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.
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.