Wellington, Fla. – Dec. 3, 2016 – The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) hosted its final international show jumping competition of the year with the $216,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4* on Saturday in Wellington, Florida. Russia’s Liubov Kochetova and Balou Du Reventon bested the field of international competitors to take home the top prize of the week.
“It’s so odd because I’m not a fast rider, I’m a slow rider,” said Kochetova. “My horse just doesn’t have enough experience to go clear and fast just yet. In the beginning of his career, I want to go clear in difficult grand prix events before we start going fast, but it worked out today — I won!
“Balou is my top horse and I’ve competed in several grand prix with him but he’s still young,” continued Kochetova. “He did Spruce Meadows this year, which was very difficult — it’s the most difficult competition — and he did well. Everything was good. I gave him a good rest over the summer — I didn’t jump a lot. He feels really good.”
Of the 42 starters, none were able to fully master the Anthony D’Ambrosio-designed first round course. Only USA’s Maggie McAlary of Double H Farm and Kochetova were able to successfully pilot their mounts around the technical track consisting of 13 fences and leave all of the rails intact, however they each incurred 1 time fault due to a tight time-allowed of 77 seconds.
As a result, as the only two exhibitors to clear the course with 1 time fault, they advanced on to the jump-off.
McAlary was first to take on the short course with new mount Maraca LS La Silla, owned by Double H Farm. The pair collected a total of 17 faults in 52.616 seconds to take second place honors in their first 4* grand prix together.
Wellington-based Kochetova rode her own Balou Du Reventon, a 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion, to a clear but conservative round to claim Saturday’s win, finishing with 2 time faults in 53.025 seconds.
“It was a little tricky tonight,” Kochetova said. “Balou jumped the last three indoor World Cup qualifiers clear and he’s really gained a lot of experience. He feels ready to compete in the more difficult classes. He did well, I was so happy. The course was just tricky. Maybe not so difficult but it forced the horse to have to understand the rider very well.
“My plan for the jump-off really depended on Maggie,” continued Kochetova. “If she had gone clear I would’ve tried to have gone a little bit faster but she had a few down so my plan was just to be clear.”
Looking forward to the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season, which kicks off on Jan. 11, 2017 at PBIEC, Kochetova is primarily focused on gaining valuable World Cup points and qualifying for the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals, which will be held March 29–April 2, 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I’m trying to qualify for the World Cup Finals and I hope to do well in the next three World Cup qualifiers,” said Kochetova. “I currently am eighth in the North American Eastern Sub-League rankings and I need to be in seventh to qualify for Omaha so that is my plan looking ahead to next year.”
After Saturday’s big win, Kochetova plans to give Balou Du Reventon a well-deserved rest before gearing back up for more competition in the new year.
“I love my horse,” said Kochetova. “We just came from Las Vegas. He had just one week off. Coming back to this hot weather and competing in this big ring after indoors, he really tried hard for me tonight. He did very well. He’ll have about four weeks off to rest before we start competing again at WEF.”
Rounding out the top three as the fastest of the 4-faulters was USA’s Todd Minikus and Two Swans Farm’s Babalou 41, while USA’s Marilyn Little and Clearwater, owned by Karen O’Connor, took home fourth place and Kevin Babington (IRL) and Shorapur LLC’s Shorapur finished in fifth place.
Results: $216,000 Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*
1 RUS BALOU DU REVENTON LIUBOV KOCHETOVA 1 79.88 2 53.025
2 USA MARACA LS LA SILLA MAGGIE MCALARY 1 79.76 17 52.616
3 USA BABALOU 41 TODD MINIKUS 4 71.65
4 USA CLEARWATER MARILYN LITTLE 4 72.99
5 IRL SHORAPUR KEVIN BABINGTON 4 73.79
6 CAN FOR FREEDOM Z KEEAN WHITE 4 73.98
7 IRL HETMAN OF COLORS CONOR SWAIL 4 75.73
8 USA HILTON VAN DE BREEPOEL BRITTNI RAFLOWITZ 4 76.78
9 IRL REBECA LS DARRAGH KERINS 5 78.72
10 BRA QUINTOL EDUARDO MENEZES 8 68.81
11 CHL ATLANTIS SAMUEL PAROT 8 69.51
12 USA ROYCE MARGIE ENGLE 8 69.99