In Friday’s $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m Jumpers CSI 2* at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), it was Olympian Sharn Wordley (NZL) who sped to the top of the results with Rye Val de Mai. WEF is a 12-week circuit of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, through April 1, 2018, and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
Week 2, sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance, features the $70,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Grand Prix CSI 2* on Saturday, January 20, at 7 p.m. The $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix and $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.45m Classic will be held on Sunday, January 21.
One of the most popular jumper divisions at WEF, the 1.40m Jumpers have a new sponsor this year in The Bainbridge Companies. But, they are no stranger to WEF, having been a sponsor for 17 years. In 2018, The Bainbridge Companies are celebrating their 20th anniversary.
The Bainbridge Companies’ Chairman and CEO, Richard Schechter, stated, “I’m very excited about [sponsoring the 1.40m division] because the class runs over multiple days and multiple rings, although usually in the International Arena, every week of WEF. It’s exciting for us, and I think what I liked about the 1.40m is that you get a very broad cross-section of people competing in it.
“We do this because we’re very dedicated to supporting the sport,” he continued.
“I have my own farm, my own hunter/jumper program, so I think that Bainbridge is dedicated to helping support the sport and, particularly in Wellington, to help the sport grow.”
There were 15 clear out of 36 entries over Oscar Soberon’s (MEX) course design in Friday’s Bainbridge 1.40m Jumpers. It was a speed format, and the fastest round was recorded by Sharn Wordley riding his own Rye Val de Mai, a 13-year-old Selle Francais stallion by Helios de la Cour II. They crossed the timers in 55.29 seconds.
Wordley stated, “I think the course builder is doing a fantastic job. With the way the footing is now, I can plan what is best for my horses and not necessarily how the footing is going to be. The footing is great, and I wanted to say that because they’ve put a lot of effort into it.”
Second place went to Erynn Ballard (CAN) on Sagamore Farms’ Bella Donna with a time of 56.12 seconds. Jonathan Corrigan (IRL) and Steven Klein’s Javas Keltic Mist were third in 59.01 seconds.
Wordley, who is based in Lexington, KY, and Wellington, FL, uses Rye Val de Mai primarily for FEI ranking classes and an occasional two-star grand prix. The stallion is back in the ring after an extended vacation.
“He’s a great horse,” said Wordley, who represented New Zealand at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. “He won me the rider bonus in Kentucky last summer. I gave him quite a good break over the Christmas period, so he hasn’t shown for about three and a half months. This is his first show back, and he felt fantastic.
“He’s French, so he’s got a very downhill balance and he’s very stiff,” he continued. “But if you just let him go around with his nose on the ground, he’s such a careful jumper and he’s so smart, that he’s really easy. You can pull him out after three and a half months, go show, and win a class. That’s his mentality every day. He’s a brilliant horse to have on the team.”
Wordley plans to bring his stallion back out for Sunday’s $35,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.45m Classic, also an FEI ranking class.
In the $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m Speed Challenge, Laura Chapot (USA) scored the top two spots out of 79 entries with Zealous and Quointreau Un Prince. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Jewel 8 placed third.
Final Results: $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m Jumpers CSI 2*
1. Rye Val De Mai, Sharn Wordley (NZL), Sharn Wordley: 0/55.29
2. Bella Donna, Erynn Ballard (CAN), Sagamore Farms: 0/56.12
3. Javas Keltic Mist, Jonathan Corrigan (IRL), Steven Klein: 0/59.01
4. Bachelor 4, Freddie Vazquez (PUR), Messenger Hill: 0/59.39
5. Colora, Theo Genn (USA), Bridlebourne Stables Llc: 0/60.31