Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 24, 2022 – A field of world-class athletes descended upon the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Thursday morning to contend for top honors in the $75,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Round 7 CSI5*. Fifty-nine combinations took to the track, designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen (ECU) in an effort to jump clear and secure a spot in Saturday’s coveted $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*. Topping the class, which was jam-packed with riders ranked in the top 20 in the Longines FEI World Rankings, was Germany’s Daniel Deusser with Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z.
The course designers built a track fit for five-star athletes, featuring numerous related obstacles with 13 in total in a time allowed of 74 seconds. Among the challenges presented on course were a double of oxers, a wide triple bar oxer, a vertical-oxer double combination, an oxer-vertical double combination, a skinny vertical and two liverpools.
First to navigate the track clear was Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam with Alejandro, who went third in the order and held his leading position as the sole clear round until fortunes changed 21 trips later and McLain Ward (USA) with Kasper Van Het Hellehof and Deusser and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z pulled off consecutive clear rounds, guaranteeing a jump-off. Still to add their names to the list of clear rounds were Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Samuel Hutton, Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca, the United States’ Margie Goldstein-Engle and Spencer Smith, Ireland’s David O’Brien, and Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya for a total of 10 clear rounds.
As the course was shortened, nine of the qualifying 10 returned to take on the jump-off track. Returning first was Sweetnam aboard Alejandro, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm, Seabrook LLC. The Irish rider and the 13-year-old Rheinlander gelding left nothing to chance, taking risks and keeping up their quick gallop through the final oxer, breaking the beam in 38.25 seconds with all the rails intact to settle themselves into the top place position where they remained for three more rounds.
Deusser was the next to clear the course with Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z in a competitive time, piloting the 14-year-old Zangersheide stallion, owned by Stephex Stables and Scuderia 1918, to a time of 37.42 seconds, nearly one second faster than the time set by Sweetnam. With several heavy hitters coming behind them, it was only De Luca aboard the Poden Farms entry F One USA, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, who came close to Deusser’s time, clocking in at 37.55 seconds and ultimately taking second place and dropping Sweetnam into third as the class came to a close.
2022 marks Deusser’s second consecutive season at the Winter Equestrian Festival, having taken home the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* as well as the $214,000 Grand Prix CSIO4* in 2021 aboard the same mount. Returning to the United States with his impressive string, the German Olympian is reclaiming his title as a force to be reckoned with at the Winter Equestrian Festival. His final class of the season will be Saturday night’s $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5* with Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z to try to add yet another top result on American soil before heading back home to Europe.
International athletes will look next to Friday’s $37,000 Bainbridge 1.45m Speed CSI5*, then focus their efforts on the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*, taking place Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Happening simultaneously during Week 7 at the Winter Equestrian Festival is CSI2* competition, which culminates Sunday with the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix CSI2*.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Daniel Deusser – $75,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Round 7 CSI5* winner
On today’s plan:
“I chose to ride [Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z] because – first of all – he is in very good shape. He had a couple of months off last year, and he started jumping at the end of the year. During [COVID], there were no shows in Europe. Since over one year ago, he’s actually only done [CHI] Geneva, a big show last week, two weeks ago, then today. He showed that he was in good shape now, so that’s why I used him to qualify today.
“After I rode the first round, I was actually planning to try to win the class. It doesn’t always work out of course, but I have to say today he was very good in the jump-off. He’s a very flexible horse when you turn him shorter; he doesn’t care how short you turn him to the fence so the jump-off was actually quite nice for me.”
On the course:
“After half of the class, I thought it was a very tricky, difficult course, and it was nice the time allowed was short, but not impossible. In the second half there were more clears compared to the first half. In the end, I think the results were nice with 10 clear. For WEF, that result is very good compared to the class, which wasn’t super big or super difficult. Of course you have to jump to qualify, but it was not that it was unfair or impossible for the horses to jump. I think the course designers today did a very good job.”
On his plan for the rest of WEF:
“I plan to do the [$401,000 Lugano Diamonds] Grand Prix. We’re going to go back to Europe next week so this will be his last show. And I see that he is in a very good mood. There are quite a few new names here this year. The conditions are very good here, and the prize money is good, of course the competition is good, and maybe we have more European riders here than usual. But it’s nice. We will see next year whether more people come or if they stay in Europe if there are more shows. It’s very difficult because in Europe, you spend every week in a different location for a different show. On the other hand, it’s warm here, and we’re riding outside compared to cold and riding inside.”
$75,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Round 7 CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
- Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z / Daniel Deusser / GER / Stephex Stables and Scuderia 1918 / 0 | 72.22 / 0 | 37.42
- F One USA / Lorenzo De Luca / ITA / Poden Farms / 0 | 70.89 / 0 | 37.55
- Alejandro / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm, Seabrook LLC / 0 | 72.36 / 0 | 38.25
- Dicas / Margie Goldstein-Engle / USA / Storm Ridge Capital LLC, Show Horses, Garber & Gladewinds, Inc. / 0 | 71.74 / 0 | 40.98
- El Balou Old / David O’Brien / IRL / Chansonette Farm LLC / 0 | 71.95 / 0 | 41.40
- Quibelle / Spencer Smith / USA / Gotham Enterprizes, Inc. / 0 | 71.98 / 0 | 43.55
- Ginger-Blue / Ben Maher / GBR / Jane Forbes Clark / 0 | 72.58 / 4 | 39.35
- Kasper Van Het Hellehof / McLain Ward / USA / The Kasper Group, LLC / 0 | 72.23 / 4 | 39.77
- H&M Kirlo Van Den Bosrand / Samuel Hutton / GBR / Abdel Said / 0 | 71.79 / 4 | 40.44
- Alamo / Sergio Alvarez Moya / ESP / Sergio Alvarez Moya / 0 | 72.39 / WD
- Chadellano PS / Emanuele Camilli / ITA / Emanuele Camilli / 1 / 74.38
- Hester / Lucy Deslauriers / USA / Lisa Deslauriers / 4 | 69.32