Well, as my first blog..ok second, but I didn’t actually submit anything on my first due to technical difficulties, I am not sure of the exact format…. So I have written a sort of ‘Florida Recap…
Friday was a big day as the grand prix was the only Nations Cup in the United States. 8 Teams made the journey and many miles including Australia, Venezuela, Canada, Ireland, Great Britain. The 4 rider teams were all signaled to walk the course together and right from the first few steps it was unanimously discussed that this was going to be an absolute test of scope! Steve Stephens was the course designer and as he was walking around and double checking heights and spreads he was constantly being bombarded with riders who were looking for any tactical answers that would help them. To say that is was huge was an understatement, Jennifer Crooks walked out and said this was going to be the biggest course she has ever jumped in her life. The first round finished with the field very much-separated into two main players; The US and Canada, only separated by 4 faults. The second round wedged an even bigger gap between the two north American countries and the rest of the field and when it came down to the final US anchor rider, Beezie Madder brought it home with another clear round to finish with only 8 faults and the gold medal. Canada finished in second with 16 faults and some very good rounds, and then being trailed by 3 nations tied with 37 faults. Some close to home news that came out of the class was the fantastic jumping by longtime Tbird supporter Jennifer crooks and her mount Uryuali, who after jumping so well was asked to join the Irish team in Europe this summer for the tour.
The stadium atmosphere was electric, there were a reported 8500 people watching as well as thousands from home on the online streaming as well and the party kept going well into the night, up to the point where the tiki hut actually ran out of beer, but that was mostly because the Irish supporters migrated there immediately following the class.
Moving along to Sunday class and the largest prize money class thus far into the WEF (Winter Equestrian Festival) schedule saw a huge 150,000 grand prix with an extremely tough vertical to oxer to oxer line to come home to finish. The class started with 48 entries whom all had to qualify to enter and when it was all said and done, 12 made it into the jump off club while 3 scratched and 4 fell off including Mario Deslaurier. In the end, it was the confident ride of Lauren Hough going double clear to take home a very nice paycheck!
Everyone was celebrating her victory around the grounds and back in the FEI stables. The party then moved to a nearby local watering hole called Jo Jo’s, and then onto the infamous “Players Club”…and if you have never been there, trust me, it’s exactly what you think it would be…everyone from the horse show and polo fields were there jammed into this club until the wee hours of the morning…which incuded me as I took it as my investigating duty to fully delve into this blog and report all I discovered…but, if I told any more I would probably get some people into trouble, so I am signing off from my first blog…on a plane tomorrow back home and leaving the 80 degree weather….talk to you during my next blog from World Cup finals in Leipzig Germany!