Wellington, Fla. — Feb. 14th, 2020 — The Palm Beach Masters hosted a field of 46 horse-and-rider combinations on Valentine’s Day to compete in the $213,300 Longines Grand Prix CSIO5* during the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA week. Serving as a competency class for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as well as offering Longines ranking points, the contest was particularly important for those competitors aiming to impress the talent scouts in efforts to be named to 2020 Olympic or Nation’s Cup teams. Rising to the occasion as the fastest double-clear of the afternoon, McLain Ward (USA) and Noche de Ronda claimed victory ahead of the international pack to lead the lap of honor and claim the largest share of the prize money.
For the first round, course designer Alan Wade (IRL) challenged riders to a 13-obstacle course fit for the occasion, with select fences set at the maximum height of 1.65m, as exhibitors representing nine countries took to the expansive grass arena. Logging the first successful trip of the class, Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) and Chacna served as the pathfinders, and soon after Billy Twomey (IRL) and Kimba Flamenco forced a jump-off with their fault-free round. Adding two new nations into the mix, Ashlee Bond (ISR) aboard Donatello and Jonathon Millar (CAN) with Daveau joined the list of returners, followed by Ward riding Noche de Ronda and Martin Fuchs (SUI) on Silver Shine.
At that point in the class, the entire field of returners was comprised of one representative from six nations, but Margie Goldstein-Engle (USA) and Dicas tipped the odds in favor of the home nation with their clear performance. Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) and J’adore van het Klinkhof, along with Jessica Springsteen (USA) with Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, were the last to add their names to the roster of eligible returners ahead of the second phase of riding to bring the total number to nine pairs. Though they completed the course without dropping any rails, Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX), Brian Moggre (USA), Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Yuri Mansur Guerios (BRA) each accrued one time fault to keep them out of contention for the jump-off on their respective mounts.
Setting the pace for the jump-off as the second pair in the ring, Twomey laid down a lightning-fast double-clear aboard Kimba Flamenco, the 11-year-old AES gelding owned by Kim Barzilay and Twomey himself, as the first successful trip on the shortened course with a time of 38.29 seconds. Bond and Donatello earned the second double-clear out of the 9-horse jump-off, but they were not able to snag the number one spot from Twomey with a time of 39.47 seconds. Millar and Daveau put up a fight to make it around the course fault-free but snagged an unfortunate rail.
Next up was Ward, who again rode his trusty 11-year-old Oldenburg mare Noche de Ronda, owned by Bob Russell and Marilla Van Beuren, who was his winning partner in the $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* just six days ago at the Winter Equestrian Festival. The dynamic duo did it again Friday, rocketing past Twomey to first place with a clear time of 37.86 seconds.
The current second-ranked rider in the world, Fuchs followed Ward’s bar-raising round. He was able to keep up with Ward’s split times, even crushing the numbers at the halfway point, but an unlucky rail took him out of the running. Arguably the largest horse in the field, the 11-year-old Rheinlaender gelding Dicas, owned by Gladewinds Partners, LLC, Show Horses Inc and Strom Ridge Capital, LLC carried Goldstein-Engle and covered the ground with vigor, but the pair could not beat Twomey or Ward, crossing the timers at 39.10 seconds to claim the third-place spot with only a few pairs left to ride. Though Lambre and Springsteen turned in good rounds, neither was able to jump to the top.
In the end, Ward claimed victory with Noche de Ronda, while Twomey and Kimba Flamenco earned the reserve honors. Goldstein-Engle and Dicas rounded out the final podium spot. Ward and “Ronda” have found much success together over the past year, competing across the globe in multiple CSI5* events. The mare is one of Ward’s top string horses, who has begun regularly turning in show-stopping performances. When put under the pressure in the afternoon’s technical track, the mare and Ward were once again an unstoppable pair.
Show jumping action will continue at the Palm Beach Masters Series throughout the weekend, with Saturday highlighting the $36,600 PBM Classic CSIO5* while Sunday afternoon will feature the grand finale of the week, the $230,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
McLain Ward (USA) – $213,300 Longines Grand Prix CSIO5* winner
On his back-to-back grand prix wins with Noche de Ronda:
“It has been a great week. Thanks to Ronda, she has really performed great. We had a plan at the beginning of the year to do a smaller grand prix earlier in the season and then do these two weeks back-to-back to get her up and running and get her fitness level up to speed. She jumped spectacularly last week and won a pretty exciting jump-off, but I wanted to stick to the plan. I didn’t have a great round in the qualifier with another horse this week, and it made me focus a little bit. I was really thrilled with her performance, particularly in the jump-off. She felt a little tired in the heat, but during the jump-off she really was in form.”
On how this win was different from the prior week:
“Any win is great, especially at this level. This is a very different venue from last week, and we considered that when we thought about doing two weeks in a row because I thought the change in venue and the grass might freshen the horse a little bit. Last week the grand prix certainly took a little out of the horse, but this is a horse that is aimed at big things and she will have to be able to hold up for multiple days. Once in a while you have to do that program, and I’m thrilled with the way she responded.”
On his jump-off strategy:
“It actually set up better for me this week than last week with my horse’s big stride, and I knew I could do seven strides for fence one to two. I actually thought maybe if I caught the third jump that there were nine strides down to that liverpool. He pulled the liverpool out in front of that vertical, which was a little bit of a friendly gesture. The situation was different than last week. Last week I had to pretty much do anything I could. Billy’s time today was fast, but I didn’t think it was breakneck speed, and I knew I had a couple good ones behind me, so I thought I better not lose the class. I thought by doing seven strides from one to two that it might be enough to catch him, and hopefully put enough pressure on Margie. Some days you get it wrong and some days you get it right, and today it worked out.”
Billy Twomey (IRL) – $213,300 Longines Grand Prix CSIO5* second place
On his jump-off strategy:
“I tried to put it up to the other riders. My horse is a naturally fast horse and McLain’s horse obviously has a really big step and he was able to take advantage of that. I was really happy with the way my horse performed. This is my first year in Florida and so far it has been good.”
On Kimba Flamenco:
“He has been a successful horse. He has already won some CSIO5* classes and won the [TheraPlate UK Grand Prix at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show]. He brings some form to this event. He will have some time off and then will do two more weeks.”
On his first season in Florida:
“Normally we go to Spain, but I was looking for something different. I’m lucky enough to have three or four grand prix horses that I thought I could chop and change throughout the weeks. So far, it’s been really interesting. This week I had one horse at WEF, one at Global and one here at Deeridge, so they are all in really great shape.”
Margie Goldstein-Engle (USA) – $213,300 Longines Grand Prix CSIO5* third place
“I was thrilled with him. He just moved up to the 5* level. He is a big horse and I have had him since he was 6 years old. I almost didn’t bring him over because he was so big. He has been coming along really well starting last year. He has been doing really well at the top level already.”
On her jump-off plan:
“I thought maybe I could hit seven strides after the first jump to the second, but I didn’t quite see it and it looked really far away, so I figured rather than chipping and demolishing it I decided to do eight strides. McLain was really fast so I tried to stay as tidy as I could. Even getting eight strides to the last jump was a bit of a forward eight for me, and considering the heat I was really happy with how he performed.”
$213,300 Longines Grand Prix CSIO5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Noche de Ronda / McLain Ward / USA / 0 | 75.57 / 0 | 37.86
2. Kimba Flamenco / Billy Twomey / IRL / 0 | 75.82 / 0 | 38.29
3. Dicas / Margie Goldstein-Engle / USA / 0 | 74.63 / 0 | 39.10
4. Donatello / Ashlee Bond / ISR / 0 | 76.05 / 0 | 39.47
5. Don Juan van de Donkhoeve / Jessica Springsteen / USA / 0 | 76.71 / 0 | 47.12
6. Silver Shine / Martin Fuchs / SUI / 0 | 75.80 / 4 | 38.09
7. Daveau / Jonathon Millar / CAN / 0 | 76.88 / 4 | 42.03
8. J’adore van het Klinkhof / Rodrigo Lambre / BRA / 0 | 74.46 / 4 | 42.83
9. Chacna / Enrique Gonzalez / MEX / 0 | 76.87 / 12 | 55.35
10. H5 Just the Music / Carlos Hank Guerreiro / MEX / 1 | 77.15
11. MTM Vivre le Reve / Brian Moggre / USA / 1 | 77.34 sec
12. QH Alfons Santo Antonio / Yuri Mansur Guerios / BRA / 1 | 77.87
For full results, please click here.