The week’s highlight, the $216,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI4* at the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, provided excitement in chilly temperatures for the fourth instalment of the “Saturday Night Lights” series. Andrew Bourns (IRL) and Sea Topblue, owned by Andrew Bourns Sport Horses, were victorious in the Grand Prix. There were 44 entries in the Grand Prix, and they competed over a course set by Peter Grant of Canada. 14 found the path to a clear round of those entries and continued to the jump-off.
“To be honest, when I initially walked the course, I didn’t think there would be as many clear rounds,” said Bourns. “I thought the course was big enough and reasonably technical and, in the end, it just shows the strength of the field and the number of good horses and riders at WEF this time of year. So I think we were all a bit surprised to have so many clear rounds.”
The early pacesetter was Olympian Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and his Moya VD Bisschop, who were the second to go in the jump-off and set the time to beat at 39.25 seconds. Nine horses after Philippaerts, WEF newcomer Mark McAuley (IRL) and Jasco VD Bisschop, a 13-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding by Dulf van den Bisschop x Krunch de Breve, lowered the winning time to 38.94 seconds.
As the final entry in the jump-off, Bourns could squeak by his countryman and cross the timers in 38.76 seconds for the win.