Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 5, 2020 – The Stadium Derby Field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center hosted 70 horse-and-rider pairs for the fourth round of the $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Cup CSI4*. Bliss Heers (USA) and faithful partner Antidote De Mars, an 11-year-old Selle Français stallion owned by Bridgeside Farms LLC, were unstoppable Friday afternoon, as they claimed their spot at the top of the leaderboard after besting a 15-horse jump-off.
The 13-obstacle track set by Anderson Lima of Argentina proved challenging for riders as the change of venue posed difficult questions across the field. Emily Moffit (GBR) started the competition off strong as the first competitor in the ring and the first to post a clear round, finishing just within the 81-second time allowed in 79.75 seconds. At the halfway point, seven additional competitors joined Moffitt for the jump-off round, including Heers aboard Antidote De Mars. During the second portion of the class, seven more horse and rider combinations secured their spot in the jump-off, including the final horse-and-rider pair on course, Laura Kraut (USA) and Fleurette, a 12-year-old Selle Français owned by St. Bride’s Farm.
The shortened eight-obstacle jump-off track set by Lima challenged riders to complete the course in just 53 seconds. Despite the vast derby field, the jump-off course was condensed to a tight path, leaving limited room for competitors to open up their stride and gain speed with a large gallop. To find success in this course and shave off as much time as possible, athletes had to make efficient decisions that enabled their partner to leave the course intact. Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Stephex Stables, were the pathfinders for the shortened track, finishing in 39.236 seconds.
The riders that followed Deusser tried to unseat his lead, but none were successful until Heers took to the course four rounds later. Heers and Antidote De Mars shaved off just two-tenths of a second from Deusser’s leading time, finishing in 38.988 seconds to take over the top spot. Putting it all on the line as the final pair to attempt to unseat Heers’ new lead, Kraut piloted her partner Fleurette through especially sharp turns between the obstacles, but her time was not quite quick enough to claim the win, finishing in 39.55 seconds. In the end, Heers was claimed the winner, with Deusser finishing in second place and Kraut rounding out the top three.
Show jumping competition during Week Four of WEF will culminate in the $214,000 M&S Great American Grand Prix CSI4* Sunday, February 7, as qualified riders from Friday’s $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Round IV CSI4* return for their chance to claim the win.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Bliss Heers – $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Cup Round IV CSI4* winner
On her win:
“It’s a beautiful day in Florida today. The field is incredible, and I don’t just mean the [Stadium Derby Field], even the field of competitors. It’s quite a special year with most of the European athletes here, and with the caliber of riders and horses it’s very fun to compete with this type of competition.”
On Antidote De Mars:
“He always feels incredible. To be honest, I feel like he’s always on top of his game and is incredibly talented, incredibly intelligent and all I can do is stay out of his way. He is a true competitor!”
$50,000 FEI CSI 4* Adequan WEF Challenge Round IV CSI4*
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. Antidote De Mars / Bliss Heers / Bridgeside Farms LLC / USA / 78.71 | 0 / 38.988 | 0
2. Killer Queen VDM / Daniel Deusser / Stephex Stables / GER / 76.48 | 0 / 39.236 | 0
3. Fleurette / Laura Kraut / St. Bride’s Farm / USA / 78.86 | 0 / 39.55 | 0
4. Little Magic D’Asschuat / Henrik Von Eckermann / Camp PB B.V. / SWE / 76.52 | 0 / 40.26 | 0
5. Paloma / Lauren Hough / Kathleen Kamine / USA / 77.38 | 0 / 41.503 | 0
6. Bloutinue / Adam Prudent / Plain Bay Farm / USA / 76.28 | 0 / 38.089 | 4
7. Benny’s Legacy / Adrienne Sternlicht / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / 78.79 | 0 / 39.398 | 4
8. Dubai / Samuel Parot / Samuel Parot / CHI / 79.44 | 0 / 40.076 | 4
9. Don Juan Van de Donkhoeve / Jessica Springsteen / Stone Hill Farm / USA / 80 | 0 / 40.147 | 0
10. Koss Van Heiste / Connor Swail / Dalco LTD / IRL / 80.4 | 0 / 40.887 | 4
11. Contagious / McLain Ward / Beechwood Stables, LLC / USA / 78.71 | 0 / 40.917 | 4
12. Cosa Nostra / Alberto Michan / 78.45 | 0 / 43.11 | 4