Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 9, 2020 – The famed 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival returned to Wellington, Fla. for day two of its first week of competition, with show jumping challengers taking to the International Ring for the debut grand prix qualifier of the series, the $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round I. Boasting 46 entries at a midday start, the class was a fitting entrance into the circuit as horse-and-rider pairs shake the dust off and gear up for the season, which will soon increase in intensity. Proving to be the best of the afternoon during his first outing in the United States, Marcelo Ciavaglia (BRA) topped the field on Conto thanks to their two foot-perfect rides, tripping the timers quicker than any other entries to claim the first large prize money victory of the circuit.
Providing an aptly-challenging track for week one, course designer Eric Hasbrouck (USA) created a first-round pattern that nine contenders managed to navigate fault-free. Led by Ciavaglia (BRA) as the first in the ring and first to ride without penalty, Lillie Keenan (USA) forced a jump-off thanks to her clean trip, and the two were soon joined by Jonathon Millar (CAN), Lauren Tisbo (USA) and Erynn Ballard (CAN), each of whom earned short course slots with clear trips on their respective mounts by the halfway drag break. Headed into the jump-off, Santiago Lambre (MEX), Cassio Rivetti (BRA) and Kristen Vanderveen (USA), plus a second ride for Tisbo, each added their names to the list to qualify for the tie-breaker.
Serving as the pathfinders, Ciavaglia and his own Conto set the pace with a clear round in a time of 35.096 seconds to lay the gauntlet down as the first duo to return to the ring. Just two trips later, Millar and Valinski S turned in a solid performance with all the rails remaining in their cups, but did not quite have the speed with a final time of 36.006 seconds. As the jump-off progressed, only two more combinations proved able to complete the abridged track without fault, but none were able to catch the leading pair’s swift time, solidifying them as the leaders from start to finish and the $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round I victors. Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Almighty, owned by Bull Run Jumpers Six LLC, finished in the reserve spot with a double-clear time of 35.838 seconds, while Millar and Wyndmont’s Valinski S claimed the final podium spot.
Impressively, Thursday’s win was a highlight for Ciavaglia as he and Conto, his longtime partner, made their debut at the Winter Equestrian Festival and in the United States. Hailing from Brazil, the duo will be staying for the entire 12-week series and are setting their sights on fruitful finishes in the upcoming $150,000 FEI Nations Cup competition during week eight. Though Ciavaglia and Conto, a 14-year-old Holsteiner stallion, are new to Florida, they have been a team for a decade, racking up top results across Latin America.
Show jumping competition will continue throughout the weekend with the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center, on Saturday evening, while the $75,000 Rosenbaum PLLC Grand Prix will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Marcelo Ciavaglia – $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round I winner
On his horse, Conto:
“Conto is 14 years old and I have had him since he was a 4-year-old. He is a very good stallion and he has a lot of good foals in Brazil. We came to Wellington to compete in the Nations Cup in February. Phillipe Guerdat asked me to come and I had a month and a half to get him in order for the Nations Cup, but he’s so fun.”
On the course today:
“The course was super. The footing was really good, it is amazing here. The course was very modern and rode very well. It was fast, and I loved it.”
On the Winter Equestrian Festival:
“This is my first time in the United States. I like everything – the horses and the people. The location is so nice and different. Everyone is so nice here and I love to see everyone smiling. I am staying for all twelve weeks. Next week I am taking a break and then will be jumping in the 3* classes and the Nations Cups here at WEF and at Deeridge Farm.”
$35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round I
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Conto / Marcello Ciavaglia / BRA / 0 | 77.24 / 0 | 35.069
2. Bull Run’s Almighty / Kristen Vanderveen / USA / 0 | 76.392 / 0 | 35.838
3. Valinski’s / Jonathon Millar / CAN / 0 | 76.832 / 0 | 36.006
4. The Diamant Rose Z / Erynn Ballard / CAN / 0 | 78.383 / 0 | 39.111
5. Bacara D’Archonfosse / Cassio Rivetti / BRA / 0 | 76.895 / 4 | 34.905
6. Fasther / Lillie Keenan / USA / 0 | 76.828 / 4 | 35.914
7. Mr. Visto / Lauren Tisbo / USA / 0 | 77.873 / 4 | 36.184
8. Casco 11 / Lauren Tisbo / USA / 0 | 76.999 /4 | 39.444
9. Ibabco / Santiago Lambre / MEX / 0 | 76.425
10. Valdocco Des Caps / Cian O’Connor / IRL / 1 | 79.377
11. Kayack / Juan Manuel Gallego / COL / 2 | 80.733
12. Atika Des Hauts Vents / Katherine Dinan / USA / 3 | 81.77
For full results, click here.