SHANE SWEETNAM IRL
12 4453 LENNOX LUCIANA DINIZ POR