Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 27, 2021 – The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) returned to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) Saturday evening for the penultimate day of Week Seven’s competition and another installment of the highly anticipated Saturday Night Lights. Set amongst what would typically be a packed grandstand of eager spectators, the International Arena played host to a star-studded line up of 40 horse-and-rider combinations representing 12 nations and an online audience due to COVID-19 restrictions for the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*. Emerging victorious from the competitive field was Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro, who rode a nail-biting jump-off to lead the victory gallop at the end of the night.
Course designers Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen (ECU) set the 17-effort track fit for the CSI5* status. Proving to be an arduous one, the winding pattern would see many rails hit the ground, as well as hoofs in the water at fence 10. As the thirteenth pair to try their hand at the 1.60m fences, Ireland’s Lorcan Gallagher and VDL Cartello were the pathfinders, and would be the only combination to produce a clear round until 34 trips later when fellow Irish rider Allen forced a jump-off for his fault-free round with Pacino Amiro. As the class progressed, only three additional competitors would add their names to the line-up, including Mario Deslauriers (CAN), Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Daniel Deusser (GER).
Tensions were high as the five athletes prepared their horses to return under the lights for one final battle, this time over a shortened eight-obstacle course. First to enter was Gallagher, who posted an unfortunate 4 faults to the scoreboard with his partner VDL Cartello, owned by Heathman Farm LLC. As the second combination to enter for the jump-off, Allen would produce the first double-clear of the evening, stopping the timers in 35.32 seconds and putting the pressure on the remaining three pairs. Next in, Deslauriers ran a close second to Allen, crossing the timers in 37.62 seconds without knocking any rails aboard Wishing Well Farm, LLC’s 12-year-old Holsteiner mare Bardolina 2. Coyle, however, would also post a double-clear, finishing the course in 37.11 seconds to move into the second place position riding Legacy, an 11-year-old Zangersheide mare owned by Ariel Grange. Coyle ultimately bumped Deslauriers into the third place position. Deusser and Killer Queen VDM, owned by Stephex Stables, were the final combination to be seen, completing the course in 35.62 seconds, but rolling a rail at the second to last fence to miss out on a podium finish.
Coming off of an impressive few weeks at the Winter Equestrian Festival, this was Allen’s third win over the course of two weeks following his first place finish with Castlefield Vegas in the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round 6 CSI3* and $137,000 FEI IDA Development Grand Prix CSI3*. Saturday evening marked his second WEF win with Pacino Amiro this season. The 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, owned by Aiden McGrory, is just getting started in his high-performance career at the CSI5* level, only jumping under the lights for the first time a few weeks ago. Allen was thrilled with Pacino Amiro’s performance and expressed his confidence in his up-and-coming string as he continues to develop them throughout the season.
Week Seven of WEF will continue Sunday, February 28 with 5* competition returning to PBIEC at 10:30 a.m. for the $73,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI5*. To conclude, the $50,000 Griffis Residential 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2* will kick-off at 1:30 p.m. in the International Arena.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Bertram Allen – $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5* winner
On Pacino Amiro:
“For the last grand prix I was stepping into the unknown a little bit with him. He had never jumped a CSI5* class, never been under the lights, and he handled it very well. Tonight, I was a bit more confident and I knew that he could do it, so I was just hoping he was going to be on form. He was even better tonight – since Week One he’s gotten better and better. He’s a lovely horse who wants to try his best all of the time.”
On competing at WEF with consistent results:
“It’s brilliant. Obviously last year was very quiet. I was here for a bit of the season that got cut short and then it was very stop-start. There was a lot of time with no shows, so to be here consistently jumping at a very high level, we’re all very lucky and making the most of it.”
On the jump-off:
“There was no real standard set before I went in because Lorcan [Gallagher] had a fence down. There were only three coming after me, but three very good ones on fast horses. I knew my horse was very fast and with only five in it the worst case scenario was I was fifth, so I was going to give it a good shot and thankfully it came off.”
On developing Pacino Amiro:
“I’ve had my horse since he was 7 years old, he was produced by Kenneth Graham and his owner Aiden McGrory sent him over to me. I’ve had him for a year and a half and developed him from a young horse, so he’s a little bit of a special character and I know him very, very well. When you ask the questions they respond and that’s the main thing. Some horses it doesn’t matter if they are 15 years old, they just never get that. Some horses understand it. I guess that’s the difference between good ones and normal ones.”
Daniel Coyle – $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5* second place
On his jump-off:
“Anything Bertram [Allen] does in the jump-off is usually hard to follow or catch. It’s Legacy’s first class under the lights this year. I’ve always had huge expectations of her and the last two years have not been good for her. I didn’t get to do many shows with her last year with everything going on, but it’s really good now to get her in the ring and have a shot in the jump-offs. Unfortunately Bertram was in the lead tonight, which is always going to be a challenge. I knew before I went in that it was going to be a challenge, so I just tried to stick to my own plan and if it was good enough, great, and if not there are lots more.”
On being in Ireland during COVID:
“I started a family and I bought a few pieces of land and started breeding young horses. I have a baby girl now who is absolutely wonderful and I wish she could be here now, but with the way things are right now it’s not possible, but she will be here next year. That was definitely the highlight though – my 9-month-old daughter.”
On what his horses did during 2020:
“Ariel [Grange] said we do nothing now and we start fresh in Florida, which seemed absolutely insane, but it worked. They are a year older but their bodies aren’t a year older because they haven’t been jumping. [Hyde Moffatt] did the job of riding 15-16 horses a day, which is insane when you have no shows to go to. Ariel made a program for them so the horses stayed fit. I only got back on my horses five weeks ago, but the benefit is they started where they left off because they didn’t enter a show ring since this time last year. They did an incredible job keeping them in top shape so this could happen.”
Mario Deslauriers – $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5* third place
On the jump-off:
“Well when I saw Bertram [Allen] go I was walking next in the ring and I thought, ‘Whew, that’s going to be hard to catch for me.’ My horse has a big stride, but she is not the fastest horse. She sometimes can be a little finicky to ride. I thought I went as fast as I could and was trying to leave all the jumps up. I was very pleased – she jumped great tonight.”
On competing with the Irish:
“It’s a tough crowd. They are all competitors, they all go very fast, they are all hungry and they jump a lot of clean rounds. To beat them, you have to go your best and go as fast as you can. Tonight we had a great field. It was a tough course. Anthony [D’Ambrosio] set a very big track – technical. You needed to know your horse and do the right thing at the right time. It was a very good track in my opinion.”
$401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. Pacino Amiro / Bertram Allen / Aiden McGrory / IRL / 0 | 70.43 / 0 | 35.32
2. Legacy / Daniel Coyle / Ariel Grange / IRL / 0 | 74.68 / 0 | 37.11
3. Bardolina 2 / Mario Deslauriers / Wishing Well Farm LLC / CAN / 0 | 73.61 / 0 | 37.62
4. Killer Queen VDM / Daniel Deusser / Stephex Stables / GER / 0 | 72.58 / 4 | 35.62
5. VDL Cartello / Lorcan Gallagher / Heathman Fam, LLC / IRL / 0 | 72.54 / 4 | 38.47
6. Eddie Blue / Devin Ryan / LL Show Jumpers, LLC / USA / 1 | 76.02
7. Donatello 141 / Ashlee Bond / Little Valley Farm / ISR / 4 | 70.49
8. Katanga V/H Dingeshof / Nicola Philippaerts / Nicola Philippaerts / BEL / 4 | 71.18
9. Clooney 51 / Martin Fuchs / Luigi Baleri / SUI / 4 | 71.3
10. Bull Run’s Risen / Kristen Vanderveen / Bull Run Jumpers, Inc. / USA / 4 | 72.14
11. Blueberry / Nicholas Dello Joio / The Blueberry Group / USA / 4 | 72.63
12. Contagious / McLain Ward / Beechwood Stables, LLC / USA / 4 | 73.56