Week five of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) concluded on Sunday, February 12, in Wellington, FL, with a win for Emily Moffitt (GBR) and Poden Farms’ For Sale 6 in the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2*.
Week five course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) concluded Sunday’s competition with 45 entries in the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2* and 12 faultless combinations to jump-off. Out of seven double clear rounds, Emily Moffitt and For Sale 6 clocked the fastest time of 37.03 seconds. Lucas Porter (USA) and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s B Once Z finished second in 37.39 seconds. Andrew Welles (USA) and Peter Welles’ Boo van het Kastanjehof placed third in 38.14 seconds, and Mavis Spencer (USA) completed the fourth place time of 38.79 seconds riding Mike Collins’ Cornetiero.
Moffitt (18) switched from representing the U.S. to riding for Great Britain this year and stood for the playing of the British national anthem in her honor for the first time on Sunday. Moffitt has a farm in Wellington, but is based in England most of the year and began training with Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR) at the end of last year’s WEF circuit.
For her win on Sunday, Moffitt was aboard For Sale 6, an 11-year-old Westphalian mare (For Pleasure x Cassini I) that was purchased from Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum.
“She is definitely not for sale. I’ll be keeping her for quite some time,” Moffitt made clear after her victory. “I have had Sale for about a year and a half. My previous trainer (Laura Kraut) rode her for the first few months that we had her, and then she actually got injured after the Junior Nations’ Cup here at WEF last year. This is her first big class back, so we are very excited with how she jumped. It took her a little bit to get back into things. We were a little worried, but I think it is safe to say she is back.”
Moffitt previously won her first CSI 2* grand prix in Knokke, Belgium, and stepped up in the summer of 2016 to compete in some of the CSI 5* Global Champions League events. The rider decided to skip college and pursue her riding career full-time, but has remained an amateur as she transitions to the bigger classes. With the new addition of the CSI 2* events to complement the five-star competition at this year’s WEF, Moffitt had the perfect opportunity to jump some different horses and gain valuable experience.
“I have a few five-star horses right now, and I was a little frustrated that I could not jump those classes this week, but it was nice that I was able to use my 1.45-1.50m horses,” Moffitt noted. “I get excited to be able to use them and have a goal for them. I think that’s really nice to have the two-star going along with the five-star.”
Moffitt’s main goal for the circuit is to qualify for week 11’s $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*. She has also been selected as a member of the British team for week eight’s $150,000 FEI Nations’ Cup.
Another top young rider in the class on Sunday, Lucas Porter (19) splits his year between the U.S. and Holland, coached by reigning World Champion Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED). For his second place finish, Porter was aboard B Once Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide mare (Baloubet du Rouet x Lavaletto) that he found from Katharina Offel (UKR) at the start of 2015.
“She is definitely the best horse that I have ever ridden,” Porter proclaimed. “She has such a big heart; she is so quick against the clock, and she is such a trier. I have never sat on a horse that has this much faith in herself. She is just the perfect horse for a young rider like myself.”
In the jump-off, Porter explained that he lost his stirrup, which cost him the small fraction of time that divided first and second place. The rider was also happy to have the opportunity to jump in the 2* division, however, and was happy with his result.
“The two-star and five-star combination has worked out perfectly,” stated Porter. “It keeps the number of riders and horses in the classes exactly where they should be. It also creates more opportunity to make the two-star grand prix and the five-star grand prix each go at an exciting time where the majority of the show can come watch. Even though I’m not doing the biggest competition at the show, I still have a primetime showing. It makes it a pleasure for everyone involved.”
At 29 years old, third place finisher Andrew Welles felt like the senior to his counterparts in the top three on Sunday, but he was happy for the opportunity to use his veteran mount Boo van het Kastanjehof in the CSI 2* competition. Welles has ridden the 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Pachat II) for the past seven years after purchasing her from his best friend, Hardin Towell.
“She is the most special horse I have ever had,” Welles stated. “She is owned by my father, who has been the biggest supporter of my career. At 16 years old, she feels like she did when she was nine. She is having an absolute ball. I’m really just enjoying each class with her right now. It has been a lot of fun to have her back going in the big ring this year. She has done three grand prix classes, and she has been double clear in all three, so we will take it.”
Adding his experience of the first concurrent two-star and five-star events at WEF, Welles added, “I think it is phenomenal. I give huge credit to the organizing committee for putting this on. I think it gave a great opportunity for younger riders and younger horses, or older horses like mine, to have a division that really suits them. It also gave a lot of the five-star riders the opportunity to take a little pressure off of their horses to not have to qualify out of 100 horses in the grand prix qualifier. Granted, the better riders always tend to rise to the top, but there is still something to be said for that.”