The final day of competition at the penultimate week of the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) boasted a day of elite competition as the best in the world geared up for the highlight event, the $216,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI4*. In a nail-biting jump-off, Darragh Kenny (IRL) took the final international win of the week with Volnay Du Boisdeville.
WEF 11, sponsored by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, is the fifth week of the series to feature four-star and two-star events alongside national hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions. Top sport at the newly-renamed Wellington International will conclude on Sunday, April 3, 2022 with the season’s highly-anticipated Rolex week.
Michael Zeff, with children, and Gillian Constable of Palm Beach County Sports Commission in the winning presentation with Darragh Kenny. © Sportfot
Forty-four qualified combinations elected to contest Olaf Petersen Jr.’s (GER) challenging Grand Prix track, but representatives from most of the 16 nations struggled to find a successful path around every obstacle. At the event’s halfway mark, only three athletes consisting of Darragh Kenny (IRL), Petronella Andersson (SWE), and Zoe Conter (BEL) had procured an elusive jump-off spot. Petersen included a triple bar, triple combination, and two Liverpool elements to test the riders. What he crafted in a degree of difficulty, however, Petersen compensated for in time as he allowed a healthy time allowed of 91 seconds to navigate the course.
As the class wound down, the second half of the entries rose to the occasion and an additional six contenders emerged fault-free for a nine-horse jump-off lineup. Sweden’s Petronella Andersson was the first to take on the short course and put the pressure on as she once again cleared the timers fault-free, which would hold up for a fourth place. Kenny was second into the arena and, as he shaved a second off of Andersson’s time, once again took the leading spot with a time of 39.43 seconds. The remainder of the field gave it their all, but the class concluded with his performance still in the lead.
Watch the winning jump-off ride for Darragh Kenny! Presented by Premier Equestrian
Kenny’s fellow countryman, Mark McAuley (IRL), donned his sixth red ribbon of the circuit after chasing Kenny down to the wire and landing with mere milliseconds between them. McAuley fell just shy after landing on a time of 39.52 seconds with SNC McAuley Equestrian’s 13-year-old BWP gelding Jasco VD Bisschop (Dulf Van Den Bisschop x Krunch De Breve).
The last of the podium honours went to the final jump-off contenders, Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Ubiluc. Having seen the entirety of the jump-off class play out, Bluman piloted the Over The Top Stables’ 10-year-old Mecklenburg gelding (Ubiko x Lucian) across the track in top form and took over the third-place position after landing double clear in 40.43 seconds.
Source and photo Summer Grace for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc./Sportfot