Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 21, 2019 – Back for the seventh installment out of 12 over the course of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit, the $134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup VII CSI5* brought 56 of the most elite partnerships on the showgrounds to the International Arena on Thursday for a shot at the prize money and a place in Saturday’s feature grand prix. As the very first in the order-of-go for the class, Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Ladriano Z ultimately bested a sizable jump-off, comprised of 13 of the eligible 16 pairs, thanks to two foot-perfect rides, capturing the top spot on the leaderboard by less than half of a second to edge out the rest of the pack.
Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) aptly challenged horse-and-athlete combinations to suit the CSI5* status of the class with 16 efforts placed strategically around the expansive arena. Many duos rose to the occasion with clear first rounds, however the first pair to tackle the course, Bluman and Ladriano Z, owned by Alexa Schwitzer and Blue Star Investments, served as the successful pathfinders to commence the class, leaving the fences intact to qualify for the jump-off.
They were soon joined by Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Chameur 137 as well as Conor Swail (IRL) and Rubens LS La Silla, the victors in the $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI3* during Week Three. Nayel Nassar (EGY) and Lucifer V were next to log a fault-free ride, followed by Paul O’Shea (IRL) aboard Skara Glen’s Presence, Wilton Porter (USA) with Cula Lou V, Beat Mändli (SUI) and Dsarie, Darragh Kenny (IRL) with the ride on Important De Muze and Margie Engle (USA) and Royce, each of whom added their names to the list for the short course before the midway point in the first round.
Third back after the break, Katherine Dinan (USA) and Dougie Douglas put the jump-off numbers in the double digits with their penalty-free trip, and were immediately joined by Brianne Goutal (USA) and Viva Colombia. Growing the number of returning combinations even more, Charlie Jacobs (USA) aboard Cassinja S, Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) and Chapilot, Martin Fuchs (SUI) in the saddle on Chica BZ, Jessica Springsteen (USA) with Volage Du Val Henry and Markus Beerbaum (GER) aboard Cool Hand Luke 4 rounded out the lengthy list to conclude on 16 qualifiers for the jump-off.
Whittled down to eight fences, the jump-off pattern ultimately saw 13 challengers return, with Engle, Goutal and Mändli electing to save their horses. First to return, Bluman and Ladriano Z once again set the pace with a clear ride in 38.097 seconds to kick-off round two, which featured a number of opportunities for partnerships to slice time off the clock as well as a long gallop to the final obstacle. Chasing down the front-runners, competitors Nassar, O’Shea and Kenny all laid down stellar efforts with their quick, clear rides aboard their respective mounts, but each tripped the timers less than one second off the leading pair’s time. Subsequent teams continued to aim for Bluman and the 11-year-old gelding’s fault-free time, but none were able to break the beam quicker, regardless of faults. The quickest of four double-clean entries, Bluman and Ladriano Z ultimately clinched the lead spot in the victory gallop, having led the class from start to finish.
The second pair to navigate a clean jump-off round, Nassar and Evergate Stables LLC’s Lucifer V earned the second position with their short course time of 38.546 seconds, while O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Presence, co-owned by Skara Glen, Michael Hayden and O’Shea, rounded out the podium spots just slightly slower in 38.801 seconds.
No strangers to the winner’s circle, Bluman and Ladriano Z have accumulated a long list of victories together, including the $384,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* at WEF during Week Five in 2018, the $85,000 GroupBy “Big Ben” Challenge at the Royal Horse Show in Canada in November 2018 and the $300,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI4* in New York in late 2017, among many other accolades. In September 2018, the distinguished partners competed in the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) for the Israeli team, earning a slot in the final day of individual competition and finishing within the top 35. Less than one week ago, Bluman piloted Ladriano Z to one of only three double-clean trips during the $290,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America CSIO5* at Deeridge Farms, helping the team from Israel finish in second place overall for the silver medal. After WEF, Bluman and Ladriano Z will set their sights on international competition and Olympic qualifiers across the globe in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Jumper competition will continue at WEF throughout the weekend, with the highlight event, the $391,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix CSI5*, taking place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23. Week Seven is the second of four CSI5*-designated weeks during the 12-week circuit, with Weeks Nine and Twelve also sharing the distinction.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Daniel Bluman – $134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup VII CSI5* winner
On if he thought his time would hold up in the jump-off:
“Riding with very fast and very good riders behind me, it’s impossible to know. I did think that our time was something they were going to have to work for. [Ladriano Z] was definitely fast enough, and sometimes people trying to catch that can make mistakes. In my mind, I knew it could be a winner, but you never know with such great riders coming after you. You also have to get a little lucky.”
On his jump-off strategy:
“From one to two, I normally wouldn’t count, but with a jump-off like that and me going at the beginning, I actually asked McLain [Ward], because I know he walks everything, if there was a number. He told me all of the numbers from jump to jump. I figured my best shot to be faster was from one to two, where I could do the nine strides. I thought I would take a massive risk to the vertical-vertical combination and catch the first one on an angle, which is exactly what I did and it paid off.”
On his relationship with Ladriano Z:
“He is an amazing horse to have in the barn. He was already very successful with my cousin [Ilan Bluman] as an 8-year-old, and then when I started riding him as a 9-year-old he won at the Hampton Classic and then had multiple placings around the world. Last year, he won here in the first CSI5* of the season and we carried on and had a really good year with the WEG. After the WEG, I took a little bit of time to work on things I thought we needed to work on to get to the next level of consistency, and since then he has placed in every class he has jumped and won a couple. Last week at Deeridge [Farms], he was double-clear in the Nations Cup and clear in the grand prix. So far it is going well and I hope I can keep it up by keeping him in good shape and riding well to let him win important classes. He has everything to win every class in the world.”
$134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup VII CSI5*
Place / Athlete / Horse / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Daniel Bluman / Ladriano Z / ISR / Alexa Schwitzer, Blue Star Investments / 0 / 0 / 38.097
2. Nayel Nassar / Lucifer V / EGY / Evergate Stables, LLC / 0 / 0 / 38.546
3. Paul O’Shea / Skara Glen’s Presence / IRL / Skara Glen, Michael Hayden, Paul O’Shea / 0 / 0 / 38.801
4. Darragh Kenny / Important De Muze / IRL / Kerry Anne LLC / 0 / 0 / 38.909
5. Markus Beerbaum / Cool Hand Luke 4 / GER / Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC / 0 / 0 / 48.876
6. Jessica Springsteen / Volage Du Val Henry / USA / Stone Hill Farm / 0 / 4 / 38.796
7. Martin Fuchs / Chica BZ / SUI / Juri Adolfo / 0 / 4 / 38.985
8. Conor Swail / Rubens LS La Silla / IRL / Rose Hill Farm / 0 / 4 / 39.021
9. Rodrigo Lambre / Chapilot / BRA / Mario Onate / 0 / 4 / 40.139
10. Wilton Porter / Cula Lou V / USA / Sleepy P Ranch, LLC / 0 / 4 / 40.974
11. Georgina Bloomberg / Chameur 137 / USA / Purple Road LLC / 0 / 4 / 43.112
12. Charlie Jacobs / Cassinja S / USA / CMJ Sporthorse, LLC / 0 / 4 / 45.024
For full results, please click here.