Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 16, 2021 – Week One of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) culminated in the first Saturday Night Lights of the season, featuring the $137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Grand Prix CSI3*. Despite the lack of spectators due to COVID-19 precautions, 45 talented horse and rider pairs representing ten nations lined up to contest Andy Christiansen (ECU) and Anthony D’Ambrosio’s (USA) 16-effort course in hopes of qualifying for the jump-off. Only three partnerships would earn their spot in the eight effort jump-off, however, with Beezie Madden (USA) and Breitling LS rising to the top of the pack to earn the first international grand prix win of the WEF season.
Show jumping fans tuned in from around the world via live stream to watch the starting lineup battle it out in the first round. Ireland’s Andrew Bourns had no issues delivering a clear track across the fences aboard his own Sea Topblue, but an agonizing single second time penalty would keep them out of the jump-off. The first double-clear effort of the night wouldn’t come until the 19th pair, Sydney Shulman (ISR) riding Jill Shulman’s J-Boston S.E.
While rails fell throughout the class, fence two and nine seemed to cause the most casualties throughout the evening. Following the drag break, Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) promised a show by adding her name to the jump-off roster aboard Bennys Legacy, owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC. Try as they might, the following eleven duos ran into challenges throughout the course. Breaking the pattern was show jumping superstar Madden who became the third rider to master the evening’s course with her longtime partner owned by Abigail Wexner, Breitling LS. As the last to enter the ring, Shane Sweetnam (IRL) aimed to give the lineup of ladies a run for their money with his mount Alejandro, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm & Seabrook LLC. It appeared as if Sweetnam would solidify that effort until a heartbreaking rail came down at the final fence.
The shortened jump-off course featured a time allowed of 52 seconds and gave plenty of opportunities for tight rollback and long galloping stretches where riders could set themselves apart from their competition. Shulman was the first to return to the International Ring with aspirations of being crowned queen of the evening’s ladies’ night showdown. Unfortunately, a slight tap of the back rail in the B-element of the double combination would have them concluding the night with four faults.
Sternlicht and her notoriously fast partner Bennys Legacy were next to go, delivering a tidy track well within the time allowed, putting down the first double-clear in the jump-off. As the last to compete, Olympic gold medalist Madden came in ready to win with a slick slice to the second fence of the course, continuing to demonstrate perfect control throughout the remainder of the shortened track. Shaving off over three seconds from Sternlicht’s leading time, Madden and Breitling LS jumped clear over the last fence and secured the first international win in Wellington for the 2021 season.
Competition during Week One will conclude Sunday, Jan. 17, featuring the $30,000 WEF 1 Pilates Rocks National Grand Prix.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Beezie Madden – winner of the $137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Grand Prix CSI3*
On Breitling LS’s performance:
“I thought the course really suited [Breitling LS]. He has enough experience that the spooky jumps didn’t bother him. I didn’t think what was bothering the other horses would bother him, but he has had a bit of a rocky go in the last couple of classes so I wanted to ride on the strong side. I thought I just had to have a nice strong, confident run and he really responded to it and jumped well. A lot of times it’s hard for the horses to concentrate when you’re riding them strong, but he really rose to the occasion and I was really happy with him.”
On her jump-off plan:
“I think Adrienne is so good at working out of that big gallop and her horse is naturally quick anyway. I thought to myself, ‘I’m not going to beat her on that part,’ so I tried to do it on the turns and match her. The eight-stride across the middle to the double looked a little risky from where I was sitting, but [Breitling LS] did it well and I think I beat [Adrienne] probably at fences one to two and maybe the turn after the double as well. I thought those were the only places I could try and catch her.”
On the difficulty of the course this evening:
“I think fence two was kind of impressive with all of the green planks in front of it and it had some shadows underneath it as well. It was short out of the turn and was the second jump right out of the gate, so I think some of it took [the horses’] heart away a little bit. With the triple, going into that end of the ring is always a really difficult line and to have it as a triple combination makes it even more difficult. It rode quite long. It walked nicely long, but it rode very long and I think that surprised some of them. When we walked the course, I thought, ‘Well at least it’s not spooky, it’s just rails.’ But then, when you went to it, that’s all you saw, a bunch of rails. So I think it was a bit of an optical illusion.”
Adrienne Sternlicht – $137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Grand Prix CSI3* second place
On her plan for Benny’s Legacy:
“My horse jumped amazing this week. He jumped clear in the qualifier, but had an unfortunate slip around the turn from fence one to two in the jump-off of the qualifier, so I was more focused on just giving him a confident ride tonight. I knew the places I could open up his stride. The eight-stride across the middle kind of just came up naturally for my horse, but I thought about being a bit conservative on the turns tonight to give him a conservative and confident ride with so much to look forward to this season. He responded really well, so I am happy to come in second tonight, and I am always really happy to be second to Beezie [Madden]!”
On being awarded Leading Lady Rider during Week One:
“I think it is an incredibly prestigious award. America is incredibly strong when it comes to our female riders, but I think now we have incredible depth in terms of women competing in our country of every nationality. It was so fun to be a part of a ladies night with one of my best friends and a rider who every American girl looks up to. It’s going to be an incredibly tough season with so many riders coming here from Europe as well, so I think it sets a really nice tone. I want to thank Martha [Jolicoeur] for sponsoring this award. It’s always something that we, as female riders, aspire to.”
Sydney Shulman – $137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Grand Prix CSI3* third place
On J-Boston S.E:
“This is his second night class ever. I’ve only gotten to do [a night class with him] one other time at Tryon this summer and it wasn’t really under the lights. This is his first class here at WEF under the lights. He’s relatively new, I’ve had him just over one year now and I was thrilled with the way he jumped the first round. He made it really easy for me. Again, like Beezie [Madden] said, I had to ride a little bit strong as well. He’s had a long break and so I was focused on getting back in the groove and having a confident experience this time so he can carry us through the rest of the circuit. I was really happy with the results.”
$137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center Grand Prix CSI3*
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. Breitling LS / Beezie Madden / Abigail Wexner / USA / 76.3 | 0 / 41.87 | 0
2. Bennys Legacy / Adrienne Sternlicht / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / USA / 78.45 | 0 / 45.17 | 0
3. J-Boston S.E / Sydney Shulman / Jill Shulman / ISR / 78.72 | 0 / 48.86 | 4
4. Seatop Blue / Andrew Bourns / Andrew Bourns / IRL / 80.42 | 1
5. Creedence / Kent Farrington / Kent Farrington & Haiti Mcnerny / USA / 72.87 | 4
6. Northern Light / Tiffany Foster / Artisan Farms, LLC / CAN / 74.56 | 4
7. Igor Van De Wittemoere / Nayel Nassar / Evergate Stables, LLC / EGY / 74.74 | 4
8. Alejandro / Shane Sweetnam / Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm, Seabrook LLC / IRL / 75.36 / 4
9. H5 Quintol / Eduardo Menezes / H5 Sport Horses LLC / BRA / 75.56 | 4
10. Chacco Kid / Eric Lamaze / Chacco Kid Group / CAN / 76.22 | 4
11. Une De L’othain / Harrie Smolders / Evergate Stables, LLC / NED / 76.94 | 4
12. Quibelle / Spencer Smith / Gotham Enterprizes, LLC / USA / 76.96 | 4