The 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued today with the second week of the 13-week long circuit, which features top jumper, hunter, and equitation competition until April 3. Starting out the International Arena with a win was Jimmy Torano (USA) and Chewbacca HCC with victory in the Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumpers.
This is the first week of FEI competition of the circuit and is highlighted by the $140,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix CSI3* on Saturday, January 15, at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s $37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic.
While the first FEI ranking class takes place Thursday, January 13, FEI horses were able to compete Wednesday in the Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumper Pre-FEI Horses class. Torano and Chewbacca HCC came away with the win in a time of 76.093 seconds. Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) & Andy Christiansen Jr. (ECU) are the course designers for the International Arena this week.
Just behind them was David O’Brien (IRL) who rode Chansonette Farm LLC’s EL Balou Old, a 10-year-old stallion by Eldorado VD Zeshoek x Balou Du Rouet in 76.478 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Irish Olympian Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and the 13-year-old Rhinelander gelding Alejandro (Acorado’s ASS x Continue), owned by Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm, and Seabrook LLC.
Jimmy Torano is no stranger to the winner’s circle, but he actually wasn’t expecting to find himself there on Wednesday morning.
He explained, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry later in the week, so I was just trying to get my horse in the ring and get him comfortable today. [Chewbacca HCC] is a horse with a huge stride, so he covers a lot of ground, so I think naturally that helped me with the time.”
Chewbacca HCC is a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Clarimo x Quintero that Torano first started riding over the summer. In the beginning of December, the pair competed in the Holiday & Horses Grand Prix CSI4*, finishing 13th. Though Chewbacca did not have a lot of prior experience in the bigger classes, Torano recognized his new mount’s potential and recently purchased Chewbacca fully from Canadian Olympian Mario Deslauriers.
“I think it’s a horse with hopefully a big future, and I think this horse is going to jump some big, big classes,” he said.
Torano noted that Chewbacca’s appearance doesn’t necessarily align with his personality.
“He’s a puppy dog,” he described. “He’s a big horse, but in the barn he’s very sweet and gentle. The biggest thing about him is you think he’s just a big, quiet slug of a horse, but actually he has a lot of blood, and he can be a little bit spooky.”
That spooky streak was a factor in Torano’s decision making for this week. Even though they showed last week, Torano felt it was important to get Chewbacca in the ring again.
He noted, “I thought the more he gets in there, the better.” With a positive outing today, Torano is focused on his plan for the rest of the week. “The goal, ultimately, is Saturday night,” he concluded.
Following the FEI class was the national $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m jump-off class. With 89 entries, Cathleen Driscoll (USA) claimed the top two spots. Driscoll rode Flotylla, owned by Don Stewart, to the win in 41.147 seconds. That proved to be a time even Driscoll herself couldn’t catch as she then rode Arome, owned by Plain Bay Farm, to second place in 41.511 seconds. Catherine Tyree rode Itasca Group LLC’s Primo Troy to third place in 43.38 seconds.
Week one at WEF continues on Thursday, January 13, with the $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m CSI3* class, followed by the $37,000 Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup Round One, and championships for the professional hunter divisions.
Source: press release Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre
Photo: press release Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre / Jimmy Torano and Chewbacca HCC © Sportfot